How Trooper George Peck's " Rebel Angel " Spoiled Him For Being A Soldier

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
angel pic piece of her mind.jpg

"...."rebel angel," got her back up at the coolness of the doctor, and she gave him a piece of her mind "

Trooper George Peck, 4th Wisconsin Cavalry is back. Why Ladies Tea? Because he is re-paid for a kindness to a female spy, by kindness from a ' Rebel angel '. This kindness theme keeps spinning through Peck's war- what he makes of it is some of the best reading, hand's down, I've come across. There are certainy dreadful stories of what happens when civilians and armies collide. This isn't one of them.

It's another LONG ( long ) narrative, fair warning. If those threads are annoying maybe stop reading now. Pre-Covid, I probably wouldn't post such a long story but thought it might make good reading for those of us at home.

In the last thread, Trooper Peck’s female smuggler decorated a dreary stage, the curtain closed on her husband’s empty sleeve . But it wasn’t over.

Like a lot of men, George contracted yellow fever. Picking up his narrative as his buddy Jim attempts to nurse him.

"Jim, for God's sake don't smoke. I am at death's door, and I don't want to smell of tobacco smoke when St. Peter opens the gate."

"What, pard, you ain't sick," said Jim, putting his pipe outside of the tent, and coming to me and putting his great big hand on my forehead, as tender as a woman. "Great heavens! you have got the yellow fever. You won't live an hour."

That was where Jim failed as a nurse. He made things out worse than they were. He, poor old fellow, thought it was sympathy, and if I had let him go on he would have had me dead before night. I told him I was all right. All I had was a severe cold, on my lungs, and pneumonia, and rheumatism, and chills and fever, and a few such things, but I would be all right in a day or two. I wanted to encourage Jim to think I was not very bad off, but he went out of the tent and called in the horse doctor

The horse doctor was a a mighty good fellow, He felt of my fore leg, looked at my eyes, rubbed the hair the wrong way on my head, and told Jim to bleed me in the mouth, blanket me, give me a bran mash, and rub some mustang liniment on my chest. I didn't want to hurt the horse doctor's feelings by going back on his directions, but I told him I only wanted to soak my feet in mustard water, and take some ginger tea. He said all right, if I knew more about it than he did, and that he said he would skirmish around for some ginger, while Jim raised the mustard, and they both went out and left me alone.

Pretty soon Jim came in with a camp kettle half full of hot water, and a bottle of French mixed mustard which he had bought of the sutler. I told him I wanted plain ground mustard, but he said there wasn't any to be found, and French mustard was the best he could do. Jim suggested that he take a mustard spoon and plaster the French mustard all over my feet, and then put them to soak that way. He said that prepared mustard was the finest kind for pigs feet and sausage, and he didn't know why it was not all right to soak feet in.. The old camp kettle was greasy, and when the hot water and French mustard began to get in their work on the kettle, the odor was sickening, and I do not think I was improved at all in my condition.

I told Jim I guessed I would lay down and wait for the ginger tea. Pretty soon the horse doctor came in with a tin cup full of hot ginger tea. I took one swallow of it and I thought I had swallowed a blacksmith's forge, with a coal fire in it. I gasped and tried to yell murder. The horse doctor explained that he couldn't get any ginger, so he had taken cayenne pepper, which, he added, could knock the socks off of ginger any day in the week. I felt like murdering the horse doctor, and I felt a little hard at Jim for playing French mustard on me, but when I c'ome to reflect, I could see that they had done the best they could, and I thanked them, and told them to leave me alone and I would go to sleep. They went out of the tent and I could hear them speculating on my case.

Jim said he knew I had diabetis, and lung fever combined, with sciatic rheumatism, and brain fever, and if I lived till morning the horse doctor could take it out of his wages. The horse doctor admitted that my case had a hopeless look, but he once had a patient, a bay horse, sixteen hands high, and as fine a saddle horse as a man ever threw a leg over, that was troubled exactly the same as I was. He blistered his chest, gave him a table-spoonful of condition powders three times a day in a bran mash, took off his shoes and turned him out to grass, and in a week he sold him for two hundred and fifty dollar. I laid there and tried to go to sleep listening to that talk .

Then, some of the boys who had heard that I was sick, came along and inquired how I was, and I listened to the remarks they made. One of them wanted to go and get some burdock leaves, and pound them into a pulp, and bind them on me for a poultice. He said he had an aunt in Wisconsin who had a milk sickness, and her left leg swelled up as big as a post, and the doctors tried everything, and charged her over two hundred dollars, and never did her any good, and one day an Indian doctor came along and picked some burdock leaves and fixed a poultice for her, and in a week she went to a hop-picker's dance, and was as kitteny as anybody, and the Indian doctor only charged her a quarter. Jim was for going out for burdock leaves at once, for me, but the horse doctor told him I didn't have no milk sickness. He said all the milk soldiers got was condensed milk, and mighty little of that, and he would defy the world to show that a man could get milk sickness on condensed milk.
harpers 1865 hosp pb2.jpg

That seemed to settle the burdock remedy, and they went to inquiring of Jim if he knew where my folks lived, so he could notify them, in case I was not there in the morning. Jim couldn't remember whether it was Atchison, Kan., or Fort Atkinson, Wis., but he said he would go and ask me, while I was alive, so there would be no mistake, and the poor fellow, meaning as well as any man ever did, came in and
asked for the address of my father, saying it was of no account, particularly, only he wanted to know. I gave him the address, and then he asked me if he shouldn't get me something to eat. I told him I couldn't eat anything to save me. He offered to fry me some bacon, and make me a cup of coffee, but the thought of bacon and coffee made me wild. I told him if he could make me a nice cup of green tea, and some milk toast, or poach me an egg and place it on a piece of nice buttered toast, and give me a little currant jelly, I thought I could swallow a mouthful.

Jim's eyes stuck out when I gave my order, which I had done while thinking of home, and a tear rolled down his cheek, and he went out of the tent, saying, " All right, pard." I saw him tap his fore head with his finger, point his thumb toward the tent, and say to the boys outside:

" He's got 'em! Head all wrong! Wants me to make him milk toast, poached eggs, green tea, and currant jelly. And I offered him bacon. Sow belly for a sick man ! There isn't a loaf of bread in camp. Not an egg within five miles. And milk! currant jelly! Why, he might as well ask for Delmonico's bill of farel But we have got to get 'em. I told him he should have 'em, and, by mighty! he shall. Here, Mr. Horse-doctor, you stay and watch him, and I and Company D here will saddle up and go out on the road to a plantation, and raid it for delicacies."

You bet your life," says the Company "D" man, and pretty soon I heard a couple of saddles thrown on two horses, and then there was a clatter of horses' feet on the frozen ground. I have thought of it since a good many times, and have concluded that I must have dropped asleep. Any way, it didn't seem more than five minutes before the tent flap opened and Jim came in.

"Come, straighten out here, now, you red-headed corpse, and try that toast," said he, as he came in with a piece of hard-tack box for a tray, and on it was a nice china plate, and a cup and saucer, an egg on toast, and a little pitcher of milk, and some jelly.

"Jim," I said, tasting of the tea, which was not much like army tea, "you never made this tea. A woman made that tea, or I'm a goat. And that toast was toasted by a woman, and that egg was poached by a woman. Where am I ? " I asked, imagining that I was home again.

"You guessed it the first time, pard," said Jim, as he threw the blanket over my shoulders, as I sat up on the bunk to try and eat. "The whole thing was done by the rebel angel."

"Rebel angel, Jim; what are you talking about? There ain't any rebel angels," and I became weak and laid down again.

" Yes, there is a rebel angel, and she is a dandy," said Jim, as he covered me up. "She is out by the fire mak ing milk toast for you. You see, I went out to the Brown plantation, to try and steal an egg, and some bread, and milk, but I thought, on the way out, as it was a case of life and death, the stealing of it might rest heavy on your soul when you come to pass in your chips, so I concluded to go to the house and ask for it. There was a young woman there, and I told her the red-headed corporal that captured the female smuggler, was dying, ( i
f you read the last thread about Peck, he'd captured and released a female smuggler ) and couldn't eat any hard-tack and bacon, and I wanted to fill him up on white folks' food before he died, so he could go to heaven or elsewhere, as the case might be, on a full stomach, and she flew around like a kernel of pop-corn on a hot griddle, and picked up a basket of stuff, and had the fellers saddle a mule for her, and she came right to the camp with me, and said she would attend to everything. She's a thoughbred, and don't you make no mistake about it."

I must have gone to sleep when Jim was talking about the girl, for I dreamed that there was a million angels in rebel uniforms, poaching eggs for me. Pretty soon I heard a rustle of female clothes, and a soft, cool hand was placed on my forehead, my hair was brushed back, a perfumed handkerchief wiped the cold perspiration from my face, and I heard the rebel angel ask Jim what the doctor said about me. Jim told her what the horse doctor had said about curing a horse that had been sick the same as I was, and then she asked if we had not sent for the regular doc- doctor. Jim said we had not thought of that.

She asked what had been done for me, and Jim told her about the French mustard episode, and the cayenne pepper tea. I thought she laughed, but it had become dark in the tent, and I couldn't see her face, but she told Jim to go after the regimental surgeon at once, and Jim went out. The angel asked me how I felt, and I told her I was all right, but she said I was all wrong. I thanked her for the trouble she had taken to come so far, and she said not to mention it. She said she had a brother who was a prisoner at the North, and if somebody would only be kind to him if he was sick, she would be well repaid. She said the last she heard of him he was a prisoner of war at Madison, Wis., and she wondered what kind of people lived there, away off on the frontier, and if they could be kind to their enemies. That touched me where I lived, and I raised up on my elbow, and said :

' ( Why bless your heart, Miss, if your brother is a prisoner in old Camp Randall, in Madison, he has got a picnic. That town was my home before I came down here on this fool job. The people there are the finest in the world. All of them, from old Governor Lewis, to the poorest man in town, would set up nights with a sick person, whether he was a rebel or not. Your brother couldn't be better fixed if he was at home. The idea of a man suffering for food, clothing, or human sympathy in Madison, would be ridiculous. There is not a family in that town," I said, becoming excited from the feeling that any one doubted the humanity of the people of Wisconsin, "but would divide their breakfast, and their clothes, and their money, with your brother, egad, I wish I was there myself. I will be responsible for your brother, Miss."

She told me to lay down and be quiet, and not talk any more, as I was becoming wild. She said she was glad to know what kind of people lived there, as she had supposed it was a wilderness.

In a few minutes Jim came back and said the doctor was playing poker with some other officers, in a captain's tent, and he didn't dare go in and break up the game, but he spoke to the doctor's orderly, and he said I ought to take castor oil. That didn't please the little woman at all, and she told Jim to go to the poker tent and tell the doctor to come at once, or she would come after him. It was not long before the doctor came stooping in to my pup tent. His idea was to have all sick men attend surgeon's call in the morning, and not go around visiting the sick in tents. He asked me what was the matter, and I told him nothing much. Then he asked me why I wasn't at surgeon's call in the morning. I told him the reason was that I was wading in a swamp, after the rebels that ambushed some of our boys the day before. "Then you've got malaria," said he. " Take some quinine tonight, and come to surgeon's call in the morning." The little woman, the "rebel angel," got her back up at the coolness of the doctor, and she gave him a piece of her mind, and then he called for a candle, and he examined me carefully.

When he got through, he said :"He is going to have a run of fever. He must be sent to the hospital. Jim, go tell the driver to send the ambulance here at once, and you, Jim, go along and see that this fellow gets to the hospital all right. He can't live here in a tent, and I doubt if he will in the hospital."

That settled it. In a short time the ambulance came, and I got in and sat on a seat, and the "rebel angel " got in with me, and we rode seven miles to the hospital, over the roughest road a sick man ever jolted over, and I would have died, if I could have had my own way about it, but the little woman talked so cheerfully that when we arrived at the great building, I should have considered myself well, only that my mind was wandering. All I remember of my entrance to the hospital was that when we got out of the ambulance Jim was there on his horse, leading the mule belonging to the angel. Some attendants helped me up stairs, and down a corridor, where we met two stretchers being carried out to the dead house with bodies on them, and I had to sit in a chair and wait till clean sheets could be put on one of the cots where a man had just died.

The little woman told me to keep up my courage, and she would come and see me often, Jim cried and said he would come every day, a man said, "your bed is ready, No. 197," and I laid down as No. 197, and didn't care whether I ever got up again or not. I just had breath enough left to bid the angel good bye, and tell Jim to see her safe home. Jim said, " You bet your life I will," and the world seemed blotted out, and for all I cared, I was dead,

*Breaking this up- next post..... If some of it doesn't make sense, I'm skipping a ton. Like I said, it's awfully long.


JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
"Let's see, last week I wound up in the hospital. "When Jim, my old comrade, and the rebel angel, left me, I died, to all intents and purposes. I supposed I was going to sleep, but after I got well enough to know what was going on, I found that for about ten days I had been out of my head. It was not much of a head to get out of, but how ever small and insignificant a man's head is, he had rather have it with him, keeping good time, than to have it wandering around out of his reach.

When I "come to," as the saying is, it only seemed as though I had been asleep over night, but I dreamed more than any able-bodied man could have done in one night. I was what they call unconscious, but I did a great deal of work during that period of unconsciousness. One thing I did, which I was proud of, was to wind up the war. I arranged it so that all of the bullets that were fired on each side, were made of India-rubber, like those little toy balloons, and war was just fun. The boys on both sides would fire at each other and watch the rubber balloons hit the mark, and explode, and nobody was hurt, and everybody laughed. There was no more blood. Everything was rubber and wind. There was no one killed, no legs shot off, and the men on each side; when not fighting with the harmless missiles, were.gathered together, blue and gray, having a regular picnic, and every evening there was a dance, the rebels furnishing the girls. In my delirium I could see that my rebel angel was dancing a good deal with the boys, and frequently with my comrade, Jim, and I was pretty jealous. I made up my mind that I wouldn't speak to either of them again. I would watch my balloon battles with a good deal of interest, and think how much better and safer it was to fight that way. Every day, when the battle was over, and the two sides would get together for fun, I noticed when the bugle sounded for battle again, that on each side the boys were terribly mixed, there being about as many blue-coated Yankees among the gray rebels as there were rebels among the Yankees, and after awhile it seemed as though all were dressed alike, in a sort of " blue-gray," and then they disappeared, and I recovered my senses.

Again I would hear the sweet rustle of a dress, and feel a warm hand on my head, and I knew that the rebel angel had rode her mule to town to see me. Then I would try hard to tell her that I was going to write a letter to the governor of Wisconsin, and ask him to look out particularly for her brother, who was a rebel prisoner at Madison, and take care of him if he was sick, but I couldn't say a word, and after smoothing my hair a little while, she would give my cheek three or four pats, just as a mother pats her child, and she would go away.

One morning, a little after daylight, I woke up and looked around the ward of the hospital. My eyes were weak, and I was hungry as a bear. I had to try two or three times before I could raise my hand to my head, and when I felt of my head it seemed awfully small. I could feel my cheek bones stick out so that you could hang your hat on them. My cheeks were sunken, and my fingers were like pipe-stems. I wondered how a man could change so in one night. I saw two or three fellows over at the other end of the room, and I thought I would get up and go over there and have some fun with them. I wanted to know where my horse was, and where I was. I tried to raise up and couldn't get any further than on my elbow. From that position I looked around to see what was going on, and tried to attract the attention of some attendant. Finally, I saw four fellows bringing a strecther along towards my cot. They had evidently been told by the doctor that I would be dead in the morning, and ha ing confidence in the word of the professional man, had come to take me to the dead house, before the other sick men was awake.

As they came up to the foot of my cot and sat the stretcher down, I thought I would play a joke on them. I pulled the sheet over my face, and laid still. One of the men said, " Two of us can lift it, as it is thinner than a lathe." To be considered dead, when I was alive, was bad enough, but to be called "it" was too much. I felt one of the men take hold of my feet, and then I threw the sheet off my face and in a hoarse voice I said, " Say, Mr. Body-snatcher, you can postpone the funeral and bring me a porter-house steak and some fried potatoes." Well, nobody ever saw a couple of men fall over them selves and turn pale, as those fellows did.

I was sitting up in bed, with a little round zinc frame looking-glass, noting the changes in my personal appearance, when a door opened and Jim entered, dressed up in his best, with the rebel angel on his arm, and followed by six boys from the regiment. They came in as solemn as any party I ever saw.

The angel looked as sad as I ever saw anybody, and I thought she had probably heard that her brother was dead . It did not occur to me that they had come to attend my funeral. They stood there by the door, in that helpless manner that people always stand around at a funeral, waiting for the master of ceremonies to tell them that they can now pass in the other room and view the remains. I finally caught Jim looking my way, and I waved a handkerchief at him. He gave me one look, and jumped over two cots and came up to me with tears in his eyes, and a package in his hand, and said, ' ( Pard, you ain't dead worth a cent/' and then he hugged me, and added, "but there ain't enough left of you for a full size funeral." Then he unrolled the package he had in his hand, and dropped on the bed four silver-plated coffin handles. By that time the girl, and the six boys had seen me, and they came over, and we had a regular visit. They were all surprised to find me alive, as they had been notified that I was on my last legs, and would be buried in the morning, and the captain had detailed the six boys to act as pall-bearers and fire a salute over the grave, while Jim and the girl were to act as mourners.

" Well, it saves ammunition," said Jim. "But how be I going to get these coffin handles off my hands. There is no dependence to be placed on doctors, anyway. When that doctor appointed this funeral, we thought he knew his business, and I told the angel, says I, ' My pard aint going to be buried without any style, in one of those pine boxes that aint planed, and has got slivers on/ So I hired the hospital coffin-maker to sand-paper the inside and outside of a box, and black it with shoe-blacking, and I went to a store down town and bought these handles. Of course, pard, I am glad you pulled through, and all that, but I want to say to you, if you had croaked in the night, and been ready to bury this A. M., you would have had a more slylish outfit than anybody, except officers, usually get in this army, and the angel and I would have been a pair of mourners that would have slung grief so your folks to home would have felt proud of you."

The angel was tickled to see me alive, and suggested to Jim and the boys, that it was easy to talk a fellow to death after he had been so sick, and told them to go back to camp, and she would stay with me all day. So the boys shook hands with me, and Jim had an attendant to roll my cot up to a window, so I could see my horse when they rode away. The boys got on their horses and Jim led my horse, and I could see that my pet had been fixed up for the occasion. He had the saddle on, and it was draped with black, a pair of boots were fastened in the stirrups, and my carbine was in the socket.

The angel handed me a glass of milk punch, and told me to drink a swallow and a half. I have drank a great many beverages in my lifetime, but I never swallowed anything that was as good as the milk punch that rebel girl made for me. It seemed to go clear to my toes, and I felt strong. Then she gave me a small soup plate and told me to taste of the gumbo. I had never tasted gumbo soup before, but I had no difficulty in mastering it. No description can do gumbo soup justice, or explain to a person who has never tasted it the rich odor, and palatable taste. The little that I ate seemed to make a man of me again, instead of the weak invalid. Since then I have been loyal to southern gumbo soup, and have always eaten it wherever it could be ob tained, and I never put a spoonful of it to my lips without thinking of the rebel girl in the hospital, who prepared that dish for me. If I ever become a glutton, it will be on gumbo soup, and if I am ever a drunkard, it will be a milk-punch drunkard, and the soup and the punch must be prepared in the South.

Finally I got well enough to go back to my regiment, and one day I showed up at my company, and the first man I met saluted me and said, "Hello, Lieutenant." I told him he did wrong to joke a sick man that way, and I went on to find Jim. He was in our tent, greasing his shoes, and he looked up with a queer expression on his face and said, " Hello, Lieutenant."

" Look a here." I said, as I grasped his greasy hand, " what do you fellows mean by calling me names, I have never done anything to deserve to be made a fool of. Pard, what ails you anyway?’

" Didn't they tell you," said Jim, as he scraped the mud off his other shoe with a stick. "The colonel has sent your name to the governor of Wisconsin to be commissioned as second Lieutenant of the company. All the boys are tickled to death, and they are going to whoop it up for you when your commission comes.


" Don't you know," said Jim, " To-day is Thanksgiving? The angel told me last night to bring you out to the plantation to-day, and I was going after you at the hospital if you hadn't showed up. She has received a letter from her brother, who is a rebel prisoner at Madison, and he says a Yankee hotel-keeper at Madison, that you had written to, had called at the pen where they were kept, and had brought him a lot of turkey and fixings, and offered to send him a lot for Thanksgiving, so the rebel boys could have a big feed, and he says he is well and happy, and going to be exchanged soon. And she wants us to come out and eat turkey and 'possum. I had rather eat gray tom-cat than 'possum, but I told her we would come. So we will eat a little bacon and bread, and ride out.

I mention this Thanksgiving dinner in the army, in order to bring in a little advice the rebel girl gave me, which I shall always remember. We arrived at the old plantation house where the girl and her mother and some servants were living, waiting for the war to close, so the men folks could come back:. The old lady welcomed us cordially, the girl warmly and the servants effusively. The dinner was good, though not elaborate, except the 'possum. That was elaborate, and next to gumbo soup, the finest dish I ever tasted. After we had got seated at the table, the old lady asked a blessing, and it was more like a prayer. She asked for a blessing upon all of the men in both armies, and made us feel as though there was no bitterness in her heart towards the enemies of her people. During the din ner Jim told of my promotion,and the circumstance was commented on by all, and after dinner the rebel angel took me one side, and said she had got a few words of advice to give me. She commenced by saying:

"Now that you are to be a commissioned officer, don't get the big head. During this war, we have had soldiers near us all the time, and I have seen some splendid soldiers spoiled by being commissioned. Nine out of ten men that have received commissions in this locality, have been spoiled . I am a few years older than you, and have seen much of the world. You are a kind hearted man, and de sire to treat everybody well, whether rich or poor, yankee or confederate. If you let this commission spoil you, you are not worthy of it. You will naturally feel as though you should associate with officers entirely, but you will find in them no better companions than you have found in the private soldiers, and I doubt if you will find as true friends. Do not, under any circumstances, draw away from your old friends, and let a barrier raise up between you and them.

My observation teaches me that the only difference between the officers and men in the Union army, is that officers get more pay for doing less duty; they become dis sipated and fast because they can better afford it, they drink more, put on style, play cards for money, and think the world revolves around them, and that they are indis- pensible to success, and yet when they die, or are discharged for cause, private soldiers take their place and become bet ter officers than they did, until they in turn become spoiled. I can think of no position better calculated to ruin a young man than to commission him in a cavalry regiment. Now take my advice. Do not run in debt for a new uniform and a silver mounted sword, and don't put a stock of whisky and cigars into your tent, and keep open house, because when your whisky and cigars are gone, those who drank and smoked them will not think as much of you as before, and you will have formed habits that will illy prepare you for your work. "

Well, I had never had any such advice as that before, and as Jim and me rode back to camp that Thanksgiving evening, her words seemed to burn into my alleged brain. I could see how easy it would be for a fellow to make a spectacle of himself.

I became satisfied, more each day, that my sickness, and experience in the hospital, had spoiled me for a soldier. Being attended to so kindly by a rebel girl and getting acquainted with her people, and hearing her mother pray earnestly that the bloodshed might cease, sort of knocked what little fight there was in me, out, and I didn't hanker any more for blood. It seemed to me as though I could meet any rebel on top of earth, and shake hands with him, and ask him to share my tent, and help eat my rations. The fact of being promoted to a commissioned office, didn't make me feel half as good as I thought it was going to, and I found myself wishing I could be a he sister of charity, or something that did not have to shoot a gun, or go into any fight. I got so I didn't care whether my commission ever arrived or not. The idea of respectable men going out to hunt each other, like game, became ridiculous to me, and I wondered why the statesmen of the North and South did not get together and agree on some sort of a compromise, and have the fighting stop.


Lt. Peck went into battle anyway, a bloody one. In yet another twist of kindness fate, of the kind that found it's way through Trooper Peck's war, his Rebel Angel got her brother back.

Jim and me stayed as near together as possible, and we noticed one young Confederate on a mule. His left arm was hanging limp by his side, and as Jim passed on one side of him and I on the other, he said, as he held up his right hand, " I dun got enough, and I surrender." The thing was about over, the bugle having sounded the "recall," and we turned and went back with this Confederate. He was as handsome a boy as ever fired a gun, and while he was pale from his shat tered left arm, and weak, he said, " You gentlemen are all fine riders, sir. You fought as well as Southern men, sir." That was a compliment that Jim and me acknow ledged on behalf of the northern army. He couldn't have paid our regiment a higher compliment if he had studied a week. Then he said: "I was a fool to be in this fight. I was a prisoner and was only exchanged last week. I I might have remained at home on a furlough, but when our army came along yesterday, and the boys said there was going to be a fight, I took my sisters mule, the only animal on the place, and came along, and now I am a cripple." I looked at the mule, and I said to Jim, in a whisper, " I hope to die if it isn't the angel's mule. That must be her brother." Jim was going to ask him what his name was, when we neared the place, where our regiment was forming and the surgeon of our regiment came along, and I said, "Doc, I wish you would take this young fellow and fix up his arm nice. He is a friend of mine. Take him to our regimental hospital." Then we went back to the regiment, the prisoners were taken away, and after marching around through the woods for an hour we rode back to our camp, and the battle was over.

Two or three hours later I went over to the regimental hospital and found the black-eyed confederate with his arm dressed, and he was talking with our boys as though he belonged there. Some one asked how he happened to be there, and the old doctor said he believed he was a relative of one of our officers. Anyway he was going to stay there. I gave him a bunch of sutler cigars, and left him, and an hour later the angel showed up, pale as death, and wanted some one to go with her to the battle field to help find the body of her dead brother. She said he had arrived home from the North the morning before, and had gone into the fight, and when the Confederates came back, defeated, past their plantation, her brother was not among them, and she knew he was dead.

I have done a great many things in my life that have given me pleasure, but no one that I remember of that made me quite so happy as I was to escort the girl who had been so kind to me, to the hospital where her brother was. His wound was not serious, and he sat on a box, smoking a cigar, telling the boys the news from Wisconsin. He had just come from there, where he was a prisoner, and he couldn't talk enough about the kindness of the "people of the nowth." His sister almost fainted when she found him alive, then hugged him until I was afraid she would disturb his arm, and then she sat by him and heard him tell of his visit to Wisconsin. Before night he was allowed to go home with his sister on parole, and Jim and I were detailed to go and help bury the dead of the regiment.


JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
A most wonderful story. Once I started reading i could not stop. I hope there are more stories like this one out there rather than those describing blood and death on the battlefield.

Thank you again for this story.

It seems to me that was part of his intent? Getting away from the blood and death, I mean. Over and over again the man returns to two themes, war is kinda stupid and how difficult it was to view Southerners as the enemy. If there was a 3rd theme it was ' we're all in this together ' but maybe I'm adding that out of my head.

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
Me either @JPK Huson 1863 That was fantastic!!! Thank you so much for sharing it. What a great read! Peck is such an engaging story-teller. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I kept thinking ' This is way too long, I can't post it! '. He's just so good in so many ways, isn't he? What he has to say and how he says it is both timeless and important, in my head it is anyway. We're all exhausted out here, working our last nerves and as divided as we've been for 150 years toboot. I don't know. Seems to me Peck re-found us.

Mrs. V

2nd Lieutenant
May 5, 2017
I kept thinking ' This is way too long, I can't post it! '. He's just so good in so many ways, isn't he? What he has to say and how he says it is both timeless and important, in my head it is anyway. We're all exhausted out here, working our last nerves and as divided as we've been for 150 years toboot. I don't know. Seems to me Peck re-found us.
Gotta say, while it was long, this post was eminently readable. Once I started, it was so engaging I had to finish. Thank you. It made my day.