The following is an extract of a letter from Brigade Surgeon James L. Dunn:
“The Sanitary Commission, together with three or four noble, self-sacrificing women, have furnished everything that could be required. I will tell you of one of these women, a Miss Barton, the daughter of Judge Barton, of Boston, Mass. I first met her at the battle of Cedar Mountain, where she appeared in front of the hospital at twelve o’clock at night, with a four mule team loaded with everything needed, and at a time when we were entirely out of dressings of every kind; she supplied us with everything; and while the shells were bursting in every direction, took her course to the hospital on our right, where she found everything wanting again. After doing everything she could on the field, she returned to Culpepper, where she staid dealing out shirts to the naked wounded, and preparing soup, and seeing it prepared, in all the hospitals. I thought that night if Heaven ever sent out an angel, she must be one, her assistance was so timely. Well, we began our retreat up the Rappahannock. I thought no more of our lady friend, only that she had gone back to Washington. We arrived on the disastrous field of Bull Run; and while the battle was raging the fiercest on Friday, who should drive up in front of our hospital but this same woman, with her mules almost dead, having made forced marches from Washington to the army. She was again a welcome visitor to both the wounded and the surgeons.
“The battle was over, our wounded removed on Sunday, and we were ordered to Fairfax Station; we had hardly got there before the battle of Chantilly commenced, and soon the wounded began to come in. Here we had nothing but our instruments–not even a bottle of wine. When the cars whistled up to the station, the first person on the platform was Miss Barton, to again supply us with bandages, brandy, wine, prepared soup, jellies, meal, and every article that could be thought of. She staid here until the last wounded soldier was placed on the cars, and then bade us good by and left.
“I wrote you at the time how we got to Alexandria that night and next morning. Our soldiers had no time to rest after reaching Washington, but were ordered to Maryland by forced marches. Several days of hard marching brought us to Frederick, and the battle of South Mountain followed. The next day our army stood face to face with the whole force. The rattle of one hundred and fifty thousand muskets, and the fearful thunder of over two hundred cannon, told us that the great battle of Antietam had commenced. I was in a hospital in the afternoon, for it was then only that the wounded began to come in.
“We had expended every bandage, torn up every sheet in the house, and everything we could find, when who should drive up but our old friend Miss Barton, with a team loaded down with dressings of every kind, and everything we could ask for. She distributed her articles to the different hospitals, worked all night making soup, all the next day and night; and when I left, four days after the battle, I left her there ministering to the wounded and the dying. When I returned to the field hospital last week, she was still at work, supplying them with delicacies of every kind, and administering to their wants–all of which she does out of her own private fortune. Now, what do you think of Miss Barton? In my feeble estimation, Gen. McClellan, with all his laurels, sinks into insignificance beside the true heroine of the age–the angel of the battle-field.”
Originally posted 2009-06-15 03:08:01.