Kill Count Vs. Wounded TBR Mentality

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the medical aspect of the American Civil War, and I’d like to share some thoughts floating around in my mind. To start off with, I often imagine that soldiers went into battle with the mentality that Legolas and Gimli, (from The Lord of the Rings) have, which is “what will my final kill count be?”

Legolas and Gimli

Or, maybe they went into battle thinking, “I hope I don’t die today.” I know this would be my way of thinking, were I to fight. Regardless, in reading about the use of ambulances in the Civil War, I’ve come to realize that soldiers serving as nurses or surgeons had a much different mentality altogether.

They thought about the wounded TBR, that’s “to be received” in case you’re wondering. Add number 55 to TBR definitions!

Anyway, the soldiers serving in this capacity had several ambulance wagons, one medical supply wagon, and an army wagon per brigade (more on this later). And, once they received wounded, they had to care for them out of a make-shift hospital setup. Tents simply could not be set up since during battles a place that may at one time be safe may later become dangerous, taking into account that the enemy could gain the upper-hand as the battle progressed.

Thus, these serving soldiers had a high level of anxiety, I imagine, as to not only how many there would be of wounded TBR but also to whether or not they would be captured themselves. What an odd way of becoming a POW that must have been!

I am now fascinated at thinking about how different soldiers thought about entering battles. I’m sure cavalry men approached battle much different from artillery men, and artillery men even more differently than naval men!

Until next time, Think as pertains to your position…

Even Male Nurses Need a Place to Sleep

Male nurses are an interesting subject to discuss, especially these days. However, I want to point out a story of one particular male nurse in the American Civil War who deserved to lay his head somewhere.

Interior of a ward of Washington D.C.’s Harewood General Hospital in 1864.

Union officer David Lane served as a nurse for a time in the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. He provided care for up to 30 men in his ward, along with the help of 5 other nurses as he writes in his diary entry on January 5, 1864. That was not the problem though, since only two of the recovering party could not take care of themselves. The issue laid (no pun intended, well maybe…) with the sleeping arrangements (or lack there of) for the nurses.

There was literally no place for these nurses to sleep, unless you count the floor that they laid on amidst their sick. They would even go to another part of the hospital, like that of a holding area for men about to be sent back to duty, in order to warm themselves by the mean fires kept there. Such was the case of Mr. Lane, until a new surgeon relieved their ward.

Side Note Question: Can you imagine constantly hanging around your place of bidness, because you have no where else to go to stay warm or sleep!?!

One morning the surgeon, a new arrival and a stranger to me, noticed me standing by the fire, and thought from my appearance I was fit for duty.

“To what regiment do you belong?” “The Seventeenth Michigan, sir.”

“How long have you been here?” “About six weeks.”

“What are you doing?” “Nursing.” “Where?” “In the first ward.”

“What business have you here, then?” “No business, only to warm myself. It is rather cold standing in the street today, when off duty.”

“What, have the nurses no place to stay?” “No, sir; they are as poor as was the Son of Man; they have no place to lay their heads.”

This surgeon was Dr. Cogswell, of the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts, who had lately relieved Dr. Fox. In a few minutes I was notified this pleasant room was at our disposal. (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

I am simply amazed by Mr. Lane. Not only was he completely honest about his situation, but I get the sense that he was humble in his attitude toward his circumstances. I don’t know if I could say that I’d not have a sense of entitlement were I in such a predicament. Even those who serve need to be served themselves! Yet, Lane was humble.

Furthermore, David Lane served others as Jesus Christ, living out his faith so much so that he identified his service and position in life with that of his Savior. May this story be to me and you a testimony of the Son of Man alive in us, as we come also to serve and not be served in our place of work, vocation, or otherwise.

Until next time, Serve & Sleep well…