Blantyre Hospital, Octo. 22nd 1861
Miss Carrie L. Fries,
My Dear Friend;
I was anxiously looking for another letter form you, when Friday evening’s mail brought your’s of the 11th. I intended answering yesterday, but several things prevented. There were some business letters to write, and then Sunday is a good day for the neighboring people to pay us a visit. ‘Tis the Turners, Skinkers, Hendersons, Beverylys &c., who together represent the wealth, part of the intelligence and beauty of this neighborhood. The visits of these people are quite frequent and they must therefore be attended to, and treated hospitably, which task is- to me- an unpleasant one. But however great their pretentions, are not doing as much practically as some others less favored with wealth and self assumed aristocracy.
At the house of the former – Turners is a certain Miss Lea, daughter of Gen’l Lee, whom Alf – now at my elbow reading Shakespeare-almost well of his recent injuries – insists is going to gain him position in the personal Staff of the General, by what means is not necessary to mention. Whether he be jesting or not, I will not aim to determine, but this I know and will affirm – his visits there have been frequent and long, together with at least three or four others who desire the same positions – “further despondent sayeth not.”
Alf, by the way is doing remarkably well, considering his recent trouble. He speaks of returning to Camp, but I have given him to understand he is not the one to say how soon or when. Sam is almost well, a little sick yet. He is still staying in my room. We had the misfortune to lose three men by death last week. Two were from the Rifles – they belonged to the Rockingham Company. Capt. Boyds. There is now a Stokes man with Typhoid Pneumonia, who I fear must succumb, the names of those from Alf’s Camp, were Chas. D. Pettus, and Foster Phillips – Boyd’s man was named Horton. Pettus had Fever but died from exhaustion produced by excessive hemmorage. Phillips had measles more than two months ago, which brought on a Consumption that ended in death .. – Boyd’s man also had had measles, then took Fever that proved too much for a system already reduced. We have lost 5 men in three weeks out of a total number of 81 patients. The percentage is not as large as in General Hospitals, nor on private practice. The “lady nurses” are enjoying good health and continue doing good service. I am always uneasy they have more to do than they can stand up to, yet trust my apprehensions are not to be realized. The young lady you question me about, which questions I cheerfully answer to you – has greatly disappointed me in adapting herself to surrounding circumstances. Whether she is sick of this life or not, I have not reason of saying, but judging from a cheerful exterior, she is contented. When I first heard of Salem ladies coming to nurse, I greatly feared a patriotic enthusiasm might have induced yourself, Miss Mollie or my sisters to volunteer services, I should have been very sorry had it been so, however glad I would be to see you, in in what estimation I hold your accomplishments in nursing the sick and suffering. I would not exactly consider a Hospital of sick soldiers, indiscriminately composed of all character, a very suitable place for a young lady, and would not wish either sister or particular friend to enter one. Does this answer your question. I have heard considerable talk about the “Little Revolution,” as Miss Mollie has so well termed it. My sister Lou, in her last letter to me was very indignant and exhibited considerable feeling. I always believed, even from the beginning, that our clergy were and would be unsound in this contest, and of the man in question still hold a similar opinion. Until better men assume control of the Moravian Church I hold myself aloof, a determination sometime aimed at. It afforded me pleasure to see the proceeds much greater than might have been but for this opposition, and trust the same hostility may be exhibited hereafter to such efforts, since by this means they are rendered more popular and interesting. Messrs. Bele, Masten and Hall are still here, and I know not when they can get away. ‘Tis not probable that they can do so soon.
Stirring time are now prevalent here, yesterday we heard incessant cannonading and the evening train brought news of an engagement at Leesburg on the Potomac. We had only four Regts. there, and the enemy under Banks crossed in great numbers, but were heroically resisted by our little band. Night closed operations, twas so dark, cold and rainy. This morning soon, baggage wagons commenced arriving at our Camp went hither by the Leesburg force. An engagement is now taking place there, and we know not what odds are against us, and whether we will prove victorious. The Militia has been ordered out; our Regt., all sick capable of bearing arms – is also waiting with tents struck, ready to march either to battle or to retreat, and every body is desperately excited. Col Leach is in command here, Col. Kirkland being with the well men at Centerville. This morning Col. Leach sent me a note with orders hoist the “Yellow Flag” on this Hospital, which I reluctantly obeyed. It looks rather like a flag of Truce! Would rather have hoisted the “Stars and Bars!” Everybody is greatly excited, some alarmed, others anxious for a fight. There is a large gap – Thoroughfare Gap – in these mountains, through which the enemy must pass, if they come this way, and this is to be guarded by a proper force. I have no fears that we will be molested here, because we are too far from the seat of the operations. Should it be necessary I am prepared for the worst with an old musket and a good stock of ammunition. If you receive this letter there will have been no attack on this point, in that the enemy must have first possession of the Railroad before they reach the Gap. Some people make much fuss and raise excitement, but I feel glad I am not disposed to believe all without I see sufficient reason. The papers will bring you news of more definite character than I can communicate. Write soon to
PS Wish you could see my “Yellow Flag!” I am ashamed of the necessity and the duty that calls me to seek protection under it.
Source: Shaffner Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
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