The following is Isabella M. Fogg's report to John Hathaway, Maine Soldier's Relief Agency, describing her work in helping the sick and wounded in the area around Sharpsburg, Maryland in November 1862.
These are her original words with some additions for clarity by the Maine State Archives, in brackets. We at AotW have added paragraph breaks to ease readability.
Berlin, Nov. 10, 1862
I suppose Mr. W[atson] has given you some information in regard to how we were occupying our time in Frederic, so I will give you some account of our movements since. We left Frederic on Saturday, the 1st in company with Mr. Hayes, stopped at Middletown, and found them very comfortable, men happy, said the ladies were very kind, went on to Kedarsville [Keedysville], but what a painful contrast! There we found several Maine men, in a church and three other buildings occupied as Hospitals, lying on the bare floor with their coats for pillows. Their stores consisted of hard bread, beef and coffee, as we had no supplies with us, of course we could not relieve, they promised to apply to the commission on the day following.
We then went up to Smoketown Hospital, here we found 30 Maine men. This place is in a most miserable condition, the men complain very much, although Mrs. Harris and several Penn. ladies, with a great quantity of supplies were there. The effluvia arising from the condition of these grounds is intolerable, quite enough to make a man in perfect health sick, and how men can recover in such a place is a mystery to me.
We then went to Bakersville, saw there 25 of the 5th Maine, left in a school house in care of the steward, without supplies; found him making every effort to keep them comfortable, we inquired why he did not call on the Commission, he replied, he had always found so many difficulties in obtaining them from this source he preferred purchasing himself. We told him, we would go to the Commission; and have what he required put up for him, here, we opened your box of jelly.
We then came to Sharpsburg, the Maine troops had crossed the river, only five Maine men were left here, also Capt. Hill of the 20th in a private house. We did what we could for his comfort and then proceeded to Harpers Ferry.
Here the sick are in a fearful condition, in every old house and church and hundreds on the ground. You no doubt think your ladies in Washington are doing a great work, but I can assure you, if they were here, they would find the stern reality of want, privation and extreme suffering. We visited the sick of the 19th in care of Dr. Hawes, asst. surgeon, he has upwards of 50, does all in his power for their comfort.
At Gen. Slocum's request we went over to Loudin Valley to learn the condition of several hundreds, who had been sent the day previous without any preparation. We found them lying on the ground, in all directions, many convalescent, but a great many very low. At this time no surgeons, nurses or cooks were on the ground and hard bread their only food. Fortunately, we had that morning obtained a few supplies from the Commission, after much pleading, for they actually appeared as if they were contributing out of their own pocket and for our personal wants, however, we went to work to administer to the wants of the sick, Mrs. E[aton] to wash and clean them, which they stood greatly in need of, while I prepared food for them. Mr. Hayes went in search of Maine men, but found none, we however found famishing soldiers.
After feeding every one who could not help themselves, we left for Berlin, and here the misery and suffering beggars all description, the heart sickens at the sight. We visited the Hospital of the 10th Maine, found them more comfortable than many others, but yet very much can be added to their comfort. Taking a stroll through the town, we searched every old school house, log cabin &c for the poor men who had been left behind, as our army moved on. In an old hut destitute of doors or windows and minus a part of the roof, we found 7 men, who had slept in the woods the night before, had crept in there, for the miserable shelter the place afforded.
- Our inquiries were for Maine men, and although these were not from our State, they claimed our sympathy.
- Conversing with one of them, he told us he was sick, thought he had the measles, on this point, our opinion did not coincide with his, we supposing it to be a case of small pox, which of course required immediate attention. With no little difficulty we at last succeeded in finding the surgeon of the district, who coroberated our opinion, our next step was to report to Col. Fillebrown, who expressed earnest thanks for our attention to the case.
- In a dilapidated school house, without fireplace, we found a man sick and old, who had enlisted in the Maine 12th. He was now 57 years old, had been left, injured in the spine, at Fortress Monroe, then knocked about from one Hospital to another, thrust into a New York regiment till at last all discouraged, he knew not what to do. Measures have now been set on foot by Mr. Hayes for his discharge.
- Learning there were men left from Franklin's Corps, left in a very destitute condition at Hagerstown, and feeling anxious to furnish some supplies for those we had seen the week previous in Kedarsville, we here separated, Mrs. E to attend to duties here, while I, in company with Mr. Hayes, who was anxious to find more of our men who were scattered all along the way, took an anbulance on route for Hagerstown. While at Harpers Ferry, we had stated the suffering conditions of those at Kedarsville to Dr. McNultz, Medical Director in charge at Harpers Ferry, who expressed great surprize to learn that there were any there, he having had them all removed from that place a short time since, (but of our sick and wounded men it may be said their name is Legion and almost as fast as an old ruined building is emptied, it is filled by other stragglers) however, through the information received from us, he had again caused their removal, and we were spared from again witnessing that scene of want and hunger.
- Next visted the Russell Spring Hospital, found them comparatively comfortable with only three Maine men.
- Again we went to Smoketown, hoping to find them in a more comfortable condition than when we were last there, but how sadly were we disappointed.
- How I wish I could introduce you, and the Washington Com. to Smoketown Hos. in the midst of this driving snow storm! You could have seen the poor fellows huddled together, with their pallets of straw on the gound, their tents connected by flyes, the same as erected in the heat of summer, many without walls and no stoves. Those who were able to creep out of their tents were crouched over fires, built in the woods, their heads covered with snow. And all I may say, almost without exception with thin muslin shirts on.
- The exposure has been such that diptheria has broken out among them, and in nearly every case proves fatal. One of our poor Maine boys who had been very diligent in looking up for us those belonging to Maine, at our last visit had been seized suddenly with diptheria, caused by exposure, and lived but two or three hours.
- Distributing what few articles we had received from the Commission among them, we moved on, deeply regretting we had no winter clothing, as many of them were destitute of stockings. I cannot describe what my feelings were that I had no articles of woolen clothing to distribute especially as the chaplain told us, there were plenty to take their names but few to relieve their wants.
Next, we proceeded to the school house at Bakersville, where so many of the 5th had been left without supplies. Imagine our indignation to find that the requisition we had left for them with the commission at Sharpsburg had been cut off fully one half on every article. They probably were not expecting we should be on the track again.
-We found the industrious steward, William Noyes of Saco, grating corn on a grater he had made from an old canteen, to furnish meal wherewith to make gruel for his sick men. This is only a sample of his expedients for his men, give his name a place in your reports for he is worthy.
At Hagerstown we found several Maine men, but in a more comfortable condition than we had expected. The citizens deserve great credit for their efforts in providing for the wants of the sick soldiers as there are nearly a thousand in that vicinity. But we found very many of our Maine men with muslin shirts on and some without any. Here we found three boxes for Maine Regiments, one of them of not much account, containing mostly old pillow cases, another chiefly muslin shirts, but the third, to our great joy, contained upwards of a hundred flannel shirts, with some other useful articles.
Imagine now, with what pleasure we retraced our steps to Bakersville and Smoketown! Could you have seen the happy faces and heard the thankful expressions of gratitude you would have felt that too much could not be done for their comfort.
- We then came on to Burketsville, found many Maine men there and they likewise were without woolen shirts. We were able also to supply them and arrived home about 7 o'clock, after the tedious labor and hard exposure of three days.
I should have written before but I suppose Mr. Hayes and Mr. Watson kept you informed of our movements. You may assured however we have not spent much idle time. It will not be necessary to reply to this, as we expect soon to report to you at Washington unless ordered otherwise by you.
Yours with very great respect.
Source: The Records of the Maine Soldier's Relief Agency in the Maine State Archives - published in an article online by the Maine State Archives.