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

Post image for The Color Guard, A Corporal’s Notes, James Kendall Hosmer.

The Color Guard, A Corporal’s Notes, James Kendall Hosmer.

January 19, 2013

The Color Guard, A Corporal's Notes, James Kendall Hosmer


To the Parsonage in B.

Dear P.,—We are lucky fellows. For a time, you know, Ed. and I were perfectly well and hearty; and, now that Ed. has had to give up for a while, he is probably better off than any sick man in the regiment, and is doing as well as we can expect. I wrote a day or two ago, that Ed. was sick; thinking he would be better at once. It turned out differently; and now he is slipping smoothly through a fever,—just about as comfortably off as he needs to be, with every thing so far going well. It does seem at a distance an awkward thing to be sick in camp, and generally, I suppose, it is a hard thing for a soldier to be taken down; but Ed. is singularly fortunate. The chaplain offered him a place in his room, which he thought would be more comfortable than the hospital; but the officers of the company were so urgent in their invitation, that Ed. decided to go to their room. So here we are to-night,—he playing patient; and I, nurse.

Grosvenor is sick too, — fine fellow,—the graduate of Amherst, whom I mention sometimes. He and Ed. have the room together; and the colonel has detailed me temporarily for hospital-service, to have special charge of this pair of sergeants. You know I am an old hand at nursing. I find I take to it again with real zest, like a fish to its pond. Ed. and Grosvenor are both sleeping quietly now, each on his bunk comfortably fitted up with a soft mattress of moss and all necessary coverings. The surgeon is skilful, and close at hand all the time; the hospital-stores contain all the necessary medicines; and, for comforts, you ought to see the pile of oranges and lemons on this table here! Oranges, not such half-ripened, pale fellows as you see North, but the “raal” article, pumpkins in color, and almost in size. Ed. has just been smacking his lips over some cold lemonade sucked up through a mint-julep straw, and is looking forward to beef-tea; a cupful of which, nicely made as can be by old Winders, the hospital cook, who takes an interest in us, stands on the bench yonder. Moreover, there is toast-water, fine loaf-sugar, choice tea, right here at hand, and gruel whenever it is wanted. Ed. sleeps on a feather pillow which I managed to get; and, as I said, sucks his nourishment through a mint-julep straw: not because he is obliged to, but because he prefers to take it easy, — lie flat on his back, or any way, and take his dinner, which, under the persuasion applied by means of the mint-julep straw, will pliantly mount any hill, or turn any corner, to find that “right spot” to which we like to have things go exactly. So you see Ed. is about as well off as he could be anywhere, all things considered; and, in some respects, better: for he has the mint-julep straw, — an article which savors of the “enemy,” and which, therefore, never did profane, and I presume would never be allowed to profane, the virtuous precincts of the manse; and yet an article (O our friends!) to be cherished for its magic mastery over lemonade and beef-tea. So you see Ed. is well doctored and well nursed. I am not afraid to say it. For myself, my health is perfect; and I take precautions to keep it so, so far as I can.

Ed. has waked up. He sends much love, and talks about Mark Tapley, the “jolly man;” who, when he was too sick to speak, wrote “jolly” on a piece of paper. That appears to be about his frame of mind.

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