Chapter 6: hospital work.
The work of colportage and the work in the hospitals run into each other so naturally that it is really difficult to separate them into chapters, and much written about the one will apply equally to the other.
Eternity alone will reveal the amount, character and results of work in the Confederate
‘Wayside hospitals,’ where the sick and worn-out were cared for—‘field hospitals,’ in rear of the line of battle—‘receiving hospitals,’ from which the sick and wounded were distributed— and large hospitals in the cities, towns or other suitable places— all had their peculiar features, presented fields of great usefulness, and were scenes of self-sacrificing labors and touching incidents.
I want to bear testimony to the fact that (while, of course, there were some incompetents and a few brutes in the service) our Confederate surgeons were as able, skilful and humane men as have ever been seen in this noble profession.
They labored under great disadvantages in their lack of suitable medicines and appliances, and their lack of hospital stores, proper rations, etc.; but they did their best and had almost miraculous success in their treatment of the sick and wounded.
But even more than to the surgeons the credit of any comfort or sunshine in the hospital was due to our noble women, who were indeed ‘ministering angels’ to our boys, and ready at all times to sacrifice themselves for the welfare of the humblest private who marched to the music of Dixie, or yielded to the bullet or to disease.
That noble young ‘heroine of Winchester
,’ who sat all night on the battle-field of Kernstown
holding the head of an unconscious youth of whom she knew nothing save that he was a Confederate soldier, and who saved his life at the imminent risk of her own, was but a type of those Confederate ‘Florence Nightingales’