This is Part Two of a two part article. If you haven't read Part One, here's
[This was the small introduction to the two part story, "Three Weeks
at Gettysburg.", which appeared in The Pacific Commercial Advertiser,
Honolulu, on Dec 31, 1863 and Jan 7, 1864]
OUTSIDE.-The friends of the American Union, and their name is legion, who
have contributed for the relief of the wound and disabled soldiers, will
find on the last page an account written by two ladies, showing how these
funds are used. The sketch is furnished to give us in pamphlet form, and
the remainder of it will be given next week.
THREE WEEKS AT GETTYSBURG- Part 2
What we did at Gettysburg.
Few good things can be said of the Gettysburg farmers, and I only use Scripture
language in calling them "evil beasts." One of this kind came
creeping into our camp three weeks after the battle. He lived five miles
only from the town, and had "never seeen a rebel." He heard we
had some of them, and came down to see them. "Boys," we said marching
him into the tent which happend to be full of rebels that day waiting for
the train; "Boys, here's a man who never saw a rebel in his life, and
wants to look at you;" and there he stood with his mouth wide open,
and they they lay in rows, laughing at him, stupid old Dutchman. "And
why haven't you seen a rebel?" Mrs. --------said; "why didn't
you take your gun and help to drive them out of your town?" "A
feller mighten'er got hit!"-which reply was quite too much for the
rebels, they roared with laughter at him, up and down the tent.
One woman, we saw, who was by no means Dutch, and whose pluck helped to
redeem the other sex. She lived in a little house close up by the field
where the hardest fighting was done, a red-cheeked, strong, country girl.
"Were you frightened when the shells began flying?" "Well,
no; you see we was all baking bread round here for the soldiers, and had
our dough a rising. The neighbors they ran into their cellars, but I couldn't
leave my bread. When the first shell came in at the window and crashed through
the room an officer came and said, 'you had better get out of this,' but
I told him I could not leave my bread, and I stood working it till the third
shell came through, and then I went down cellar, but (triumphantly) I left
my bread in the oven." "And why didn't you go before?" "Oh,
you see, if I had, the rebels would have come in and daubed the dough all
over the place." And here she stood, at the risk of unwelcome plums
in her loaves, while great holes, which we say, were made by shot and shell
through and through the room in which she was working.
The streets of Gettysburg were filled with the battle. People thought and
talked of nothing else; even the children shewed their little spites by
calling to each other, "Here, you rebel," and mere scraps of boys
amused themselves with percussion caps and hammers. Hundreds of of muskets
were piled on the pavements, the men who shouldered them a week before lying
under ground now, or helping to fill the long train of ambulances on their
way from the field. The private house of the town were many of them, hospitals;
the little red flags hung from the upper windows. Beside our own men at
the Lodge, we had all soldiers scattered about whom we could help from our
supplies; and nice little puddings and jellies, or an occasional chicken,
were a great treat to men condemned by their wounds to stay at Gettysburg
and obliged to live on what the empty town could provide. There was a colonel
in a shoe-shop, a captain just up the street, and a private round the corner,
whose young sister had possessed herself of him, overcoming the military
rules in some way, and carrying him off to a little room, all by himself,
where I found her doing her best with very little. She came afterward to
our tent and got for him clean clothes, and good food, and all he wanted,
and was perfectly happy in being his cook, washerwoman, medical cadet and
nurse. Beside such as these, we occasionally carried from our supples something
to the churches, which were filled with sick and wounded, and where men
were dying-men whose strong patience it was very hard to bear-dying with
thoughts of the old home far away, saying, as last words, for the woman
watching there and waiting with a patience equal in its strength, "Tell
her I love her."
Late one afternoon too late for the cars, a train of ambulances arrived
at our Lodge, with over one hundred wounded rebels, to be cared for through
the night. Only one among them seemed too weak and faint to take anything.
He was badly hurt, and failing. I went to him after his wound was dressed,
and found him lying on his blanket stretched over the straw-a fair-haired,
blue-eyed young Lieutenant, a face innocent enough for one of our New England
boys. I could not think of him as a rebel, he was too near heaven for that.
He wanted nothing, had not been willing to eat for days, his comrades said;
but I coaxed him to try a little milk gruel, made nicely with lemon brandy,
and one of the satisfactions of our three weeks is the remembrance of the
empty cup I took away afterward, and his perfect enjoyment of that supper.
"It was so good, the best thing he had had since he was wounded,"
and he thanked me so much, and talked about his "good supper"
for hours. Poor creature, he had no care, and it was a pleasure to find
himself thought of; so, in a pleased, childlike way, he talked about it
till midnight, the attendant told me, as long as he spoke of anything, for
at midnight the change came, and from that time he only thought of the days
before he was a soldier, when he sang hymns in his father's church. He sang
them now again, in a clear, sweet voice. "Lord, have mercy on me;"
and then songs without words-a sort of low intoning. His father was a Lutheran
clergyman in South Carloina, one of the rebels told us in the morning when
we went into the tent, to find him sliding out of our care. All day long
we watched him, sometimes fighting his battles over, oftener singing his
Lutheran chants, till in the tent door, close to which he lay, looked a
rebel soldier, just arrived with other prisoners. He started when he saw
the Lieutenant, and quickly kneeled down by him, called, "Henry! Henry!"
But Henry was looking at some one a great way off, and could not hear him.
"Do you know this soldier?" we said. "Oh, yes, ma'am; and
his brother is wounded and a prisoner, too, in the cars now." Two or
three men started after him, found him, and half carried him from the cars
to our tent. "Henry" did not know him, though; and he threw himself
down by his side on the straw, and for the rest of the day lay in a sort
of apathy, without speaking, except to assure himself that he could stay
with his brother, without the risk of being separated from his fellow prisoners.
And the brothers lay, and there we strangers sat watching and listening
to the strong, clear voice, singing "Lord, have mercy upon me."
The Lord had mercy, and at sunset I put my hand on the Lieutenant's heart,
to find it still. All night the brother lay close against the coffin, and
in the morning went away with his comrades, leaving us to bury Henry, having
"confidence," but first thanking us for what we had done, and
giving us all he had to show his gratitude, the palmetto ornament from his
brother's cap and a button from his coat. Dr. W. read the burial service
that morning at the grave, and ------wrote his name on the little head board:
"Lieut. Rauch, 14th Regt. S. Carolina Vol."
In the field, where we buried him, a number of colored freedmen, working
for Government, on the railroad, had their camp, and every night they took
their recreation after the heavy work of the day was over, in prayer meetings.
Such an "inferior race," you know! We went over one night and
listened for an hour, while they sang, collected under the fly of a tent,
a table in the middle, where the leader sat, and benches all around the
sides for the congregation, men only,-all very black and very earnest. They
prayed with all their souls, as only black men and slaves can: for themselves
and for the dear, white people who had come over to the meeting, and for
"Massa Lincoln," for whom they seemed to have a reverential affection,
some of them a sort of worship, which confused Father Abraham and Massa
Abraham in one general call for blessings. Whatever they asked for, they
must have strength and blessing for "Massa Lincoln." Very little
care had been taken of these poor men. Those who were ill, during our stay,
were looked after by one of the officers of the Commission. they were grateful
for every little thing. Mrs.------went into the town and hunted up several
dozen bright handkerchiefs, hemmed them, and sent them over to be distributed
the next night after meeting. They were put on the table in the tent, and
one by one, the men came up to get them. Purple, and blue, and yellow, the
handkerchiefs were, and the desire of every man's heart fastened itself
on a yellow one; they politely made way for each other, though, one man
standing back to let another pass up first, thought he ran the risk of seeing
the pumpkin color that riveted his eyes taken from before them. When the
distribution was over, each man tied his head up in the handkerchief and
sang one more hymn, keeping time, all round, with blue and purple nods,
and thanking and blessing the white people, in "their basket and in
their store," as much as if the cotton handkerchiefs had all been gold
leaf. One man came over to our tent next day, to say: "Missus, was
it you that sent me that present? I never had anything so beautiful in all
my life before;" and he only had a blue one, too.
Among our wounded soldiers, one night, came an elderly man, sick, wounded
and crazy, singing and talking about home. We did what we could for him,
and pleased him greatly with a present of a red flannel shirt, drawers,
and red calico dressing-gown, all of which he needed, and in which he dressed
himself up, and then wrote a letter to his wife, made it into a little book
with gingham covers, and gave it to one of the gentlemen to mail for him.
The next morning he was sent on with the company from the Lodge, and that
evening two tired women came into our camp-his wife and sister, who hurried
on from their home to meet him, arriving just too late. Fortunately we had
the queer little gingham book to identify him by, and when some one said,
"It is the man, you know, who screamed so," the poor wife was
certain about him. He had been crazy before the war, but not for two years,
now, she said. He had been fretting for home since he was hurt, and when
the doctor told him there was no chance of his being sent there, he lost
heart, and wrote to his wife to come and carry him away. It seemed almost
hopeless for two lone women, who had never been out of their own little
town, to succeed in finding a soldier among so many, sent in so many different
directions, but we helped them as we could, and started them on their journey
the next morning, back on their track, to use their common sense and Yankee
privilege of questioning.
A week after, Mrs.------had a letter full of gratitude, and saying that
the husband was found and secured for home. That same night we had had in
our tents, two fathers, with their wounded sons, and a nice old German mother
with her boy. She had come in from Wisconsin, and brought with her a patch-work
bed quilt, looking so homelike, and feeling so, too, no doubt, with his
good old mother close at his side. [sic] She seemed bright and happy, had
three sons in the army-one had been killed-this one wounded, yet she was
pleased with the tents, and the care she saw taken there of the soldiers,
that while taking her tea from a barrel head as table, she said, "Indeed
if she was a man, she'd be a soldier, too, right off."
For this temporary sheltering and feeding of all these wounded men, Government
could make no provision. There was nothing for them if too late for the
cars, except the open field and hunger, in preparation for their fatiguing
journey. It is expected when the cars are ready that the men will be promptly
sent to meet them, and Government cannot provide for mistakes and delays,
so that but for the Sanitary Commission's Lodge, and comfortable supplies,
for which the wounded are indebted to the hard workers at home, men, badly
hurt, must have suffered night and day, while waiting for the "next
train." We had on an average sixty of such men each night for three
weeks under our care, sometimes one hundred, sometimes only thirty, and
with the "delegation," and the help of other gentlemen volunteers,
who all worked devotedly for the men, the whole thing was a great success,
and you, and all of us can't help being thankful that we had a share, however
small, in making it so. Sixteen thousand good meals were given; hundreds
of men kept though the day, and twelve hundred sheltered at night, their
wounds dressed, their supper and breakfast secured, rebels and all. You
will not, I am sure, regret that these most wretched men, these "enemies,"
"sick and in prison," were helped and cared for, through your
supplies, though, certainly, they were not in your minds when you packed
your barrels and boxes. The clothing we reserved for our own men, except
now and then, when a shivering rebel needed it, but in feeding them we could
make no distinctions. It was curious to see, among our workers at the Lodge,
the disgust and horror felt for rebels, giving place to the kindest feeling
for wounded men.
Our three weeks was coming to an end; the work of transporting the wounded
was nearly over; twice daily we had filled and emptied our tents, and twice
fed the trains before the long journey. The men came in slowly at the last,
a Lieutenant, all the way from Oregon, being among the very latest. He came
down from the Corps Hospital, (now greatly improved,) having lost one foot,
poor fellow, dressed in a full suit of the Commission's cotton clothes,
just as bright and cheerful as the first man, and all the men that we received
had been. We never heard a word of complaint, "Would he like a little
nice soup?" "Well, no, thank you, ma'am;" hesitating and
polite. "You have along ride before you, and had better take a little;
I'll just bring it in and you can try." So the good thick soup came.
He took a very little in the spoon to please me and afterward the whole
cupful to please himself. He "did not think it was this kind of soup
I meant. He had some in camp, and did not think he cared for any more; his
'cook' was a very little boy, though, who just put some meat in a little
water and stirred it round." "Would you like a handkerchief?"
and I produced our last one, with a hem and cologne too. "Oh, yes;
that is what I need; I have lost mine, and was just borrowing this gentleman's."
So the Lieutenant, the last man, was made comfortable, thanks to all of
you, though he had but one foot to carry him on his long journey home.
Four thousand soldiers too badly hurt to be moved, were still left at Gettysburg,
cared for kindly and well at the large, new Government hospital, with a
Sanitary Commission attachment.
Our work was over, our tents were struck, and we came away after a flourish
of trumpets, from two military bands who filed down to our door and gave
us a farewell, "Red, white and blue."
-Copied from The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Honolulu, December 31, 1863
and January 7, 1864
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