Friday, January 4, 2013

January 4 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

4, Surgical operations after the Battle of Murfreesboro, excerpt from the diary of John C. Spence

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The surgeons were quite busy dressing the wounds of soldiers brought in from the battle field. Their operations resembled a butchers stall -- here and there a soldier laid upon a table, under the influence of chloriform, undergoing amputation of arms and legs, which were thrown in a corner of the room -- and, from the manner that many of them worked at the business, it would seem that they would be better employed working on the leg of a calf, than a man, carcely distinguishing a tendon from an artery.
Unfortunate for the poor soldiers who has to be the subject for these quacks who are sent to the army or go to learn their business. This humanity?  
The three college buildings were used as hospitals, all the churches, several of the store rooms, and several large dwelling houses. The seats out of the churches and shelving and counters out of the store rooms. Nearly all the families had one or two wounded men in care.
Spence, Diary, p. 64.




4-5, "I was one of those anxious to go over the field of our retreat and see the damage done to us and theirs…." Sergeant George G. Sinclair's visit to the Stones River battlefield, January 4 and 5, 1863; an excerpt from his letter home, January 6, 1863

….In the morning [January 4] early when we found that the rebels had gone, there was a detail of men from each company of each regiment to go out and look up their dead and wounded, if any could be found. I was one of those anxious to go over the field of our retreat and see the damage done to us also theirs, if possible, but theirs had been taken care of and they had three days position of that part of the field to bury dead in which of course they did some but after all I could and did count three rebs for every Union soldier on that ground. There was  some awful sights and every one of our men was stripped of their clothing and shoes more or less and those of their own that had anything of any worth taking. I must say and I am glad to do so, that they treated our wounded men and prisoners with every attention possible under the circumstances not taunting them with hard names or anything of the kind, but treating them as welcome guests. And in our case that I heard of, two rebels went out and built a fire and laid down by one of our wounded men that couldn't be moved until his wounds were dressed, stopping with him two nights in succession adjusting his head covering, covering him with blankets, fixing his drink and food. This I have from some for our men who was taken prisoners and sent to the hospitals to take care of the wounded. By the way every house was converted into a hospital for miles around….Coming across a field where we [89th Regiment Illinois Volunteers] made one of our rallies and the ground was literly covered in rows with dead men. We never thought that we did such execution, but the work was inevitably ours as no other part of the army was near that spot and to make it look far worse, the hogs of which there are a great number running about, had eat some of the bodies half up. I found quite a prize on that field, beside the body of a young man that was mutilated horribly, you be surprised when I tell you what my prize was, well it was no more or less than a corn dodger, a little dirty to be sure, but that did not matter to me as I had not had any bread for nearly three days….The next morning, January 5th, the search was continued and a squad sent out to bury the dead. I had seen enough the day before so I did not go there, but went out and killed a hog as did some other boys, then we had plenty again, such as it was….The day was taken up burying and removing the wounded to some permanent hospitals. At night it rained giving us a good drenching but we are used to that now and make the best of it….When we came into Murfreesboro, everything was shut closed except where the boys had opened on their own before. Nearly every inhabitant has left, in fact the whole country is deserted. We are now encamped about four miles from Murfreesboro toward Shelbyville, Tenn., where we are to stop a week or so to rest and recruit. On our way from Murfreesboro to this place, we saw some encampments of the rebs, who left in more of a hurry than ever we did on the Wednesday [December 31] before. They left camps and everything else standing and got off in a hurry. The most of them leaving their arms and equipment, that did me good, I tell you….

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George G. Sinclair

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