Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Lincoln Ought To Know

This entry is from the Letters of Lydia Maria Child.  In a letter to John Greenleaf Whittier, Child mentions Harriet Tubman, a slave who escaped to freedom and who helped many others also escape.  She did that  -- and much more.  Words of wisdom she has for the President are disclosed here.

January 21  1862

 . . . You have doubtless heard of Harriet Tubman, whom they call Moses, on account of the multitude she has brought out of bondage by her courage and ingenuity. She talks politics sometimes, and her uncouth utterance is wiser than the plans of politicians. 

She said the other day: "Dey may send de flower ob dair young men down South, to die ob de fever in de summer, and de agoo in de winter. (Fur 't is cold down dar, dough 't is down South.) Dey may send dem one year, two year, tree year, till dey tired ob sendin', or till dey use up all de young men. All no use! God's ahead ob Massa Linkum. God won't let Massa Linkum beat de South till he do de right ting. Massa Linkum he great man, and I'se poor nigger ; but dis nigger can tell Massa Linkum how to save de money and de young men. He do it by setting de niggers free. S'pose dar was awfu' big snake down dar, on de floor. He bite you. Polks all skeered, cause you die. You send for doctor to cut de bite; but snake he rolled up dar, and while doctor dwine it, he bite you agin. De doctor cut out dat bite; but while he dwine it, de snake he spring up and bite you agin, and so he keep dwine, till you kill him. Dat's what Massa Linkum orter know."  

Harriet Tubman, from the Library of Congress Digital Collection

Friday, January 6, 2012

In Sore Need of a Furlough

This entry is from The Life of Johnny Reb, The Common Soldier of the Confederacy by Bell Irvin Wiley.  This story originally comes from Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade by John J. O. Casler.  

A theatrical group from the Stonewall and Louisiana brigades wrote and presented a skit called the "Medical Board", satirizing the surgeons.

Te rise of the curtain revealed a group of doctors sitting about a table playing cards and drinking brandy. Presently inquiry is made as to how such good liquor is obtained in these hard times.

The immediate answer is,"Oh, this is some that was sent down from Augusta County for the sick soldiers, but the poor devils don't need it, so we'll drink it.

Then a courier comes in with the message that a badly wounded soldier is outside. "Bring him in!" says the chief surgeon.

After a casual examination, the patient is told that his arms must be amputated. He inquires if he can have a furlough after the operation.

"Oh, no," replies the surgeon, who shortly announces that a leg also must be cut off.

"Then can I have a furlough?" asks the soldier.

By no means,"answers the doctor, "for you can drive an ambulance when you get well."

The surgeons now go in consultation and decide that the wounded man's had must be amputated. "Then I know I can have a furlough," observes the patient.

"No, indeed," says the chief physician. "We are so scarce of men that your body will have to be set up in the breastworks to fool the enemy."

Dr. William Gibbs McNeill Whistler, a surgeon in the Confederate army. 
He was attached to Orr's Rifles, a South Carolina regiment.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Matter of Perspective

Today's entry  comes from the Rebellion Record Volume III by Frank Moore, 1862.  I meant to post this last month, but the holidays got in the way.

This is an account of the battle of Allegheny from the Confederate point of view.  The official casualties of this battle are: Union 140 killed or wounded and two missing, and Confederate: 128 killed or wounded and 34 captured or missing.  However one would never know that the Confederate numbers this high nor that the Union numbers this low from the following interesting account, published in the Richmond Dispatch on December 21, 1862.

. . .  Our boys are laughing heartily over the Yankees' published account of the battle of Alleghany. The following passage is really amusing: "The rebels set fire to their camp and retreated to Staunton. Our boys left the field in good order." Why, my dear sirs, it would have done your heart good to have seen tho scoundrels run 1 Tho road for three miles was covered with their knapsacks, canteens, blankets, hats, and haversacks, and the citizens from the country bring us the news that they were stricken with tho most disgraceful panic The villains vented their spleen upon an old woman living upon the Greenbank road, aged eighty-two ears, by destroying her furniture, carrying off er provisions, and breaking up her cooking utensils. Col. Johnson sent her a sack of flour and some other articles. Their troops went back to Cheat Mountain in wild confusion, demoralized and dispirited. Nothing prevented their entire capture but the withdrawal of Col. Taliaferro's brigade from this line of operation.
We learn from our spies, and from men recently from Northwestern Virginia, that the enemy confess a loss, in killed, wounded, and missing, of over seven hundred men. Their dead bodies are still being found in tho woods. Six were found yesterday, with their eyes picked out by the crows, and many more doubtless lie scattered through the dense forest.
Confederate General Edward Johnson, also known as also known as Allegheny Johnson.  He received his nickname while commanding six infantry regiments in a battle on Allegheny Mountain.