The Misses Woolsey.
- Social position of the Woolsey sisters -- Mrs. Joseph lowland and her labors on the Hospital Transport -- her tender and skilful nursing of the sick and wounded of her husband's regiment -- poem addressed to her by a soldier -- her encouragement and assistance to the women nurses appointed by Miss Dix -- Mrs. Robert S. Howland -- her labors in the hospitals and at the Metropolitan Sanitary Fair -- her early death from over-exertion in connection with the Fair -- her poetical contributions to the national cause -- “in the Hospital” -- Miss Georgiana M. Woolsey -- labors on Hospital Transports -- at Portsmouth Grove Hospital -- after Chancellorsville -- her work at Gettysburg with her mother -- “three weeks at Gettysburg” -- the approach to the battle-field -- the Sanitary Commission's Lodge near the railroad depot -- the supply tent -- crutches -- supplying rebels and Union men alike -- dressing wounds -- “on dress parade” -- “bread with butter on it and jelly on the butter” -- “worth a penny a sniff” -- the Gettysburg women -- the Gettysburg farmers -- “had never seen a rebel” -- “a feller might'er got hit” -- “I couldn't leave my bread” -- the dying soldiers -- “tell her I love her” -- the young rebel lieutenant -- the colored Freedmen -- praying for “Massa Lincoln” -- the purple and blue and yellow handkerchiefs -- “only a blue one” -- “the man who screamed so” -- the German mother -- the Oregon lieutenant -- “soup” -- “put some meat in a little water and stirred it round” -- Miss Woolsey's rare capacities for her work -- estimate of a lady friend -- Miss Jane Stuart Woolsey -- labors in hospitals -- her charge of the Freedmen at Richmond -- Miss Sarah C. Woolsey, at Portsmouth Grove Hospital
We are not aware of any other instance among the women who have devoted themselves to works of philanthropy and patriotism during the recent war, in which four sisters have together consecrated their services to the cause of the nation. In social position, culture, refinement, and all that could make life pleasant, Misses Georgiana and Jane C. Woolsey, and their married sisters, Mrs. Joseph and Mrs. Robert Howland, were blessed above most women; and if there were any who might have deemed themselves excused from entering upon the drudgery, the almost menial service incident to the Hospital Transport service, to the position of Assistant Superintendent of a crowded hospital, of nurse in field hospitals after a great battle, or of instructors and superintendents of freedmen and freedwomen; these ladies might have pleaded an apology for some natural shrinking from the work, from its dissimilarity to all their previous pursuits. But to the call of duty and patriotism, they had no such objections to urge. Mrs. Joseph Howland was the wife of a Colonel in the Union army, and felt it a privilege to do something for the brave men with whom her husband's interests were identified, and accompanying him to the camp whenever this was permitted, she ministered to the sick or wounded men of his command with a tenderness and gentleness which won all hearts. When the invitation was given to her and her sister to unite with others in the Hospital Transport service, she rejoiced at the opportunity for wider usefulness  in the cause she loved; how faithfully, earnestly, and persistently she toiled is partially revealed in the little work published by some of her associates, under the title of “Hospital Transports,” but was fully known only by those who shared in her labors, and those who were the recipients of her kind attentions. One of these, a private in the Sixteenth New York Regiment (her husband's regiment), and who had been under her care on one of the Commission's transports at White House, expressed his gratitude in the following graceful lines
Impaired health, the result of the excessive labors of that battle summer, prevented Mrs. Howland from further active service in the field; but whenever her health permitted, she visited and labored in the hospitals around Washington, and her thoughtful attention and words of encouragement to the women nurses appointed by Miss Dix, and receiving a paltry stipend from the Government, were most gratefully appreciated by those self-denying, hard-working, and often sorely-tried women-many of  them the peers in culture, refinement and intellect of any lady in the land, but treated with harshness and discourtesy by boy-surgeons, who lacked the breeding or instincts of the gentleman. Her genuine modesty and humility have led her, as well as her sisters, to deprecate any notoriety or public notice of their work, which they persist in regarding as unworthy of record; but so will it not be regarded by the soldiers who have been rescued from inevitable death by their persistent toil, nor by a nation grateful for the services rendered to its brave defenders. Mrs. Robert S. Howland was the wife of a clergyman, and an earnest worker in the hospitals and in the Metropolitan Sanitary Fair, and her friends believed that her over-exertion in the preparation and attendance upon that fair, contributed to shorten a life as precious and beautiful as was ever offered upon the altar of patriotism. Mrs. Howland possessed rare poetic genius, and some of her effusions, suggested by incidents of army or hospital life, are worthy of preservation as among the choicest gems of poetry elicited by the war. “A Rainy day in camp,” “A message from the Army,” etc., are poems which many of our readers will recall with interest and pleasure. A shorter one of equal merit and popularity, we copy not only for its brevity, but because it expresses so fully the perfect peace which filled her heart as completely as it did that of the subject of the poem:
Mrs. Howland died in the summer of 1864. Miss Georgiana M. Woolsey, was one of the most efficient ladies connected with the Hospital Transport service, where her constant cheerfulness, her ready wit, her never failing resources of contrivance and management in any emergency, made the severe labor seem light, and by keeping up the spirits of the entire party, prevented the scenes of suffering constantly presented from rendering them morbid or depressed. She took the position of assistant superintendent of the Portsmouth Grove General Hospital, in September, 1862, when her friend, Miss Wormeley, became superintendent, and remained there till the spring of 1863, was actively engaged in the care of the wounded at Falmouth after the battle of Chancellorsville, was on the field soon after the battle of Gettysburg, and wrote that charming and graphic account of the labors of herself and a friend at Gettysburg  in the service of the Sanitary Commission which was so widely circulated, and several times reprinted in English reviews and journals. We cannot refrain from introducing it as one of those narratives of actual philanthropic work of which we have altogether too few.
One who knows Miss Woolsey well says of her, “Her sense, energy, lightness, and quickness of action; her thorough knowledge of the work, her amazing yet simple resources, her shy humility which made her regard her own work with impatience, almost with contempt-all this and much else make her memory a source of strength and tenderness which nothing can take away.” Elsewhere, the same writer adds, “Strength and sweetness, sound practical sense, deep humility, merriment, playfulness, a most ready wit, an educated intelligence — were among her characteristics. Her work I consider to have been better than any which I saw in the service. It was thorough, but accomplished rapidly. She saw a need before others saw it, and she supplied it often by some ingenious contrivance which answered every purpose, though  no one but Georgy would ever have dreamt of it. Her pity for the sufferings of the men was something pathetic in itself, but it was never morbid, never unwise, never derived from her own shock at the sight, always practical and healthy.” Miss Woolsey remained in the service through the war, a part of the time in charge of hospitals, but during Grant's great campaign of the spring, summer, and autumn of 1864, she was most effectively engaged at the front, or rather at the great depots for the wounded, at Belle Plain, Port Royal, Fredericksburg, White House, and City Point. Miss Jane S. Woolsey, also served in general hospitals as lady superintendent until the close of the war, and afterward transferred her efforts to the work among the Freedmen at Richmond, Virginia. A cousin of these ladies, Miss Sarah C. Woolsey, daughter of President Woolsey of Yale College, was also engaged during the greater part of the war in hospital and other philanthropic labors for the soldiers. She was for ten months assistant superintendent of the Portsmouth Grove General Hospital, and her winning manners, her tender and skilful care of the patients, and her unwearied efforts to do them good, made her a general favorite.