Woman’s Work at Beaufort, Marlboro, Sumter, Union and Florence Hospital

Woman’s Work at Beaufort
Extract from letter from Miss C. O. Barnwell, dated March 14, 1898

In the summer of 1861, the ladies of this town organized a society for the purpose of working for soldiers. They made coats, pants, caps, comfortables and shirts, which were given to Dunnovant’s Regiment, stationed near town. They also sent, in answer to an appeal from the Rev. R. W. Barnwell, for the hospitals in Virginia, boxes containing a variety of hospital stores.

After they were obliged to abandon their homes, I can answer for it that as individuals they connected themselves with the different organizations throughout the State, and rendered all the service in their power to the cause.

Woman’s Work at Marlboro
Letter from Mrs. D. D. McColl, of Bennettsville, June 29, 1898

I can recall no startling heroines of Marlboro during the Confederate War, yet hundreds proved themselves heroines of the everyday kind, because they met laborious occupations, stern duties, increased cares, and sad privations, with unfaltering bravery and un-changing patience.

I have often thought my own mother’s (Mrs. Thomas) life was a daily struggle and a certain triumph. Left by my father with seven young children, she managed to make the farm produce enough for their support, gave a tithe for army support, and was shrewd enough and wise enough to pay almost all of a small debt, which seemed very large to us.

Our clothes were spun and woven under her directions, and of this homespun cloth she made frequent contributions to the companies from our county.

Though very timid, she was brave enough to meet that terror – Sherman’s Army – in a self-possessed and dignified manner. She and her daughters received respectful treatment at their hands, and they granted her request to leave a portion of her store of groceries for her family. How she eked it out through that memorable summer, and how scanty were the meals to which we sat down for some months, is one of my heartache memories, and that page would have to be written through tears.

This record of my dear mother’s experiences would be that of hundreds of others, except that in some homes there was more Con-federate money. My father’s salary as captain was about all we had, and “the wolf” seemed seldom very far from the door.

Miss Harriet Black, of this county, served as matron in the hospital at Florence, and was greatly valued by the soldiers.

Miss Martha Miller, an inexperienced girl, went alone to Lookout Mountain to nurse a brother in the hospital, who had lost a limb.

But, really, I do not know that any one woman from this county is entitled to conspicuous mention.

Woman’s Work at Sumter
Written in 1901, unsigned

The churches in Sumter were used as hospitals.

Mrs. Montgomery Moses daily visited the hospital at the Baptist Church, carrying waiters of delicacies for the sick. One of the men was so pleased at her kindness, and felt so sure she could help in anything, that he appealed to her to get him a furlough.

She had a very ill soldier removed to her house, in hopes of saving his life, but, notwithstanding all the good nursing, he died. In his delirium, he kept calling, “Sue, Sue, I am only four miles off; I am coming.” It was never known who he was!

Many soldiers from the hospitals came at meal times to the houses of the ladies to be fed; also, many brought their rations to be cooked and, of course, the ladies made many additions to what they brought.

An old lady – Miss Rachel Suares – used to board the trains each morning, as they passed, and wash the sick soldiers on board, returning home by the next train.

At one time, the ladies used to set tables of food at the depot, for the soldiers, as they passed through.

Mrs. M. Moses and her daughter, Miss A. P. Moses – did much good work at the Baptist Church Hospital, taking a servant daily to attend the sick, mending the surgeons’ clothes, making lightwood tea, rolling quinine pills, stuck together with flour and hominy. Hominy was used, too, to seal letters, during the war.

One soldier, to show his gratitude, would wait on Mrs. Moses’ cook, bringing her wood, etc.

The flag used at Manassas and other battles, by Kershaw’s men, was made by Mrs. Bossard, Miss A. P. Moses, Miss Garden, the Misses Bartlett, and other ladies of Sumter.

Woman’s Work at Union
Letter from Miss F. M. Blamyer, dated August, 1901

Miss Blamyer was the secretary of the Soldiers’ Relief Association, of Charleston, but made her home in Union during a part of the war.

She writes: “As to the association in Union, it was formed when there was no time for red tape. Mrs. W. H. Wallace was the president; Mrs. Jeter, treasurer. I was the vice-president. We bought cotton in bale with great difficulty, as the planters refused to let us have it. They said, with true country honesty, that they had pledged themselves not to let their cotton run the blockade. Yet, through the influence of Mrs. Wallace, the president, we bought the cotton and sent it to the factory in exchange for homespun, sending part of this to the Soldiers’ Relief Association in Charleston; and with the rest, in Union, we made clothes for our men.

We then got a large, empty room, put some beds in it, and collected what supplies we could.

When Governor Magrath could no longer find a refuge in South Carolina (at the end of the war), he disbanded his bodyguard, formed of boys from the Arsenal in Columbia, and told them they must make their way home. Some of them came to us, tired and muddy, and the ladies immediately sent them ready-made soldiers’ clothes, but found they had to be shortened and the seams taken in. When Cheatham came through, we had some of his sick men. One poor fellow, who they thought could not swallow, when I gave him a few spoonfuls, said: “It takes a gal to feed me.”

The Hospital at Florence.
Written by Dr. P. B. Bacot, Surgeon C. S. A.

According to my recollection, the hospital at Florence was established as a wayside home, by the ladies of the Pee Dee section, for the relief of needy soldiers passing over the lines of roads passing through Florence.

The home was supported by the ladies of Florence, Darlington, Society Hill, and Cheraw, and probably other localities.

In the latter part of 1862, or the first of 1863, it was found that, owing to the number of sick and wounded soldiers who had to be taken into the home, a medical officer was required to attend them. The home was then turned over to the Confederate government as a Wayside Hospital.

Dr. Theodore A. Dargan, of Darlington, was appointed surgeon- in-charge; Mrs. Chandler was appointed matron, and Mr. Lawrence Prince, of Cheraw, steward.

During the summer of 1863, I was assigned to the hospital as assistant to Dr. Dargan. Sometime during the winter of 1863, Mrs. Chandler resigned the position of matron, and Mrs. Martha Jordan was appointed to her place. After serving in that position for a few months, she resigned, and Miss Harriet Black, of Cheraw, a very estimable lady, was appointed to fill the position.

In April, 1864, my command being ordered to Virginia, I had to leave the hospital. After that, it became necessary to enlarge the hospital, and the building afterwords known as the restaurant was added. The original hospital was in the Norris building, on the corner of Front and Coit streets.

Our office was a small building, across the railroad track, in front of Gamble’s Hotel.

The office is still standing – the only building left that had any connection with the hospital.

After the increase of the hospital, Dr. Washington was appointed to assist Dr. Dargan.

After the government took charge, the ladies still continued to visit the hospital, and render such aid as was in their power.

Many poor soldiers had cause to remember the maternal aid rendered them by the kind and patriotic ladies of the Pee Dee section.

(Signed) P. B. Bacot, M. D.,
Acting Assistant Surgeon, Florence Hospital.

South Carolina Women in the Confederacy. Edited and Published By Mrs. Thomas Taylor, Chairman, Mrs. Smythe, Mrs. August Kohn, Miss Poppenheim, Miss Martha B. Washington, State Committee Daughters of the Confederacy. Columbia, South Carolina, The State Company, 1903.

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