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of personal experience they are full of interest, and serve best to illustrate the spirit which has characterized our loyal people during the past four years.
We are glad, therefore, to know that a society, of which Rev. Dr. Putnam of Roxbury is the president, has been formed in Boston for the purpose of collecting and preserving these fragmentary records. Letters and diaries, written by our officers and soldiers, containing matters of general interest, are solicited by this society. These will be properly arranged, and doubtless, from time to time, memorial volumes will be published. We bespeak for the society the hearty co-operation of every man and woman in the old Commonwealth. The importance of now searching out and bringing together these widely scattered fragments can not be overestimated. Time is the destroyer as well as the discoverer, and in a few years our search, if it be delayed, will be in vain.
This field has not wholly been overlooked. There are those who have already thrust in the sickle here and there, and proved how abundant is the harvest which awaits the reapers. Dr. Hackett's " Memorials of the War" is a rich store house of these occasional sketches. Intensely loyal, this eminent scholar, laying aside in a measure his favorite studies, watched the progress of the late conflict with an interest which never flagged. "Scenes and incidents, illustrative of religious faith and principle, patriotism and bravery in our army," as they came under his observation, were gathered by him and carefully preserved. At length, with a view to their preservation in a more permanent form, a selection from these scenes and incidents thus collected was made, and published in the volume just mentioned.
In this selection, care was taken to give a place only to those incidents which were well authenticated. Many of the narratives it was found necessary to abridge. In some instances they were extended by facts drawn from other sources. Explanatory remarks were added. The work was a labor of love, " a grateful service to the friends of our brave soldiers, as well as an act of justice to the soldiers themselves.”
Of course only those incidents should be preserved which are entirely trustworthy. Exaggerated statements excite suspicion, if not disgust; and those who present them only injure
the cause they seek to promote. A clergyman, from Cincinnati, was recently preaching in the vicinity of Boston. In illustrating his discourse he related the following incident: a young man belonging to Sherman's grand army was captured by the enemy near Atlanta in the summer of 1864. With other prisopers he was sent to North Carolina, and there confined in a stockade. The brook which ran through the enclosure, and supplied our men with water, before entering the stockade, received the refuse from the camps of thirty or forty thousand rebels in the vicinity, so that its waters were filthy in the extreme. The young soldier was a Christian, he believed in prayer, and calling his Christian comrades together he united with them in prayer for water; and the next morning, when they awoke, their eye were gladdened as they beheld a fountain of pure water gushing from the earth near them, where no water had been found before.
The prison, alluded to in this incident, must be the prison at Salisbury, as this was the only place in North Carolina where our men were confined at the time mentioned. The treatment to which our prisoners were subjected there was barbarous in the extreme. Indeed it was kindred to that which has made the prison pen at Andersonville infamous forever. - Accordingly we find in the incident no exaggeration in this respect. The estimate, however, of the force stationed at Salisbury is wide of the truth; and the suspicion which it excites is by no means removed by the statement which follows. Had such a miracle been wrought, as is claimed in this account, it would have made an ineffaceable impression on the mind of every man in the prison ; and we should now have hundreds of living witnesses of its truth. No such witnesses can be found ; and we do not hesitate, therefore, to pronounce the incident unfounded in fact, and wholly untrustworthy. Now, when, as in this instance, such a story is pressed into the service of religion, it produces an effect very different from that which is sought. A reflecting Christian, while he still holds the truth illustrated, will at once reject the illustration ; but any other, in rejecting the illustration, will be confronted with doubts respecting the truth itself.
We have been led to these remarks by the examination of the second book, the title of which we have quoted at the head of this article. The "Nurse and Spy” purports to be "a record of events, which have transpired in the experience and under the observation of one who has been on the field, and participated in numerous battles-among which are the first and second Bull Run, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, the seven days in front of Richmond, Antietam and Fredericksburg—serving in the capacity of a Spy and as a Field nurse for over two years.
From the record it appears that the author is a native of the Province of New Brunswick. With "an insatiable thirst for education," and a fixed purpose to serve as a "Foreign Missionary,” she came a few years before the war to the United States. Early in the spring of 1861, she seems to have been in a "reverie," from which however she was aroused by a voice in the street crying, " New York Herald-Fall of Fort Sumter-President's Proclamation-Call for seventy-five thousand men. The foreign missionary enterprise was at once abandoned, and in ten days our heroine was on her way to Washington, " having been employed by the government ” as a " Field Nurse.”
With some western troops, she passed through Baltimore a few days after the attack on the 6th Mass. Vols. Here" mobs were gathered in the streets, and the utmost excitement prevailed ; and as the crowded cars moved through the city toward the depot, the infuriated mob threw showers of stones, brickbats, and other missiles, breaking the windows and wounding some of the soldiers. Some of the men could not forbear firing into the crowd.” p. 21. Now, what schoolboy does not know that after the passage of the 6th Mass. no troops passed through Baltimore for several weeks. The railroad bridges, north and west of the city, were destroyed. The whole State nearly was in the power of the rebels ; and Gov. Hicks, in a communication to the President, protested against the passage of northern troops across any portion of its soil. Meanwhile Gen. Butler, with the 8th Mass. and 7th New York, had opened the Annapolis route; and Secretary Seward in reply, while expressing surprise at such a protest, assured Gov. Hicks that this highway (the Annapolis route) for our troops had been selected "upon consultation with prominent magistrates and citizens of Maryland, as the one which, while a route is absolutely necessary, is furthest removed from the populous cities of the State, and with the expectation that it would therefore be the least objectionable one." It was not till the 9th of June that the route through Baltimore was again opened. Baltimore was at that time garrisoned by our troops, and no such scene as that which is presented in the passage we have just quoted from the " Nurse and Spy” could then have occurred.
But we proceed with the narrative. On reaching Washington our heroine commenced her labors as a hospital nurse. After recording some of her experiences, while serving in this capacity, she opens chapter second thus : " Marching orders received to day — two days more, and the Army of the Potomac will be on its way to Bull Run. I find this registered in my journal July 15th, 1861, without any comment whatever.” Comment, however, is necessary. It requires but a glance to see that these lines could not have been written July 15, 1861, as she would have us infer. The Army of the Potomac was not in existence at that time. We had then a "grand union army ” we thought; but these words, the Army of the Potomac, now 80 familiar to us, had not then been framed. Besides, on the 15th of July, 1861, who had heard of Bull Run? That battle was not not fought until Sunday, July 21st. "On to Richmond ”
at that time. Our heroine accompanied the army into Virginia. At the battle of Bull Run she seems to have performed distinguished service. Of course she gave her attention chiefly to our wounded. She found time, however, to render assistance to others. Filling her "canteens while the minnie balls fell thick and fast around us,” she carried water to our troops who were
e famishing with thirst.” Then came the disastrous retreat. Yet like Mary’s lamb, when rudely treated by a certain teacher, "still she lingered near” the battle field, and only escaped capture by her extraordinary presence of mind. It would be interesting to give her account in full, but space forbids.
She now returned to her labors in the hospitals in and around Washington. The next spring she accompanied McClellan's army to the Peninsula. While our troops lay before Yorktown, she was often sent out into the country in search of supplies for the hospital with which she was connected. instances,” we give her own words, "I met with narrow escapes
e In some
with my life, which were not quite so interesting; and the timely appearance of my revolver often rescued me from the hands of the female rebels of the Peninsula.” On one occasion, as she was leaving a house, where she had obtained some supplies for her hospital, the following incident occurred. We give her own graphic description.
" I had scarcely gone a rod when she [the woman from whom she had obtained her supplies) discharged a pistol at me; by some intuitive movement I threw myself forward on my horse's neck and the ball passed over my head. I turned my horse in a twinkling, and grasped my revolver. She was in the act of firing the second time, but was so excited that the bullet went wide of its mark. I held my seven-shooter in my hand, considering where to aim. I did not wish to kill the wretch, but did intend to wound her. When she saw that two could play at this game, she dropped her pistol and threw up her hands imploringly. I took deliberate aim at one of her hands, and sent the ball through the palm of her left hand. She fell to the ground in an instant with a loud shriek. I dismounted and took the pistol which lay beside her, and placing it in my belt, proceeded to take care of her ladyship after the following manner: I unfastened the end of my halter-strap and tied it painfully tight around her right wrist, and remounting my horse, I started, and brought the lady to consciousness by dragging her by the wrist two or three rods along the ground."
In this incident there is no need to remind the reader of Munchausen.
Soon after, our heroine was employed by Gen. McClellan as a spy. She at once entered the rebel lines, disguised as a contraband, and returned with valuable information. Accompanying the army up the Peninsula, she again entered the enemy's lines, and again returned in safety. During the bloody engagements which were fought in front of Richmond, she acted as an orderly to Gen. K—, throwing herself into the thickest of the fight, but always emerging unharmed.
During Pope's campaign, she visited the rebel camps three times within a period of ten days. Of course she saw Kearney killed at " Chentilla :" as she spells it. She " was within a few rods of him when he fell."
At the battle of Antietam, she does not seem to have borne a prominent part. Late in October following, she accompanied