Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
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.
On horseback- at City Point, this snip ( in Public Domain ) from ' Women's Work in the Civil War " . The her words.
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.
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? )
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.
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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