Saturday, November 24, 2012

"...bled, purged and puked".

Monday, November 24, 1862, in a Richmond hospital

The doctors here say that I am getting better. As I am certainly no doctor, I am compelled to trust in them. I am still quite weak and can get around unassisted for short times before I have to sit down or just retire to my bed. I think that I am asleep more than I am awake.

One of the doctors, quite an elderly gentleman, has told me of my afflictions. Tough old buzzard that I am, it has taked two different maladies to knock me down. Both the bloody flux and camp fever decided to join forces and attack me. They nearly put me under. I refer to the doctors. The diseases perhaps affected me less. 

I have been bled, purged and puked. I am sure that my skin is three shades whiter due to my lack of blood. The mercurials they give me have given me breath of a very foul condition. My diet is calculated to treat my conditions. I get a good amount of beef tea for the fever. I feed on the beeves in the form of their tea and the leeches feed on me in the form of my blood. I suppose that it evens out. That I can keep most everything that I eat means that I am getting better.

William, a nurse from Franklin County, Virginia, had been tending to my fever by wiping me down with a sponge and tepid water. He will not tell me his last name but he is still a good fellow. He does not answer any questions about himself and I have learned not to ask him such things.

The reading material at this hospital is quite adequate. There are both northern and southern papers. The New York Herald Tribune says that McClellan is out and Burnside is in as Army of the Potomac commander. Their army has been divided into three Grand Divisions, left, right and center. Let them divide themselves all they want to. Lee will chew each of them up. As it is almost December, nothing will happen before spring.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"...I Should be Dead."

Wednesday, November 12, 1862, Winder Hospital, Richmond

A great deal of the last month is unknown to me. I can write here what I can remember but I cannot be sure that it is correct. 

I think that I remember marching through Martinsburg with the regiment and heading towards Bunker Hill, not too far from Winchester. This could have been early in October or it could have been the week just passed. One afternoon, while in camp, sometime after dinner, I felt uneasy in the bowels and head and turned in early. When I awoke next, I was in a hospital bed in Richmond and felt like death would be welcome.

From what I have been told, I should be dead. I have had a fever that rendered me insensible for some weeks. One of the nurses here said that he was forced to change my bedding quite often due to my profuse sweating. When he said that, I felt pitiful thinking that for some weeks I was lying in a bed above the ground, out of the weather with clean linens and could not remember any of it and therefore could not enjoy any of it. O the cruelty of it all.

My uniform has been exchanged for a simple dressing gown of sorts. As the gown is quite thin, it is good that my hospital bed is not far from the stove. Whenever I should pass by the stove, I toss in a chunk of wood. The weather is turning and the warm days of summer are but a memory.

I would suppose that my diary is still back in camp. The hospital steward was kind enough to allow me some of his foolscap and a pencil. This will all have to be re-written again into my diary whenever I return to camp. 

There is not much to keep a body busy here but I do not mind that as I would prefer to sleep. I do sleep a great deal. Since this is the capital there are newspapers to read and there is a small library here. Somewhere in this hospital, one of the patients has a fiddle and plays it. I have never seen him but I have heard him. He is lucky that he plays well for if he did not I think that several of us would kill him.

The hospital fare here is not extravagant but is tolerable and at least filling. This morning we were served a rasher of bacon and one egg each. There was real coffee and some tea as well as sugar. The best thing was the fresh bread. None of us will grow fat on this fare but none will starve, either. I wonder how the boys are faring back at camp. Has anything happene