“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post #13 – In Camp at Savannah –

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Little Doctor on the Black Horse

In Camp at Savannah

by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton


“Savannah, Jan. 4, 1864 – Our regiment has been very noisy on account of the men being drunk. They forged orders on the commissary for whisky and had a jolly time. One man got so disorderly that his captain had to tie and gag him. This is done by tying a bayonet in his mouth and putting him flat on his back. This man came near choking to death, from vomiting and bleeding from the mouth. He could not spit for the bayonet. I ordered it removed and the captain got mad and made some threats about me, but he soon dried up and apologized. General Sherman ordered all places of amusement in the city closed as the soldiers got so disorderly. — I do not know why you do not get my letters. Perhaps they will all come in a rush. Some of them contain my record of Interesting Events, [1] which, if not received would be a great loss to posterity! Do you not think so? It was three years yesterday since I left home to enter the service. How much I have seen! And how much I have learned!”

Union Army Camp in Virginia

Union Army Camp in Virginia (Source: Library of Congress)

“Jan. 18, 1865 – We have orders to leave Savannah and start north into South Carolina. I would like you to send me a suit of clothes. It need not be of Army blue, any good black cloth will do, and is cheaper, also a wide brim, low crowned felt hat, of dirty white or drab. Will want them when we finish the next campaign, probably about six weeks. I don’t think you need fear the small-pox. We are having some here in the Army. They were joking me at the Hospital, saying that I was to be detailed and left in charge, but fortunately they can not do it, as I am now the only doctor in our regiment. Kiss the babies from Papa. Good bye, my dear wife. Your affectionate husband.”

“Savannah, Jan. 18, ‘65 – We move out in the morning. It is said we go up on this side of the river to a point opposite Pocotaligo, near Beaufort, S. Carolina. The good news has just come that we have taken Fort Fisher and we will soon have Wilmington. This leaves only two ports for them to run the blockade from. We expect soon to have them shut in entirely. Everyone of these ports makes us a grand point to get supplies from and in case of a defeat, to fall back on. The news from all the divisions is good and is cheering to us.”

[1] I believe that David’s wife did receive this “Record of Interesting Events” but, unfortunately, it was not in Harriott’s papers, and I have not been able to find it elsewhere. If you know where it is, please let me know. DWB.

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harriott-wickham-1915-20-2About the Author: Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton   (1890-1981) was born in Norwalk, Ohio to Frank and Agnes Wickham. Her father was the youngest of twelve children of Frederick and Lucy Wickham, early settlers of the Firelands, and her mother was the great-great granddaughter of Platt and Sarah Benedict, who founded the city of Norwalk. Educated at Norwalk High School and Wooster College, she became a teacher. She marched as a suffragette and worked for the Labor Department during World War I. After the war, she went west to teach school, and became one of the last homesteaders, proving up a property near Wheatland, Wyoming. She married Angus Barton in 1924 and they raised four children on the homestead through the Dust Bowl and World War II. In the late 1940s, she and her Angus moved to Ohio, where they spent the rest of their lives. During the 1950s and ‘60s, she wrote “Little Doctor on the Black Horse,” poetry, and short stories, some which were published in various journals and magazines.

© 1961 by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. All rights reserved.

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