Today in History:

Mrs Isabella Fogg

            When the boom of the great guns in Charleston harbor, in the spring of 1861, went rolling across the continent, their echo penetrated to the border town of Calais, in Maine, on the extreme eastern verge of the Union, and there summoned men from their ships, and lumber mills, and farms, to the heroic duty of sustaining the govern­ment, threatened by half a continent in arms against it.

            Nor did that summons reach the ears of men only. The lady whose name is written above felt that she was called, also, to go out, to leave the quiet and seclusion of her home, and do all that a woman may do to sustain the hands and the hearts of those who had the great battle of freedom to fight.

            In the spring of 1861 the family duties by which she was bound seemed to make it impracticable for her to leave at once. But in July, Bull Run, with its disastrous issue, ran like a mingled cry of agony and of shame over the land, and the demand of April was repeated in a tone sterner and more imperative than before.

            About this time changes occurred in the family of Mrs. Fogg, which seemed to release her from pressing obliga­tions to remain at home; and her schoolboy son, like ten thousand others in those arousing times, followed the twofold impulse of loyalty and youthful enthusiasm, and exchanged the playground for the camp, and his grammar for Scott's Tactics.

            When her son enlisted, Mrs. Fogg thought her duty no longer obscure, and offered her services, without compensa­tion, to the governor and surgeon-general of the state, and under their direction spent several weeks in preparing and collecting sanitary and hospital stores.

            Early in the fall of 1861 she went out with one of the Maine regiments, and proceeded with it to Annapolis, where she remained several months, acting at first as the nurse of those who fell sick in the regiment, and afterwards was connected with the General Hospital. When the coast expedition, under General Sherman, was organized, she was of course very desirous of going with the regiment. But this was not found practicable. A duty less romantic, but equally important, was now brought home to her, and right nobly did she discharge it. The spotted fever appeared in the post hospital, and as one or more fell victims to it daily, much alarm existed, and it was diffi­cult to obtain nurses for the sufferers. In this exigency Mrs. Fogg and another lady volunteered their services, and for week after week, all day, and often for a considerable part of the night, were on duty in the fever ward, constant in their devotion to the patients, and indifferent to the danger of infection.

            This duty lasted till the spring of 1862, when those cam­paigns against the enemy were inaugurated and carried to a consummation by which the first serious and eventually fatal blows were inflicted on the defiant monster of Treason.

            Early in May came the first bloodshed on the Peninsula. The mutilated heroes of Williamsburg were brought in -- one great, bloody cargo of suffering humanity -- to the northern hospitals, on the Elm City; and a shudder of horror and agony ran over the nation. We began to see the fearful price by which the Union was to be redeemed. Mrs. Fogg was now more anxious than ever to be constantly and actively employed in labors to assuage sufferings so immense as were likely to be the price of captured Richmond. Hastening to Washington, she placed herself under the direction of the Sanitary Commission, and when the Elm City returned she went, in company with several other ladies, and some gentlemen of the Christian and Sanitary Commissions, to labor on the hospital transports in the York and James Rivers. These transport labors are described elsewhere, in the rehearsal of the labors and sac­rifices of Miss Bradley, Miss Ethridge, Mrs. Harris, and Miss Hall.

            On the last day of May came the bloody field of Fair Oaks, after which there was a broad and unbroken stream of the wounded and the sick pouring steadily to the rear from the active and warlike front, along the Chicka­hominy and around Richmond. The charge of these removals was in the hands of Dr. Swinburne, who, observing the skill and activity of Mrs. Fogg in attend­ing those who were brought on the cars to the White House, asked her if she would be willing to go up to the front and labor. The application was made to Mrs. Fogg through Mr. Knapp, of the Sanitary Commission, and her prompt reply was, "Mr. Knapp, that is just where I would like to go."

            A branch of the Sanitary Commission was accordingly established at Savage Station, two miles from the front; and, during the long, hot days of June, Mrs. Fogg was here laboring throughout the day, protecting herself from sunstroke by a wet towel, worn in her hat, distributing cooling drinks, food, and stimulants to the sick, as they arrived in long trains from Fair Oaks, and as they were collected from the different parts of the great army. Just before the campaign culminated in the seven days' fight, her son came down to Savage Station, and gave a moving account of the sufferings of his comrades at the extreme front, where he was stationed. The next morning found Mrs. Fogg in an ambulance, loaded with supplies for the sick, making her way through the Chickahominy Swamp, to where Keyes was posted, on the extreme left, and within sight of the spires of the rebel capital.

            On reaching the camp of the Sixth Maine, which was in Hancock's brigade of Smith's division, she found from sixty to seventy brave fellows, who, though sick, had refused to be sent to the brigade hospital, partly from the soldier's dis­like of all hospitals as long as he can stand, but mainly because they hoped to be well enough to march through the streets of Richmond, which they confidently expected that great army, then having nearly one hundred and twenty thousand men fit for duty, would enter in a few days.

            Here, protected from the burning midsummer sun and the malarious night air by nothing better than little shelter and "dog" tents, they were languishing with typhoid fever and chronic diarrhea; their bed the earth, their fare salt pork and "hard-tack." The medical officers of the regiment were neither unskilled nor inattentive. Her labors for that day were wholly for these brave sufferers, dispensing the stores which she had brought, cooking palatable food, quenching the fever thirst, cheering the sinking heart with kind and sympathetic words. Their smiling or tearful gratitude was a reward and a stimulus which dispelled fatigue, and made her heedless of the occasional shot or shell that went screaming over the lines.

            Returning in the evening to the station, she consulted with the agents of the Christian and Sanitary Commissions as to the possibility of bringing constant relief to such cases as she had just been attending. But the day fol­lowing all such plans were cut short by the rapid and disastrous culmination of the campaign. The battle of Gaines' Mill had been fought, the rebel army being con­centrated on the north side of the Chickahominy, and McClellan's force divided by the stream. The north bank of the stream was lost, his communications cut: it only remained for McClellan to force his way across to the James River, and establish there a new base of operations.

            Innumerable woes and horrors of war now crowded about Savage Station. The country was full of sick, and wounded, and stragglers. The roar of the artillery grew louder as it advanced. Trains of sick and wounded, which had been started for White House, were coming back. It was an­nounced that Jackson had cut the communications of the army, and that Savage Station, with its thousands of help­ less sick and wounded, must be abandoned, and all that could must take up their line of march for James River.

            Through all these fearful scenes and agonizing fears, while the very existence of the army seemed to be threat­ened, and ignorant whether her son might not be at that moment stiff on the battle-field, or stretched on an ampu­tation table, Mrs. Fogg continued her labor for the sick till the last moment, and then retreated with the rest to Harri­son's Landing. On the way she was able, by giving out from her sanitary supplies in the ambulance, to earn the blessing of many who were ready to perish.

            Her special duty at the landing was assigned her by Dr. Letterman -- the charge of preparing food for amputation cases, who must, for a time at least, have only the sim­plest diet. Occasionally, as opportunity offered, she would take an ambulance and go out through the regiments, dis­tributing stores furnished by the Sanitary Commission to the soldiers in their tents or in the trenches, only sorry that her supplies were not twenty-fold more abundant.

            These labors were continued through July and a part of August, till the hospitals were broken up, and the army began to return to the Potomac. She then went in the steamer Spaulding, with a load of wounded, to Philadel­phia, and after seeing the last of the peninsula sufferers comfortable in an amply-furnished hospital, she returned to Maine for a little rest, having been absent then just one year.

            Little repose, however, took this unwearied worker for the soldier. In Portland she waited on the mayor, and obtained letters from him and prominent citizens to the governor of the state, who listened with interest to all her plans and explanations, and wrote her a long reply, em­bodying his views as to measures of sanitary relief to be taken by the state. The result was the appointment of a state agent in the person of Colonel Hathaway.

            With supplies collected through her efforts, and in com­pany with Colonel Hathaway and another co-laborer, -- one of the most esteemed ladies of Portland, she started again for Washington, on the 4th of October, the primary object being to supply pressing demands in the Maine regi­ments, but with no such exclusive charity as passes un­ noticed the needy soldiers wherever they may be found.

            Wide indeed, and white for harvest, did she find the field of sanitary labor. The wrecks of the campaign, whose only feature that was not wholly disastrous was the bloody field of Antietam, were strewn widely over Maryland, filling the ill-supplied hospitals, crowding the deserted cabins, and packed beneath shelter-tents. At no time during the war was there so much suffering that might have been saved by an effective sanitary system as in the fall of 1862. During October and November Mrs. Fogg labored incessantly at numerous hospitals, her efforts being fully appreciated and seconded by the medical officers. Fol­lowing the flag, she advanced with the army into Virginia, and as the winter promised to be one of great activity, her labors were especially directed to supplying the Maine boys with clothing suitable for winter and a winter campaign.

            In December she penetrated to the front, and every fa­cility was afforded her by General Hooker, in whose corps she found most of the Maine soldiers. A few days after she witnessed that brave but unavailing attempt under Burnside, and immediately found abundant work in the hospitals that were established after the battle, and in the great camps of sick and convalescents which were scattered all the way from the Rappahannock to the Potomac.

            Let us from her diary select the labors of a single day, and remember that such trips were repeated daily almost throughout that winter: --

            "Started with ambulance filled with necessary stores of all kinds, such as bread, soft crackers, canned chicken, oysters, dried fruit, preserves, condensed milk, dried fish, pickles, butter, eggs, white sugar, green tea, cocoa, broma, apples, oranges, lemons, cordials, wines, woollen underwear, towels, quilts, feather pillows, all invaluable among so many sufferers so far from home and its comforts. My first visit was directed to those regiments where the wants were most pressing; but my special mission was to those who languished under bare shelter tents, they being entirely dependent upon their rations, and seldom or never reached by sanitary and hospital stores. In company with the sur­geons, who always welcomed us, we made the tour of the camp, going from tent to tent, finding from one to three in each of those miserable quarters, suffering from camp dis­eases of every form, distributing our stores at the surgeons' suggestion. We left reading matter generally in each tent. Then we would hasten away to the General Hospital, and pass the latter part of the day in reading the Bible to some dying soldier, or write out his words of final and touching farewell to the loved ones at home, then bathe fevered brows, moisten with water and refresh with cordials mouths parched with fever, and, adjusting pillows under aching heads, bid our patients farewell. Weary, but glad at heart for having it in our power to do so much for our boys, we sought our tents, which scarce protected us from snow and rain; but we were happy in a sense of duty discharged, and in enjoying the grateful love of our sacrificing heroes."

            This routine of noble and most useful labor was now and then interrupted by a visit to Washington, where Mrs. Fogg went to receive and forward to the camps along the Rappahannock and Acquia Creek, the sanitary stores which were being regularly shipped from Portland and other places in. Maine.

            But labors and exposures like these could hardly be con­tinued through that gloomy winter without interruption from disease; and early in March Mrs. Fogg was prostrated with a severe attack of pneumonia, by which her sanitary labors were interrupted for several weeks, until the sun and winds of April had dried the deep mud of a Virginia winter, and General Hooker advanced across the river to establish his lines at Chancollorsville. At the time of the great battle which followed, Mrs. Fogg and the lady who had accompanied her from Portland spent five days and nights of almost incessant work at the United States Ford, feeding and reviving the wounded as they came pouring from the field, as they were too much exhausted to proceed without some refreshment.

            About daylight on Monday morning, the 4th of May, she and her companion, exhausted by their labors, and vigils, and excitement, crept to an unoccupied corner of a low attic, to obtain an hour of sleep, when a terrific storm of shells and round shot came smashing through the roof. The enemy had, during the night, pushed forward a battery, and opened upon their position at daylight. A terrible scene of confusion and excitement now followed. The screaming and hissing messengers of death were falling thick and fast all around, and piercing the little hospital crowded with the wounded. All who could walk or crawl were leaving for the rear. As she passed one heroic young soldier, she remarked, "You have been left, poor boy." He looked up with a calm smile, and replied, "Don't call me poor; I have laid one arm on the altar of my country, and am ready to sacrifice the other also." A soldier, whose wounds she had just dressed, was this moment killed by a shell which burst immediately over their heads.

            As this sudden attack became known, some general offi­cers, who knew the importance of the sanitary stores at this hospital, took active steps for their defence, and the hostile battery was silenced or withdrawn.

            Two weeks later, General Lee sent a flag of truce, and offered protection to such detachments as might be sent within his lines to bring away some fifteen hundred wounded.

            A train of ambulances was accordingly started, and Mrs. Fogg took all her sanitary stores, which were the only sup­ plies on the spot and available, and established a temporary Rest, or way-side hospital, on the north bank of the river, near the ford, where fires were made, and large quantities of palatable food prepared and given to the sufferers in each ambulance as it reached the bank. For five days the train of ambulances was active in these removals, and numerous lives were saved by the refreshment thus timely administered in the middle of the agonizing journey from the rebel lines to the Union hospitals.

            The sufferings and labors of Chancellorsville were quickly followed by the glorious but bloody days at Gettysburg.

            Mrs. Fogg left her stores to be forwarded as soon as. might be, and she pressed to the scene of action, arriving in Gettysburg on the 4th of July.

            As there was a lack of sanitary stores and of food of all kinds, she took a team and made an extensive circuit among the farmers, collecting from them all that she could. The Baltimore fire company also placed at her disposal a large amount, which they had brought forward, and she labored for some ten days or two weeks with her accus­tomed zeal and patience among that great host of sufferers, estimated by General Meade, when all that were left on the field from both armies are included, at nearly twenty- two thousand men.

            But the corps of workers was soon found to be propor­tionably large. Nurses, matrons, lady superintendents, special cooks, and every class of persons who can amelio­rate suffering and make themselves useful at such a time, came in great numbers from the adjacent cities; and Mrs. Fogg was convinced that she could be of more service by following the flag, and keeping with the heroic men whose stubborn courage had won that all-important battle.

            During the fall of 1863 she was at Warrenton, Cul­pepper, Bristow Station, Rappahannock Station, Kelly's Ford, and Mine Run, and bestowed the same attention on the sick and wounded that she had the year before on nearly the same ground.

            During the winter of 1864 she again visited Maine, and the legislature of that state, much to their credit, voted a handsome sum of money to be appropriated and placed at her disposal for disbursal, according to her knowledge and judgment of the wants of the soldiers. Hurrying back to the front, she saw those great movements inaugurated by the new commander of the army of the Potomac, and of all the forces of the United States, which, after a series of battles unparalleled in obstinacy and extent, at last broke the rebel force, and closed the war.

            Then followed that ever-memorable second week of May, with hard fighting for seven consecutive days, and Grant "determined to fight it out on that line, if it took all sum­mer." Twelve thousand wounded were reported at Rappa­hannock Station and at Fredericksburg. Leaving her son sick at Alexandria, Mrs. Fogg drove to Fredericksburg, taking Miss Dix in her ambulance, and found that old; war- blasted city one great hospital. In all her experience she had seen nothing so terrible.

            "It was indescribable," she writes, "in its enormous woes, a sight demanding the tears and prayers of the uni­verse -- the awful price of a nation's existence." Laboring here in the manner described above for two or three weeks, she passed on with the army to Front Royal, and thence to the James, crossing it on the great pontoon bridge. Hospitals were now established at City Point, and as the summer advanced, and the army appeared to be stationary around Petersburg, and the hospitals well supplied and easy of access, she sought a scene of duty more arduous. Returning north to Boston, and then to Calais, she was successfully engaged in organizing new and more extensive plans of usefulness, when there came the terrible news that her son, who had gone back to his regi­ment (from which he had been for a time detailed to drive his mother's ambulance) and been with Sheridan in the battle of Cedar Run, had been mortally wounded.

            The anxieties of the mother now triumphed over the thoughts of philanthropy, and she flew to Martinsburg, in Virginia, to make inquiries for her boy. She was about to leave the place and press forward to the scene of the recent action, when she happened to meet a delegate of the Chris­tian Commission, who to her inquiries was enabled to reply that her son had been in Martinsburg, that he had suffered amputation of his leg, survived the operation, been care­ fully attended, and forwarded to a hospital in Baltimore. She reached that city in a few hours, greatly exhausted by the long journey and the deep anxiety, but found her boy doing well. She attended him for two weeks, when she was herself prostrated, and remained sick more than a month. Recovering her health, in November she went to Washington, and reported to the Christian Commission. As there was no longer the same demand as before for the class of labor in which she had been so persistent and suc­cessful, she reported to Mrs. Wittenmeyer, who, as special agent of the Christian Commission, had charge of the special diet kitchens in a great number of hospitals. By her she was assigned to duty in Louisville, Kentucky.

            While laboring here on a hospital boat, in January, 1865, she stepped through an unseen opening in the deck, and received very serious and permanent injuries from the fall.

            Unable to return to the state for whose brave patriots she had labored so long and so successfully, the close of the war found her a permanent invalid among strangers. But this affliction was as nothing in her estimation. Her son was a cripple for life. She would never enjoy health again. But, to use the language of her diary, she is daily solaced and penetrated with deep gratitude to God that he so long preserved her in health and strength, to wit­ ness the triumph of the right, and the dawn of peace, and the days when the patriot, no longer languishing in camp nor agonizing on the field, will not suffer for what woman, in her tenderness, can do for him.