Life as a Civil War Nurse
Journal Entry #1
I'm Sarah. I grew up and still live in Illinois. I live in a large cottage house. Their are two floors and multiple rooms for my family. I live with my parents still Joan and Bill Smith. . I've wanted to be in the war as a nurse for a long time and when I got the message saying I was accepted it was the best day of my life. I am 100% for the Union because I hate slavery and think its wrong in every way. In the war I am a nurse and I have seen some terrible things and too many people to count have died but their are people that I have gotten in pretty bad shape and some how the heavens above have kept them alive whether armless or legless they keep on marching. Life at home can be long and hard. I cook, clean, sew, make clothes, and basically everything at the house. I have my mom and dad there to help me when I come home. I also have a brother John, who is in the war and I haven't seen him since the day we were sent out. I don't know if this is a good thing because he's not hurt and he's running around fighting or if he's laying dead or bleeding out on the battle field. The not knowing is whats the hardest for me. I also have two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary Jane. They are both nurses and were all at the same station. Life is crazy and I just want to do everything I can so I can help these hero's go home to their family's alive.
S= Oh man! Today a very tight wallpapered man came in after having his arm reset. I felt bad for the hard knocks man.
E= He had been through the mill and was played out.
S= The Doctor found an ARKANSAS TOOTHPICK right through his left ventricular artery.
E= And the Saw Bones found a Hornet in his leg. He was a fresh fish.
S=When The man heard we had to amputate he was fit to be tied.
I miss you so much. The days here are long and hard. People are dying everywhere. Dropping like flies. Seeing this really has changed me. Camp is very dirty and scrappy. You live under what you can find. I live in a camp right outside the hospital. I have to be ready at a moments notice if a patient starts to crash. All day everyday I am taking care of wounded soldiers. The most severe come first such as missing limbs or head/heart injuries. Then those with non deadly bullet wounds are taken care of later. We were not punished very often because all we did was save lives. Life is easier for me with my sisters here but the not knowing about John is very hard. I miss him. Elisabeth is good and should be writing you soon. Mary Jane is a little scared to write to you. She thinks the bad guys will find the letter and hunt you down and kill you. She's paranoid but what do you expect, that's Mary Jane for ya. Love you Mom and I will see you soon.
Jeremiah, what is one thing about your life you wish had been different?
I wish my mother didn't have to be sick. If she wasn't sick she probably wouldn't have died. If she was still here she could have looked after the farm. Then James (mt older brother) and I could have gone to the war with no worry's about her. It would have made the choice to leave much easier. Leaving a health mom at home is hard because she's your mom and will always be, but leaving a sick, dying mom home is cruel and near impossible.
We do not have much free time. When we do though, I like to play cards. Others like to paint their faces, race lice, and fight roosters. The food here is a lot different than it is at home. My favorite food here at camp is Hardtack. Hardtack is a mixture of flour and water. Its no gourmet meal but its better than moldy cornbread. One of the things I miss most about being at home is the food. My mom would always make up warm stew on a cold day or warm French bread on a cold day. At camp I sleep in a log cabin with all the other nurses. There are two cabins to fit 20-30 nurses. Its very crammed/
Journal Entry #6
Yankee Doodle toon
Healthy nurses went to camp, went to camp, went to camp
Healthy nurses went to camp all day long.
Wounded soldiers fought all day, fought all day, fought all day
Wounded soldiers fought all day, for their life.
Bombs exploded all day long, all day long, all day long
Bombs exploded all day long causing damage.
The generals commanded loud and clear, loud and clear, loud and clear
The Generals commanded loud and clear trying to win.
Mini Balls shot down lots of men, lots of men, lots of men
Mini Balls shot down lots of men left and right.
Finally the Union won, Union won, Union won
Finally the Union won ending the war.
I'm up all night treating patients with sicknesses. Last night I treated three people at the same time. Joe had a terrible fever that we cured with leeches. We also drew blood hopefully enough to get rid of all the bad. Mary Ann also got sick with pneumonia. She caught it from her patient that ended up dying. We treated pneumonia with the "draw out" method. We made patients sweat or bleed. Especially for pneumonia we rubbed burning alcohol on their chest, applied hot bricks to his feet or even cut their wrists. The hardest patient was the hornet in a soldiers stomach.
I feel so over joyed to come home. I am so happy and excited that I am alive and coming home. I just can't wait to see your beautiful smiling face. Your warmth and love as it welcomes me home. I am so grateful for my life and the family I have. It was much easier for me because I had both sisters here but I still missed you. The war ended very bloody. The Union won by dividing and conquering but it was a blood bath. Too many people died and it could have and should have ended without all these fathers, husbands, brothers, and children dying. America will change drastically because the Union won. Slavery hopefully will be abolished and their will be no more racism and segregation. I am very happy and grateful that the war is over. Now I can go back and live a happy life and not see so many dead people. It was a very bad time and I'm just happy its done. Our lives will for sure be changed. Now its back to cleaning and cooking, but hey anything is better then seeing dead and dying people all day long. I can't wait to come home and see you!