From the Richmond
EXPERIENCE IN THE WAR HOSPITALS
Interesting Paper Read Before the Daughters of the Confederacy at Waynesboro.
The story of the experience of James E. Roden in
during the war was prepared and read before the Waynesboro Chapter, Daughters
of the Confederacy, by Mr. Roden.
Mr. Roden was a member of Company E, Seventh Louisiana
Regiment, Wheat’s Battalion, Hay’s Brigade. He is one of Augusta
county’s most substantial citizens, having resided at
for many years. The story is given below:
“The hospital experiences of an old Confederate during
the war was not always very agreeable, as this will show, yet there were scenes
and incidents that we enjoyed.
“I was wounded on the skirmish line near Spotsylvania
Courthouse on the morning of May 13, 1864
. As the balls were flying pretty thick, my first concern was to know how to get
to the rear. I made a start, and when approaching the regiment, the boys began
to quiz me: ‘O, yes, don’t play off that way; you just want a furlough.’ I
passed to the field hospital, here the doctor examined my wounds and told me he
would have to perform an operation. When asked if amputation would be necessary,
he said, ‘Not just now.’ This was not very comforting, as it left the
impression that it might be later.
“The operating table was a barn door set on two trestles.
When on the table, chloroform was administered, and it was reported that while
the doctor performed the operation the patient sang ‘The Bonny Blue Flag’
and other war songs.
“Immediately following this operation it was reported
that Grant’s army had turned our right flank and captured Guinea Station;
consequently all the wounded were ordered to the rear.
“All who could walk were ordered to do so, the nearest
Milford, some thirty miles distant. I started alone about 2 P. M., the sun being near
full, and made twelve miles, stopping at a farm house overnight, where I was
treated very kindly. Having yet eighteen miles before me, I started early and
made fourteen miles, when I fell exhausted by the roadside. I was put into a
wagon and hauled to the station, four miles over a corduroy road. There I was
put on a hospital train, remaining all night at the station, and arrived in
the next evening, where I was taken to
Hospital, this being Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning, the surgeon in charge, Dr.
Tyler, examined and dressed my wound, nothing having been done to it since
Wednesday, except the use of cold water to keep down inflamation.
“For the first few days things went well, but I grew
weaker and the rations became distasteful. I would get a little bread and rye
coffee for breakfast, and for dinner a small piece of half-baked corn bread, a
little fat bacon, with a few stewed beets and potato vine leaves for salad. One
morning I requested the nurse not to bring any dinner unless he could find
something a little more palatable. He replied that he would continue to bring
the same diet, which he proceeded to do, and upon my taking him to task, he
became insolent, and as he turned to leave I threw my chunk of corn bread at
him. The nurse reported me to the wardmaster, who threatened to put me in the
guardhouse and see that I misbehaved no more. A comrade, wounded about the same
time I was, and who lay on a cot to my right, handed me one of his crutches, and
we planned, though neither of us could raise our heads, to attack the wardmaster
if he attempted to put his threat into execution. The doctor came just before
supper and found me in a fever. On learning the cause, sent for the war master
and reprimanded him. A few days later erysipelas developed in my wound. Four
negroes carried my cot across the field to the erysipelas camp, near what is now
called the Old Reservoir. I was placed in a tent by myself, where I remained two
weeks, then was taken back to the hospital and placed in a ward in charge of a
Dr. Braxton, who was very kind to me. Some one having stolen my knapsack, and I
having failed to get clothing at the quartermaster’s department, I had no
change of raiment, and was in a dilema. Fortunately for me, though unfortunate
for the other fellow, an old negro mammy came along with a basket of clothes,
saying to me: ‘I’se been looking for de man what gim’me dese close to wash
and can’t find him. ‘Law chile is you de one?’ As necessity knows no law,
and she could not find the other fellow, I thought I was justified in laying
claim to these clothes.
“On presenting my descriptive list to the quartermaster,
I was fortunate enough to draw two months’ pay - $22.
“The following Sunday a member of my company, Mr. Shaw,
of the Ordnance Department, came to see me, and kindly asked if he could serve
me in any way. I gave him my $22 and asked him to buy me some eggs or nourishing
food (I had begun to crave something to eat), and the next day I received two
dozen eggs with receipted bill. My two months’ pay had gone for two dozen
eggs, but it proved to be one of the best investments I ever made. Dr. Braxton
asking me soon after how I felt, I told him I was ‘living high’ o my
investment. He the asked for the remainder of the eggs, which the wardmaster had
in charge, sent them to the commissary department, had my money refunded, and
prescribed two eggs each morning and evening. I soon regained strength, and left
Hospital, after a stay of eight weeks, with a glad heart, feeling thankful that I had
been spared. It is now forty-two years since these experiences, and I still feel
thankful that the Lord has spared me, though I am still unable to reach my mouth
with the hand of that shattered arm.”
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