November 13, 2013
Nearly a fortnight since I have opened this book & what a fortnight of sorrow and distress! On Sat the 31st of Oct as Rachel & I were walking in the garden came Sister Betsy after us reading a letter from Pattie containing good news from her son Thomas. Whilst we were listening to it my little maid servant Betsy came to say that Master wanted me directly. I stayed but the conclusion of the letter & with a heart full of thankfulness & gratitude retraced my steps to the house. One glance at Mr E was sufficient! I saw “bad news” stamped on every feature & even attitude. He placed in my hands a letter to him, also from Pattie, urging him to come on to her directly, that the Surgeons had pronounced Tom in a hopeless state, the ball having passed through the Kidneys. This letter was one day later than the first. Our preparations were soon made & in half an hour we were in the carriage on our way to the R R. We were fortunate enough to catch the train & after a most anxious and fatiguing journey reached Richmond about sunrise on Sunday, the 1st of Nov. We drove at once to the Officer’s Hospital, No 4-10th St & to our inexpressible releif found Thomas still living, tho in a state of the last degree of exhaustion after a night of incessant hemorrhage. He had bled to the verge of sinking & the Surgeons could not give one drop of either stimulant or tonic for fear of exciting arterial action. They told us plainly that his chance for life was but small, that the first point was to reduce the pulse which, weak as it was, beat at 200!! A recurrence of hemorrhage was certainly fatal. He might survive otherwise — had he vitallity enough left to rally after so great a loss of blood, but he was young & in God’s hands. So passed Sunday.
That night his sufferings were intense from obstructions in the bladder. Every ten or fifteen minutes they would recur but I never heard him murmur or complain. On Monday he was to the astonishment of all better & his hopes were high of a recovery. Under the influence of Verraltria his pulse sank & tho weak his surgeons were more hopeful about him. On Tuesday night he was so evidently sinking that Mr Edmondston considered it his duty to tell him that he might die at any moment. His calmness & self possession did not for one moment forsake him. He said he did not know he was so ill, thanked his Uncle, said he did not wish to be deceived & asked if he was then dying. His Uncle told him “No,” but that he was so weak that he knew not at what moment he might sink and that if he had any wishes to express he had better not leave it until he became weaker. Accordingly he disposed of his worldly affairs, leaving all that he had to his wife Patty, in the hearing of us all, mentioned some little matters that he wished attended to, & in the handsomest manner gave to Lieut Skinner (his brother-in-law — and first Lieut) his promotion, telling him that since he had been in Richmond he had bought a pr of Shoulder Straps, which he wished him to take, that he had rather he should have them than any one else. His calmness & self possession never for one moment forsook him & with a deep humility of soul, relying only on the merits & mediation of his Saviour did he turn to God, confessing his sins & imploring his mercy. The next day the Surgeons pronounced him no worse & as there was no recurrence of hemorrhage our hopes rose & he became sanguine of recovery.
Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html