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

Post image for Diary of a Southern Refugee, Judith White McGuire.

Diary of a Southern Refugee, Judith White McGuire.

April 15, 2015

Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War by Judith White McGuire

Good-Friday.—As usual, I went to the hospital, and found Miss T. in much trouble. A peremptory order has been given by the Surgeon-General to remove all patients. In the opinion of our surgeon, to five of them it would be certain death. The ambulances were at the door. Miss T. and myself decided to go at once to the Medical Director and ask him to recall the order. We were conducted to his office, and, for the first time since the entrance of the Federal army, were impolitely treated. On two occasions we had been obliged to make application to officials, and had been received with great respect and consideration, and we believe it has been uniformly the case; and we were, therefore, very much surprised when a request which seemed to us so reasonable was at first refused most decidedly. We could not give up our application, as it seemed to be a matter of life and death; so we told him what our surgeon had said, and that we hoped he would reconsider his order. He replied, that he should send a surgeon with the ambulances, and if in his judgment they could be removed, it should be done without hesitation, as he was determined to break up the small hospitals which you have all about town, (ours is the only small hospital in town,) and that he had ordered neither rations nor medicines to be issued to them. Miss T. told him that nothing of the sort was necessary; she had never asked nor received rations from the Federal Government; that she had now but five men under her care, and they were desperately wounded, and she would greatly prefer that the hospital should be considered in the light of a private establishment, which we could take care of without asking help. A change came over his countenance, but not his manner; he brusquely told us that he would “see about it.” In an hour afterwards the surgeon and the ambulance came, but after what seemed to me rather a pompous display of surgical examination and learned medical terms, addressed to the lady-nurses, he determined to leave our dear mangled soldiers to our care. One of them is in a dying condition; he cannot survive many hours.

We had no service in our churches to-day. An order came out in this morning’s papers that the prayers for the President of the United States must be used. How could we do it? Mr. —— went to the hospital by the request of Colonel Richardson, and had prayers in his room. Ambulances are constantly passing with horses in the finest possible condition—even finer than ours were in the beginning of the war. It seems to me passing strange that, with all their advantages, we kept them at bay so long, and conquered them so often. Had one port been left open to us— only one, by which we might have received food and clothing—Richmond would not now be in their hands; our men were starved into submission.

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