Battle of Chickamauga III – A Cup and a Spoon

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In her memoir Little Doctor on the Black Horse, Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton does not describe the Battle of Chickamauga because David Benedict did not mention the battle in any of the letters he wrote to his wife. Instead, she added a few pages at the end, as if it were an afterthought. In the right order, this, and the previous two posts about the Battle of Chickamauga should be read after Little Doctor on the Black Horse: Post #4 – A Prisoner of War on this website.

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Battle of Chickamauga – Part II

by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton

After the armies had withdrawn, the medical workers were paroled to remain at the battlefield to care for the wounded and assist in their exchange or removal to hospitals. Such desolation! Hillsides scarred, trees shattered or uprooted! But the worst of all the dead, rotting in the late September sun, while overhead the vultures circled with funereal grace. They watched fearfully for friends, and, when possible, buried them. Somewhere on the fought-over ground, David found and carried away with him a coin silver spoon and a gracefully shaped pewter cup, lightly engraved with the Masonic emblem. On the back of the spoon is “Dr. Wm. R. Lemon, 82nd Regt., Ind. Vol.” [1]

Cup and Spoon

Their gruesome duties finished, the medicos were shipped by rail to Atlanta. This trip they spoke of a “running the gauntlet,” for, at every little station the populace gathered to stare and jeer: “So Bragg got you at last, didn’t he! Ya! Ya! Lincoln’s Hirelings!”

Arrived in Atlanta, they were marched through the street to the prison, amidst more jeers. David, as an officer, was allowed to keep his belongings, so that he was able to share his blanket and cup with poor Hyde, who had been stripped of all but the clothes he wore. After a short stay in Atlanta they were sent, by a circuitous route, to Richmond. Here the officers, including Drs. Benedict, Herrick and, probably, Fowler, went to Libby Prison, while Hyde, being non-commissioned was incarcerated in another part of the complex, Pemberton Building, and was, thereafter, unheard of by his regiment and his family, until near the end of the war. His terrible experiences in several different Southern prisons, including, for a long time, Andersonville, make the material of his very interesting book, A Captive of War. [2]

The medical unit of the 17th O.V.I. consisted of Chief Surgeon, Dr. Herrick and two Asst. Surgeons, Dr. Fowler and Benedict. They lived, when in camp, in two small tents, with another small one for kitchen and supply room, and a larger one for a hospital. Also, had an ambulance, with shelves on either side (lengthwise) to hold stretchers. Nurses were privates, assigned to special duty. The steward, Hyde, cared for the supplies and assisted in many ways. When on the march, they rode horseback, with gear in the ambulance and wagon and slept under a sort of pup tent made by slinging a tarp or a pole, or just curled up in a fence corner. [3]

This ends my grandmother’s account of the Battle of Chickamauga. In my next post, we will return to her memoir of Little Doctor on the Black Horse with Post #5: Libby Prison.

 

Editors Notes

[1] I am fortunate to have these items in my possession. The Masonic symbol on the cup is faded, but discernable. A close up photo shows it clearly. Doctor Benedict was a Mason, which may have been what caused him to pick it up.

Cup Inscription

There is no name inscribed on the cup, so I have no clue to whom it belonged, or whether that person survived the battle. The spoon is a different matter, however.

The inscription on the back of the spoon is so worn as to be barely visible to the naked eye. Fortunately, I was able to take a photo with a readable image.

Spoon Inscription

Who was Doctor Lemon? My grandmother did not try to find him, apparently, and in the twentieth century, it was not as easy as it is today to research people. For me, it was as simple as a quick search on Ancestry and Google. I found that Doctor William Harrison Lemon’s story was similar in many ways to Doctor Benedict’s. They were about the same age, and went to medical school at roughly the same time. Both were married and had children. Both survived the war, but Doctor Lemon lived longer. He died in 1923, while Dr. Benedict passed away in 1901. Doctor Lemon also seemed to have been left behind by Union forces at the Battle of Chickamauga. In the only reference to him in a memoir of the regiment by its commander (Hunter, Alf G. History of the Eighty-second Indiana volunteer Infantry: Its Organization, Campaigns and Battles (Indianapolis: W. B. Burford, Printer), 1893, page 89), he is listed as missing after the battle. Whether he was captured, I do not know, but he was mustered out with his regiment at the end of the war, so he did survive (82nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Officers Roster). I wonder if the letters he wrote home to his wife (as I am sure he did) today languish in an attic or closet somewhere in Indiana (or Kansas, where he died). So many stories remain untold! What  a pity! A good starting point to learn more about what I know about Doctor Lemon is his Find a Grave page. If you find something more, please let me know.

 

Doctor William Lemon

Doctor William Lemon – from Find a Grave

 

A Captive of War[2] Captive of War, by Solon Hyde, Hospital Steward with the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, was published in 1900 by McClure, Phillips & Company. That version is now available online at Google Books. In 1996, Solon’s great-grandson Neil Thompson republished the book. It is available on Amazon. As an account of what Union prisoners of war experienced during the Civil War, this book cannot be beat. I highly recommend it.

[3] This last paragraph seems an awkward end to this account of the Battle of Chickamauga. I wonder if my grandmother intended to write more, but never got around to it.

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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.

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“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post #5 – Libby Prison –

Previous Post: Chickamauga III – A Cup and a Spoon

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Little Doctor on the Black Horse

Libby Prison

by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton

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Libby Prison, Richmond, Va., [1] 10/29/63 – “Dear Hattie, Please send me a box of eatables: 5 lbs. Ground coffee, 1 of tea, 20 of brown sugar, 1 ham of dried beef, a small cheese, if you can find it, and as much butter as you’ve a mind to; put up in oyster cans. Also anything else suitable for prison life, some pickles. I shall want you to send me a box about every two weeks. Capt. Riggs got a box and all things came all right, even to the lining in the vest pocket. I’d like a shirt, but what I want most is something to eat and . . . I should like to see you very much. It is harder to be a prisoner than a soldier. Money is put in the commandant’s office and doled out of at $50 per month, hardly enough at the prices here.”

Libby Prison

Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia

The prison furnished rations, but slim ones — two meals a day. Those with money could have guards buy for them in the markets. In the letter a faint trail of dots runs from the “and” up to and circles around “send me” and “money”, where in tiny dim letters are “hide” and “send”.

Hattie understood his secret message, which the censors apparently missed, for family tradition says she “colored” the butter with gold pieces. These got through safely, like the aforesaid “lining in the vest pocket”, for David’s next letter states: “I got the box all safe. The contents are being duly dissected.”

This letter also asks, amongst other things, for “1 three-cornered file, 1 small round file, and send some light reading.” the files at first puzzled me. Was he thinking of escape? Then I remembered the two bone napkin rings he carved in prison, one for Mamie and one for little Hattie. These were made from the bones of the beef issued as rations. He also did some wood carving. [2]

 

“What rations the Confederates furnish are good, but the same every day. We boil the beef for soup for dinner, then the meat is chopped as hash for breakfast. We get but two meals a day. We can buy things from the city markets, but many of us have no money, and prices are very high. Money can be sent by mail, but it is taken out and put to our credit in the commissary, and handed out at only $50 a month, which will hardly keep one here.”

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

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Editors Notes:

[1] Libby Prison was a warehouse on the James River waterfront in Richmond, Virginia that was converted to a prison by the Confederates in 1861 for Union officers. Although notorious for overcrowding and poor conditions, it was still better than prison camps like Andersonville, where Hospital Steward Solon Hyde was held.

Napkin Ring[2] I do not know what happened to the napkin ring Doctor Benedict made for his eldest daughter Mary. But I do know about the one for his second oldest girl: Hattie — it’s in a cabinet behind my desk.  I recall hearing from a family member — I don’t recall from whom — that Doctor Benedict did not complete these napkin rings while at Libby Prison, but after the war in his woodworking shop. Given the fine detail in the one I have, I think that is probably true. Doctor Benedict was exchanged only two months or so after arriving at the prison.

NEXT POST: Exchange and Return Home

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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.

 

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