Friday, August 9, 2013

August 7, 1863

August 7, 1863

---John C. West, an infantryman in the 5th Texas Infantry Regiment, writes home to his wife, but here after Gettysburg, there is a distinctly dark and stoic note in his writing that contrasts with his usual cheery tone from before:

You must not be uneasy about me when you do not hear from me. I have received but one letter from you since I left home, yet I am satisfied that all is well, and, strange to say, I have no desire to return home while the war lasts. I believe this disposition has been especially vouchsafed me in order that I may be fully prepared for all the hardships that befall me. Since the fall of Vicksburg I have not had much hope of hearing from you, though, to our suprise, yesterday, Coella and Macon Mullens received letters of the 5th and 6th of July. This has encouraged me to hope for one from you. I have written you a great many letters from different points. You must not be uneasy if you hear of me being destitute or in need of anything. A soldier can not carry enough with him on a march to make him comfortable. Another hope and desire you must give up; it is almost impracticable and hopeless to attempt to recover the body of a private soldier killed in battle, so don’t think about this; I can rest one place as well as another. All the Waco boys are writing to-day, as notice has been given that a Mr. Parsons will take them to Texas. Do all you can to keep your mind employed and your face in smiles. All will yet be well for us. Pray for me, and if I am taken from you, it will be all right. I trust in God. Kisses for the children.
Your husband, faithfully ever,
John C. West.

---Kate Cummings, Confederate army volunteer nurse, writes in her journal concerning her latest trials with the obstinacy of the supervising physician on her hospital, and her insistence on beingn treated with respect:

August 7.—I intend leaving to-day for Chattanooga.

This morning I sent for Dr. A., and told him that it was impossible for us to get along without more servants; and I told him further that I knew of some who could be hired, and asked his consent; but he would not give it. So I then told him that Mrs. W. and myself would leave. At this he became quite angry, and said he could not compel us to remain, but since he had hired us ladies, he would pay us for the time we had been there. The latter part he said with emphasis, and then left me. Had he remained longer, I should have informed him that when we “hired” ourselves, we were not aware it was to him, but to the same government which had “hired” him.

I am beginning to think that we were spoiled in the Newsom Hospital; but I should hope that there are not many surgeons in the department such as Dr. A. If there are, it is not much wonder that so few ladies of refinement enter them.

I ask but one thing from any surgeon, and that is, to be treated with the same respect due to men in their own sphere of life. I waive all claim for that due me as a lady, but think I have a right to expect the other. I scarcely think that Dr. A. would dared to have spoken to one of his assistant surgeons as he did to me.

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