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Nurse and Spy in the Union Army

Emma Edmonds kept a wartime journal which she later expanded into a book, available today as Nurse and Spy in the Union Army. In this selection, "Frank Thompson" volunteers to substitute for General Hancock's aide-de-camp. Here she tells of a wild ride, an unexpected death, and a wounded officer.

Battle-field, Fredericksburg, VA.,
December 13, 1862

I rode three miles with General H. to General Franklin's headquarters, the second night we were at Fredericksburg, and all the night that I can recall to mind that was the darkest. On our way we had numerous ditches to leap, various ravines to cross, and mountains to climb, which can be better imagined than described. It was not only once or twice that horse and rider went tumbling into chasms head first, but frequently.

As we passed along, we stopped at the headquarters of General Bayard (General of Cavalry) a few minutes —found him enjoying a cup of coffee under a large tree, which constituted his headquarters. We called again when we returned, but he was cold in death, having been struck by a stray shot, and died in a short time. He was killed just where we had left him, under the tree. He was a splendid officer, and his removal was a great loss to the Federal cause. His death cast a gloom over his whole command which was deeply felt.

Of the wounded in this battle I can say but little, for my time was fully occupied in responsible duties which I had volunteered to perform; and so constantly was I employed, that I was not out of the saddle but once in twelve hours, and that was to assist an officer of the Seventy-ninth, who lay writhing in agony on the field, having been seized with cramps and spasms, and was suffering the most extreme pain. He was one of the brave and fearless ones, however, and in less than an hour, after having taken some powerful medicine which I procured for him, he was again on his horse, at the general's side.

Source: Nurse and Spy in the Union Army, pp. 305-306.