Sunday, September 23, 2007

CWL---The Real War Is Getting Into the Books: First Person Accounts of Carnage, September 1862

Misery Holds High Carnival, Judson H. Nelson, America's Civil War, September 2007, pp. 30-39.

". . . a thousand blackened, bloated corpses with blood and gas protruding from every orifice and maggots hold high carnival . . . . " Surgeon Daniel Holt, 121 New York Volunteers, began writing letters home after the battle of South Mountain, Maryland on September 14th. Rare is the soldier who wrote the Mrs. of Rebels with brains blown out, eyes popped out, and arms lifted in the air.

John H. Nelson, author of As the Grain Falls Before the Reaper: The Federal Hospital Sites and Identified Federal Casualties at Antietam, a CD-Rom, has collected a series of striking remarks from surgeons, newspaper correspondents, U.S. Sanitary Commission and U.S. Christian Commission worker, civilians and rank-and-file soldiers and organized them into an article.

At the Smoketown Hospital, really shebangs for the wounded, "The medicines are on the grounds, and tables, boxes , etc. without order or regularity. There is want of attention to police the wards and camp. Direst and garbage are accumulated in large quantities. . ." describes Assistant Medical Director W. R. Mosely. He contrasts the Smoketown shebangs with the Locust Spring Hospital, that had 24 tents each with their own stone fireplaces and superior bedding, that is bedsteads described as sacks filled with straw and covered with sheets, quilts and blankets.

Among the many descriptions Nelson has presented, CWL fully appreciates the material on the Otto Farm, located on the west side of Burnside's Bridge, a discussion that may be representative of the blight upon the farming community. With damages in excess of $2,300, Otto received a settlement check for $893.85. Another farmer,
Ephraim Getting whose farms held a portion of the Locust Spring hospital, claimed $1,238.45 in damages. He received no settlement.

For CWL, the article is a unfootnoted tease. CWL hopes that Nelson expands the article and North and South Magazine publishes it.

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