Hospital Life from Jan 1862 till April 2nd 1866 commencing at Western Missouri ending at Madison Wis.
To my surviving comrades in arms this narrative is dedicated.
Respectfully Ole Grimstvedt
Enrolled in Co. C. 12th Wis. Vet. Vol. Infantry, under the name of Ole Olson. My father and the rest of the family not having at that time taken the proper name that we are known by now we learn as we grow older, at least we ought to.
My first introduction
to a Military Hospital was at Western Missouri. It must have been the latter
part of Jan. 1862. Quite a few of our regiment were down with the measles,
and myself amongst them. To get better treatment I was sent to a hospital
which was in a high school or academy building. I remember very little
of my stay here except that I soon got well. I could not have been there
more than a week or a fortnight.
The Dr. in charge was one Linsfeldt a Swede. He had a fashion of calling things by the plain English names as for instance, when asking how the bowels moved he spoke right out plain enough for anybody to understand.
Another disease that also went the around brought a good many of the boys to the hospital, I refer to the mumps. Now every body knows that if this decease is not taken care of serious complications may be the result. Now the Dr. in making his morning rounds would give his orders in the plainest English language as to what the different patients was to do. The different expressions that he used was kept up as, bywords amongst the boys for a long time.
The next I knew about a hospital was at Union City Tenn. I think I had partaken to freely of Kentucky green apples before they were ripe. Where we were kept there could hardly be called a hospital but I was away from the Regiment for a week or some such matter while they were building a R. R. bridge across the Ohio river, this was on the Mobile and Ohio R. R. and was to help feed our army at Corinth. I got back to the regiment when the bridge was nearly ready and seen the locomotive make the trial trip. Then I knew nothing about a hospital for a year or until we got to the main army in the rear of Vicksburg. Dysentery and flux got away with me so that I staid a few days in our field hospital at a plantation called Magnolia Hall. I was most of the time in the trenches until the surrender when I was a good deal under the weather. The regiment went to Jackson but I could not go with them, but came with other convalescents a week or so later but when we came back to Vicksburg I had to go to the hospital. It was in tents, and when I was led down through the tent to my cot I thought it was a dining room with tables spread with white table cloths, I was pretty near gone. I don't remember much about my stay here only that I got so I could roam around quite a bit. I remember seeing the tree under which Pemberton surrendered to Grant. I don't think that I went over a purpose, but I being there it was pointed out. To me, I did not know at that time that a chip of that tree would be of any value to any one. Probably 10 years after the war, I visited Mrs. George Theobald, "used to be Rosana Powers" she had been my school teacher, and her brother was with us at Vicksburg, in our Co. she showed me quite a few trinkets, and amongst others a chip from the Pemberton tree. I then told her that I had seen the tree and could have had it all for that matter. She priced that chip very highly. I also used to go down town clear down to the boat landing, and in fact it strikes me I were having a good time, especially the days I did not have fever and ague, it was just this way. I would have the shake in the forenoon till about 10 then the fever would set in, and after a little I would go to sleep, this would be regular ever other day. The day I had the ague I'd miss dinner but at breakfast and again at supper I was all right at the table. It was a very easy matter to break it, one dose, of quinine would generally be enough but it returned the 7th 14th and 21st day sure and that is the way it kept on more or less all summer. I was shivering with the chills one day sitting in a sunny spot when an old Darky came to me and said I mustn't set dar hony, De fever would be so much worse, I found it, was so and done different next time. In my stay at Vicksburg, I got quite intimate with one Peter D. Farmin of Co D. Our Reg. He was from Schlisingerville, Washington Co. I think Any how one of the Lake Co's. Our scope of conversation was not very extensive but we did commence to relate some of our home experiences among things he told me that all the land then, was all taken up and fenced and later on that his folks had only one forty of land, such a thing as pasturing cattle. I had never hear tell of and could not see how that could be done on 40 acres. But to him it was plain enough. In the first place thinking they used their neighbors well across the road, than they had. 10 acres in timber, which I considered ridiculous to have any thing for timber out of 40 acres, but he said that 10 acres in sugarbush as he called it came in very handy, the fact of it was the 10 acres was maple timber. The rest of the land was open of course, now then says I what stock can you keep on 40 acres, Oh! says he we have a span of horses, 2 cows and a bull dd a bull says I in surprise I should think you try and be without that, when you have only 40 acres, but his answer was, Now I tell you a bull comes in very handy some times, a fact that I could not dispute, but I still thought of the extravagance of keeping a bull on 40 acres and for only 2 cows. There was another one that I remember after we became convalescent who was going to his Reg. up the river. Anyway he was going, up the river. He had come down from Paw Paw Island where it seems, his personal property was left, he must have staid there are coming down. He was quite confident that the boat would call at this island so that he could get his duds. I had my doubts about it and asked him what inducements there would be for the boat to stop. When he answered I suppose the d--nd thing might look for wood. This from a man so low that he could hardly say that much was to me hard language. This same man had a voracious appetite after a siege of dysentery and sedon got enough, nor half enough. We were waiting with impatience for our meals one day when he said he was hungry enough to eat a d--md billed owl another expression that I thought ill corresponded with physical condition. The before mentioned Farmin got quite intimate with me, so much so, that he confided to me all about his best girl, the twain were to be come one blest when this cruel war was over. Yet having any such arrangements made myself, I was not interested at all but listened to it because I had to, not so an old fellow who lay near and could over hear Pete's experience. He cut in with, Pete you have the stakes set, all that is left is to drive them in. Another time I heard an Iowa soldier tell how they got water in Iowa which was to go over in the edge of a slough and sink a well which was not very deep. I wanted to know if they had no springs, a time, it seems he had never seen. I contended that must be a Godforsaken country where a person could not get a good drink of spring water, but he did not agree with me at all. Most every farmer around here had a living spring supplying him with water when I went out. Now however it is different, they must drill a well, no matter how good a drink they have.
I am not sure whether I got worse or how it was but it must have been along the later part of Aug or the first of Sep. that I was sent to Memphis. We came in a hospital boat, and had very nice treatment. At Memphis I was taken to the Gayoso hospital and got my place on the first floor in what had been a store. It was a large 3 or 4 story brick building fronting on main street and the back end within perhaps 20 feet of a bluff 20 or 30 feet high. Next to our ward on the first floor was the dining room and that I remember well, the grub was the best that could be found, to me at least, but so little of it, that I was just as hungry when I went out as when I came in. This was undoubtedly a wise precaution for had I got all I wanted, and what I wanted I should have filled a southern grave. I got acquainted with one man while there his name was Jerome B. Cardiff from Ill., but to what Regiment he belonged I don't know. He had been in a good many battles. The Dr., evidently a Frenchman, but the fun of it was he could not speak plain, instead of messages he would say passes. This tickled Cardiff immensely
I have never heard of Cardiff since. Another thing about this hospital was legions of rats that seemed to be everywhere. It was warm and the doors was left open to the rear, but in no room were the lights turn down for then the rats would come in droves, and trot around like so many horses fighting and squealing. At right angel with hospital in the back yard were some old shanties that were seemingly chuck full of rats. Most any fine day you could have seen 15 or 20 patients in all stages of convalescence each -with a brick- bat trying to hit Mr. Rat, as he meandered back and forth between those shanties and the before mentioned bluff. That must have been honey combed through, and through. I don't suppose they averaged one a day. Even if they chanced to hit one they were to weak to do any harm.
I speculated on how to get some more to eat, and one day I managed to get a pass to go out in town. I bought a loaf of bread and after eating part of it, I smuggled the rest of it through the guard by having it inside my coat under my arm. I wanted to save this up for several days, and hid it under the pillow of course I was not allowed to eat any more then they gave me, no matter if I bought it myself. I could hide it from the Dr.'s eyes but not so from the rats nose. Just as soon as the lights were turned down they came in droves, but instead of dancing a cotillion, and indulging in exercises of a more vulgar nature, as they formerly did they became very intimate with my bed. I tried to scale them away, but they returned and became more aggressive. Being that they kept mostly around the head of my cot I knew what they were after and particularly when one old fellow more forward than the rest jumped right up on to the bed close to my head. This was too much. I knew there would be no peace until that loaf of bread was out of the way, and to make a dead sure thing of it. I sat up in bed and got out side of it on short notice, this gave me peace and I slept the sleep of the Just, and I don't remember of any ill effect of it.
In due course of time I got to good for the hospital, but not good enough for the front, so I was sent to the convalescent camp in Ft Pickering were we lived on ordinary soldiers fare but had a good place to sleep. How long I staid here I don't remember but I know I was on guard a couple of times any how one evening as we mere going on guard I felt the fever and ague working in me and knew it was coming and as it was a cold raw evening. I told the Lieutenant of my fears. He told me that we should get that fixed. He took me to the Dr. who gave me a good stiff horn of brandy with plenty of quinine in it, that warded it off for that time. Once I was put on guard right by the magazine. It was a gloomy looking, concern something like a lime kiln. It was located on the side of the road that was cut in the bluff to get down to the river edge. It did make me feel a little squrmish [sic] when I thought of what might be if it should burst. I was not inclined to sleep on my beat in the least that night. The rats were as plentiful here as up in town and we whiled the time away drowning them out when they crawled into holes. There were great big tanks pumped full from the river by machinery so we had plenty of water. I don't remember that I formed any acquaintances while here.
My next move was to the Navy Yard at the south of the Wolf river. Here I got a partner bar the name of E1ias Longberry from Ohio. We took possession of one of the empty rooms, made a bead [bed?]stead filled it with shavings and settled down to solid comfort. I remember the very first time us two went on guard the corporal took our names as a matter of course and when he got to was he wanted to know how Longberry was spelled (I going then by the name of Ole Olson it was an easy matter to spell that) Longberry said he did not know as he could neither read nor write. I was thunder-struck to see a grown man that could not read, the writing I might excuse. I was not bashful or modest about it but turned to him with surprise pictured on my face and said "You cant read? What did you do when you grew up." Oh said he just as unconcerned as could be. I followed the plow from the time I could reach the plow handles. So did I says I, and I think the subject was dropped, but he was to me a real curiosity full grown and not being able to read nor spell his own name and I thought worst of all not in the least ashamed of it. Jill refer to this case later on. It was not long before I was moved again this time to the Officers hospital to serve as guard. While standing guard at the rear door one night I noticed a lot of cavalry men coming by in the ally, go up a flight of stairs, and after a bit, come out again when I was relieved I concluded to investigate what this could be. When I got up the first stairway there was a long narrow and dark hall with the faintest glimmer of light at the farther end, when I got there it was a pane of glass in a door. I rapped and someone looked through and I heard them say "nothing but a private" and I was admitted. There was a full fledged saloon. It must have been a "Blind Pig" of the southern kind. I did not have the least desire for liquor, but not to be considered smaller than small I called for a glass which was a very small one but the price was 15 cts; the most I've ever paid for a glass of whiskey.
The next night there must have been hell to pay for the men came streaming out on the run and quite noisy, and shortly after returned with their sabers when there must have been a pitched battle, to Judge by the noise and I believe that closed up the Blind Pig. I think it was the 5th Ohio cavalry that was here at the time. It could not have been very long before I was promoted to nurse in one of the wards. I had two in my charge a Lieutenant and a Dr. All the attendants guards included sat at a common table and to say that we lived like fighting cocks is to put it mildly. We lived on the top shelf. One of my duties was to carry victuals to my patients that was even better than what we got at the table, and as my men could not eat it all. I finished it for them, this I done in the ward not caring the least whether they seen it or not. To much eating and so little exercise gave me a continuous headache that I was than unable to account for. Finally one day I asked my patient the Dr. if he could account for it which he did by saying "You eat to much, it makes you billious [sic]. And sure as any thing could be I quit eating more than the regular meals and the headache disappeared. My wardrobe was not very extensive, however I had change of everything but pants, and of them too if I count a pair made of some white stuff used to clothe [Black Slang] with. Peter Clemens of our Co. had got hold of a bolt of this stuff and sold me a pants pattern. "My brother in law to bell Hans Grinder who was a tailor from Norway, cut, them and I sewed them myself but used black linen thread. They were not very large in the first place, but after they were washed the first time they fit like tights I must have looked like a scare crow among the attendants who were dressed up quite nice, the ward master wanted to know if I had no other pants nor money to buy for, both of which I answered in the negative. I don't remember I felt in the least put out about it either but I did tell him that if he could bring me my description roll I'd draw such clothing as would suit, that never came however and my white pants had to serve for a change. In taking the tray back to the kitchen one day I met with a serious mishap the hall ran round a room at right angels and two could meet on the corner without seeing one another previously. I collided right there and my dishes was spilled on the floor and of course more or less demolished. One of the surgeons came just then stopped looked at the wreck and said, You will have to pay for that young man. Says I, I intend to Had my description roll come so that I could have been paid off, then I presume they would have, withheld the amount, but as it was I never heard any more about it. I was Uncle Sam's loss, and I don't think he felt it. At least I never had conscientious scruples on that account. It must have been when I was at the Navy Yards that I used to visit the levee a good deal "for at the convalescent camp I was to far off and was always on the lookout for broken apple barrels which sometimes happened. It is needless to say that I managed to get my share or what I considered so on such occasions. I also took in the modus operandi of loading the steamers with cotton, two Darkies on the bale weighing 500# made it walk right along. I triad my hand at it but though I tried I was just strong as any of them still when it came to handling cotton bales. I lacked the science to no small merriment of the black roustabouts who allowed that Sojers from the Norf was not used to handling cotton which was true and my awkwardness showed it plain enough. Among duties I had to sweep the hall afor said, now it seamed there was not brooms enough to go around. At least I did not have any allowed and one day it was hard for me to find it, I complained to the ward master who told me I had to look for it. I hunted every where on my floor then I went up stairs and made a thorough search. On my floor was a closet from the hall for all such odds and ends and I thought I had found a corresponding one upstairs, and I opened it without much ceremony but [lo ?] and behold it was not the missing broom that met my gaze but one of the ladies of the hospital a Mrs. Jackson sitting very cozily attending to a call of nature, she didn't seem in the least disturbed but I was and I got away from there as fast as common decency would permit. It was impossible for me to surmise that any such arrangements existed upstairs for we had to go down stairs and out under the ally way for any such business, but that I had nevertheless committed a crime that would merit summary punishment. I felt sure but as I seen her at the table the next meal. I concluded that her modesty was not shocked very much and I commenced to breathe easier, though for a few days. I did wait for something to turn up in consequence of my searching for that broom. One day I felt a touch of the bloody flux coming again. I asked the Dr. as he was making his rounds if he would prescribe for me, which he did very willingly. I laid the prescription on the mantle piece, and it must have fallen down in the fire for when I was ready to go to the dispensary with it, it could not be found. I than went out and told the druggist my story and added, but cant you give me some thing for it. "Says he." Why yes if you will take it, of course I would. That medicine cured me up and I have never had a touch of bloody flux since He was a fine young man, not much more than 20 and I have an idea he was experimenting on me but if he could always do so well he would be the most successful Dr. in the land. One evening a lot of men came and commenced to dig a well right in the ally in the rear of our building and rather close up to it. I could not imagine what this was for, but kept watch of them until they got down probably 4 or 5 feet when they got out an iron bound round lid this was hoisted up which disclosed a reservoir of fertilizer of the best kind, a frame work was placed over the hold with pulleys at the top and buckets one going, up and one going down and the contents were tripped into a large tight box on a wagon close by. How long this continued I don't know, but the next morning, the ally looked the same as ever. One thing is sure there was a good chance to manure some body's cabbage patch. There was something curious about my meanderings in Memphis. I forgot all about home and writing to them, but I did. I don't think I wrote once while at Memphis. How sadly my silence must have made my parents feel not to hear any thing from me and of course conjuring up the worst that might happen. But my good days came to an end for one day the ward master read out loud a long lingo, which boiled down was that I should report to my regiment, and before leaving this stage of my hospital life. I must take along that trip to Vicksburg, of course we were furnished transportation and the necessary rations, and found out what boat to take, there must have been upwards of a hundred on this boat belonging to as many regiments - not one of whom did I know or had ever seen before, but they were union soldiers and therein lay the charm. It was a regular slow poke for sailing and as we had no escort we tied up every night. Somehow they also chanced to get miserable green wood which made it so much worse, once we spied a man who seemed had wood for sale. boat was sent ashore to investigate and we soon tied up The wood was on land some 20 or 30 feet above the river and we all turned out to throw down onto the lowest set of from which it was carried a board. The way that wood flew down was a caution, but when the carrying, commenced it was a different story them hospital bummers was not of much account. This boat load of soldiers was in command of a Lieutenant though there were higher officers aboard. One I remember Col. Clark of McPherson's staff. As on all river steamers there was a bar, but of course not for private soldiers. A petition was sent to the Lieutenant to throw it open but he would not take the responsibility so an appeal was taken to Col. Clark who ordered the bar to be open, I think every forenoon. I don't think it was open more than one day, long enough however to make a little hall out of that boat, and had it not been shut when it was, no further proof would ever be needed that there is a genuine orthodox hell in existence. One young man I remember in particular a fine fellow hardly out of his teens. He was what might be termed Indian drunk with all that that implies. Had he had his own way he would have cleaned us all out or throw us into the river, but in order to cool him down good they had him tied up by the thumbs. When he simmered down and peace reigned once more and there were no more petitions sent in to open the bar we could stay in the cabin and every where I had my lodging on a pile of coffee sacks as I thought, but which proved to be mail sacks for the different divisions for the address was on slip of paper where it was tied thus McClernands Division Harvey's Division Sherman's Division and so on. No one seemed to care in the least for these sacks enclosing so much valuable information from hundreds of homes throughout the north. And of course no one molested them, still it occurred to me to be a very loose way to carry Uncle Sam's mail. As before mentioned we had to tie up every night, and one evening we were at I think Goodrich landing Arkansas, anyway it was Arkansas shore for I was ashore in the evening and this was the only time I ever set my foot on Arkansas soil. We laid alongside of a whopping big barge that was loaded with barrels of all kinds. It never occurred to me that it was any of my business to find out what those barrels contained but there must have been a few whose conscience would give them no peace until the mystery was solved. The next morning when. I woke up we were under full head way down the river as I went down to the fire to cook my breakfast, I noticed quite a commotion in front of one of the wheels. There were two barrels of ale with their ends stove in and the men dipping it out with their tin cups, of course I had to sample it the same as the rest of them somehow this did not have the effect that the open bar had. Possibly there was not so much 40 rods about it. I heard that they laid it to a Missourian a long lean lank hook nosed type of a genuine Southerner who to see once was enough, I think I'd know him even now among a thousand. I never heard anyone got in trouble on account of the transfer of that ale. Well I got back to the regiment which I think was in Nov. Eight months later. I went or was carried into the hospital again, but under circumstances so different from what I had tried so far that it bears no comparison, I ask the reader to follow me the next 20 months.
It was on the 21st of July 1864 that to me stands out more prominent than any other day of my life though I have now in 1895 [The year this manuscript was written.] turned my 53d mile post. It was the first day of the battle of Atlanta. I was in my 22nd year since Jan 15 and in my 2 1/2 years soldering had been toughened to stand most any thing and besides I was not pampered before getting into the army either. That is one thing I am thankful for and that is undoubtedly how I could stand as much as I did.
But to come back to the hospital or my hospital life, I will not weary the reader with a description of the battle, How we charged and took Bald Hill. How Pat Cleburns man took to their heels, something they had not done so far as it is reported. How we ran over the works and drove them like a flock of sheep, and how we retreated to the works and there loaded and fired to our hearts content, until the bullet molded for my special benefit hit its mark.
An able pen could make a chapter out of this, but I will just commence when I was hit which was just as I had fired and thrown my gun back preparatory to load. I turned round and told Capt. (Lieut. then) Jones that I was hit when he told me to get back to the rear as soon as I could. I staggered back but had not gone far before I almost gave up, but was met by Geo Fuller and Frank Fenster who one on each side helped me to the rear. In going back my cap caught in a dry black oak limb and was pulled of. I stopped and wanted to get the cap, but my aids would not think of stopping. As we were in anything but a safe place. That cap I had got from my right hand man John Hinkle that very morning. It was just like this. When home on Veterans furlough, I had like the rest to buy a hat which I did, for $4.00. Now a person would suppose that $400 would purchase a right smart hat, but it seemed not for it was so completely gone that morning that it would hardly hang on the head the before mentioned Hinkle must have got a hold of a better hat for he offered me his old cap as a gift, but figure 12 and letter C which was of German silver he wanted returned. Poor fellow he did not need them for he gave up his life for the Union that day and so did my left hand man Gilbert Baker. We went up the hill side by side in the front rank but after that I never seen them as we got somewhat scattered going through the woods.
Well I got to the ambulance but on the way I seen many who had bit the dust and I also seen some that must have shown the white feather for they lay back to far from the front. But this did not bother me in the least. I expected to die and I thanked Providence for not being killed outright, as was Andrew Swanson and John Hudson of our Co. shot dead by my side while we were lying where I was when hit. They never knew what hurt them. Arriving where the ambulance met us we were of course out of range, I remember two that I knew that were there at the same time, Sergeant E. P. Wood of our Co. and one Broughton of Co. E. that had been Col. Bryant's orderly, Wood was taken in the ambulance with me and I had a chance to press his hand, which he returned, but he was already far gone and must have died soon. Fe was shot in the breast. Broughton was also severely wounded and died shortly. Wood was one of the best men in our Co. an upright man in all respects. There were 2 brothers of them Woods both were corporals it was E. P. and D. C. but I did not know which was till one of them D. C. sickened and died at Vicksburg. I cut out the letters on a head board for his grave without any more digression. I will now describe my lot, and longest pull of hospital life which covered more than 20 months of time and incidentally 8 states of territory. My foot was not more than 5, Georgia, Tenn., Ind., Mo. and Wis. but we must have hugged the shore more or less of Kentucky, Ill. and Iowa, as we navigate the Cumberland, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers. Now I will say right here that hospital life is far different to a wounded man to what it is to a sick one. In the first place there is a kind of romance in being among the wounded, which naturally will not be in being sick, than again when the wound is alright you -feel quite easy and contented. The wounds dressing once or twice a day is of course a forcible reminder of your condition but as a rule a wounded man when he is well can take a good deal of comfort that a sick man can not pretend to get. Arriving at the hospital which was simply an out doors, I was tenderly laid on mother earth to take such comfort as could be got out of the situation. A young man (he may have been a Dr.) pencil in hand came to me. Got my name, Co. and Reg. and with a hasty glance at the wound pronounced it slightly wounded. This hasty judgment is easily accounted for, the bullet had gone through the hip it is true but it lodged under the skin on the other side and I am not now so sure but I myself considered it only a flesh wound on the front side. In fact I have two of them, this was all the medical attendance I got that day and the next, too. My hip was getting worse right along, and to ease it I drew my knee up to my chin and to help keep it in that position I got a round piece of wood under my thigh, this with a sack of oats under my head fixed me quite comfortable for my first nights rest as a wounded Union soldier. I happened to lie close to the operating table but was to much occupied with my own affairs to note much of what was going on. 0nce however I heard one who became delirious under the influence of chloroform and he harangued the Dr.'s in good shape. Not a few of his sallies "brought down the house" I remember him saying, There are Grant and Sherman, (he may have named others also) they are from West-Point. What of that? I am from all points. The next morning it was rumored that Hood was coming around in our rear. Moving of the wounded to another corner of our large hospital was soon under full headway. At our next stopping place hospital tents were pitched, and a blanket - shirts and a pair of drawers were issued to each man at least that is what I got. We soon found out that this was not the safest place in the world for bullets would hiss uncomfortably close in the tree tops we were however behind the broad hill and it proved safe enough. I presume the tent was filled but as to that I could not say. All I remember is that as the firing increased, (And there was quite a bit of that July 22 1864 on and around Bald Hill Ga.) all those shot above the belt took leg bail for security until there was left only 4 myself and another private. I think minus a leg though I am not sure of that, a Lieutenant with his leg of above the knee and Col. Reynolds of the 16th Wis., with his imported leg. He was shot through the thigh, the day before just at the close of this days battle. When the Drs wanted to amputate it, he, with Irish wit, begged them to spare it as it was an imported leg. That imported leg followed Tom to the grave. He got to be pension agent after the war and when I came to draw my pension, he always exchanged compliments on the day we share the same bed room, not a few of those skedadling miscalculated their own ability and would drop in the woods from sheer exhaustion or loss of blood.
There was a young drummer of the 25th Wis. Teunis Lawrence (Lange mgr) with whom I had went to school that came to see me several times that day. It was his duty to hunt up those lost and try to get them into a place of safety once he told me a woeful story of how he heard a man moaning in the woods and to judge by the sound it must have been a regular Goliath. He knew he could not help him off alone for Tennis was quite small but he concluded to see him any how. He might give him a drink of mater if nothing, more, but when he got there low and behold it was a mule issuing his most piteous appeals for help. One man from Co. E. by the name of James Camp laid by my side. He had also got the same amount of clothing that I had. He was shot through the arm. He raised up on his well arm and listened quite a while but finally scooted of as fast as he could leaving all his goods and chattels behind. I was not slow and. had no scruples against appropriating all his personal property to my own use. Though it was a hard task for me to reach over that much but it was the same old story, "Where ever there is a will there is a way". In my hospital meandering we met again and I told him of the haul, but he was willing I should keep it. When the moving commenced I don't know, but my turn did not come till after dark, and I have had a great many pleasanter rides since. Fires seemed to be lit all around us, and the poor driver lost the road, if in fact there was any, but the stumps and ruts he did not lose and when we reached our destination I was on mother earth again. I laid there, and listened and listened. The firing especially musketry was simply enormous. The news came through that General McPherson was killed, but I cannot remember what effect it had on me. Towards the last there came quite a body of soldiers marching past the tent just at my head and I noticed they carried their guns at right shoulder shift and with fixed bayonets. I judged from that that something serious was in store and I think the firing slackened of soon. When I woke up in the morning I found that it was a nice grass plot that was completely covered by men in the same condition that I was. One of my neighbors who was obliged attend to a call of nature done so a little to close to me for comfort, and of course I gave him a piece of my mind. I've been sorry for that since for if he was not near me he would have been near someone else and I was no better than the rest. Hospital tents was pitched and cots built with bed ticks filled with leaves and we settled down to solid comfort. Gen. Leggett came around to see us and talked quite cheering. It put us in good spirits. Here my first letter was written to the loved ones at home by Chaplain Walker, the same office was performed for my neighbor. This was one of the saddest experiences I had and hard as we were it almost brought tears to my eyes and does yet, when I think of it though 30 winters has come and gone since. Instead of the chaplain writing a new letter he got him to finish one commenced before the battle. It was written in a fine large hand commencing, to my Dear wife. He now told her that she would never see him any more. Who can picture the anguish of that wife and perhaps mother on finishing that last letter from her husband. He was shot through the breast and must have died soon. He was already far gone, I don't remember any more about him. After a few days we were moved again locating behind the 4th Corps as they called it. The hospital was fixed up just as it was where we left. I had now made up my mind that I should get well, but about this time the wound commenced to discharge which gave me a genuine scare. I knew nothing about healing a gun shot wound and I surely thought my time had now come. Fortunately there was a soldier who had been in Mexico and he told me that this was all 'O.K.' gunshot wound must be running all the time until it is healed. (And it is running yet Feb. 8. 1895) and not healed. And such discharging. It beat all. It would go through the bed tick and really show a puddle under the cot. It ran me down so I got an appetite like a saw mill. I could not have been more greedy if I had been on the march every day or swung the cradle in the harvest field. In the mean time some thing had to be done for the place on the back side of my hip for it was black and blue and getting very painful. A mustard poultice was applied that rotted of all the bruised parts and the bullet dropped out, a large ugly scraggy looking minnie ball. I lost it on the train coming to Chattanooga. Pretty soon a new sensation was in store for me. Maggots got into my wound, or rather into the matter. Every thing of a soggy nature got fly blowed. My two blankets had been discarded on that account. Had I been scared when the wound commenced discharging I was no less so when it pot full of wriggling, maggots. I fully made up my mind that this was the finishing, touch. I soon found that the little fellows were quite harmless if tended to in time, a little turpentine would start them up at a lively rate. They would all try to get to the surface when them were easily disposed of right. In connection herewith comes a little fun. Our Co., Co. C., had an extra flag presented to us by I think the headquarter officers for having the largest number of veterans or getting a certain no. first. I am not sure which Sam Hocking of Mineral Point, was detailed to carry this flag and a better man could not be found for that purpose of course the Rebs. paid their compliments to Sam. One leaden missile struck the hand that held flag staff, splintered the staff-went through the thigh and lodged in the other thigh but slightly damaged some thing else on the way. He was taken to the 4th Division Hospital where they were on the point of partly fitting him for taking care of a Turkish harem, but on learning that he belonged to the Third Division they sent him there. Here wiser councils prevailed and Sam was left to many days of usefulness amply attested to by the numerous little (they must be big now) that I seen some time after war. Well Sam lay in another tent not far from me but his wound made him blind for a time. He could hear but not see me owing to the location of one of his wounds he was nicknamed 'Bag'. Of course maggots did not slight him either but was driven off with turpentine as before mentioned. One old fellow smarter than the rest seemed to slide from under when turpentine was dealt out, or he may have been a tea to tellar [sic] anyway he held the fort for a few days in the mean time growing so large that he got crowded for room. He was not one of your lazy louts that would coddle up and lay in one position all day, Not he. He would stroll around for health and recreation but very soon struck the boundary wall, which made Sam howl with pain for he was in a place that would not stand much hammering with, and an extra apparatus had to be employed to cause a delivery. Ever after whenever any one complained of maggots and how large they were getting the answer would be "Never mind wait till they get to be as big as the one Bag had.
After a few days I think tenth of August there was another move this time homewards the 18 miles to Marietta, I rode in a lumber wagon. The road was none of it the best (at least I thought so) but the corduroyed part across the Chattahoochee bottoms was about the toughest river I've ever had. I laid on my back and the matter would just bubble right up with every jolt. I understood that I died on the way, but it was a miracle that it was not more. How I lived through that ride I don't know, but I did and was laid on the ground at Marietta the same as on two former occasions. The next day we got into tents and onto cots with tickful of leaves. Our wounds had not been dressed since the morning the day before, and were in anything but a nice condition the maggots of course had had a 24 hours picnic. I could not help but have some fun in seeing how a little German boy carried on when he seen the maggots. He was shot through the ankle and when the bandage was removed there were maggots by the Peck. It must have been a new thing to him entirely for he did carry on like mad, jumping, bouncing on his sound foot and more than stringing them of, mostly in German Donner-Wetter, ferdamt, and sich were run of by the yard. He must have been a new comer to judge by his complexion and a recruit as well. I just laughed and told him that was nothing, the maggots would not eat him, that they were not dangerous in the least, and I guess it was not long till he found out I told him the truth. I've never seen him since. We staid here only a very few days when we made another move this time to Rome, Ga. We had marched through that place in coming to the front. We were now taken in hospital care which was a genuine luxury. Here we were out in the field hospital. It must have been an extensive affair. One ward consisted of 6 tents set end to end, and if I am not mistaken there were 6 cots in each tent 3 & 3 on each side with an aisle in the center. How many Dr.'s there were I don't know I only seen three, Lucas, French & Everett the last one was ours. Dr. Lucas in charge of the whole. Dr. Everett was rough as a backwoods man both in talk and manners but a good and kind hearted man withal, and for ought I know a good Dr. He would joke with the boys bandy words with them that was not always fit for the drawing room. Our wound dresser's name was Cook, Isaac Cook. He was young, and quite small but when it came to bandy words he was all there. One man lay next to me who I knew could not stand much (In fact he was quite surly) but for all that a good and brave soldier. He was shot through the thigh. Something must have been the matter with the grub one day for we all had a touch of the Tennessee quick step with most of us all but the step. My neighbor could not get around quick, and the result was a requisition for clean clothes, of course this was nothing but the next day we commenced to bandy words again calling one another, Colonel, Captain General, and uncle, and so on. Finally little Isaac Cook made the remark that that man (my neighbor) ought to be Quartermaster, for he drew so much in clothing. This was enough he raised up in bed and swore that if could get something, to reach him with held show him what was what for me that knew him so well it was quite rich, but little Isaac just had a good laugh at him being careful to keep out of reach. I did not dare to laugh as much as I wanted to. Dr. French had his wife alone and one day she took a stroll through the wards. It was very warm and we lay there dressed something like Adam and we in the garden. It seams as I can see her yet as she stepped into the first tent where I lay, she stopped look around blushed and smiled and such skirmishing to get covering you never saw. Finally she walked up the aisle with a kind word for this one and a smile for that, and she was surely the prettiest woman I ever saw. You have no idea what a cheering effect it had on the men. One fellow in the back of the ward was shot in the calf of the leg and got well very soon or at least thought he did for he was on crutches and came walking down the aisle proud as a peacock stopping now and then looking around with silent contempt at us who yet lay there helpless. He was a little to previous however as he had a back set that came very near using him up. They said that the guard around the place were Gentlemen of the colored persuasion and we were somewhat dubious as to there ability. One night I happened to lay awake I heard a shot fired. I just almost held my breath to hear another, and sure enough "bang" there it was. My heart just about stood still for a while for I expected a general fusillade which might mean death to us if nothing else. But no more shots were heard that night. The darkies had just fired at a shadow or something, which was no more than lots of white soldiers done often enough. After a while I "with a good many others" got gangrene in my wound the only remedy which was burning out with bromine I was carried to another ward for that purpose where there was a kind of consultation. Dr Lucas being present. He did not say any thing but just shook his head. Good thing I did not knot the meaning of that then. Then ignorance is bliss tis folly to be wise. The burning out process was some thing of which once in a life time is enough but my wound came out clean as a whistle. The field hospital being broke up we were all moved into town and lodged in different buildings. I was taken into a large hall over a store. I believe it had been used for a City or Town hall, 45 cots were placed in here. It was the first one brought in and chose the cot next to the south window in the corner. A fellow by the name of Armstrong from Washington Ia. came next to me so that the two were neighbors for quite a while. This Armstrong had his leg of below the knee. He was quite well educated and had been on detached service clerking most of the time, but singularly enough he said that he managed. This time he was brought up for a good. He was a fine jovial fellow, and could lay on his cot read novels and clean tobacco all day. I can't remember any time about the Dr.'s here but I do our wound dresser and nurse. The latter was a regular curmudgeon from Peoria Ill. and we soon got to detest him in every way showing our manners on every occasion. By right we should have had a spittoon a piece but it seems they were short on cuspidors so that Armstrong and I had to go snucks on one. This was placed half ways between us for I was getting jealous of my rights and a half a share in a spittoon was one of them. Armstrong was there buried in his novel sitting all around it and when the nurse grumbled he swore that he could not hit so far of (It being one of the. small kind to) and of course I would not let it go hairs breadth beyond the center line, for that matter the spittoon might be at the antipodes for all the real use I had for it. Another source of annoyance was the corporal each man was provided with one, and oyster cans were generally promoted to corporal. We most always when full to the rim set them behind the leg of the cot. The nurse being very forgetful would in sweeping or fussing around trip the corporal and that functionary would have a good delivery. The nurses good-humor was not increased thereby. I was not then aware that I should be promoted to corporal ere I got out of the hospital. It was probably the irony of fate. I am ashamed to say that the tricks played on that nurse by Armstrong, and myself were numerous and kept him in hot water most all the time. It strikes me that he either resigned or was transferred before we left there. It would be nothing strange if he did. This has set me thinking how mean patients can be and at the same time not be liable to a breach of discipline, and entitled to the best of care. It is easy to see how hard it would be to give patients the loving care they ought to have when doings were carried on in this wise. Fortunately we, Armstrong and myself needed no care particularly and I presume that was the reason we never cared what the nurse thought of us. Our wound dressers name was Winder a down east Yankee of the genuine blue belly kind tall spare in flesh and a regular hatched face, but he could tell stories and chew tobacco. He was an expert at begging tobacco, of course he didn't levy on me but my partner had to use strategy. I know he had a fashion of handling a very small piece when the wound dresser was expected so as to excite his pity when there was so little. Still Winder would furnish reading matter when Armstrong's plug would become quite small after a bite or two. This tobacco begging of Winder used to put me in mind of Mit Mathews out on Dukes Prairie. It was before the war when every body smoked plug. Now Mathews used to run a thrashing machine and used to tell us how he managed it when amongst the Irish. They would beg a pipeful and as they generally had one with a home made bowl that would hold somewhere between a quart and a half a peck it simply meant the cutting up the biggest share of the plug. To obviate this he had his tobacco cut up into small bits and when approached for a pipefull would fish one out of his pocket swearing like the army in Flanders that that was the size of his pile. Not being a consumer of the weed my self I am unable to say that this home made pipe arrangement for begging purposes was a peculiarity with Irish alone. But if it was their showed a piece of sagacity that never got public credit for. One thing happened here showing how jealous authorities are in small matters, or as the Norwegians has it, "De smaa Tyve honger man men de store lader man lobe" They will hang the small thieves while the big ones they let go. While we were in tents shortly after I'd had the gangrene we were paid of and I got the snug sum of $200.00. Now it became a question with me how to take care that money. I had pocketbook but where should I keep it for the most I had on during the day was shirt and drawers and some times not that much necessity is the mother of invention and I thought of making a kind of pouch to put my pocket book in than have this to a string around my neck wear it as kind of a "Fetish". But of what should I make that pouch and band It must have been an evil genius that whispered to me to get a pillow case for making it out of. Sure enough the next time the clothes were changed there was a pillow case to little brought back but it was not noticed. We soon moved so I had to defer making it till our next stop this I did but had no sooner commenced cutting it up till the nurse wanted to know what I was about. I was not careful enough never thinking that they would molest me when they must know that the stuff had not come from there, for we had not been there long enough to have the bed clothes changed. I told the nurse as it had not come from this hospital he need not bother about it but he evidently considered himself personally a guardian for all of Uncle Sam's property and made quite a racket about it, but I stuck to my story which was also very evident. Went off and I sure had the ward master to deal with. My plea was the same and I was finally left alone but the fuss made over the pillow case would have done credit to a thousand dollar boodle. By this time Sherman was chasing Hood up from Atlanta and at one time he could not have been very far from Rome. Indeed it was reported that he could be seen hovering around in the Highlands only a few miles of. I noticed that soldiers mostly formed partners like 2 and 2. There were 2 in this ward that was most always together, one was quite young with his left arm of above the elbow the other an oldish man belonging to the 20th Ill. He was shot in the foot some way. I believe in the heel but could walk quite well with a cane They would be out all day only coming in for their meals and the time Hood was near by would come in with some awful stories how they had seen the Rebel army not very far of. How we would all be captured but that them two had found a cave in which to hide where no one could find them.
We were improving slowly and crutches began to be discussed for I knew that crutches was wanted before I could navigate. One day a whole armful was brought in home made of Georgia pine and long enough for giants. I never having used such before. I knew nothing about the proper length but commenced to navigate around on the floor with them as they were after a while I got bolder and concluded to go on an exploring expedition down stairs. Nothing short of a miracle kept me from going head long down the entire length of that stairway, and if I had I should never have seen Wis. again.
After getting them down to the proper length and getting the hang of them. I maneuvered around quite freely, going down stairs and even round town. Right under our ward was the commissary and I used to go down in there and eat hard tack and sugar all I could fill up. I do not remember that our grub was particularly short but neither was my appetite. One day I went to see Lewis Paul of our Co. who had been wounded June 15. His thigh was broken and not very well spliced. I told him that was clean out of patience with my wound, thought it time that it was healed up and I'd get well. He contended that all that was needed was for me to quit dressing it so a scale could be formed and it would soon be well. It did not work that way however. I kept on dressing (in fact I had to) for 4 years more. Then let up for 20 years then resumed dressing and am at it still. Here I heard direct from the Reg. I think it was Sever Chestelson that came in to the hospital. About the first of Nov. I made another move. This time to Chattanooga, and we rode in box cars too. For wounded men to ride in box cars and over such roads, part of which had been torn up every week and rebuilt in the most hasty scanner was anything but a pleasure trip but I stood it first rate. For the 3d time I was through Kingston where the spur from Rome connects with the main line. I went through on foot the 6th of June going to the front. There was a young man who paid out his last penny and then offered his pocketbook for 25c. It must have cost 75, I bought it and have got it yet but it has been on the retired list for a number of years. We got to Chattanooga I think in the night. Towards morning we were run out on a side track remaining there all day. They must have been repairing the turning table or something for I counted no less than 60 locomotives standing on a curve a few rods from our car. It was a beautiful sight. We staid here a couple of weeks these 2 weeks I think my wound made better progress than at any corresponding time before. Us wounded ones were now among sick ones and that may have been the reason that grub was slimmer than before, but Oh! so good. I seemed hungry all the time. I used strategy to get more than my share but my pouch like Oliver Twist cried for more. I chose supper time to spring my nefarious plot, for as it was a deed of darkness, that time being the best. The modus operandi was this. The kitchen was at one and of the ward, our nurse would come alone with the ration on a plate, but instead of at once commencing to eat. I'd hide it as soon as his back was turned, and when the next one came along I looked hungry and honest and got another dose. Enough for a saint. It was a feast for a King, but there was still an other task in order to cover up all the tricks and be ready for another haul the question was how to get shet [sic] of that extra plate I would bide my time and when I thought every thing was favorable. I'd lean down an spin it a long so that it would stop quite a distance from me after a while a plate or two would be found under a bed and someone would be getting a going over for not bringing back the plates as they were used. There must have been very few in this ward that was wounded and singular enough. I can't remember any one from our ward in Rome Ga. One of the nurses was an oldish fatherly looking fellow who undoubtedly tried to do what was right, I remember one of the patients calling for pickles. He undoubtedly craved it bad. But the nurse answered, No, you must not have pickles and as a reason added, (for you are such bad caisis [sic]). One tall fellow diagonally across the aisle from me was very low and not expected to live but one evening he got up standing straight and said, I have prayed to the Almighty that my life would be spared till my dear brother could come but it seems he won't. That made a deep impression on me. A young fellow just down from the north came into our ward. He had the measles but had caught cold when the measles struck in and he was a dead boy very shortly. I could not help but to think of where I'd have been if I'd got the measles where I could not have as good care as I had at Western Missouri. One day I got on to my crutches walked out past the kitchen and had a good view of the renowned Look Out Mountain with the Tennessee river at its base. It is really the only time I've seen Look Out Mountain. Ohio and some other soldiers voted in the hospital, but us from Wis. could not. (I should have added I did no try for extra rations except at long intervals, so as not to Kill the Goose that laid the golden egg.
To Nashville we went in hospital cars and feeling quite well this was a trip fit for a king. Nothing happened on the way except that our car jumped the track just as we got over the White Side River. This is one of the highest bridges down south I looked down at the guards but they looked like small boys.
[Jan 29th 1896] Just had a conversation with Gilbert Anderson, (Gudbrand Daklen) of Moscow. He was in Co. E., of the 15th Wis. and guarding that R. R. bridge. The White Side river, when I went across. He seen the car leave the track. It was in the after noon, there was a sharp curve as they approached the bridge coming from Chattanooga There was a long freight train and over 2 hospital cars hitched on behind. The train was run to fast and when our lone coupled passengers come along the fore most cars jumped and careened over on one side breaking the wheels. Two of which came down Kerslam. It barely escaped tipping over while if it had it would have been all day with us the bridge was 138 feet high. The train went on leaving the hospital arrangement. They telegraphed back to Chattanooga 27 miles of when the wreckers came out and along in the night we pulled out. This may be so. He staid there. He staid there 3 weeks and no other accident of that kind happened so it must be my car. He said it looked horrible when one side commenced raising up. He heard that the engineer was discharged.
Col. Bryant's Hostler came through the car he was very near gone from sickness of some kind. I thought then that it was strange. This man had had a fierce time of it never any exposure but sickness overtook him and now he was at deaths door. I think he died shortly afterward. If the ride on the hospital cars was a good one, the ride from it to a hospital in Nashville was exactly contrary. Part of the way they must have commenced to pave the streets and only got to putting in the largest rocks, say 5 or 6 inch in diameter, for as yet there was no fillings of any kind. The hospital was on the 3d story and by going to the window I got a good view of the town including the Zollicoffer House. It stood out in bold relief gloomy enough but I was not near enough to see the million and a half of lice that kept guard over the structure. Some of my comrades here I venture to say got quite intimate with them or they with you for there is nothing stuck up about an army louse. but perhaps the ones reared in the Zollicoffer House were more tony [sic] than those out in the country camps. One peculiarity about this hospital was cleanliness, not but what all hospitals were clean, but this was more so while at other places they never washed the floors more than 5 times a week here it was every morning. Up to this time the hospital livers had been mainly from the ranks, but the short while I staid in Nashville learned me that I was now among general hospital bummers who was there to stay. There was also more complaints of every thing than I ever heard before though to me it was alright. The fare came in for its share of complaint. I remember one here who had quite a gift of gab harangued us on the insufficiency of vegetables and canned goods, someone ventured the excuse that possibly they did not have it here when he became really eloquent and would up with. I tell you they have more concentrated milk in the store house than a mule can pull. Now I wasn't much in English at that time but I could hardly repress a smile for I knew he meant condensed milk.
Quite a young fellow with his leg of above knee lay beside me. He was redheaded and looking at me one day he said, "You've got red hair". I pleaded guilty and reminded him of the fact that he was in the same boat, which he did not deny. It put me in mind of one of my cousins before the war. He also had red hair, redder than mine, but he looked at me and said. Du he raut haar du men eg he de sossi. (You have red hair but I have it this way). Well the neighbor of mine had a bad stump Gangrene had eat of the flesh so that the bone was protruding. The first and only time I've seen a man's thigh bone which isn't very large. He was taken out one day and had a reamputation. I don't know whether he stood it or not. Here I met a member of the 15th Wis. for the, first time. One Andrew Peterson, but to what Co. he belonged I don't know. He was a newcomer and had joined the Reg. at Strawberry Plains, when he found that I was a Norwegian he became very friendly and we indulged in speaking my mother tongue something I had not done for months. He also had his complaints but it was liquids he contended this place was deficient in He mentioned another place far above this. They got their Black berry Vine Every day. He meant wine. There could not have been much strength in the Vine. He gave me a full report of the 15th from Strawberry Plains, but became really eloquent when giving the details of the battle of New Hope Church the 27th of May when they all got scattered to the 4 winds. I think way in the night but will not be positive. He heard Captain Grinager holler "Rally Rally!", but my hero was not in a rallying- mood for he told me Eg ga Fau i boadi Rali aa alt sammere which in plain English means that rallying and everything else might go to the Devil for all of him.
My next move was by hospital boat down the Cumberland and up the Ohio to Evansville Indiana where I staid till spring. I think I spent here the best winter of my life. The ride on the hospital boat was a real pleasure. I was on the first floor, and my cot so that I could look out upon the river and view the different crafts, that sailed up and down except a week or so when there was to much ice. The grub was good and plenty of it and we had all the liberty we could wish, in fact some had more than they ought to have had. This was a 3 story building built for a marine hospital. There were 3 Dr.'s Johnson, Thompson and Schultz, but who was in charge I don't know but it strikes me that it was Johnson. They had one floor a piece and would go the rounds once a day, but one by turn would be what they called officer of the day and stay there the 24 hours. Dr Thompson was a very fine slow going gentleman who had very little to say. Besides these we had, in our ward a Dr. Miller. He was a Kentuckyian and a full fledged Dr. but had got on a spree and enlisted in the 91st Indiana and served as a private all through. I could not make out what this man was at first for he wore a gray suit of citizens clothes all the other soldiers I'd seen so far was dressed in blue of course but I soon found out. He was a fine large well built fellow but so pale I had never seen a well man so pale. One day he told me what the matter was. I think it was after the fall of Atlanta that some blood vessel in his nose burst. Says he I tried I tried all the remedies that I knew of than I went to the Brigade surgeon and he done all he could for me, but to no avail, then I went back of the camp and sat down in the water to die, but all at once it stopped. The doctoring was simply now to gather blood. He was called in for consultation on different cases and was told to go into the dispensary and help himself to anything he wanted. The talk and actions he indulged in sometimes showed that he could be one of the boys. The nurse for our ward was named Johnson, Robert Johnson, of the 80th Indiana the highest aim of his life seemed to be, to be the first one when grub was dealt out. He would carry it all on a large tray and to be sure of being No. one, would set the tray at the head of the stairs leading into the basement where the cooking was done. He would be on the quivive right before meal time and on the first signal would make a lunge for that tray. It could not have been worse if the house had been on fire. He was shot in the left breast at the battle of Resaca and contended that he carried the ball yet. Dr Miller did not dispute him, but he told me that it was all nonsense him carrying that ball it had simply glanced off. And I thought so too. He was to active for a man carrying an ounce of lead near his heart Lone of the patients lived close by but was quarantined on account of the small pox in his family. The cars had run over his foot and it was cut of even with the leg. The quarantine was raised and he came to us but the scars were plainly visible yet but I don't remember that any one was afraid of it. He was going to sue the R. R. Co. for $50000 damages for his foot. A lawyer had promised to prosecute for the half. He claimed negligence of some kind. We had some fun one morning with a young fellow, not so young but what he had married before he enlisted, and now came the results. He lived close by the hospital but took his meals with us. He had been wounded and was now using one crutch. This morning he was in a stew running in and out looking for Dr. Johnson who was wanted to help his wife during a crisis. Dr. Miller offered his services to no small amusement for all the rest of us but it was no go he must have Dr. Johnson who also came around in good season, but it was a "She boy". There was a case from Patsy Co Indiana something like this Dr Miller affair. A Judge Pitchard had got his son appointed to West Point where he graduated but that was all. He never amounted to any thing. He enlisted and was a terror to all the officers in the Regt either one of whom he could have learned all they finally did learn, and more too. He kept them continually in hot water but they managed to keep him on detached service most of the time but drink would get away with him so he would be returned to the Regt. only to be sent of again, at first opportunity. It is hard to imagine a meaner situation than to be in command of a person whose education is far ahead of the commander and who gloated over it showing it on every occasion.
There were open grates for coal and two old codgers in our ward used to keep the fire up all the time one before and one after midnight. One of them Morrison from Ill., had the task of cleaning and filling the lamps throughout the building. The other, Kelly, I don't think had a job. The chaplain would come around every Sunday morning and distribute religious reading of which I remember New York Observer a very large paper. Quite a number were sick and not of the wounded of which I remember one John A Craw from Michigan. He was an oldish man who had evidently enlisted late in the war if indeed he was not drafted and was quite green on military affairs. He made inquiry one day what that description roll was that he heard so much talk of. Miller undertook to enlighten him and all kept mum for we knew something would come worth listening to. Miller hadn't got far before we could have broke out especially on seeing how attentive Craw was but it was finally laid on to thick even for Craw and we all busted. There was a revival meeting kept up close by several nights and not a few got religion amongst them a young fellow from New York. They were discussing his case in our ward one day when some one said that he was to easily affected as he could not read and was quite young at that. This was an eye opener to me and I blurted out "Cant he read?" Why I never saw but one grown person before (Elias Longberry) who could not read and that was in Memphis. Old Morrison our camp cleaner seemed just as much surprised and spoke up "You haven't You've seen me. I can't read I dropped that subject like a hot potato. I had seen that man take his papers on a Sunday morning just as regular as I did, but it seems he had other uses for them. Another time I got my foot in it. They were talking about a boy and a girl and incidentally remarked that she rode behind him on the same horse when I let fall the remark that such a performance I had never seen. That was enough I never heard the last of it. It would be? Here you man that never seen a girl ride behind a boy on the same horse. It seems down there this is a common thing. Until after the battle of Nashville I was the only Norwegian at the hospital. Among the wounded brought in there was one Hans H. Danielson from Good hue Center. Good Hue Co. Minn. belonging to I think the 5th Minn. He was brought into our ward and Dr. Thompson called my attention to the fact that he was one of my countrymen. The Hoosiers and Kentuckyians knew very little about Norwegians, and as for New Yorker of which there were a few they had never seen one in their lives. They supposed the Norwegians were something like Eskimos, coming from the ice bound north of Europe. This Danielson was wounded in the leg somewhere, and here it was amputated. He always contended that had he had proper treatment his leg could have been saved perhaps. I seen him again at Prairie du Chine. The Wis. soldiers who were anxious to get home would not wait for their turn but simply wrote the Governor and forthwith would come an order for their transfer. Quite a number went home this way, but I could see no use for it so long as my wound needed medical attendance and I preferred to let nature take its course as it were and take my trip home by stages as the authorities saw fit and I got home that way in good season. We had here an insane soldier that was quite an attraction. He was in a room all by himself chained by one foot to the floor but the chain was plenty long for comfort. Ladies and Gentlemen would come down from town to have a look at him, and also to talk with him, but his answers would generally be to smutty and filthy to be listen to. He came with us on the hospital boat from Nashville and well do I remember the first evening aboard. He made a racket so that there was no peace for the wicked and not much for the righteous. The soldiers were mad enough to have pitched him over board could they have got at him. He would get up and throw the bad clothes and cot around to the eminent danger for all that was near him. Finally to keep him in bounds he was strapped down to the bed stead He could then use his mouth only which he did in good shape finally letting every body know that he had done something requiring a general cleaning up. It was the first crazy man I had ever seen. He was finally sent to a soldiers asylum near Washington. I had been wanting to send home some of my money and here for the first time I felt able to go to the express office Dr. Thompson kindly furnished me an ambulance to take me to town possibly a mile away. Along in the winter a Steamboat blew up on the Tennessee river killing and wounding a good many. Some of the scalded ones came here and a hard lot they were indeed, wounded man were no comparison to them. One fellow I remember in particular had his sister come there to see him. When they got around by themselves (near us). He was not of the God fearing kind either but would curse and swear in his misery enough to shock an old soldier.
The latter part of March or the first part of April '65 I made the longest move yet clear to Jefferson Barracks, Mo. It was another pleasant ride on the hospital boat. The hospital accommodations here must have been immense, for not only were barracks proper turned into a hospital but 3 if not 4 long one story structures were put up besides and all were full. The Christian commission and the Sanitary commission Ladies were quite prominent here 2 of whom seemed to run things in our ward lying down on the bed with the clothes on was not tolerated and as for, Card playing, "'Why" you might just as well invite Nick from Hades. He wouldn't been more unwelcome than a deck of cards. But Dominoes however they were all O.K. Now most of you know that quite a game of Euchre can be indulged in with dominoes and we soon got on to that racket, and we played euchre right along with them. Lynx eyed maidens of uncertain age looking on, but mum was the word. It was the most peaceable game of euchre that anyone has indulged in those who could get around would go out into the woods and have the genuine stuff. I remember 2 of them on crutches who went out regularly every morning after breakfast and likewise after dinner coming back right before mealtime they came along on the veranda right in front of me so I had a chance to notice them and moreover we could hear the regular "Clickety Clack" when the hour arrived. One day a young Swede came to me with a letter to read. He had gone through every one of the wards but no one could he find to read his letter. The reason was that it was written with German or Danish letters. Now it happened that when I commenced to learn to read writing, I practiced on some letters father had written and thus I learned to read the Danish. Well I could read it but I could not understand it but he understood it all, and was than the happiest man in Jefferson Barracks. I was now able to meander around quite freely on crutches even going down to the bluff overlooking the boat landing. Here on the side of the parade ground facing the river was the flag staff and a sundial put up they said by Gen. R. E. Lee when he was a young Lieutenant in 1840 both he the sundial and the Flag staff enclosed by an iron fence. One fellow lying right by me was quite a case. He was a German and had while guarding the R. R. between Nashville and Murpheesburrough been shot in the head. From that time he had lost all remembrance of every thing along time for getting his own name and where he was from but it came back to him gradually by piece meal. He still lacked the name of his intended something he studied over night and day when any one asked him how he was hurt, he would answer, "Why I am shot in the head with a cannon. That would bar any further questioning. One day a fellow came to me to read a letter he got from his little sister. She had wrote the address too and it seemed that she was afraid that there would not be space enough for she had commenced in the upper left hand corner as follows "To William Yingling. To Jefferson Barracks. To St. Louis Missouri." but in so fine a hand that the whole did not occupy more than three square inches in fact it looked at first glance as if there were no address at all, but a second look revealed it plain enough and that is how the letter came through alright. He engaged me to write answer which I did a week or so after. I had forgotten all about the letter and wanted to read it once more so as to know what to answer but it had gone the way of all flesh, but if I had forgotten he hadn't but could repeat it almost verbatim. He was another "who could not read" but that kind did not excite my curiosity any more. During my soldering I acted private secretary on several occasions and of I course got quite intimate with some. On one occasion it was not merely a friendly letter but one of a more tender kind in fact a genuine love letter. This Yingling belonged to the 3 Iowa and was taken prisoner at Shilo when they were drive through their camp he came right by the subtler and grabbed 2 cans of oysters. He was taken prisoner and finally came round to Washington, here he had $l.00 a day extra for nursing in the small pox hospital "Says I had you had the small pox, "No" wasn't you afraid of catching it? "No" I only wished it would have lasted longer. The two ladies turned in to learn him to read, and he used to come and show me what progress he was making. I have no doubt but what he can both read and write by this time. It is with kindly remembrance I think of those ladies even if they would not allow me to lie on the bed with my clothes on, for one of them presented me with a Chinese puzzle that I have got yet I remember an old German not far from me. He was one of the old fashion kind. Dutch all over and one day he wanted to write a letter but got stuck the very first thing he could not spell, barracks. Pen in hand he looked around to see if any one there could help him out of the dilemma. He finally spied a cavalry man who generally went by the name of Missouri and began "Mizzouree Mizzourie Mizzouree Kavalrilt Missourie" attention being finally called he sang out, Well, what do you want. How do you spell Bricks, How do you spell Bricks, Why B-r-i-c-k-s of course I thought any d--md fool would know that. "No No, Barracks Barracks Jefferson Barracks" H--l why didn't you say so in the first place and he spelled it for him and the German scribe went on his way rejoicing not in the least put out by Missouries churlishness. Along in the spring we got a lot of Andersonville prisoners taken during the Atlanta campaign. I remember one in particular, Ole K. Hanson a sergeant of Co. A. 15th Wis. He was from Chicago and on crutches for he had been shot 3 times in the same leg. My but they were a hard looking lot and the stories they would tell would make our hair stand on end. Us wounded would consider ourselves (and were mostly by others too for that matter) a grade higher than mere sick ones. But compared to the Andersonville prisoners our services and sufferings was like a drop in the bucket and the difference does not get smaller in my mind as the years go. Henry Wirtz evidently had not provided tonsorial artists for their faces looked Oh! horrors, more fit for a brush scythe than a razor. Mine went the rounds it was a tough one or it would not have stood the racket. The 3rd and last hospital boat ride I think the latter part of April brought me to old Wis. at Prairie du Chien the next oldest if not the very oldest place in the state. Here I spent the summer of '65, and I look back on it as the pleasantest part of my life. I had no cares of any kind plenty to eat and drink and all the liberty I wanted and pretty good company most of the time. True I was yet on crutches. My wound was discharging quite freely and needed dressing every day but I always had hopes of ultimate recovery and being otherwise healthy I looked forward to a good time in the future. The war being over there were no restrictions to our coming and going, of course passes. Would be granted to go home on but the time was not looked after very closely and I think quite a number took French furloughs of an indefinite length. Dr. Kelly who was in charge was a fine old gentleman a head taller than all the rest large pleasant smooth shaven face with a double chin and last, but not least, a bay window that would have done credit to a Saloon Keeper of 15 years service. The hospital was in what had been Swift Hotel a 3 story frame building right back from lower town. I was put in the second story and the first thing I did was to lie down in bed with my clothes on I wanted to test them, for I knew about what the rules were. I had not long to wail The nurse very politely told me to undress or get of the bed, but I didn't do either, he went for reinforcement bringing the ward master a Sergeant of a Minn. Regt. A hot discussion followed. I was mad and did not try to conceal it and I presume he was too but had sense enough not to show it as much as I did. The upshot of the whole controversy was that I was transferred to ward one on the lower floor. This had been the ladies parlor of the hotel and a better place I could not have chosen. Now a few words more about this ward master. He was unfortunate enough to belong to a Regt. that got into a place where they all got sick and a great number of them died, and to finish it off was with an expedition that was ignominiously surrendered. It strikes me it was the Gun Town affair under Gen. Sturges. He (my Sergeant) had as much to do with that as the man in the moon. He went where he was ordered, and so we all did but the rank and file had to share the disgrace of a thing they could not help. This sergeant had to hear from others as he did from me what a good for nothing Regt. he belonged to, and how little, in fact nothing he had done for his country, and he was helpless, for us wounded fellows were Cock of the Walk just now to say anything derogatory to us was next to treason. Weren't we old soldiers? Had not we smelled powder and come back battle scarred veterans. Our appearance spoke louder than words and we felt our oats accordingly. I owe that sergeant an apology for my rudeness to him. This discrimination is also carried on as to disabilities, man with an arm of can strut around with his empty sleeve feeling proud as a turkey gobbler in a barn yard especially among ladies is he the high Cock a lo rum for he left his right arm at Gettysburg. The empty sleeve what poesy woven around that. Now as a matter of fact the man with the leg in the grave is far worse of when it comes to fight the battle of life and win bread for wife, and children, but still worse of is the man struck a midship. He may navigate just as poorly as the man with the wooden leg and endure a great deal more suffering but he can't hardly claim a place among the wounded heroes. He looks hale and hearty. His wound do not show. I've been through the mill I know where of I speak. If you have noticed it the same rule holds good as to battle fields .3 There was a time not long ago when it looked as though the battle of Gettysburg was the only battle of the war. The states who had soldiers there vied with one another in erecting costly monuments showing where their troops were located. In all there must have been spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield. Of course the soldiers who were there feel proud as they ought to, but they know they were not there from choice, they were ordered there others were not and consequently were not there. I never could see the justice of taxing the property of Old Lind who was killed Bakers Creek." If he left any" towards a monument showing posterity where the 2nd Wis. Inf. stood on the 1st, 2nd or 3d of July as the case might be but that is exactly what was done when money was appropriated here in Wis. I was forcibly reminded of this discrimination on battle fields, when one day Col. Warner and I compared notes regarding our wounds. Col. Warner carries an empty sleeve. After getting the nature of my wound and at what battle I also wanted to know at what battle. He was wounded (His empty sleeve spoke for it self). He answered Deep Bottoms, a place I had never heard of. When he half apologetically as I thought said that it was a battle with a very small place in history but of great importance to him just so the loss would have been no greater had he lost it at Gettysburg But Oh! my the glory would be anchanced ten fold. But to return to ward one, such a time as we had there that summer. I can remember most every one in the ward for we got quite intimate. Each 2 and 2 formed kind of partnership and would be to gather more or less. There was a Fiddler named Mills Dick Mills shot in the knee but he could walk with the aid of a cane, and a German by the name of Schaller, John Schaller wounded through the ankle using one crutch. These two were chums. What they could have in common I never could see Mills was fine featured of middle size unmarried as far as we knew and quite good looking. While S. was the exact opposite tall heavy raw boned with a face full of nasty pimples and the foulest mouth of any one there. He was married but a person would not think so. Co. judge by his talk. He used to boast of a prospective buggy ride the 2 were to have in company with a couple of fast ones from McGregor, but he would always wind up with. It is all cut and dried between Dick and I only it is not decided whether to take a double rig or a rig a piece. This was repeated so often that I think the whole thing went up in smoke at least we never had a report of that ride. Here as in Jefferson Barracks was a lad nurse who kept kind oversight in the ward. Her name was Miss Adelaide Leavitte a very fine woman possibly 30 years of age with a strong nerve and she must have it in that crowd. I don't think she had charge of more than that ward though I will not be positive. She was in expert checker player and liked to play with the boys, but the more advanced bloods monopolized her company. One day when I was alone in the ward she bantered me for a game I was quite bashful about it and said I did not know much about checkers, but she insisted and we commenced. She must have taken me at my word and played reckless for it was not long before she was in a fair way to be skunked, or as she called it, being sent on the road to Chicago and skunked she was. None of us wished to play any more. I quit when my credit was up I could not have skunked her any more. There was quite an influx of soldiers from other hospitals. They would be furloughed home. The hospitals broke up and them ordered to report to Prairie du Chine. Thus we got a good many from Harvey hospital at Madison most of them came to stay till their discharge could be made out. Such a one was the late Peg Leg from Black Earth. I was called in to interpret for him but nary a word could I get out of him. He was mum as an oyster I was vexed at this and so was others and I studied how to make him talk the chance came one day when he was in bed with his clothes of. I took one of those large syringes holding about a pint full of ice cold water when another pulled of the clothes. I let him have it from below with all the force I could muster right amidships that opened his head. He just let me know that had he been 5 and 20 years of age he would have given me a good dressing or to use his own words Va eg fun aa tjnge aur eg sku ha sunska deg eg. I didn't doubt that a bit but I was even with him and we had peace after that. Shortly after he got his discharge a couple of men had to carry him upstairs where he got his pay, but down stairs he slid on his but letting the crutches down before him. When I was discharged next year I heard that he had been home to my parents, but he could then talk for 2. He mentioned my name from Prairie du China but seemed to bear me no ill will on account of the douche bath. The first time I seen him after that was in the winter of '69. It was in Black Earth and I bantered him for a horse trade. Of course he had to examine my animal which was a small fiery mare and possibly a little off on a load. He looked at her in the moonlight. Jumping around on his Peg, but before I could say 'boo' he turned to me and let me know that it was useless for me to say anything for he could see that she was balky "Eg see de pan hen na at h a bauki". Thus ended my horse trade with Peg Leg and we never renewed our acquaintances from Prairie du China either, but talk why he could talk a mans leg of. The sewerage had not been as complete at Swifts Hotel, as at Simons, and it taxed their ingenuity to find means to carry of what could not be kept round the home. Men on full rations and good appetites show it more ways than one. The first arrangement was a box on a stone boat drove into the river the trapdoor opened and let the fishes have it. This worked well enough until the number of soldiers increased so that the stone boat had to go to the river every day then the people of lower town protested against it as a nuisance. The country being open every where's there could be no objection to crossing the R. R. below town. The very first time the new route was tried being Sunday they had a serious mishap. There being no crossing the chain broke just as soon as they got the box well on to the track. While they were gone for a new chain, a wild train came along and whether they did notice the box or wanted to show how smart they were is not known but no down breaks was whistled and the result was a demoralized stone boat and a slightly besmeared engine, that route was not tried any more but they went through lower town in the night. They could stand the smell but not the sight I don't know who drank the Mississippi water below that I knew I did 2 years before that but we aid not than have a Swift hospital at Prairie du Chine at least I did not know it. The dining room was a tremendous affair occupying the first floor of an entire wing. If my memory serves me right there were 4 tables seating 50 on each side, the crutch brigade having reserved seats in front. There was still quite a space along the west side in the north end of which was a smaller table, at which ate hospital stewards, ward masters and sich. An insane soldier (A Dane) came with us from Jefferson Barracks. He was kept in the basement till he could be sent to Washington but was brought up to take his meals with us. The bill of fare did not suit him however for he looked around and spying this small table he went right over and helped himself carrying back such as he wanted for all of which he was lustily cheered. He was served different after this. Yes and this reminds me that we had grumblers about the grub here to though I thought it was plenty good enough I got all I wanted. It was at times a standing them, for discussion. It was generally compared hospitals where they came from Harvey hospital being one of them One fellow a Norwegian who had been at Harvey harangued the crowd out side one day. There was enough of his nationality so that he held forth in that language. according to him it must have been a regular wedding feast right along there and particularly in the line of special diet for says he, Der va no slik spesle diet, with quite an intonation on the word Slik This had to be heard, the speaker seen and the Norse language understood in order to get the good of it, but boiled down it meant that the special diet at Harvey was simply perfection Most of you remember that the hospital fare was divided up into a great many of grades. There were special diet, Light diet, Chicken diet, Half diet Full diet, and so on. The first three were the same only different hospitals using different names. Being well I was on full diet all the time since I was wounded but I remember the lower grades from Gayoso. In this dining room we had a ball once. The tables was removed and there was plenty of room to dance of course myself and others enjoyed it as spectators sitting on a platform erected for us up by the Fiddlers. We sat there mustering the dancers ladies in particular one came in for more than ordinary comment. She had bright red hair what there was of it for she had her head closely shingled but she was a buxom girl and an A No. 1 dancer, A German by the name of Lewis Bindler gave us a good deal of fun. He was shot through the hips somehow but it was long since healed and he could walk quite spry. He had however a fashion of running out one of his hips at every step. Dance he must and we had our fun looking at him in his different movements. Who engineered this ball, I don't know but it strikes me that Dr. Kelly was at the bottom, of it, anyhow he took a lively part dancing so the sweat ran off of him. We also had religious services in the dining room one Sunday afternoon conducted by an Episcopalian minister. This same Beidler came very near bringing down the house during the services. He was sitting on the front seat at the farther end from the door and wanting to go out he marched the whole length between us and the minister it would have been all right if he had not that morning got on a pair of very tight fitting white pants and with that hip seemingly sticking out at every step worse than ever and his body bent forward every time to correspond made a sight ludicrous in the extreme and especially under solemn circumstances like that. After we got out back to our ward a Missourian commented upon it saying. That old Satan came very near starting us all roaring, which was true. This dining room our ward a couple of stairways a Hall out doors and the reading room emptied into a kind of central hall or rotunda. A drum was beat when meals was ready. We were all on the quivive and about the time of the second stroke that hall was full. I had no use for the crutches but just surged along with the crowd All had to go through one door to the dining room and here is where the fun come in there was a regular Jam and the cripples could not hold there own. Finally Dr. Kelly took a hand posted himself in the door way looking over the crowd ordering them back and letting one at a time past that bay window of his. The crowding was nothing but pure cussedness [sic]for we got all we wanted whether first or last served. A Lieutenant also on crutches came along and tried to organize all the cripples into a squad, by whose orders or for what purpose I don't know but we were in ranks only once and that was the last time I've been in ranks under command. This Lieutenant seemed to be a regular dude and was tested accordingly. One Shaw, (Myron A. Shaw) a brother of Josh Billings "whose name is Shaw" editor of a paper up in the woods some where sent sketches of hospital life in which this Lieutenant figured somewhat rather towards the ludicrous the paper came back to the hospital and was read by everybody the Lieutenant included I presume. Printing apparatus was procured and Mr. Shaw, being a practical printer got out blanks of the different kinds for the hospital. He was a fine fellow and not wanting to soil his clothes had on an apron as most mechanics have. An old Irish girl named Ann, Old Ann we called her, brought down the house on account of that apron one day. His office was opposite to us across the hall and he was running back and forth not thinking of anything there being quite a crowd in our ward when old Ann spoke up. Mister Sha, I thought it was to late in the season for rams to wear aprons now I don't think he heard the last of it. Not when in Swifts hospital at least. Here my father came to see me which was very pleasant indeed. In August I went home on a furlough I think there was nothing left of those Georgia crutches but a came by this time, and that is as far as I've got yet though 30 winters will soon have rolled over my head since I took my first lesson on crutches, the cane seems to freeze to me for life. I went back promptly on time, but as usual we were out in good season on going to Black Earth where I took the train. It was 9 A. M. and here came the accommodation rumbling along. I could see no use staying in Black Earth till passenger came when I could get off so much earlier I did not know what it meant to ride 70 miles on the accommodation. When we got to Mazomanie another caboose was put on but both got chuck full of girls going to Sauk Co to pick hops they went as far as Spring Green. Well the girls, "bless their dear hearts" filled the caboose, while we had to betake ourselves to the roof, for this was an accommodation train you know. Accommodate the ladies. The train was in charge of a man probably 60 and he looked as if would not stand much parleying with. There was an arm chair of the old fashioned kind with the words 'Keep Out' in plain letters inside of the back. Of course I kept out, but not so an Army Surgeon that got on soon. He took possession as though was made for him. I was anxious to see the outcome of this for I had a lurking suspicion that the chair belonged to the conductor, and sure enough. I didn't wait long as soon as the train was under way the conductor came aboard and spying his chair occupied he very politely told the Surgeon that he must give it up which he wasn't exactly prepared to do, some more words followed and the conductor told him that the benches was what the Co. furnished and if he did not take them held give him a stop over ticket for the passenger, but he betook himself to the benches, and the chill between them was visible to the naked eye. To me it was a treat to see an army officer taken down that way for I well knew that the past few years his work had been law in dealing with his inferiors. Now this Surgeon was no worse than the average, but give a person absolute command over his fellowman and there is danger that the best of us will be over-bearing. Before the war it would only have taken the least kind, of a hint for him to vacate that chair and he would probably have apologized in the bargain. But he had now had his own way so long that he had forgot to be a gentleman even. In connection with this I must relate what happened in our Regt. I think at La Grange we had in our Co. a tailor from Norway who were engaged a good share of the time to make over clothing for the officers as well as privates. In fixing a coat for Major Strong needed some silk twist that he did not have but told the major that Billy Lean of our Go had some. He was forthwith sent to get some but Billy knew his rights and was just the boy to show it. He told Hans to tell Major Strong that when sent down 25c he could have a skein of that silk twist and the quarter was soon forth coming. Now Major Strong I don't suppose ever dreamed of confiscating but instead of trying to buy it as he should have done he demanded it supposing a private soldier would trust to his honesty to give him a fair compensation. His sense of fitness was blunted by commanding. I am not so sure but what the same rule holds good in civil life particularly in Ecclesiastical orders Those put over us think they of a right should command in every thing. Well we worried along till about Wrights ferry when we side tracked and seemingly stopped for good. Everybody went up to an old abandoned home to pick plums. It was an accommodation train sure enough A rumbling in the direction of Prairie du Chine told us that a train was coming and when it had passed we pulled out very leisurely however. I stopped of at Lower town and had got very near to the hospital when the regular passenger came thundering along I had gained perhaps 5 minutes and had also had a few adventures. Then the tomatoes got ripe there was tomato eating to beat every thing. At first they were served on the table but finally a large box was hauled into the yard, and we helped out selves A large basin was filled washed and we fell to, when it was empty some one said lets have some more oysters. It was tomatoes first and tomatoes last something like hash in the boarding house. Hash for breakfast, hash for dinner, hash for supper. Hash we wondered where all the tomatoes came from but they told us that the hospital had 3 Acres in tomatoes. I thought even 3 Acres would not hold out at that rate but I had a chance to see our tomato patch when I wondered if they had taken any. Time was killed in various ways. Those who could walk was of course every where's most every evening you could see a squad around a camp fire exchanging yarns from army life. Once I remember we heard a shot fired the bullet quite spent coming right over us. Every one who had been under fire heard the ball and dodged while most of the others did not notice it. Sitting round a campfire was second nature and we did not care for smoke blowing in our eyes either. There was a few in our ward that would do a good deal of bumming coming in at all hours. To catch them all kinds of contrivances was resorted to such as piling tables and chairs before the doors and the like causing a racket when they came in. All was taken in good nature. I don't remember of any one being real mad, except Peg Leg when got the douse bath. There was some drinking but not very much. Dr Kelly caught one, one day rather the worse for liquor when he (the Dr) suggested he was inebriated where up on he answered in his maudling way. No Doc Not, Not, inebriated but slightly beer rated which answer pleased the Dr. so much that nothing more was done The ladies employed in the hospital was not what might be called beauties it was a good thing they were not. The cook when I came there "named Alice" was a great big 200 pounder with an arm that could fell an ox. The way she carried on one day was a caution. She was mad at Dr. Kelly she sailed around with a large butcher knife in her hand swearing that she would drop his guts right on de floor. He wisely kept away till it blew over. When I think she was discharged. The next chief cook was married while in the hospital. Once a fellow came along to give so many lessons in penmanship for $2.00. Girls were engaged to sell scholarships at a certain commission, and the one selling the most was to have a certain premium. Of course I had a chance to buy but for several reasons I did not. One reason was that I knew I'd never learn to write that way besides I was to stingy to throw away that much money for fun alone most of all my wound was discharging and was so offensive that I was ashamed to be amongst other than soldiers. When all was sold I asked the grand daughter of a fanning mill maker, one who wanted me to buy if she sold enough. "Yes she snapped and no thanks to you either." Right back from the hospital was the school house where religious services were held every Sunday and evenings several times I heard Alfred Brunson the pioneer preacher of Wis. One evening a young fellow was to preach. Brunson was in the audience the young man felt his inability to do the sermon justice with Brunson in the audience and said as much ere beginning Brunson there upon put on his hat and piked down the aisle saying Now fire away. He was not going to be in the way. Danielson "mentioned at Evansville" was her on crutches of course a few of the crutch brigade went to the upper town depot one day, but I think D. was the only one with a limb off. We were down around the elevator and while there seen a hog that had one of his hind feet amputated below the gambrell joint. The stump seemed to be healed up nicely and in walking he would make motions with that foot as if it was alright but would not set it on the ground. Of course we had fun over it, and I don't know who it was that sane out. Here Hans is your partner. The joke was to grim for Hans Danielson who was of a religious turn of mind and old enough to look at the stern realities of life more than we did. One young fellow of the 38th Wis. who had lost his leg at Petersburg. He could not have been more than 16 or 17. He was getting well very fast first he used two crutches then a crutch and a cane than one crutch only. He could however get around on the floor aided only by the cane. But he was active, the caperings that he done on foot showing of that stump was fun for us all and seemed to be fun for him too. The loss of his leg wasn't much to him then. My chum was a German by the name of Herman Winda from I think near Watertown. He was shot through the thigh, and had an ugly limb. We used to go together to a park on the prairie and take enjoyment by our selves. One day we went to the bluff expecting to climb it a niece. When we got to the first terrace we had a long rest and splendid view but thirsted for more and up we went going zig zag until we were on top and could look over into Iowa and also back into the country a good ways for the bluff is highest where it breaks off. We spied a farm house it must have been a mile inland and after resting a long time we concluded to go there for dinner which we did, but I think we paid for our dinner though I am not sure. We went back the highway down the ravine and struck' our hospital garden where the "oysters" were raised. It was this time I seen that there was plenty left. We must have traveled 3 or 4 miles on this tour. Girls were plenty in town and those who had money to spend and were so inclined were not without their "best girl" 'One Purdy' had chosen such wee bit of a one and so young looking besides that we used to call her Purdy's 10 year old. So many came there during the summer that we could not have them al1 at the hospital but lots of those who could walk were sent up to Ft. Crawford to sleep. It was reported that it was regular bedlam let loose up there and I've no doubt but it was Ft. Crawford was on a beautiful spot a flat large enough for the building and parade ground than sloping to all sides. It was an historic place as well for it was here Jeff Davis, then a Lieut., eloped with the daughter of Zachary Taylor. I was shown the house and even the window she came out of. There was still remnants of the stockade used it must have been during the Black Hawk War. I have now related all I can think of from my 5 months stay at Swifts Hospital, the reader mast be the judge as to whether it is interesting or not. To me it is at least, and I will now take my last trip this time to the Post hospital at Camp Randall. It was the 20th of Sept. 1965, that I took up my abode here for a six months siege or until the 2nd of April 1866. The 11th of Nov. 1961 I moved in there for the first time to move out, 2 months later, the 11th of Jan 1862. And now after an abscesses of 3 years and 8 months except a night or two when home on veterans furlough in April 1864. I am back again. What a change in the country, in the camp and last but not least in my self in that time. Life here was mere transient, some coming and some going all the time. The camp had undergone a great change in that time. The old mess house was gone, root and branch. The barrack in which was spent my maiden soldering was no more neither was there a tent to be seen. The hospital was a two story unpainted structure 200 feet long with a hall and a stairway in the center near which was also the dispensary. I think it was only the lower story that was occupied during my stay here, the kitchen and the dining room was on the east side. The Surgeon in charge was one Dr. W. G. Greenleaf
I think from New Jersey, they said he had a glass eye (anyway one of them did not train with the other) which made the boys refer to him as "old peal eye" was placed in the south ward, but when we got to be fewer into the north, the only one occupied. As before mentioned the ward was 200 feet long with a chimney built from ground up right in the center A large box stove half ways toward the ends on each side of the chimney furnished the heat. There was some of the most reckless firing I've ever seen many a time I seen those stovepipes red hot up to the elbow and a couple of lengths toward the chimney. The floor was not very solid and the pipe's would work apart, but as long as they were straight after one another the smoke would go right along and look just like a log. I seen them at times inches apart. But let one of the ends come ever so little to one side and the spell would be broken. No one seemed to have the least idea that we might set the house afire with such recklessness At least I didn't. There are few who knew it and fewer will believe it but I was actually engaged as clerk in the Dr.'s Office as soon as I got there. But there was no monuments connected therewith nothing but the honor and that was almost like what the Irish Justice wanted. Nothing but silence and little of that It was nothing but honor and little of that. Yes and we had a polling place there in November then I was one of the Clarks of election. It must have been when Gov. Fairchild was elected the first time. Thirty three votes were polled and all Republicans but one a German with his right arm of near the shoulder. We should not have known who that solitary Democrat was could he have handled his ticket but having but one hand he brought it almost open in fact it had to be refolded. There was a Captain Harris who acted as chairman and I remember one of the inspectors an old German by name of Rombery. He was well posted and had been on the Town board in civil life. The next day they commenced talking about getting pay for running the election precinct. I had no idea of such a thing the honor was enough for me. An effort was made but we never got any thing.
This was my third vote. The first in the spring of '63 at Memphis voting for a Justice of the supreme court. Than at home in 1864 at Town meeting and now at the Fall Election. I don't remember how it was, or turned out, with this clerkship I did not remain in it long and I could not have been dismissed to make room for another for the same party was in power right along. Just thought of one thing during that election. There was one man in the ward to sick to come down, some one suggested to take the voting machinery up there "body and breetches" but the plan was abandoned and we were short one of an absolute full vote. There was a young fellow by the name of Clarke who had sense enough to go to school while he yet was in the harness so to speak. He attended the Business College. I thought some of that too, but one thing was my wound was not healed up but discharging quite freely and another thing I thought I had to little foundation to build on and besides I expected to be a well man in course of time. I have been sorry many times since for not following Clarkes example. In the ward we were divided in two squads one around each stove. My cot was in the N. W. corner I belonged to the north stove. We always had the smallest crowd with us so we called that the Senate and the other the Assembly. The toughest cases brought in belonged to Hancocks Veterans Reserve Corps. Those that came here were Pennsylvanians from Philadelphia. They must have come to do guard duty and of course some of them landed in the hospital. There was one Barton who must have been quite intelligent but poor fellow suffered from a loathsome disease the result of to much intimacy with fallen women. He seemed to be the leader of the Assembly. In discussing the different Generals he was against the other eastern soldiers, on McClelland. He didn't think much of him Most of them eastern fellows though stuck up for Little Mae. There was a span of horses belonging to the Hospital Those horses changed names as often as they changed drivers which was quite often for the men would be discharged right along It was some times Grant & Sherman at other times Mead and Burnside and so on. We used to come and go at all hours day and night for most every one had something attracting him up town generally a piece of calico enclosing a piece of female loveliness. If nothing else there was the saloon. There was a crowd who used to go away and come back together and this kept tip for a long time. Finally one Sunday morning I concluded to go with them and see what they found to do. We went right through town down King street and past the N. W. Depot where they turned into a German Saloon called for their beer and sat down to chaff. One fellow called for a glass for me to which I drank and soon after went back to town for I could see nothing to detain me there. I thought to my self that there was a great many ways of taking comfort. There was a few who would get into trouble when out nights and they would come back all bunged up they were of course as innocent as could be Now I always thought that they themselves were to blame. A person is not apt to be molested when he goes about his business unless there is money at stake which there could not be with returned soldiers waiting for their discharges. One night quite late I met a crowd on University street that stopped me but they soon said "He is not the one" and I came on to camp in peace. There was a cavalry man from Colorado who had fallen off his his horse and stove up his hip pretty bad. He was in great misery but instead of using "Rev. Mums Salve" which is to bathe oneself with patience held lay there groaning and cursing all day long. One day he asked the steward a Mr. Fehan. If it would not be a great deal better if he was dead. When Fehan answered. There is no doubt but that your early decease would be a great benefit to the community at large but as to it benefiting you why I am not prepared to say, I think he was discharged while I was there. We had another ease there that bore the rather prominent name Zachary Taylor, he was badly pockmarked, cross eyed, and a hard looking customer generally. He had a little stronger appetite than the rest of us, or else he did not forage as much out side any how he generally fell short of a good filling. One day there was hash and in great plenty. As soon as it was found that there would be some to spare it was "pass the hash to Zach Poor Fellow. He filled clear up to the top but Pass the hash to Zach kept on until he could stand it no longer and exclaimed, I don't want any more hash. When I want it you wont give it to me. I here formed a partnership with one of the 3d Wis. with whom I've kept up correspondence ever since. He was a newcomer but could read English papers and understand them as well as I could who had been to school and moreover had been in this country since 8th year. He had lost his leg at Averysburrough N.C. Him and I used to see who could eat the fastest and if he was among the first at the table and I came last he would jump up just as soon as I came through the dining room door, he was through. Of course he hadn't said grace very long nor read the bill of fare. It was of course the same with me when I happened to be No. 1. Lone thing happened at this hospital that didn't make as much of an impression on me as I think ought to have done. During the time that the latest Regiment occupied Camp Randall there was one of those poor fallen women who plied her nefarious practice. It was said she wore men's clothes and was in consequence nicknamed Tommy. She had been away for some time but now all of a sudden turned up again. It must have been in the fall for I heard them say she kept herself in the empty barracks, one fellow quite unblushingly told us how she had satisfied him but that there was plenty to go around. It got to be colder and she moved into a one story stone house on the south side of the Mineral Point road on the first raise of ground after it leaves the Monroe road. There was one of the old fashioned open chimneys the fire even with the floor here she had fire and some straws on the floor. It was late one evening I had been up town and was just gone to bed. when I heard such an unearthly noise. Some one in dire misery. It came nearer and nearer and we knew it was a human being brought into the hospital. Some of the boys who went out to see told us it was Tommy The Colorado Cavalryman allowed that he could now get his piece roasted for she was burning up. While asleep her clothes or rags rather had caught fire and she ran burning across the camp ground probably 80 or 100 rods but fell down exhausted when she came near the hospital She died before morning. Sad indeed that a life should be led in shame and end thus. She was undoubtedly in her child hood some mothers darling but now a castaway ending her young life in untold misery. What a commentary on civilization that such can exist. But what shall we say of those who to satisfy their brutish just would consent to embrace the likes of her. We can only say that however high they may hold their heads among their fellowmen before the bar of God they are no better than she was. It is getting on towards spring men are discharged right along, very few are left of those that were here when I came Sep 20. '65 Just one thing more regarding my self. I had to make a contrivance for carrying the drawers and I simply cut a hold near the top and run the suspenders through. I had practiced this a long time and when I was amongst hundreds of them it would not be noticed but now there being so few I had mutilated every pair in the hospital. It was noticed and reported to Dr. Greenleaf who instituted an investigation but I was not found out. It commenced to be hinted that those who were not discharged would be transferred to Detroit as this Hospital was to be broke up. Those who wanted to be discharged had to make written application for it. Though I was receiving a soldiers pay $18.00 pr. mo. with board and clothing and not knowing what I could make if turned adrift from Uncle Sam. I still made up my mind to apply for my discharge. This I got in due season dated I think April 2nd 1866 After having served as a soldier 1603 days
Gentle Patient reader you have now followed me through the different hospitals that I frequented. I have given you an unvarnished sketch of hospital life as it applied to me. I've got my pay applied for a pension and will now go back to my parents that I left 4 1/2 years ago. I don't know what to go at. I have been quite saving of my money and am now glad of it for I shall need every penny I bid you all an affectionate.
Perry Dane Co. Wis. March 31, 1895
From the Wisconsin Historical Society,
AUTHOR Grimstvedt, Ole, 1842-
TITLE Ole Grimstvedt's hospital life, 1895.
: MAD 4 /16/C1
CALL NO. Wis Mss 34S