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.

September 2, 2012

Woolsey family letters during the War for the Union

Chaplain Henry Hopkins to Georgeanna Woolsey.

Alexandria Hospital, Sept., 1862.

My dear Miss Woolsey: In great haste I write to say that to dispense anything which will do the bodies of these poor sufferers good will be a most welcome task. . . . Outside of the house, at the Mansion Hospital, we fed 1,500, 1,900, 2,500, and 1,600 patients passing North on successive days, so that those inside suffer some lack of care and of good food. Last night 75 came in from beyond the lines by flag of truce. I thought I had seen weary and worn-out human beings before, but these bloody, dirty, mangled men, who had lain on the battlefield, some of them two and three days, with wounds untouched since the first rude dressing, and had ridden from near Centreville in ambulances, were a new revelation. We cut their clothes from them, torn and stiff with their own blood and Virginia clay, and moved them inch by inch onto the rough straw beds; the poor haggard men seemed the personification of utmost misery. But some of them were happy. One nobleman who attracted me by the manliness of his very look in the midst of his sufferings, when I spoke to him of the strong consolations of a trust in the Saviour, threw his arms about my neck and told me, weeping, that for him they were more than sufficient. Some of these fellows I love like brothers and stand beside their graves for other reasons than that it is an official duty. . .

It was for such heroic sufferers as the “nobleman” described by Chaplain Hopkins that Mary wrote these verses:


“Mortally Wounded.”


I lay me down to sleep,
With little thought or care
Whether my waking find
Me here—or THERE!


A bowing, burdened head,
Only too glad to rest,
Unquestioning, upon
A Loving breast.


My good right hand forgets
Her cunning now;
To march the weary march
I know not how.


I am not eager, bold,
Nor strong,—all that is past!
I am willing not to do,
At last, at last !


My half-day’s work is done,
And this is all my part:
I give a patient God
My patient heart;


And grasp His banner still,
Though all its blue be dim;
These stripes, no less than stars,
Lead after Him.


Weak, weary and uncrowned,
I yet to bear am strong;
Content not even to cry,
“How long ! How long!”

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