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21253Re: [civilwarwest] Medical Personnel

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  • L.A. Chambliss
    May 29, 2000
      Dear Holtin and group,

      Very interesting story you have there!

      I have read a little about medical practices in the CW; most of my Western
      Theater knowledge is from the Union side though from an article I did about
      Mary Ann ("Mother") Bickerdyke. In other words I am no kind of an expert so
      will just ramble about some of the points you raise.

      First question, do the military records that show him on duty as a Nurse
      have a particular date or dates attached to it? I ask because men assigned
      to nursing duty were usually soldiers who were sick or injured themselves,
      but in the process of recovery. It was not at all unusual for men to fall
      to disease almost as soon as they were mustered in, simply from being
      around people from more distant areas and exposed to germs they might not
      have had. For example if measles hadn't gone around a person's neighborhood
      in a few years they might not have immunity to it. This could happen even
      to somebody who had traveled....Abraham Lincoln came down with varicella, a
      mild version of smallpox, while in the White House.

      If he enlisted in March of '61 I see almost zero possibility he could have
      been involved at Shiloh. Chances are he would have been sent to some sort
      of training facility or Camp of Instruction first, then would have to find
      transportation to whatever army the regiment was assigned to serve with.
      Additionally, there were no Confederates at Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing)
      after the battle; they withdrew to Corinth and left most of the dead and
      wounded behind for Yankee nurses (including Mother Bickerdyke! Had to throw
      that in.....) to take care of.

      My guess would be that the regiment joined the army soon enough after
      Shiloh that those who had been there were still talking of nothing else,
      and that was his first impression of Army life. Not wanting to accuse him
      of being a liar or claiming credit for events that happened to other
      people, but as you point out the stories have been working for four
      generations. A story he told as "This guy said to me that the fire at the
      Hornet's Nest was so fierce that......" might after a few years turn into
      "Daddy said that the fire at the Hornet's Nest was so fierce that..." and
      then later "When Grandpa Francis was at the Hornet's Nest at Shiloh

      I think the dates indicate pretty clearly though that he was one of those
      who took the parole at Vicksburg as a "get out of jail free" card and went
      home instead of reporting back for duty. Something like half of Pemberton's
      forces who surrendered did this so he was certainly not unique. Confederate
      provosts and recruiters conducted numerous campaigns to try to round them
      up and send them back to the army but tended to be ignored, lied to, or
      politely asked to get the h*ll out of town, preferably before sunset, lest
      harm befall them. A certain amount of cynicism and disillusionment
      prevailed in the veterans of Vicksburg.

      You might try dropping by the Civil War chat board at www.us-civilwar.com
      and looking for times when "3rdLa", "Dameron", or "AoT" are on. These guys
      know far more about the specifics of regimental actions and movements than
      I do and might be able to give you more details.

      Welcome aboard and thanks for the question. The group has been a little
      dead lately and could use some perking up. :-)

      Laurie Chambliss (known as "Xan" on the said chat board)

      Holtin wrote:

      > Hi, Y'all!
      > I am new to the Group, and look forward to meeting all of you.
      > I have had the good fortune to become close friends with an Australian
      > whose great-grandfather emigrated to America about 1855. In March,
      > 1861, John Fearn Francis enlisted in New Orleans as a private with the
      > 28th Thomas' Louisiana Infantry Regiment (Volunteers). He was present
      > at Chickasaw Bluffs/Bayou and was paroled at Vicksburg as a 2nd
      > Lieutenant. He lived in Mansfield, Louisiana, and was there on 8 April
      > 1864. After his death at Mansfield, his widow and children returned home
      > to Australia. The events at Mansfield are another interesting story
      > altogether!
      > A question: John Francis' military records show him to be a "Nurse in
      > Camp Hospital on Daily Duty", or "Nurse R.H." ("R.H"??? Regimental
      > Headquarters, maybe?). My friend remembers family stories about this
      > ancestor, including talk of Shiloh, but he can't remember the Shiloh
      > connection. Is there any record of medical personnel from other units,
      > especially a NEW unit, being sent in to Shiloh AFTER the battle?
      > Francis enlisted 29 March 1862; Shiloh was less than ten days later. Is
      > that even a possibility? The earliest date shown on the Company Muster
      > Rolls and Regimental Returns is 30 April 1862.
      > Or maybe it was that the story of Shiloh made such an impression on
      > Ellen Francis (his widow) that the story has been passed on down to the
      > fourth generation.
      > Anyone have any thoughts on this?
      > Thanks!
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