This name will recall to the minds of ten thousands of our brave soldiers who fought in the army of the Potomac the face and the figure of a cheerful, active, efficient, yet tender-hearted woman, herself the mother of a soldier boy, who for month after month, and year after year, while the war continued, moved about the hospitals of the army a blessing, a comfort, and a hope to thousands of weary sufferers.
She came to America from Great Britain when a mere child, and grew up with intense national pride and loyalty to the government which has given an asylum and opportunity to so many millions.
Her first efforts in behalf of the soldiers in our great war were in the hospital of the Union Refreshment Saloon, in Philadelphia. Here she labored with constancy and zeal during the greater part of the first year of hostilities; but when the conflict assumed the serious and bloody pro portions that we saw in the summer of 1862, Mrs. Lee felt that she could do more good nearer the field of action. In August opportunity favored her, and she went down to Harrison's Landing on the Spaulding, a hospital transport, and there, with others, she found that enterprising and indefatigable army worker, Mrs. Harris, with whom she gladly cooperated in the arduous duties and melancholy scenes that attended the disastrous finale of the Peninsular campaign.
No sooner was the mutilated wreck of that grand army brought away from the sickly bottoms of James River, than all fit for service, and thousands of new recruits, were pushed forward in the relentless and deadly campaign which ended in disaster and repulse for the rebels at Antietam. In this great battle Mrs. Lee was one of the first on the field; and her labors, commencing among the first wounded, continued, without weariness or abatement, till the last poor, mutilated hero of the "crutch brigade was moved from the general hospital late in December.
Although it was her first experience in a great battle, Mrs. Lee prepared for the awful scenes that were to follow with the coolness and judgment of a veteran. She had two large buckets filled with water, one for washing wounds, the other for quenching thirst. As the action grew hot, the first tub grew of a deeper and deeper crimson, till it seemed almost as red as blood itself; and the other was again and again replenished, as the men came in with faces black with powder, and clothes stiff with gore. The hunger, too, in many cases, was clamorous. Many of the men had eaten nothing for more than twenty-four hours. Mrs. Lee found a sutler, who, with enterprise that would have been becoming in anything less purely selfish, had urged his wagon well to the front, and was selling at exorbitant rates to the exhausted men. She took money from her private purse, and again and again bought his bread and soft crackers at his army rates. At last such repeated proofs of generosity touched the heart of the army Shylock, and he was determined not to be outdone so entirely by a woman. About the third or fourth time she pulled out her purse he exclaimed, "Great God, I can't stand this any longer. Give that woman the bread!" The ice was now broken, and from giving to her, he began to give away, himself, till his last cracker had gone down the throat of a half-famished hero, and he drove away with his wagon lighter and his heart softer for having met a noble-hearted woman.
While she was thus working just in the rear of the awful thunder, Sedgwick was brought to the rear, with his severe wound, and then Hooker, with his bleeding limb.
Mrs. Lee was probably nearer the front than tiny other woman on the day of the battle, and certainly much nearer than the commander-in-chief himself.
Among the fatally wounded was one named Adams, from the Nineteenth Massachusetts, whose brother brought him to Mrs. Lee, and said, "My good lady, my brother here will die, I think; the regiment is ordered to Harper's Ferry. Will you promise to look after him, and when he dies, to see that he is decently buried, and mark the spot, so I can find his body and take it on to our home in Massachusetts?" Mrs. Lee promised the heavy-hearted soldier that all his wishes should be respected; and he buckled on his sword and marched back to the front. A few days after, he sought out Mrs. Lee, and she gave him a full account of the last hours of his brother and his dying words; and then taking him out among the thick and fresh-heaped mounds, pointed out a grave better rounded than the rest, and distinctly marked, and told him his brother was buried there; and so he found it. Such was her fidelity and perfect reliability at all times and in all trusts committed to her.
Immediately after the battle there was that confusion and delay in the supply trains inevitable in the best conducted army at the time of a great action. At one of the field hospitals where Mrs. Lee was doing the best she could for the crowd of sufferers, there was found nothing in the way of commissary supplies but a barrel of flour, a barrel of apples, and a keg of lard. To a practical house keeper, as she is, this combination seemed to point to apple dumplings as the dish in which they could all be employed to the best advantage; and the good-natured astonishment of the poor fellows, who looked for nothing but black coffee and hard-tack, was merged in admiration for the accomplished cook who could there, almost on the battle-field, serve them with hot dumplings.
While the battle was still raging, and orderlies were galloping past where Mrs. Lee was at work, she asked one of them if Sumner's corps were yet engaged. "Yes," was the reply; "they have just been double-quicked into the fight." For a few moments her heart sank within her, and she grew sick, for her son was in that corps, and all her acquaintances in the army. Her anguish found relief in prayer; after which she grew so calm and cheerful that a wounded boy, who lay there on the grass beside her, said, "Madam, I suppose you haven't any one in the battle, or you couldn't be so calm."
The night after the battle she went to Sedgwick's division hospital, and while preparing some food for the sufferers, was greatly annoyed by some worthless camp-followers, who would not carry food to the wounded, and when she left to carry it, they stole everything she had cooked. She went up stairs, where most of the wounded were, and asked if any one was there who had sufficient authority to detail her a guard. A pleasant voice from one of the cots, where an officer lay bleeding, said, "I believe I have. Just take the first man you can find, and put a gun in his hand." It was General John Sedgwick; and she had no more annoyance from camp thieves.
In a day or two after the battle she went, with Mrs. General Barlow, in an ambulance, to see if some poor fellow had not been overlooked on the field. They found two boys in a deserted cabin, who had never had their wounds dressed, and had been living on a few crackers and water. They were, of course, brought in, and tenderly cared for. Mrs. Lee was very much interested in a very brave little fellow, from Company B, Seventy-second Pennsylvania volunteers, named Willie Morrow. He had fought all day with uncommon bravery, acting as a sharpshooter. He and his companion, at one time, came marching in six rebel prisoners, captured by only those two, and Willie was the smallest boy in the regiment. As he was going back to the front, a cannon ball hit him, and carried off both his legs. When brought to the rear, he asked the surgeon if there was any hope of his getting over it. "No, Willie, there is no hope," said the doctor. Turning to his companions, he said, "Tell them at home that I died happy, -- that I was glad to give my life for my country." The blood continued to run from the severed arteries, and he grew weaker. "Tell them I died happy," were his last words; and in death his pale young face wore a smile.
Not long after the battle, all the field and regimental hospitals were merged into one general hospital at Smoke town; and here Mrs. Lee was aided by a noble and efficient corps of army workers -- Miss Maria Hall, Mrs. Barlow, Mrs. Husband, Mrs. Harris, and others, most of whom labored through the war, and enjoyed the utmost confidence of the surgeons and all who observed the superior character and spirit of their work.
During the fall many touching instances of noble youths dying of their wounds, and making the last sacrifice for their country, occurred among those daily visited by Mrs. Lee. Among others was the case of Henry Cole, of the Nineteenth Massachusetts. He had been wounded in the leg, and strong hopes were entertained that he might recover. His mother came on from Massachusetts to nurse him. He was her only child. As she bent over his cot, and saw him gradually becoming weaker and more pallid, tears fell fast on the coverlet, and she would exclaim, "O, if money could restore you, I'd gladly give all I have in this world."
He was a Christian, and a well-educated young gentleman; everything that a mother's heart, in its pride and its unfathomable love could hope for in a son. "O Henry, my son," she would say, amid her tears, "when you are gone, my light is gone out. I've nothing to live for."
"Mother," he would answer, "I am only going a little while before you; we shall meet again" Then, just before he died, repeating these farewells, he added, "Tell all the boys good-by for me, and tell them never to give up our noble cause."
This hospital was blessed with the attendance and service of a superior surgeon-general in Dr. Vanderkieft, and a most excellent and praiseworthy chaplain in Rev. Mr. Sloan. Hardly a soldier in the Smoketown Hospital but loved him as a brother. Many a face tortured with pain grew smooth when his cheerful countenance entered the tent.
When the hospital was fully established, the tents were divided between Mrs. Husband, Miss Hall, and Mrs. Lee; and their labors, thus systematic and persistent, continued till some time in December, when the wounded at Fredericksburg demanded attention.
Among Mrs. Lee's patients was one poor fellow who was so weak and reduced that no food would remain in his stomach. She tried every dish for which the hospital supplies afforded materials, but without reaching his case. One day, in overhauling some stores, she discovered a bag of Indian meal. "O, I've found a prize!" she exclaimed. "What is it?" asked the little fellow, who had been detailed to act as her orderly. "Indian meal, to be sure." "Pshaw! I thought you had found a bag of dollars." "Better than dollars now," was her reply, as she hurried away to the tent where her poor patient lay.
"Sandburn," said she, "could you eat some mush?" "Don't know what that is -- don't like any of your fancy dishes." A boy on the next cot said, "Why, it's pudding land milk."
"O, yes," said the starving soldier, "I could eat a bucketful of that!" She made him some, and brought it to him in a cup with milk, sweet milk, and it agreed with him. Then he ate it three times a day, and soon could take with it a little broiled squab, and began to gain strength very fast. The discovery of that little sack of corn meal had saved his life.
The religious exercises at this hospital were often deeply interesting. Mr. Sloan was as much respected for piety as he was beloved for his kindness. Miss Hall commonly led the singing; and many a touching, fervent, and whole souled prayer for the Union and the army was offered by men who would hobble in on crutches. The more they suffered in the cause, the more they loved it.
While thus occupied at Antietam, Mrs. Lee heard with alarm of the great explosion of powder at Harper's Ferry, by which so many of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania were killed or wounded. Her son was in that regiment. She hurried up there, and labored some time among those sufferers, compounding for their burns a salve that was found very grateful and healing. Her boy was fortunately not injured in the explosion.
From Antietam the hospital workers next went to Falmouth, on the Rappahannock, where the army was encamped, after Burnside's unfortunate attack at Fredericksburg. Upon leaving Antietam, Dr. Vanderkieft expressed his opinion of the character and worth of Mrs. Lee, and her labors there, in the following terms: --
"It is with great pleasure that I bear witness to the in valuable services of Mrs. Lee in this hospital. She knew no rest while there were any who needed her assistance. Her unwearied activity was a subject of universal comment, among officers and men, and her untiring efforts in behalf of patriots have won the love and esteem of all to whom she has ministered. I commend Mrs. Lee to the highest position that a noble and Christian woman can fill."
Chaplain Sloan, also, in a letter from Antietam, in which he speaks of the workers there, says of Mrs. Lee: "None of the newspaper notices tell half the story of her good works. Many a poor boy, that suffered here, will long remember her kindness. She labored harder, and did more to alleviate the pains and sufferings of the wounded at Antietam than any three others."
This describes her labors at the Falmouth hospitals, and all the others with which she was connected during the three years of her army life. She was regular, persistent, thorough, and obedient to the surgeons in all she did, and all she gave to the soldiers. Her wards were always found in perfect order, and well supplied. For a great part of the time she was placed in charge of the light diet and special diet department, where her duties were laborious, and often vexatious.
The rickety old stove upon which she prepared her food for the sick was often in a wretched condition. When set up in a tent it generally smoked, and fuel was not always abundant, or of a good quality. Notwithstanding all these discouragements, her temper was always cheerful, her health perfect, and her duty performed with thoroughness and punctuality.
After a temporary absence from Falmouth, with her sick son, in March, she returned, and was on duty among the wounded at Chancellorsville.
She was at the Lacey House Hospital, and had a full view of the storming of Mayre's Heights, by Sedgwick's corps, on the 2d of May.
When that fierce engagement was at its height, the men that had been wounded in the skirmishes of the days previous all dragged themselves to the galleries and terraces of the house, Mrs. Lee helping them, and watched the conflict with eager forgetfulness of their own sufferings. When at length Sedgwick, and the brave Sixth corps, after two repulses, made the final and triumphant charge, sweeping over the battlements from which Burnside had been so terribly repulsed in December, everybody that had a well arm raised it, with ringing cheers, over his head, and shouted, till their brave companions on the other side heard and answered back their triumph. Mrs. Lee stood by her little cooking tent, wiping dishes, and joined in the general delight by waving her towel, as a flag, and shouting with the rest. She did more than this. She fell upon her knees, and thanked God that those formidable lines, from which the Union forces had been so often repulsed with frightful carnage, were at last carried, and the national flag waved in triumph over them.
But the eight thousand wounded that came pouring across the Rappahannock soon engrossed the attention of every one who could do anything for their relief, and Mrs. Lee, with the other ladies, labored all day, and a considerable part of each night, striving to mitigate some of the accumulated suffering and pain.
Some of her patients at the "Lacey House" interested Mrs. Lee very deeply. One, Frederick Allen, from Kendall's Mills, was very sick with typhoid pneumonia, and the doctor ordered stimulants. Frederick refused to take any thing containing alcohol, saying he had given his mother a solemn promise that he would not take any while in the army. No inducement could prevail, until his father came down, and told him his mother released him from his promise, as she knew it was to save his life. He recovered health, and was in all the battles with his regiment. At Bristow Station he was color guard, and the regiment captured several guns. In the battle of the Wilderness he was wounded slightly in the arm, and went to the rear, but returned very soon, and received a severe wound in the head, and was disabled for several weeks. Returning to his regiment, he fought around Petersburg, till again attacked by typhoid pneumonia, of which he died only a few days before Lee's surrender -- a brave and noble youth as ever shouldered arms; a soldier of the Cross no less than of the starry flag.
Mr. Allen and his family became greatly attached to Mrs. Lee on account of her kindness to Frederick and other soldiers. Upon his return home, he begged of Miss Amanda Lee the photograph of her mother, and acknowledged the receipt of it in the following terms: --
"I can think of no better title than friend to address you by, for it seems to me that one having so good a mother as you have must be a friend to God and humanity.
"But to the question of your mother's picture: we received it the next day after it was mailed; it did not stop in Massachusetts at all. The postmaster had written under Mass., 'Troy, Maine,' and it came right along; and a beautiful picture it is, too. We have got a nice oval frame for it, and then we had her name and residence printed at the bottom of the picture; and I tell you it is a splendid thing. Then we have hung it in the centre of the mantel piece, with a soldier boy on each side, and our own dear son, Fred, in the middle; and, as they are arranged, your mother seems to be watching over them, as I have seen her in the hospital, on the Rappahannock. I wish you could step in and see them thus arranged: you might well feel proud of your mother."
Mrs. Lee was at Gettysburg as soon as the cannon smoke had cleared away from the blood-stained hill-side, and labored in the Second corps hospital, and also at Letterman General Hospital, for three months following the great battle.
One of the patients who died here, on her hands, was Aaron Wills, color corporal in the Seventy-second Pennsylvania volunteers, the regiment in which her son was serving. A ball struck the flagstaff, and shattered it. Aaron wrapped the flag around his arm, and shouted, "Don't let the colors fall, boys!" The next moment a ball struck him in a vital part, and he fell, yet held the flag up so that it would not touch the ground, till it was taken from his faithful hands, and carried on at the head of the regiment.
A year after, on the anniversary of his son's death, the father of Aaron Wills wrote an affecting letter to Mrs. Lee. "To-day," he says, "I walked out to the cemetery, to look at the little mound that covers the remain of my beloved boy. As I looked, the words of his last letter, those blessed words, came into my mind: 'Father, do not worry at my being in a dangerous position. I believe, as you say, I can die in no nobler cause; and, to tell you the truth, I would as soon die on the battle-field as I would a natural death.' He need not have said, 'to tell you the truth,' for he never told a lie."
One of her most valued reminiscences of Gettysburg is a letter of thanks, drawn up and numerously signed by the boys in whose ward she had acted as nurse. They say, --
Dear Madam: We now hasten to express to you our thanks for the numerous luxuries and kind services we have received from you, as from the hands of our own kind mothers, for which we shall ever feel grateful to you.
While endeavoring to meet the urgent calls of our wronged country, we had the misfortune to be wounded far from home, and, as we thought, from friends. Here we have found your kind hand to care for us, and alleviate our wants as much as possible. We shall ever feel grateful to you for such motherly care as can never be forgotten; and besides the thousand thanks bestowed on you, the God of our country will ever bless you with a special blessing -- if not now, surely you will receive it hereafter.
This testimonial was signed by a large number in Ward B, Sixth division, General Hospital, Gettysburg.
Sickness in the family of Mrs. Lee detained her at home during a part of the winter of 1863-64; but she went down to Brandy Station, which was the hospital centre of Meade's army, in January, February, and March, 1864.
Here she was connected with the hospital of the Second division, Second corps, where were the wounded at the action of Morton's Ford.
Here she found Dr. Sawyer and Dr. Aiken, two physicians, who, for kindness and self-sacrificing devotion to the health, cheerfulness, and comfort of the soldier, had no superiors in the army of the Potomac. With such efficient aid in the nursing department as was rendered by such ladies as Mrs. Husband and Mrs. Lee, this General Hospital soon became the model for all the army. For cleanliness, order, cheerfulness, and the home-like air which surrounded it, no corps hospital was equal to it.
One of the boys, under Mrs. Lee's care, received a letter from his mother, saying that she was coming to see him, and asking what supplies and luxuries she had better bring, with her. "Bring nothing but yourself, mother," was his reply: "this is not a hospital; it is a home."
About the middle of April, just before Grant's advance, Mrs. Lee returned home for a few days. But no sooner had he moved in the first days of May, than he found obstinate resistance from the rebel leader, and the great battles of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania were fought. The engagement commenced on the 5th, and was continued till the 12th of May, Grant being, "determined to fight it out on that line, if it took all summer."
There was, of course, a vast number of wounded, and the demand for hospital workers was never more urgent than during the months of May and June, 1864. Mrs. Lee made her way to Fredericksburg, and found that war battered old town one vast hospital. The first and great clamor was for food. Transportation from Belle Plain was slow, on account of the fearful condition of the roads; and though the enemy was crippled and falling slowly back to Richmond, and Fredericksburg is only a day's ride from Washington, thousands and thousands of our men suffered constantly from hunger. Upon Mrs. Lee's arrival, Dr. Bannister gave her the charge of the special diet of the Second corps. The kitchen furniture with which she was supplied consisted of one small tin cup, and there was no source from which the proper utensils could be obtained. Mrs. Lee remembered, however, that the year before, Mrs. Ilarris, at the Lacy House, on the other side of the Rappahannock, had left a cooking stove, which might be there yet. Obtaining an ambulance, and going over on the pontoon, she found the old stove, dilapidated, indeed, and rusty; but she could make gruel and panada on it. She found some old kettles, too, which she took over, and scoured up, so that in a few hours a kitchen had been extemporized. The boys broke up clapboards and pickets for fuel, and soon the buckets of gruel, tea, and coffee, and bowls of chicken soup, began to circulate among the famishing heroes. As long as she remained in Fredericksburg, and, in fact, all that summer, from daylight till long after the nine o'clock drum-taps, she did little but cook, cook, cook. Sometimes, just as the hospital had become composed for the night, and the old campaign stove had grown cool for the first time in eighteen hours, an immense train of ambulances would come rolling in from the front, all loaded down with men, sick, wounded, dusty, and famishing. There was no other way but to rise, and work, perhaps, till long past midnight. It was fortunate that with such willingness of heart and such skill, nay, such genius, as she displayed for cooking under all the disadvantages of camp life, Mrs. Lee had also a robust constitution and excellent health; otherwise she must have broken down under the long-continued labors and sleeplessness of that last grand campaign against Richmond.
From Fredericksburg she went, over land, to White House; and there Miss Cornelia Hancock, of New Jersey, and Mrs. Lee assisted Dr. Aiken to dress the wounds and give nourishment to a long train of the wounded that were placed on transports and carried to northern hospitals. Remaining here some days, she proceeded next to City Point, which Grant had now made his base of supplies and his hospital centre.
For some time the accumulation of wounded here was far greater than could in any small degree be made comfort able. Many a night Mrs. Lee stood by the fly of her little kitchen tent, and looked upon long rows of helpless and bleeding men lying on the ground, sometimes with a little straw beneath and a blanket over them, all waiting, in mute and touching patience, for their turn to come to be taken up and cared for. At night such rows of silent sufferers, lying there in the moonlight, looked so much like graves, and summoned up, in a heart as sympathetic as hers, such troops of melancholy thoughts, that she could not look at them without shedding tears.
At City Point, among the wounded from Petersburg, Mrs. Lee had some noble-minded and heroic men as her hospital patients. One was Major William F. Smith, of the First Delaware. Wounded severely in the leg, he suffered amputation, and death followed. He had been severely wounded at Fredericksburg and again at Gettysburg. When urged by his friends to expose his life less freely, "No," he would reply, "I am no better than any other soldier." They urged him to remember how much it would grieve his mother. "I know it," said he; "but I am no better than any other mother's son." When informed that he could not live, he thanked the doctors for the pains they had taken with his case: "You have done all that you could for me, but Providence has some wise end in view in overruling your efforts." His last words to his young brother were, "Kiss mother for me, Lee."
Another, who scaled his devotion with his blood, was Lieutenant-Colonel John A. Crosby, of the Sixty-first Pennsylvania volunteers. He had entered the service as orderly sergeant, was badly wounded in both hips at Fredericksburg, and afterwards lost an arm fighting before Washington, in Early's last invasion. When his friends remonstrated with him for keeping the field thus mutilated, he said, "My country has had my arm. She is welcome to my life." Before leaving home for the last time, he bade his wife and family good by, telling them he should never see them again on earth. Those who knew him best, say that no better man or braver soldier ever died for his country. He fell in the last great battle of the war before Petersburg, in April, 1865.
A poor German boy was killed at the same time, and his heart-broken mother went on from Baltimore to get his body. Mrs. Lee gave the poor woman all the assistance in her power, saw the dead soldier in his coffin, and sympathized with the mother.
Upon her return, and after the burial, Mrs. Lee received from the mother the following letter, which is all the more interesting for its honest simplicity as well as its broken English:--
BALTIMORE, April 19, 1865.
HONORABLE MRS. M. LEE:
After I left City Point for Baltimore wish my dear son, I arrifet safe home, only wish a broken hart, on the 11th in the morning. We cept him till the 12th in the evening, and took him up to Pansilvaniae, to hes broter and sisters. The 15th, in the morning, he arrifet saf at hes stat of rest. Rev. D. Izenbury atent the funerl, and Bregt, hes text John 11th and 11th, and a great many tears has being shatt for hem. I arrifet at My home the 17th in the morning. I am so troubelt in my Mint and Week that I could not rite, and ask for barten me and excus me for not ansern zuner. My humbel dank to your Virtues and favor which you showed to me. I would ask your Kindness, if you ples. I wase so trobelt to see to every ting, namely my Son hat a very good Watch, and I would lik to have that for Membery, ples, and ask Mr. Geo. W. Low, Company F. 190th Penn. Vols. Fifth Core Hospital City Point Va. My Love and best Respect to Mrs. Hart and Mrs. Polk and Mrs. Ashe.
My Love and best Respect to you
from your obedien servent, PAULINE BUSH.
P. S. Ef et should be not mutch to your trobel and you can com tru here, gif me a call.
Among many Such letters received by Mrs. Lee during, her three years of army life, the following, from a bereaved mother in New Hampshire, cannot be read by any mother who lost a boy in the army without unsealing the fountains of old grief.
Forever precious are such letters--consecrated by the sacred baptism of tears that ooze like life-blood from broken hearts!
WINDHAM, May 8, 1864.
My DEAR MRS. LEE:
I had not received the painful intelligence of my beloved son's death until Friday afternoon. My heart is filled with sorrow; my grief I cannot express. You have a beloved son in the army. Dear Thomas told me of you and of your son in one of his letters. He told me there was a woman in the hospital by the name of Mrs. Lee; he said you were as kind to the soldiers as a mother, and that they all loved you as a mother. He said you were an angel. I wrote to him that I was happy to hear him say that there was an angel in his tent; for I never ceased to pray to God, my heavenly Father, that he would send his holy angels into his tent, to guide him by day and guard him by night. He wrote me, the day he went into the hospital, that he had the rheumatism in his arms and legs, but thought he should be able to go back to his regiment. I did not feel much alarmed about him. He then wrote to me he had the measles very lightly, but the cough hung on, as it always does.
His last letter was written to me March 29. He said he thought he was about rid of the measles, but the lameness was no better. Dear Mrs. Lee, I beg you to write me, and give all the particulars about my darling son. Were you with him in his last sickness? I suppose he was a great sufferer. Will you write when he was first taken with the fever, and if he was conscious of the approach of death. Did he speak of his mother or sister, or father or brother? Lieutenant Milton wrote me that he died the 9th of April. You will please to tell me at what hour, and when he was buried. Tell me if he lost his flesh.
O, I shall never, never again see my darling boy in this world! never again hear his joyous laugh! O Mrs. Lee, can you sympathize with me? I am thinking, of your own darling son. May be now the battle rages! May our heavenly Father protect your dear son, and return him safe to you.
Will you please to ascertain the place where Thomas K. Ripley is buried. We shall bring his body home as soon as we can have permission. I have sent three letters to my son; two the last week in March; one had a five-dollar bill in it. Do you know if he received the money?
I pray that you will write to me as soon as you can, and I will satisfy you for it. If there is a pocket-book or letters left behind, you will please save them for his poor, afflicted mother.
My dear friend, I hope you will write to me; it will be a great consolation to my bereaved heart. I am much afflicted, and can hardly write. This is terrible!
Mrs. MARY D. RIPLEY,
(Wife of Nathaniel Ripley.)
Having thus sympathized in the sufferings and disasters of our soldiers, and in the agony that their death occasioned at so many firesides, it was fit that Mrs. Lee should be present at the happy consummation, and join in that grand pæan of victory, that, commencing, at Richmond, in the first days of April, went swelling, in a glorious chorus, from the Atlantic to the Pacific shores.
In the hospital where Mrs. Lee then was, the exultations of the poor, languishing soldiers were full of almost frantic joy.
"Such a time!" she writes; "the people nearly went crazy. Hospital help, ladies, wounded and all, were beside themselves. Processions were formed, kettles improvised for drums; all kinds of noises were made to manifest our joy. Bells were rung, cannon fired, steam whistles blown; men cheered and shouted themselves hoarse. President Lincoln visited the hospital while I was there. He went round to every man, and said he wanted to shake the hand of every man who had helped to gain so glorious a victory; and he had a kind word for all."
In the hospitals of Petersburg and Richmond Mrs. Lee continued for a month after Lee's surrender; for, though the war was ended, there remained a great multitude of the sick, and those wounded in the last engagements.
Then, when there were no more homeless and suffering patriots; no more wounds to be stanched; no more long trains of ambulances, with their groaning and bleed in freightage; no more caldrons of gruel and mutton soup to be cooked for great wards full of half-famished boys, Mrs. Lee went home, and slipped back into the happy routine of domestic usefulness.
Into those womanly duties she carries the rich consciousness of having given herself up entirely, for three laborious but happy years, to the exercise of heavenly charities, and to the practice of that mercy that is twice blessed.