North Carolina Patriots of ’61 — Incidents of Hospital Life
“My husband was wounded on the 6th of May, 1864, at the battle of the Wilderness, and was captured on the 20th. After he was captured he wrote me a letter, giving it to a man at Port Royal, Va., to mail, which he did not do until the latter part of July. Just imagine my terrible anxiety, not hearing from him in all that time.
In October I started home, leaving my little daughter with my sister, who expected to follow me the next month. I took my little ones and my niece, who was a young lady, with me. My sister was taken ill and I did not see my little girl until the following July. My husband, being still a prisoner, was carried with the [600 Confederate] officers to Morris Island, and was under the fire there for forty-two days, and from there he was taken to Fort Pulaski.
How I lived through that winter I cannot tell. After Christmas I applied to Dr. Essington for a situation as assistant matron to the lower hospital. They were bringing the wounded from Fort Fisher, Wilmington, and other points. We already had one hospital and were establishing another. I shall never forget the doctor’s look of amazement when I applied for the situation. My reply was: “Doctor I don’t want any pay, but I must have constant occupation or I will [lose] my mind.”
I went every morning at nine o’clock and staid until one, and I always went late in the afternoon to see that the wants of the patients were attended to during the night. I always dressed all the wounds every morning, and I soon found that my grief and sorrow were forgotten in administering to the wants of the sick. Such patience and fortitude I have never seen. Not one murmur did I ever hear escape their lips. My prayer book was my constant companion. I carried it in my pocket, and many a poor soldier have I soothed and comforted with holy prayers.
One day as I entered the hospital I noticed a new face. I made my way to him, as I was struck by his gray hair, and said: “You are too old to be here.” He smiled and his answer was quite a rebuke. “One never gets too old to fight for one’s home and fireside. I had no sons, so I came myself.” He proved to be a Mr. Johnson from Georgia. I made him my especial care, but to no avail. He died on the 8th of March .
Now I will speak of another soldier who died the same day. His name was Sanford, and he was just in the prime of life. It was really pathetic the way he spoke of his wife and home. The surgeon promised him a furlough, and when I went and told him we had written for his wife to come and take him home I shall never forget his expression as he exclaimed: “am I to see my wife and home.” Alas! the poor fellow did not live to see his wife again.
On the 10th of March [General William] Hardee’s men commenced to pass through Fayetteville. It was a day of humiliation and prayer. When I left the hospital I told them they would have to do without me the next day as I wanted to do what I could towards feeding some of our hungry soldiers, as we had nothing but bread and meat to give them.
My uncle, Dr. Kyle, went with me, and we stood in the store door on Hay street. We soon attracted the attention of a soldier and told him what we wished to do. My uncle, myself and two servants were kept busy the whole day. Three of my neighbors and myself prepared the bread and meat. It was enough to make anybody’s heart ache to see the ragged men.
One came forward. He looked like a boy of eighteen or nineteen. He had a little iron pot and I said: “Child, you look so [tired], why do you carry that iron pot?” and he answered: “I keep it to cook with.” I offered him a twenty-dollar Confederate note for it, with which he bought twenty loaves of bread and divided it among his comrades. When night came on I closed the door with a heavy heart. They were still coming.” Read more at: http://www.ncwbts150.com/AtWarBattlegroundsHomefront.php
(Incidents of Hospital Life, Mrs. Anne K. Kyle, War Days in Fayetteville, Reminiscences of 1861 to 1865, JEB Stuart Chapter, UDC, May 1910, pp. 39-42)
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