"...there are a great many here with Limbs off and others..."
Philip wrote Roby over several days after being moved to Winchester, VA. He describes his journey here:
"Sheridan U S Gen Hospital
Ward 3 Winchester Va
Sept 27th 1864
My Dear Roby
Thinking you might wish to know how I am prospering I write you this morning[.] I am getting along finely so that I can get around a Little [.] We were brought here the 24th in Baggage Wagons over a distance of 18 miles ~ it was pretty rough but we got along very well [.] I dont like to complain but we are not having a very fine time here [.] They have no conveniences nor regulations but I guess they will be better provided for after this [.] The Sanitary Commission have fixed up an Establishment now [.] We only get a little Coffee & 2 Hard Tack to a meal untill tonight they opened their hearts and gave us a slice of Bread[.]"
His diary has an entry on the 28th:
"Feel very comfortable this morning ~ a little Rainy but soon cleared off [.] Another change of Doctors today ~ got a good one now [.] Had some Loaf Sugar of the Sanitary Commission ~ got some Sheets &c today [.]" Doesn't sound too bad right? Think again...
"(Letter continued) Sept 28th
I left this Letter to take a walk last night and I fell in with a couple of Rebels & had a long conversation with them ~ One of them had a splendid Education[.] They both admitted that they were given up & could hold out but a short time longer ~ Our Army has been pushing ahead & are 60 miles or more from here now [.] This has been a splendid Victory for us ~ and makes the Peace Democrats shake in the Shoes I hope ~ We have a majority for Lincoln in the Hospital here and Everyday adds men to it [.] The Army & we think the North will give him the majority [.] I do not know whether any of us will be sent from here or not [.] I hope so [.] They must either send me from here north or to my Regt [.] It is awfull dull and I would rather be with the Regiment [.] I would like to go to Baltimore so I could get a furlough but we cannot get them here ~ they will probably keep us hanging around untill we get fit for duty before they take any steps for that [.]"
Still not sounding too bad? He sounds proud and a little bored, right? Now the true description of his "hospital":
"Our Cooks and nurses are nothing but a lot of Pimps & Stragglers that was scraped up after we Left Winchester & put on Duty here [.] They dont understand their business and put on a good many airs & the Cooking is miserable not half as good as we can do ourselves [.] It is a nice healthy place here for a Hospital and I think they will keep it up [.] That is the reason we dont get sent off [.] The weather has been cold but it is getting warmer now again [.] We are waiting for our breakfast which will be Hard Tack & Coffee [.] I walked down to the Brook & took a wash this morning [.] It hurts me to lie down so I get up pretty Early mornings[.] We lie on the ground yet but we will get some mattresses today ~" On the ground? And this is a "good" hospital... "I dream of home most every night & that answers as a furlough. I have not heard from you since the Accident at Springfield Center [.] I suppose Phil Van Horne has got my Letters ~ There are a great many here with Limbs off and others wounded in every possible place [.] There has been but few deaths I guess [.] You must take good care of yourself & Georgie [.] Most every night I have both of you with me [.] My Looking Glass that Billy Parmer gave me almost 2 years ago was Slivered into a thousand pieces by that piece of Shell ~ it fractured 2 Ribs & hurt my Lung a little [.] (his lung actually was collapsed) My Album was not hurt any [.] I will try and find out where you can direct to me before I send this out [.]
Love to all [.] A Kiss for yourself and Baby [.] Remember me [.]
From your devoted husband
Phil R Woodcock
This letter had an addendum:
"I cannot find out for certain how Letters should be mailed but if I am here this will reach me ~ write as soon as you get this [.] I am anxious to hear from you it has been so long [.] Love me as ever [.] It rains now a little[.]
Yours with Love
Orderly Sergt P R Woodcock
Ward No "3"
Sheridan Genl Hospital
Lying wounded, on the ground, in the rain, barely fed or supervised. Cared for by "pimps and stragglers", not nursing staff. Limbs cut off...it's a wonder anyone made it home from this particular war!
Please join me again for more letters from Philip and his story!