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…

Chevron: Trending or Long-standing Tradition?

(Photo Cred: Divine Consign)

I recently stumbled upon this American Civil War portrait on Daily Observations From The Civil War.

Two Unidentified Soldiers in Union Uniforms

They regularly post such pictures of officers either stoned-faced or mildly smirking from their experience of being in such a portentous picture of themselves. I usually glance over them or laugh when I come across ones where the soldier is playfully showing off their gun or saber.

However, I was drawn to the description of this picture as it explained that ole’ boy on the left had “a single chevron on his left sleeve and two on his right.” (Source: dotcw.com) My first thought was, “Did the chevron pattern originate in the military?” And if so, what an odd place!

Aside from ending the thought on “who in the world thought to popularize an insignia into a pattern of craze for women,” I decided to do some digging. It turns out that the chevron pattern has been around for some millennia. It first came on scene in Greece (Of course, the Greeks came up with everything!) in 1800 B.C.

For you ladies out there who want to know more, check out this post from an authentic Austin, TX blog: The Austintic Boutique.

Guys, Greeks used this pattern on pottery, Romans on floors, and the military on uniforms to distinguish one’s rank, merit, or length of service. Now, people design with it, women wear it, and it’s hard to not find it everywhere!

Until next time, Chevron is a pattern and not the corporation that provides us with gas…

Jeb Stuart: Lootin’, Shootin’, & Kickin’ Up Dust

Its not very often I read through my local newspaper. Aside from my news sources being mainly online, I only access a physical newspaper at work. Nevertheless, I skimmed through the “History” section of The News Star recently and came across a snippet about ole’ Jeb Stuart (or General James Ewell Brown Stuart of the Confederate States Army to be precise).

1862: During the Civil War, Confederate forces led by Gen. J.E.B. Stuart loot the town of Chambersburg, Pa. (Source: (2013, October 11). History. The News Star, p. 5A.)

After doing some followup to see if there was anything else significant about this recorded event, I decided to familiarize myself with Stuart’s story. I just had to, since the only other thing mentioned about this looting incident was that it was during a raid to the north following the Battle of Antietam.

J.E.B. Stuart

Christopher Plummer

Jeb Stuart

Jeb Stuart was a prominent figure in the American Civil War. Regardless of his looking like Christopher Plummer in The Sound of Music when he was younger (assessed upon their bold faces and square jawlines), Stuart proved an excellent reconnaissance cavalry leader who served with the likes of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, even rocking the gnarliest beard of all three men!

Stuart first reported to Stonewall Jackson to take part in the infamous John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. Hitting the ground running, Stuart kept his charge up, participating in famous campaigns such as the Shenandoah Valley, First & Second Battle of Bull Run, Gettysburg, etc.

My favorite story of ole’ Jeb is of him fooling the Union at the Battle of Second Manassas into believing that reinforcements had arrived. In actuality, Stuart had his men drag branches along dirt roads to kick up crazy dust clouds that apparently resembled incoming troops.

General Stuart not only served honorably alongside but also became dear friends with Robert E. Lee (and Stonewall Jackson), whom he first met during their years at West Point. Upon hearing about Stuart’s death, a day after the Battle of Yellow Tavern on May 12, 1864, Lee is quoted as saying, “I can scarcely think of him without weeping.” (Source: Gragg, Rod. The Civil War Quiz and Fact Book. Promontory Press, 1993. Print.)

Until next time, keep Riding on…

Photo Credits:

1: civilwaref.blogspot.com

2: allposters.com

3: biography.com

Are You Cussin’ Me!?

I regularly listen to the well-known podcast Stuff You Should Know (Check these guys out if you want a good chuckle).  As I was podcast “shopping” the other day, I stumbled upon another How Stuff Works affiliated podcast called Stuff You Missed In History Class.  I was really looking for a good go to Civil War podcast, which I found, but became interested in a short series SYMHC did on American Civil War spies.

The infamous Belle Boyd, or better known as “Belle Rebelle” and “Cleopatra of the Secession,” began spying at the young age of 17.  As I listened to this episode, I was fascinated by her story and the length she went to in order to gather information and relay it to the Confederacy.

Legend has it that a drunk Union soldier and his posse came into the Boyd house on July 4, 1861 (of all days!) searching for the presence of a suspected Confederate flag to confiscate and demanding that a Union flag be raised instead.  Belle’s mother protested saying, “Men, every member of this household will die before that flag is raised over us.” (Source: civilwarhome.com)  Knocking down Mrs. Boyd and cussin’ at the ladies, this “gentleman” done messed up now!

Belle, responding in fury, “took a Colt 1849 pocket pistol and shot him dead.” (Source: Opinionator)  She simply could no longer tolerate hearing profanities in the presence of ladies such as herself and her mother.  This is precisely what prompted Belle’s involvement in the Civil War as a spy.

Considered to be perhaps her greatest “achievement,” Belle assisted General Stonewall Jackson in the battle of Front Royal, part of Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign, with some timely info on May 23, 1862.  Sunbonnet in hand, Belle ran through Union lines, was then shot at by Union pickets in the battlefield, but finally made it through to the Rebel side.

Her corroborated information that the Union forces were smaller than expected was just the push Jackson and his men needed to swoop in and claim the victory that day.  Having risked her life and limbs, Stonewall was grateful of Belle’s efforts enough to write her personally:

 I thank you, for myself and for the Army, for the immense service that you have rendered your country today.

Hastily, I am your friend,
T.J. Jackson, C.S.A.

(Source: civilwarhome.com)

As I reflect on Belle Boyd’s gumption in using her womanly charm to obtain vital information from Union soldiers and bravery in maintaining open communiqué with the Rebs, I am speechless.  All I can say is, “Wow!  What a lady.  She must have been fierce.”  Please check out the links in this post to learn more about Belle Boyd.

Isabelle (Belle) Boyd

(Photo Credit: House Divided)

Until next time, Spy on…