Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 29, 1864

March 29, 1864

---Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a Wisconsin artilleryman, still in camp at Hunstville, Alabama, writes in his journal of the unexpected but welcome arrival of provisions from Mother Bickerdyke, a volunteer nurse and herbalist whose care of the soldiers was frequently at odds with the Army Medical Corps practice.  Jones is very clear how welcome the change in diet is:

Huntsville, Tuesday, March 29. Rained exceedingly heavy during the night, but cleared off in the morning. Continued cool through the day. Our camp was visited to-day by Mother Bickerdyke with four mule teams loaded with good things from the North for the soldiers. Left us three barrels of potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc., one barrel of sourkraut with one of dried applies. Noble woman. I still remember with gratitude the motherly interest she took in my welfare while lying in the hospital at Corinth. Here again she comes with that which she has gathered by her own labor in the North, not leaving it to be wholly absorbed by surgeons, directors and officers, as is too often the case with sanitary goods. She comes along in a mule wagon and delivers it herself to the “good boys” as she terms us, without seeking the officers. She drew a large crowd around her soon. Her glowing, welcoming face, filled with cordiality, had a magnetic influence upon the hearts of all, such a contrast to the haughty, disdainful looks we are accustomed to receive from women in general. May God bless her noble, self-sacrificing spirit, is the soldier’s prayer.

Had a most hearty old-fashioned supper of potatoes and onions with gravy, which was better for our grease-laden systems than loads of cathartics. We had about twelve pounds of dried apples for our mess of four. . . .


---Stephen Minot Weld, a young officer in the Union army, writes home about his regiment gathering with the rest of the re-constituted IX Corps at Annapolis, Maryland, and how unhospitable the neighborhood is for Northern soldiers:

Annapolis is probably one of the worst cities in the Union at the present time. All the camp-followers attendant on our army, together with a large body of New York and Baltimore roughs, infest the place. These, together with paroled prisoners, make the place dangerous for any civilized beings. Within a fortnight four soldiers have been found between here and Annapolis with their throats cut. The last one found was a man named McAinsh of this regiment, a very good man indeed, but one who was fond of going on a “bender ” occasionally. He left camp without leave, went to Annapolis, got drunk probably, so that these rascals saw his money, and on his way out here had his throat cut, and his money taken. He was found dead in the woods close by here. . . . I hear that fifty-six infantry regiments are going with Burnside. My opinion is that we go to North Carolina, although I have no official or private information to make me say so. . . .

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