Elvira J Powers.

Hospital pencillings : being a diary while in Jefferson General Hospital, Jeffersonville, Ind., and others at Nashville, Tennessee, as matron and visitor online

. (page 1 of 15)
Online LibraryElvira J PowersHospital pencillings : being a diary while in Jefferson General Hospital, Jeffersonville, Ind., and others at Nashville, Tennessee, as matron and visitor → online text (page 1 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


3 3433 07952827 3


nix a 'M,



VaQN VToftTufS


;ii. kiiijUi,









" And at each step,.

His bloody falchion makes

Terrible vistas, through which victory breaks.

We may tread the sick-bed floors

Where strong men pine,
And, down the groaning corridors,
Pour freely from our liberal stores'

The oil and wine."





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts

















" How they went forth to die !
Pale, earnest thousands from the dizzy mills,
And sunburnt thousands from the harvest hills.
Quick, eager thousands from the city's streets,
And storm-tried thousands from the fisher's fleets,

How they went forth to die !

How ye went forth to save !
O Merciful ! with swift and tireless heed
Along the myriad ways of pain and need,
With laden hand and ever watchful eye,
Fixed on the thousands going forth to die !

How ye went forth to save 1 "

On boaed the " Gen. Buell,"

Ohio River, April 1, 1864.

Having been duly commissioned and ordered to " report
immediately at Nashville, Tenn., for hospital service at the

front/' my friend, Miss N O , and myself find

ourselves steaming down the Ohio, between Cincinnati and

Thus far we are quite ignorant of the duties of hospital
life, though so soon to enter upon them. Our Northern friends
have been questioned to little purpose, except that of ascer-
taining how very little knowledge there is upon the subject ;
and the papers are equally silent.


This fact clctermiiK'S me to keep some sort of a journal,
however imperfect. It will of course necessarily be so, as I
must neirlect no duty for the sake of scribbling about it.

AVe have just l)een seeking- information of our gentle-
manly escort, Mr. R., of Louisville. He, it appears, has an
innate love of humor and a peculiarly dry and quiet way of
tjuizzing peo])le. Here was a line opportunity. But we de-
termine to ward off the attacks as skilfully as possible with
the little knowledge we do possess. He says : —

'' Well, ladies, I suppose you are prepared to make bread
and gruel, sweep and mop, make beds, dress wounds and
plouf/h ? "

In r<j})ly the gentleman was informed that had we not been
proricient in each, especially the ploughing, we should never
liave dared to make application for the situation.

He explained by informing us tliat one of the Southern
refugees, who confessed herself unable to do either of the
ethers, said she "could plough."

" And I suppose you have each brought good knives along
with you? " was the next query.

" Knives — oh yes, but for what purpose do you mean ? "
And visions of being set to amputate limbs or to protect our-
selves against personal assaults flitted through our minds.

" Well, nothing, only you'll have an enormous amount of
onions to peel for those Ijoys down there. You can peel those
during the night, for you'll liardly have time in the day, that's
the way I used to do."

" Did you ? That's pleasant employment. I've practised
it considerably myself, but didn't, like you, have the satisfa'v
ti<..n of knowing during the grievous oper-ation that I was
shedfling tears for the good of my country."

Then he wished to know whether in our visits to the sick
wards we should " notice ordy the good looking ones." Upon


^eing informed that we have fully determmed to minister to
such only as looked as if they were ministers, doctors, lawyers
or editors, the gentleman seemed satisfied that we were tuUy
fitted for the service. Still he felt called upon to caution us
against excessive attention even to such, by relating that one
of the class was asked by a lady visitor if she might. '' comb
his hair."

" Yes — you — may," meekly responded the sufferer, '• but it
will be the thirteenth time to day."


Just at sunset we passed North Bend, and had a glimpse
of the tomb of President Harrison. The remains of Mrs.
Harrison have within the last thirty days been laid by the side
of the old hero. The place was pointed out by Dr. S., of
Louisville, who is^a second cousin to Mrs. Harrison. He in-
formed us that the brother of his grandfather received a grant
of all the land lying between the " Big and Little Miami,"
and extending back sixteen miles from their mouths. 4500
acres of this was willed to the grandfather of the Doctor and
about the same to the mother of Mrs. H.

Dr. S. also informed us that he was the only one in Louis-
ville who voted for Lincoln. That the polls were twice
declared closed, and the clerk with oaths refused to record his
vote, when the son of one of our Generals — I regret having
forgotten the name — peremptorily ordered it done ; when an
A. and L. and a long black stroke was dashed upon the record.
The baser sort had all day threatened hanging him upon the
back porch,' but at the close of the day most of them were
safely intoxicated.

The Doctor has the sad trial of losing a son, who had by
the offer of military emolument been drawn into the Confed-
erate service. He was wounded or taken sick and carried to


Ohio, where a brother took care of liim till his death. The
father wished him brourjht home, and funeral services per-
formed, but the military authorities of Louisville forbade it, as
similar occasions had drawn out crowds of two or three
thousands of secession proclivities. Then he was buried in
Ohio, but when the citizens of the loyal little town learned
tliat he had been in the Confederate ser\dce, they obliged Dr.
S. to remove the body. That such staunch loyalists should
suffer innocently is one of the saddest features of this re-

In the course of conversation this evening we were informed
by the Doctor that we were to pass the next day within seven
miles of Mammoth Cave. And he spoke of the subterranean
streams and mills in the vicinity, and of the blind fishes in
the waters of the Cave.

" Yes," said Mr. R., in his usual serious way, " and I be-
lieve that is where your people go a craw-fishing I "

The Doctor replied in the afiirmative, but in a tone which
excited my curiosity. Here was a chance to add to my rather
meagre stock of knowledge in natural history, and with the
anxiety of a reporter for something out of which to manufac-
ture an item, I inquired what kind of fish those were — if that
was the name given to those blind fishes in the cave. To my
astonishment a universal laugh greeted me fi'om the trio. An
explanation followed ; and it seems that the same or something
similar to what at the North we find in creeks and ditches,
and call fresh-water crabs, there bear the name of craw-fish.
And moreover as those crawl backward, they have attached
a meaning to the term, so that when a man " puts his hand
to the plough and looks back," he is said to have " gone a
craw-fishing." So, like that notable traveller in Pickwick
Papers, I can make a note of the discovery of a new kind of
fish of the skedaddle genus. Hallicaruassus was decidedly


wrong in thinking one can sail around the world in an arm-
chair. He should have considerately assisted that big trunk
down stairs, and benignly. seconded Gail's efforts to go abroad
and see the world, for peradventure she might learn sometlung
even about craw-fish.

Saturday, April 2,

Reached the " C'ity of the Falls " in the night. Left the
boat about six this morning, took a hasty breakfast at the
•' National," then a hack for the depot, calling at the office of
Provost Marshal to secure passes on train to Nashville. Am
pleasantly impressed wdth Louisville. A pretty green plot
in front of private residences, even if quite small, with linden,
ailanthus and magnolia trees, are peculiarities of the city. It
is too early for the foliage of the trees to be seen, but tlie
deep green, thick grass and the blossoms of the daffodil are
in striking contrast to the snow I saw in the latitude of Chi-
cago and Buffalo only day before yesterday.

The cars are now so crowded with soldiers en route for
" tlie front," that it is quite difficult for citizens to find pass-
age. Some have to wait several days before they can find an
opportunity. Only one car is appropriated for this use, and
ladies with their escort always have the preference. Thus
gentlemen who are alone are liable to be left. As we were
leaving the " National " this morning a gentleman rushed out
and inquired if we were going to take the Southern train,
and if there was only one gentleman to the two ladies. lie
" begged pardon — knew he was a stranger — wished to go to
Bowling Green — his wife was sick and he had written her he
would be home to-day. If the ladies would be so kind as to
pass him along, and if the gentleman would step with him
into the office he could convince him, through the keeper of
the *'• National," that lie \\ as a man of honor."


jMr. R. referred the matter to the ladies. Tliey decided to
take under their protecting wing the lone gentleman and see
him safe home if the interview with the landlord, with whom
Mr. R. was fortunately acquainted, should prove satisfactory.
It was so, and Mr. Moseby — not the guerilla as himself in-
formed us — entered the hack. He had " taken the oath of
allegiance," he said, and "lived up to it, but had a right to
his own thoughts."

Upon arriving at the depot found the ladies' car locked,
and we were left standing by it while the two gentleman
looked after the baggage. Mr. R. was not to accompany us
farther. Soon an elderly, pale-looking man, with a white
neck-tie, came up, who asked if we each had a gentleman
travelling with us. We hesitated and evaded the question.
This was being in too great demand altogether. It was not
even included in Mr. R.'s list of our duties. He "was
really hoping we had not, and that one of us would take pity
on an old man and pass him along."

His fatherly look and manner banished selfishness, and he
was told to wait until the gentlemen returned, and we would
see about it. As they did so Mr. Moseby stepped up and
cordially shook hands with the old man, calling him " Judge."
But all Southerners are styled judges, captains, colonels or
generals, thought I, and this one is an honest old farmer nev-
ertheless. As Mr. M. assured us that he was " all right,"
and a " man of honor," I told him he might occupy half of
my seat in the car. But it was not long before I found that
my poor old farmer was no less a personage than Judge
Joseph R. Underwood, one of the most noted men and pio-
neers of Kentucky. He has been Judge of the Supreme
Court of that State six years, a United States Representative
for ten years and a Senator for six.

A spruce little Captain came through to examine military


passes before the cars started. Quite a number of cltizenfi
were left as usual, and as we were moving oiF I heard one
young man exclaim in desperation that he would " go right
back to the city and marry." The gentlemen congratulated
themselves upon their good fortune, and the subject elicited
the following incidents :

A gentleman of Mr. M.'s acquaintance could get no admis-
sion to the cars, no lady would take him under her care, and
he asked the baggage agent if he might get in the baggage
car. That functionary said he had orders to admit no one.

" Then you'll not give me permission, but if I get in will
you put me out ? "

No answer was made, but the agent walked away, and the
man, thinking like children, that " silence gives consent," en-
tered the baggage car and remained.

Another gentleman, a merchant of Bowling Green, by
name F — C — , could get no chance to ride. But fortunately'-
having on a blue coat, in desperation he stepped up to a man
with the two bars on his shoulder who was putting his sol-
diers aboard, and said with a pleading look and tone :

" Captain, can't you lengthen out my furlough just two days
longer ? "

'•No," said the Captain, in a quick authoritative tone,
" you've been loafing 'round these streets long enough, in with
you," and he made a motion as if he would materially assist
his entrance if he didn't hurry.

" Well, if I must I must, but its hard, Caj^tain."

" No more words," was the short reply, " in with you."

Another was related by an eye witness. A lady who was
travelling alone was about stepping into the car, when a gen-
tleman, who was trembling with anxiety lest he should be
left, stepped up and offered to take her box. He did so, and
stepping in behind was allowed a seat by her side, cautiously

8 nosriTAL pencillings.

retaining the box. He had two comrades equally desirous of
securing a passage, who had seen his success. One of them
stepped to the car window and whispered him to pass out the
box. It was slyly done, and the gentleman marched solemnly
in with the v.eighty responsibility. The box went through
tlie window again, and again walked in at the door, until it
must have been thoroughly " taken in " as well as the guard.

Just out of the city we passed a camp and saw soldiers
lying under the little low " dog tents " as they are called, and
in tlie deep, clay mud, while only a few rods distant was a
plenty of green sward. Any officer who would compel his
men to pitch tents where those were ought to be levelled to
the ranks.

T saw for the first time to-day, fortifications, stockades, rifle-
pits, and mounted cannon at the bridges. We passed over the
battle-ground of Mumfordsville, and saw the burnt fences and
tlie levelled trees which were to obstruct the march of our
troops, and the building which was used by them as a hospi-
tal. In the deep cut passes one sees suddenly the picturesque
fi^re of a negro soldier, far above upon the heights, who
with shining uniform and glittering bayonet stands like a
statue, guarding the portals of liberty. At the fortifications
are sign-boards upon which are printed in large letters,
" Please a drop a paper," while perhaps half a dozen hands
point to it as the train whirls past. Some j^apers were thrown
out. There were other things wliicli had for our Northern
eyes the charm of novelty. A half respectable or s(|ualid
farm-house, with a huge chimney upon the outside, and with
a huddle of negro quarters. Also negro women with turbans
upon their heads, working out of doors, and driving teams —
in one case on a load of tobacco, while driving a yoke of
oxen. The total absence of country school-houses, and the
squalid and shiftless appearance of the buildings and peoi)le


at the depots, are in striking contrast to the neat little towns
of the Northern and Eastern States. The scenery is fine,
much of the soil good, and the water-power extensive. Nature
has dealt bountifully with Tennessee and Kentucky, but the
accursed system of slavery has blasted and desolated the land,
and both races, black and white, are reaping the mildewed

I find my honorable companion very entertaining and in-
structive. I am indebted to him for many items of interest,
both concerning the early settlers, and also the modern history
of the places we pass. His personal history is full of interest,
and is one more proof that early poverty is not necessarily a
barrier to honor and position. The Judge was given away
by his parents to an uncle, who educated him, gave him five
dollars and told him he must then make his own way in the
world. Another uncle lent him a horse, and he set out to
seek his fortune as lawyer and politician. He has in trust
the fortune of an eccentric old bachelor, which is known in
Warren County as the Craddock fund. Three-fourths of this
is used to educate charity children, while the other fourth pays
the Judge for his care of the fund. His friend Captain C,
while upon his death-bed, sent for the drummer and fifer to
play tmies in the yard, and from those selected such as he
wished played at his fmieral. He was buried with military

'' Muldroughs-Hill " which we saw, is a long ridge extend-
ing about one hundred miles from the mouth of Salt-River
to the head of Rolling-Fork. It was named from an early
settler who lived twenty miles from the others, and was far-
thest west. Rolling-Fork is a tributary of Salt-River. The
origin of the term " going up Salt-River " originated at a
little place we passed, now called Shepherdsville. It has
only four or five hundred inhabitants. But in its early days


its salt licks supj)lie(l all the Western couiitrj'^ with salt, and
was a growing as[)irant for popularity, as it invited so much
ti-ade. It was a rival of Louisville, but unlike that, made no
provision for its future well-being, but depended on its pre-
sent worth alone. " Tluis," moralized the Judge, " do we often
see two 3'oung men start out with equal advantages, and find
afterward that one became a Shepherdsville, and the other a
Louisville." Now there is a bridge at Shepherdsville guarded
by cannon, then there was no bridge and ferry-boats were used.
It was not a smooth stream, and to cross, one must row up
the river some one hundred rods before heading the boat to
the opposite shore. Owing to the rapidity of the current, it
was hard rowing, and great strength was needed. There
were those engaged in the making of salt who were called
kettle-tenders, and wdio for the most part were a low, rough
set, being often intoxicated and quarrelsome. Two of these
having a fight, the victor finished with the triumphant excla-
mation of

'• There, I've rowed you up Salt River !"

Lincoln's birth-place is near this, in the adjoining County
of Larue — although this was not the name at the time of his
birth. And how little did the mother of Lincoln think, as
she taught him the little she knew of books, that the people
in the vicinity would ever have cause to exclaim of him, in
relation to his rival for the Presidency, as they do of the
successful politician — " he has rowed him up Salt River !"

Tliere is a little river called " Nolin," which waters his
birth-place. It was so named from the fact that in the early
settlement upon its banks a man named Linn, was lost in the
woods, and never found. He was probably killed by the In-
dians. But the neighbors searched for several days, and at
night met at a place upon its banks, calling to each oiLer as
they came in, " No Linn," — " No Linn, yet."


The Judge has carried lead in his body for over fifty years,
received in the war of 1812. He was in the battle on the
Maimiee river called Dudley's defeat. The regiment, under
Dudley, had crossed the river to take cannon of the enemy,
which they succeeded in doing, but instead of returning they
pursued them two or three miles, leaving a few behind to
protect the captures. But a detachment of the enemy passed
around in their rear, retook the cannon, and when the regi-
ment returned, their retreat was cut off, and all w ere taken
prisoners and obliged to run the gauntlet. About forty were
killed in running the gauntlet. The Judge saw that the line
of men which had formed at a little distance from, and par-
allel with the river, had a bend in it, and that if he ran close
to the guns they would not dare fire for fear of hitting their
own men. The Indians were armed with guns, tomahawks,
and war clubs. In that day the gun was accompanied with
what was called the " wiping-stick," which w^as a rod made of
hickory notched, and wound with tow, and used to clean the
gim. He escaped by receiving a whipping with some of those
sticks. It was the last gauntlet ever run in the United States.

During the trip I had quite a spirited but good-natured
discussion upon the condition of the country, with Mr. M.,
who I found is really a s'trong rebel sympathizer. He wor-
ships Morgan since his late raid into Ohio, and secretly cher-
ishes his picture in his vest pocket. Just before reaching
.Bowding Green, where w^e were to separate, the fatherly old
Judge took a hand of each in his own, and with moisture in
his eyes and a tremor in his voice, said :

" My children, you represent the two antagonistic positions
of the country, and like those, do not rightly understand each
other, on account of sectional prejudices. And now let an
old man who has watched the growth of both sections, who
has, as he trusts, fought for their good in the field, the desk,


and senate, join your hands in the grasp of good fellowship,
and oh. how sincerely I wish that I could bring also together
the North and South in one lasting peace !"

Soon after, he pointed out his residence — the cars stopped,
and we parted with our pleasant friends.

Reached the " City of the Rocks " about five, this P. M.
Shall wait to see more of it, before making note of imprea-



Nashville, Texn,, Thursday Evening, April 7.

The present week, thus far, has been to me, full of new and
thrilling experiences.

On Sabbath, the day after our arrival, I entered an ambu-
lance and visited a camp for the first time. The company con-
sisted of three, besides myself — Rev. Dr. D., a young theologi-
cal student who is passing vacation here, and Miss T. The day
was warm and springlike ; the hyacinths, crocuses, and peach
trees in blossom. It was the camp of the 7th Pennsylvania
Cavalry, and situated upon one of the bights overlooking the
City. The tents were white, the soldiers well-dressed, the
vmiform bright and everything tidy. A new and gaily paint-
ed banner pointed out the tent of the Colonel. As we en-
tered the grounds, that gentleman, with the Major, met us cor-
dially, a seat was prepared for the ladies at the opening of
the Colonel's tent, while a huge box in front served for a
speaker's stand. The bugle then summoned such as wished to
listen, and service was held by the two gentlemen of our
party. Books and papers were afterward distributed, for
which the soldiers seemed eager. The Colonel informed us
that the Regiment had just been reorganized, and new re-
cruits filled the vacant places in the ranks, made so by the he-
roes, who fell at such battles as Lookout Mountain, Mission
Ridge, and Chickamauija. There is a long list of such in-
scribed upon this banner, of which they are justly proud.

On Monday, visited a hospital for the first time. Was ac-


comj^auiecl by Mrs. E. P. Smith, Mrs. Dr. F. and my travel-
ling companion Miss O, beside the driver. As the ambulance
halted, we saw through tlie open door and windows the home-
sick, pallid foces raised from the sick beds to gi-eet us with a
look of j3leasure. Upon entering, almost the first object was
that of a dying boy. His name was John Camplin, of Co. G.
40th Illinois Vols. He was a new recruit of only seventeen,
and the victim of measles. He " did'nt want to die," but, af-
ter the singing of such hymns as " Rock of Ages," and " Je-
sus lover of my soul," he grew more resigned. I took the
card which hunfj in a little tin case at the head of his bed,
and copied the name and address of his father. The dying
boy had been watching, and he then with difficult speech
asked me to write to his people and tell them "good bye,"
and that he was " p-oinoj home." I tried to obtain a more
lengthy message to comfort them, but speech was soon denied
nd reason wandered. He died a few hours after, and the sad
tidings was sent next day.

Found another poor boy quite low, with pneumonia. He
knew his condition, but with an heroic smile upon his w^asted
features said, that "if" his "life would do his dear country
any good " he was " willing to give it."

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryElvira J PowersHospital pencillings : being a diary while in Jefferson General Hospital, Jeffersonville, Ind., and others at Nashville, Tennessee, as matron and visitor → online text (page 1 of 15)