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I just discovered an auction lot being offered by Cowan’s with items belonging to Daniel H. McArthur, 24th WI Infantry and later in the Signal Corps. While in the Signal Corps later in the war he passed through Nashville in early December, which would have been just after the Battle of Franklin. He records the following in a letter about what he saw in Nashville:
You who are in your comfortable homes in the north can form but a small idea of the amount of suffering caused by the war aside from the soldier’s life. In this town are hundreds of families (refugees) who have no place to live except in the tents furnished them by the government and they all draw rations just the same as the soldiers. A great many of them are women with children whose husbands and other friends are dead or in the rebel army. One night week before last it was very cold, and a train came in loaded with refugees and they had no place to go to for shelter from the cold and there was seven children froze to death, and who knows at this moment how much suffering there is in different parts of the south!
Nashville had 20-25 military hospital hospitals operating at any given time during the Civil War. At peak capacity, Nashville hospitals had roughly 14,000 men being treated, including hundreds of Confederates, even during the Union occupation that began in February 1862.
Nashville was the second largest military hospital network devoted to Union-use. Only Philadelphia had a larger military hospital system. As large as the Nashville military hospital system was, it could still could handle the amount of casualties that strained her capacity.
Thousands of wounded and sick Union soldiers were initially treated in a Nashville hospital and then routed to Evansville, Louisville or Jeffersonville for care in their respective hospitals. Many Union casualties from the Franklin-Nashville campaign were taken to Louisville for medical care.
One such Louisville hospital was #8, which later became known as the Monsarrat School (below).
Joseph Meyer was 23 years old when he enlisted in October 1864, Co.B., was mortally wounded at Franklin, died of wounds on 12/6/64 at Jeffersonville, Indiana. Buried at New Albany National Cemetery (IN), Gravesite B-86.
We started in good time over frozen ground and ice though the pike was tolerable good only in spots. All day we have passed the wrecks of Hood’s fleeing army, signs of hot pursuit. We reached Spring Hill at 4 p.m. and go in camp just before it commences to rain again. The little village is very much dilapidated to what it was when we first saw it. It was near that the Rebs came near cutting off our retreat up to Franklin. Made a search to find commissary wagons but fail and have to crumb it scantily at that. Rain increases and our bed is wet as has been for sometime.
A.L. Ewing (63rd Indiana Infantry) diary for Dec 20th, 1864
Source: The Eli Lilly Library, Indiana University
We came about eight miles yesterday and last eve could hear cannon ahead. But now this morning the enemy is reported to be beyond Franklin where they suffered some yesterday trying to check out advance. We move about a mile across farms and get on the Franklin Pike where we find the commissary wagons and draw rations. Some captured wagons and 300 captured prisoners pass to our rear. Some of them barefooted. It is reported we have captured Gen Cheatham.
Source: A.L. Ewing Civil War Diary, Eli Lilly Library
. . . it is cold, raining, snowing, sleeting . . . we are in shelter tents, no wood and nothing to make ourselves comfortable . . . the poor half-clad creatures [Confederates] out a couple of miles must suffer with the cold, for they have no gum blankets nor plenty of good clothing as we do.
There was a rumor just now that they were leaving our front. I wish they would, and go so far that we would see them no more of this winter.
Source: The Civil War Diary of A.L. Ewing, 63rd Indiana Infantry
The Eli Lilly Library, Indiana University