Mrs. R. H. Spencer, Pete, The Battery Horse of Company G And A Tough Old Bird

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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#1
horse ldies eq 1835 sized.jpg

From an improbable, 1835 ballet, woman and horse decorate a stage, no less improbably than Elmina Spencer- our famous " Mrs. R. H. " on horseback, decorated battlefields, camps, hospitals and getting literally blown from one, an eye witness to City Point's barge explosion.

Decades post war, a reporter knocked on a the flag bedecked door of Elmina Spencer's 3rd floor apartment. he looked History in the eye and wrote down every word spoken by a woman who wen to war in 1862, or rode through it. It's a longish interview. In a day when fish tales on the war abounded, this Civil War nurse, widow of a veteran, of the 147th N.Y., had no need to embellish. Lincoln, Grant, the ever infamous Sickles- she'd met and been approved.

" General Grant said he figured I rode 40 miles a day on old Pete, for milk ". Elmina Spencer, " Mrs. R H. ", in an interview. "

It's ok to begin nurse Mrs. RH Spencer's story in the middle, with Old Pete, Grant and City Point.

spenc book explos.JPG

On horseback- at City Point, this snip ( in Public Domain ) from ' Women's Work in the Civil War " . The her words.
sp pete.JPG


Wish we knew the others, and how many because she kinda charged through that war on horseback. At a hospital, a priest approached her. She barely remembered his story but he did. A young boy was dying in her hospital. he desperately wanted a priest. She rode, miles, alone, into Washington, to bring this single patient his priest.

city point expl.jpg

Aftermath of the explosion at City Point, an horrific tragedy even in war time. Mrs. RH was nearby, if you can imagine a woman ( and Old Pete ) living though the blast.

Mrs. R.H. was such an insistent presence as a nurse, that at White House Landing, ' ladies ' ( cannot identify from which group ), in a boat, asked what shoe size she wore. Those old leather soles wore out in a big hurry. One sat down, took hers off, sent them ashore to Elmina and went home in her stocking feet.

Here's a cool quote " It was the first time I ever thought that women knew more than men ". Gettysburg, a little white church at Rock Creek- 64 wounded. Does anyone know which church she is referring to, please? @LoyaltyOfDogs , does your husband know? ( again, please? )
sp gbg.JPG


The rest of the Sickles encounter? She asked if he wanted coffee, applied more pressure to stop his copious bleeding and- God love him, the tough, old bird, drank 3 cups. While waiting for docs. With a leg in shambles and the other in trouble.

You can read more of her story here. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b61855;view=2up;seq=12
Woman's work in the Civil War : a record of heroism, patriotism ... Brockett, L. P. (Linus Pierpont), 1820-1893.

Gettysburg, White House Landing, The Wilderness, City Point, Lincoln, Grant, Sickles- some is here, the rest scattered through newspapers and Time. Long bios, dry as dust just cannot be the way to honor our sisters in the war. It's Mrs. RH, Elmina Spencer, the nurse who went with her husband of the 147th New York regiment, to war, we wish to meet. We'll keep honoring these wonderful women, our nurses. That interview? Elmina was 90.

spenc pic.jpg

There's an etching of her, on her profile in the book but I like this. hello, Elmina.

Hoping to add. Accounts of nurses are so scattered they can be difficult to piece together.
 

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LoyaltyOfDogs

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#4
Thanks, @JPK Huson 1863, for sharing Elmina Spencer's story. What an experience she had! I wonder if she told those stories to her grandchildren. I must confess ignorance about the location of the white church hospital, but I've found this on Wikipedia this morning and think this may be the church. The Wikipedia article, about a locale now on the National Register of Historic Places, identifies the Civil War-era church as "White's Church (or Marks German Reformed Church)." I see on-line references that say the church is now known as St. Mark's Church or Evangelical Holiness Church. I think there may be several CWT members who can confirm and provide additional information. I hope they'll chime in.

St Mark's Church.jpg

(Photo courtesy of Google)


First Corps Hospitals Complex.jpg
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#5
Thanks, @JPK Huson 1863, for sharing Elmina Spencer's story. What an experience she had! I wonder if she told those stories to her grandchildren. I must confess ignorance about the location of the white church hospital, but I've found this on Wikipedia this morning and think this may be the church. The Wikipedia article, about a locale now on the National Register of Historic Places, identifies the Civil War-era church as "White's Church (or Marks German Reformed Church)." I see on-line references that say the church is now known as St. Mark's Church or Evangelical Holiness Church. I think there may be several CWT members who can confirm and provide additional information. I hope they'll chime in.

View attachment 177358
(Photo courtesy of Google)


View attachment 177359

Ah HA! I knew you'd have it, thanks so much!! Bet that is it. I've read that portion of Elmina's story before and it's always defeated me. Guessing between newspaper reporters and their notes plus a distance of time, it got garbled. I'm just not good enough with Gettysburg, as in all your nooks and crannies of the battle, to launch a search.

Of course, now will be distracted over that church as a hospital. *sigh*. She tore boards from a nearby barn, to lay over pews- must make the church a stop next time I'm there. Pews were always designed as no-sleep seats, in those days. Too narrow to lay wounded on. Wonder if theirs had to be replaced? Read other churches in town had a lot ruined by blood, all the poor wounded brought there. And that the churches all split a very small payment- 500 dollars, to renew what was lost.

Getting very antsy for a Gettysburg visit, will ask if you're around in another month or so?
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#7
I have tried to find more information on her horse, but haven't. Annie, Do you know more? It might be a thread for the Four Footed Forum.

We just know it'll be somewhere! I'll keep digging, too- Pete sure belongs in your forum- we almost never get a name for the horses, unless belonging to a famous officer or a cavalry trooper writes of his horse. She was well known enough at the time, someone may have made a remark somewhere.

May try to make a thread anyway, with little more information.
 

Tom Elmore

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#9
The White Church (German Reformed Church) was used as a hospital of First Division, First Corps, and later Second Division, Fifth Corps. Several hundred Confederate wounded also reportedly occupied the grounds during the battle.

-Assistant Surgeon Abraham Brewer Haines, 19th Indiana: "the slightly wounded of the division were collected at White Church, 3 miles from Gettysburg, on the Baltimore Pike."

-Surgeon George W. New, 7th Indiana, Surgeon-in-Chief of First Division, First Corps, located at the White Church on the Baltimore Pike. He was assisted by Assistant Surgeon James A. Hadden of the 95th New York, Assistant Surgeon Daniel B. Linigar of the 7th Indiana, and Assistant Surgeon Simon Gardner Place of the 147th New York.

-Surgeon George M. Ramsay of the 95th New York was in charge of the “White Church” hospital. He attended Private W. S. Rouse, E/2nd Wisconsin, at the White Church hospital from 1-11 July, and Private L. M. Baker, B/2nd Wisconsin, on 6 July.

-The Isaac Lightner farm, hospital for Second Division, First Corps, housed John Chase of 5th Maine Battery for a week, then he was sent to the German Reformed Church (White Church hospital) for three weeks, and during the first week in August he was taken to the Seminary hospital. On September 4, Chase was transferred to the General Hospital in Philadelphia.

-Surgeon John Shaw Billings of the Fifth Corps wrote: On July 5, Assistant Surgeon Jeremiah Bernard Brinton reached White Church with a special medical supply train, especially tools. No shovels or picks had been available to bury the dead or construct sinks, except for two shovels and an axe procured from area farmhouses. 17 hospital tents were pitched, held 75 patients. The tent flies held 100 patients, and the remainder were all under shelter tents. Wagons used to procure clean straw from about five miles distance, and commissary stores and fresh beef were liberally furnished.

-On June 25, Dr. Letterman directed Brinton to go to Washington, obtain supplies previously ordered and proceed to Frederick, where he arrived on June 28 with 25 army wagon loads of battle supplies, then proceeded to Taneytown, and on July 2 to Westminster, where he had to wait until after the battle [he arrived at White Church on July 5].

-Billings also reported: Field hospital about five miles from town, off the Baltimore pike, on a cross-road, at the White Church. A mere collection of huts on a hillside on the outskirts of a grove in which the camp was pitched, a brook rolled round its foot. [1st Lieutenant Edward S.] Abbot’s [A/17th U.S. Infantry] grave marked by a wooden headboard made from a box cover, bearing his name, rank and day of death.

Elmina Spencer probably saw Sickles around 10 a.m. on the morning of July 3. Earlier that morning, Sickles, who was being carried on a stretcher, was borne past the position of the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry at the junction of Rock Creek and the Baltimore Pike. Sickles was seen later in the day being carried along the Pike on the way to Littlestown, by Sergeant Thomas Stevens of the 20th Indiana.

The church was described as a "wood church, constructed of hewed logs, weather-boarded on the outside and plastered on the inside." It was about 45 feet long, one-story, with a gallery at one end. It had no steeple, but had two doors in front, one to the main audience room and one to the gallery. The roof was shingle, the ceiling about 17 feet high. The pews were common pine, and it had a "very fine pulpit." A few years after the battle the church was taken down, having been replaced by a brick building. [Greg Coco, A Vast Sea of Misery]
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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#11
The White Church (German Reformed Church) was used as a hospital of First Division, First Corps, and later Second Division, Fifth Corps. Several hundred Confederate wounded also reportedly occupied the grounds during the battle.

-Assistant Surgeon Abraham Brewer Haines, 19th Indiana: "the slightly wounded of the division were collected at White Church, 3 miles from Gettysburg, on the Baltimore Pike."

-Surgeon George W. New, 7th Indiana, Surgeon-in-Chief of First Division, First Corps, located at the White Church on the Baltimore Pike. He was assisted by Assistant Surgeon James A. Hadden of the 95th New York, Assistant Surgeon Daniel B. Linigar of the 7th Indiana, and Assistant Surgeon Simon Gardner Place of the 147th New York.

-Surgeon George M. Ramsay of the 95th New York was in charge of the “White Church” hospital. He attended Private W. S. Rouse, E/2nd Wisconsin, at the White Church hospital from 1-11 July, and Private L. M. Baker, B/2nd Wisconsin, on 6 July.

-The Isaac Lightner farm, hospital for Second Division, First Corps, housed John Chase of 5th Maine Battery for a week, then he was sent to the German Reformed Church (White Church hospital) for three weeks, and during the first week in August he was taken to the Seminary hospital. On September 4, Chase was transferred to the General Hospital in Philadelphia.

-Surgeon John Shaw Billings of the Fifth Corps wrote: On July 5, Assistant Surgeon Jeremiah Bernard Brinton reached White Church with a special medical supply train, especially tools. No shovels or picks had been available to bury the dead or construct sinks, except for two shovels and an axe procured from area farmhouses. 17 hospital tents were pitched, held 75 patients. The tent flies held 100 patients, and the remainder were all under shelter tents. Wagons used to procure clean straw from about five miles distance, and commissary stores and fresh beef were liberally furnished.

-On June 25, Dr. Letterman directed Brinton to go to Washington, obtain supplies previously ordered and proceed to Frederick, where he arrived on June 28 with 25 army wagon loads of battle supplies, then proceeded to Taneytown, and on July 2 to Westminster, where he had to wait until after the battle [he arrived at White Church on July 5].

-Billings also reported: Field hospital about five miles from town, off the Baltimore pike, on a cross-road, at the White Church. A mere collection of huts on a hillside on the outskirts of a grove in which the camp was pitched, a brook rolled round its foot. [1st Lieutenant Edward S.] Abbot’s [A/17th U.S. Infantry] grave marked by a wooden headboard made from a box cover, bearing his name, rank and day of death.

Elmina Spencer probably saw Sickles around 10 a.m. on the morning of July 3. Earlier that morning, Sickles, who was being carried on a stretcher, was borne past the position of the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry at the junction of Rock Creek and the Baltimore Pike. Sickles was seen later in the day being carried along the Pike on the way to Littlestown, by Sergeant Thomas Stevens of the 20th Indiana.

The church was described as a "wood church, constructed of hewed logs, weather-boarded on the outside and plastered on the inside." It was about 45 feet long, one-story, with a gallery at one end. It had no steeple, but had two doors in front, one to the main audience room and one to the gallery. The roof was shingle, the ceiling about 17 feet high. The pews were common pine, and it had a "very fine pulpit." A few years after the battle the church was taken down, having been replaced by a brick building. [Greg Coco, A Vast Sea of Misery]

Just getting back to this, thanks so much yet again!! A lot to digest, this research is always to dense, it's delightful, getting through it.

Boy, Sickles takes some deserved hits, for his movements that day but gee whiz- the man had some stuffing. Not without a huge dose of courage. ( not that I ever, ever pass judgment or form an adverse opinion, reading sometimes where soldiers lost nerve- who would not? Not my call. )

Wonder if the damage to a teeny church was just too great? Not speaking of artillery, meaning blood soaked pews and floorboards, doors removed from frames- all the wear, tear and blood the larger churches suffered. Read all the churches had to share only 500 dollars in compensation, guessing it covered maybe replacing some pews in each. Congregation may have decided to just give I up and start again- they did awfully well! Pretty little church!
 



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