Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for A Soldier’s Diary — David Lane.

A Soldier’s Diary — David Lane.

December 26, 2013

A Soldier's Diary, The Story of a Volunteer, David Lane, (17th Mich. Vol. Infantry)

Knoxville, December 26th, 1863.

I still remain at the hospital—can all winter if I choose. The sick and wounded are doing fairly well. Most of them will soon be well enough to go home on furlough. They are to be sent fast as it may be safe for them. One squad starts tomorrow. The men are eager to get away from here—somewhere—anywhere.

This is called a United States General Hospital. It partakes of the nature of such an institution only so far as patients and shoulder-strapped doctors go toward making it one. And patients are becoming scarce, thank God. ‘It is not a desirable place for convalescents, and, as soon as they are able, they gladly leave for their regiments. The wounded are all to have furloughs—so says the Surgeon—and they are very impatient. They would run any risk to escape this den of filth, privation and starvation.

Think of a hospital where the patients have no bedding but the blankets they brought with them; no clothing but the dirty rags they wore from the field; no dishes but their tin cups and butcher knives; where there is no “bed pan,” and only two night vessels for one hundred forty sick men; where washing is put off, week after week, for want of soap, there being not so much as one piece to wash hands with. I went to every store, grocery and sutler’s shop in the city this morning, seeking soap and finding none. Where wounded soldiers are fed on coarse bread and beef or vegetable soup twice a day, and not half enough of this to satisfy.

It is no valid excuse that hospital stores cannot be procured here. They might have been sent from Kentucky before this time. Our troops—the Ninth Corps—in the field are in no better condition. They are encamped eighteen miles from here, unfit for duty for want of clothing; all are ragged; many have not a shoe to their feet or rags enough to cover them. Washington’s army at Valley Forge is the only parallel in the history of this Nation. We have drawn very little clothing since we started for Mississippi in June last. I saw our Quartermaster Sergeant yesterday, Mr. Woodin; he assures mo there is no prospect of our receiving supplies in the near future. What 1 have said applies to the Ninth Corps only; the Twenty-third and other corps are well supplied. The reason given is we are out of our department, and there is no regular channel of supply. I have just drawn two months’ pay. I intended to send every dollar of it to my wife, who needs it, but will be compelled to use some of it or go naked. I have only one shirt, and that is nearly worn out. Army shirts—no better than those issued to us—cost six dollars at the sutler’s. My shoes are nearly off my feet, and army shoes cost four dollars. I am destitute of socks, and socks cost one dollar. I do not wish to find fault, but the thought will arise, if sutlers can get their goods over the mountains, why cannot the Government? Again, there is, and has been, a heavy stock of clothing at the Gap. Why don’t they send it on?

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