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

Post image for Journal of Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman.

Journal of Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman.

September 15, 2012

Journal of Surgeon Alfred L Castleman.

15th.—1 o’clock A. M.—I am now through dressing the wounds of those in my hospital. The next house to me is also an hospital, (a large church in the village of Burkettsville.) In it I hear the cries and moans of distress. To me, the sounds seem at this distance to be those of men neglected. God forbid that it be so, for they have plenty of Surgeons there.

Having, by the kind assistance of Doctor Garrett, a good and excellent physician of the village, got through with my dressings and seen my patients all asleep. I, in company with Doctor G., visited the other hospitals to offer our services to the Surgeons there, but we found the Surgeons had gone to bed, leaving the wounded to be cared for in the morning! I then returned to my hospital, and to my great gratification, found nearly every wounded man asleep, and this, notwithstanding they were wounded in all parts of the body—broken thighs, legs, feet, shot through the lungs, back, bowels. After they were dressed, the free use of anodynes and anasthætics had relieved the pain, and after a day of fatigue, danger and suffering, they were resting quietly.


At 9 1-2 this morning, I was, at my earnest request, relieved from the care of hospital and permitted to return to my regiment.

A little circumstance occurred last night, which, as it may be important, I here journalize. A rebel Lieutenant was brought into my hospital to take care of his Captain, who was severely wounded. After I had got through my dressing, I fell into a conversation with him on the subject of the war and its probable results. He was well informed, intelligent, and communicative. During the conversation he quizzically asked me what I thought of the surrender of Harper’s Ferry! I replied, laughingly, that it would be time for me to think of it when it should take place. “But,” said he, “it has already taken place!” “When?” About sun-down.” “How do you know?” “No matter; it is sufficient for us that it took place about sun-down.” His manner was assured and confident. What does it mean? Is there treason there, and has he had an inkling of it? This is a strange war, and a strange world. This noon we hear whispers that Harper’s Ferry is surrendered. At 9 o’clock this A. M., the firing there ceased. It could not have been surrendered at sun-down last night, as the Lieutenant stated; but has it been this morning? And if yes, had he any knowledge that it was to be, and some circumstances have occurred to delay the act? We must wait and learn.

But why did we not go yesterday to the relief of Harper’s Ferry, if it were in danger? We had whole divisions of men idle all day, and were within two hour’s inarch of the place? Had we another rival there to kill off? Why did we permit a whole transportation train to pass under easy range of our batteries, and escape without a shot? God forgive my suspicions as to our leaders, but preserve the country from their machinations—if they have any.

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