Sunday, January 10, 2016

James Meyers in Hospital and Camp

The premiere of PBS' new costume drama Mercy Street next Sunday, has created a lot of buzz on social media.  The show centers on life in a Union hospital in Alexandria, VA.  To whet your appetite on what it was really like for medical personnel in the Union Army during the Civil War, I present a few extracts from the diary of Pvt. James A. Meyers.   From 1862-1865, Meyers served as a hospital steward for the 45th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Friday, January 2, 1863 [In camp in Stafford County, Virginia]

This morning on arising I found that some one had during the past night entered my tent carrying off a demijohn containing some whiskey, which had been placed in my charge, also, had stolen half of our mess of baked beans intended for this mornings breakfast, no clue to the perpetuator.  But some of those who last night were drunken are now paying the penalty of their folly.  Two Segts have been reversed to the ranks.  Our Colonel is very severe on intemperance.

Recd by mail three letters & one paper, also this diary from Bro W-- one letter from SW Knipe, W. tells me of good things from home on the way, how gladly we soldiers look for our mail with news from home & friends.

Wednesday, July 1, 1863 [In hospital outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi]

As usual dry and hot.

The firing on the front is quite brisk this morning.

No surgeon in attendance today for cause or other.  So have to shift best way I can.  Recd a few supplies from Sanitary Commission.  In the evening Dr Youndt brought two more hospl patients.  R. Roberts drummer Co 'K.' right fore arm broken, and James Malligan, Co 'A' helpless with Rheumatism.  So we are full up, as I had admitted Wm Utter of Co H. earlier in the evening.  The mail to-day brought me letters from S.A.M., S.R.G., E.G.T., and M.E.H. the first mail I have received since 6th ult.  Wrote to Bro ETM.

Made inventory of med supplies on hand.

Thursday, December 3, 1863 [During the siege of Knoxville, Tennessee]

Opens bright clear and pleasant.  Our dead house has eight occupants this morning.  One killed on the field, the others died in Hospital.  During the night we have had considerable cannonading, sounding more like signaling than anything else.

My line of duty has been changed again today, from the operating room I go into the Dispensary and take charge there.  Keeping the register &c promises to be a bust position and I think to my liking.  Have a pleasant room for and office, Dr Fox of 8th Michigan is now in charge of Hospital, things are gradually coming in shape.

There has been nothing unusual about the front today, the impression that the enemy is leaving seems to be gaining ground.

To learn more about James A. Meyers experiences as a hospital steward read "My Heart is in the Cause": The Civil War Diary of James Meyers, 45th PA Volunteers available now on Amazon   

No comments:

Post a Comment