Autobiography and Biography
By Phoebe Yates Pember
There were long discussions among those responsible during the war, as to the advisability of the frequent amputations on the field, and often when a hearty, fine-looking man in the prime of life would be brought in minus an arm or a leg, I would feel as if it might have been saved, but experience taught me the wisdom of prompt measures. Poor food and great exposure had thinned the blood and broken down the system so entirely that secondary amputations performed in the hospital almost invariably resulted in death, after the second year of the war. The blood lost on the battlefield when the wound was first received would enfeeble the already impaired system and render it incapable of further endurance.
By Lieutenant Edward Doherty
The Account of the Officer in Charge
On April 24, 1865, Lieutenant Edward Doherty sits on a bench across from the White House conversing with another officer. The arrival of a messenger interrupts the conversation. The messenger carries orders directing Doherty to lead a squad of cavalry to Virginia to search for Booth and Herold. Scouring the countryside around the Rappahoneck River, Doherty is told the two fugitives were last seen at a farm owned by Richard Garrett. Doherty leads his squad to the farm arriving in the early morning hours of April 26.
By Philip Vickers Fithian
From the Journal and Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian, A Plantation Tutor of the Old Dominion, 1773-1774
Editor's note: the spellings are to period and from Mr. Fithian's diary.
La[s]t night we had a Gust of Rain & Thunder; very acceptable—To Day in course Mr. Christians Dance happens here--He came before Breakfast—Miss Jenny Washington came also, & Miss Priscilla Hale while we were at Breakfast
THROUGH THE WILDERNESS IN VA.
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC
COMMENCING MAY 4TH 1864
May the 7th 1864
Arose at daylight, we had our breakfast about half cooked when the battle commenced. The rebels came out of the woods in 4 lines of battle, then Our artilery opened on them with Grape & Canister causing them to retreat in confusion & were glad to get out of sight. Very heavy fighting down the left of the line near Chancelorsville. It was reported we had captured between 4 & 5000 prizoners today. Heared good news about dark and Great Cheering prevailed the whol length of the line. We recd orders to be ready to move at dark. We marched 3 or 4 miles and halted untill 2 O clock in the morning by the side of the road. We slept with our knapsacks on our backs. Was aroused from our slumbers by a pack of mules running away. We sprung to our feet, grabbed our muskets & got ready for action. We considered it an attack from the rebels. In a moments time we were all quiet and down we laid until daybreak.
Whatever may be any ones opinion in regard to the justice of the cause he advocated, the man who headed for four years the greatest revolt of modern times, can not but be deemed one of the formost figures of American history. Whatever crime against his country some think he has commited (and it may be state here that the writer is not one who holds any such belief) he has drained his full cup of suffering. As he stated not long ago, he did not seek the position in which he was placed, but obeyed a command which he, with Lee and thousands of other good & true men regarded as imperative, the voice of his native state calling him in her defense.
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.
Town Topics of May 1 says: Miss Marion Murchison, who last week married the young southerner, "Charlie" Hurkamp, wore one of the most exquisite bridal gowns that has been seen this season. It was composed entirely of point lace over chiffon, and had a long rounded train over which fell the bridal veil, also of point lace. The effect would have been too heavy and stiff for anybody but a girl of Miss Murchison's slight graceful figure. As it was, she made a most attractive picture in the costume. The veil was fastened to her dark hair by carelessly arranged gardenias, which also formed the bridal bouquet. The wedding took place at the Murchison residence, on Fifty-seventh street [New York City], about fifty guests being present.
- "We are all boys between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one."
Louis Leon joined North Carolina's Charlotte Grays in April 1861. He was to serve throughout the war and spent considerable time in Virginia. Captured at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5, 1864, he spent the war's last months imprisoned at two notorious facilities: Point Lookout, Maryland and Elmira, New York. He published his war-time diary in 1913.
May 5—Moved this morning, feeling for the enemy, and came up to them at noon, five miles from the Run, in the Wilderness. It certainly is a wilderness; it is almost impossible for a man to walk, as the woods are thick with an underbrush growth and all kinds of shrubbery, old logs, grapevines, and goodness knows what. My corps of sharpshooters were ordered to the front. We formed in line and advanced to the enemy. We fought them very hard for three hours, they falling back all the time. Our sharpshooters' line got mixed up with Gordon's Brigade, and fought with them.
By Francis J. Brooke
Macfarlane & Fergusson Printers, Richmond, Va. 1849
Reprinted in The Magazine of History with Notes and Queries
Published by William Abbatt, 1921 Extra Number--No. 74
OUR first item is an unusual one—a family memoir, written by a father for his children and issued as a private publication, in a very small edition: so small that its existence is almost unknown, but one copy being recorded as sold, in many years.
The author was a distinguished lawyer and judge of Virginia, who had joined Washington's army at sixteen, and after the Revolution held various judicial offices, including that of judge of the Court of Appeals, which he held for forty years.
Historians believe at least 400 women served in the Civil War as soldiers, but documented cases are very few.