[Civil War, Gettysburg] Offering a scarce account from a Union ward master who grudgingly provided hospitalization for Confederate soldiers wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg, complaining, “Not the pleasantest occupation to be waiting up those men that have caused our country for to bleed.”
Three pp, 5 x 7, written by Bernard McGrann a month after the great battle and sent from his De Camp General Hospital on Long Island to the U.S. General Hospital at Fort Schuyler, New York. Transmittal envelope present. No similar letters found. OCLC has a pass issued by the hospital held by the New York Historical Society. Gettysburg College holds a letter related to the hospitalization of Confederates at facilities near the battlefield.
In full, “David’s Island, Aug. 5/63
“I received your letter of Aug. 2d and now take the favorable opportunity to write to you. I am very happy to hear that you are getting a long so well and hope that nothing may occur to mar your future happiness. You say that you had a fine time when you left the Island as you had papers to Dr. McDougal which enabled you to spend a short time in the City among your friends. But I was sorry to hear that they (papers) did not prove to be what I expected but perhaps it may be all the better for you as it is not the pleasantest occupation to be in waiting upon those men that have caused our Country for to bleed. But there will come a day of gladness when the people of the Lord shall look personally on their banner which his mercy has restored I may live to see it when the patriot work is done and your heart so full of kindness will remember an old friend or through tears your eyes may see it with a sadly thoughtful view and may love it still more dearly for the cost it was you. We have three thousand rebs on the Island at present and expected to have two thousand more soon. My ward is filled up so you may judge for yourself how much time I have to write to my friends. I must now bid you adieu for a short time as I expected to see you soon and I think that I will adopt your plan when I have any money in my possession once more good Bye!
“Remain yours Truly
“Rm. No. 2
“De Camp General Hoppt
“Davids Island, PA
“P.S. Remember me to all the Boys who was in my ward. Dillon in particular.”
Established in 1862 by the U.S. War Department, De Camp General Hospital would become the Army’s largest medical facility with a patient load of 2000 plus Union soldiers. However, after the Battle of Gettysburg, about 2500 Confederates were shipped to De Camp Hospital for medical treatment. When well enough the Confederates were shipped to various prisoner of war camps. Following the war, the island was converted to a major recruitment center and eventually a Coastal Artillery post named Fort Slocum in honor of General Henry Ward Slocum, whose command as senior general present on the field played decisive roles at Gettysburg where his XII Corps held the extreme right of the Union line, stretching southward from Culp’s Hill across the Baltimore Pike. Slocum would later become a member of the Board of Gettysburg Monument Commissioners.
Expected toning to the letter. Soiling to the cover. Very easy to read and a wonderful historical item relating to the crucial Battle of Gettysburg.
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