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

Post image for Woolsey Family during the War.

Woolsey Family during the War.

January 16, 2013

Woolsey family letters during the War for the Union

From Jane Stuart Woolsey:


My dear Cousin Margaret: Now that I have been long enough in this place to have learned tolerably well my topography, the names and titles of my coadjutors, how to make out my diet books, etc., . . . I can take breath (and “my pen ” as the soldiers always say in their letters) to say that we are well and more than contented with our present position. . . . Georgy already has her “department” almost completely organized and supplied, and develops daily an amount of orderly foresight and comprehensive carefulness which would astonish one who has watched her somewhat erratic career from childhood. I, who have always rather held myself up to her as a model of the non-spasmodic style, find myself in secret and in reluctance borrowing ideas of her. She has found her work certainly, at least at present. . . . We are nine miles away, as Sarah pathetically observes, from a spool of cotton, and of course this has its effect. There was a time when Newport made it a sort of fashion, and curious crowds infested the wards with plum jam and cucumbers, but now “the season” at Newport is over and the supplies in a measure fall off. . . . We are fortunate in having a good and active young man for a chaplain. He has a large and very attentive audience on Sunday and at daily evening prayers, and it is quite refreshing to hear the full soldiers’ chorus in all the good old hymns. Last Sunday two soldiers were received into the church and baptized. Mr. Proudfit is a Presbyterian. . . . As to our house, it would not be fair to call it a shanty, as the doctors have taken so much pains or pleasure in fitting it up. . . . The outer walls are double and filled in with paper shavings (I believe), and this, with large stoves, will keep us warm; perhaps too warm some fine windy midnight. “Wooden walls” keep out all enemies according to the old song, but they don’t keep out voices, for there is Georgy saying (I can hear it as if she were at my elbow), “I shall never be able to settle down into the conventionalities of society after the wandering life I have led these five years. Once a vagabond always a vagabond; I shall marry an army surgeon and go out to the frontier!” . . . Miss Wormeley, our chief, is clever, spirited and energetic in the highest degree—a cultivated woman, with friends and correspondents among the best literary men here and in England, John Kenyon and the Browning family for instance,—a great capacity for business and not a single grain of mock-sentiment about her. . . . One good thing has happened to-day. Miss Wormeley is made agent of the Sanitary Commission here, with sole authority to draw and issue supplies, and we are to have an office full of comforts for the men at once. . . .

P. S.—All the barracks are to be plastered, large bath-rooms and steam wash-house to be built immediately, bad men turned out and good ones put in. “The kid begins to go,” and I can see by candle-light it’s halfpast midnight and time I was dreaming an hour ago.

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