Send Ole Pinkerton Home

Billy Morgan couldn’t sleep. The night was pitch outside, and only a lantern now and again lit some of the rooms or corridors while cooks, nurses, and doctors kept doing their work. Of course, there were still moans coming from the sickest or most wounded patients. Sometimes, a man having a nightmare would scream out.Continue reading “Send Ole Pinkerton Home”

The Orphan of the Orphan Brigade

“Excuse me, ma’am,” a weak voice said as she passed up the aisle. Kate turned around. “Yes, sir?” she said, a pile of fresh bandages in her arms. At first, she wasn’t sure who had even spoken. The men all lay with eyes closed, but one of them shifted. “Private Fugate, ma’am. Fifth Kentucky,” theContinue reading “The Orphan of the Orphan Brigade”

A Story Hardly Known

Years after Kate Cumming published her diary, she returned to it to write an author’s introduction. While still lamenting the outcome of the war, her emotions had cooled somewhat, and she reflected on causes of the South’s failure. As she did, she also extolled the virtues of many people she had worked with, saying, “WholeContinue reading “A Story Hardly Known”

A Stranger and a Foreigner

“Miss Cumming, you may wish to attend to Private Smith at your earliest,” said the doctor. “I do not expect him to make it through the day.” “Where is he, sir?” Kate said. “Upstairs,” said the doctor. “Memphis boy. 6th Tennessee Volunteers.” “Tennessee. Very well,” said Kate. She moved toward the stairs. “Miss Cumming?” saidContinue reading “A Stranger and a Foreigner”

My Brother’s Playmate

Eight days after The Battle of Shiloh had concluded, Kate Cumming was walking through the largest ward of the field hospital at the Old Tishomingo Hotel when a young man called her by name. She paused. “May I help you?” “Do you not recollect me, ma’am?” said the young man. He was laid out likeContinue reading “My Brother’s Playmate”

Resting at the Old Tishomingo Hotel

In the 1860s, Randolph County, Alabama, abutted the heart of the Black Belt of Alabama–a region of rich black soil that first produced food. In time, as the cotton market expanded, food crops were swapped for cotton, and enslaved people were brought to the plantations to cultivate the land, giving the regional nickname a tragicContinue reading “Resting at the Old Tishomingo Hotel”

To Defend One’s Home

At 5 am, the Confederate army had every reason to believe that they were on the cusp of a great victory. On April 6, 1862, they had caught the Union army under Grant unaware and had driven them to the edge of the Tennessee River. Twenty-seven-year-old John Ashby was in an ideal position. A memberContinue reading “To Defend One’s Home”

Bury Him Properly

They were traveling together toward the fight, all from Mobile and all headed toward Corinth. The whole region crackled with the news, and casualty reports and rumors were already swirling. The battle was still raging, and in fact, the tide had already turned. With reinforcements swarming off of Pittsburgh Landing, Grant and Sherman were alreadyContinue reading “Bury Him Properly”

Chronicling the Dead

I have lately finished the excellent Kate: The Journal of a Confederate Nurse by Scotch-born and Alabama-bred Kate Cummings. I’ve marveled at her religiosity, fearlessness in going into the worst of the hospital scenes, compassion for the wounded, and her self-delusions at the righteousness of the Southern cause and the wickedness of the Northern cause.Continue reading “Chronicling the Dead”