March 12, 1863
Grafton Hospital, Va.,
March 6th, 1863.
Sitting in our city home by the light of a pleasant fire, recalling tent life as we glanced over Anthony’s graphic views of Antietam, we formed the resolution of visiting hospitals in Western Virginia as we had done those in Western Maryland. A bright beautiful morning, therefore saw us on our way over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, with a large collection of hospital stores, embracing delicacies and reading matter to be distributed in the various hospitals from Baltimore to Grafton Va., a distance of 279 miles, through some of the wildest and most remarkable scenery in the country.
In this brief sketch we pass rapidly over the road with its various objects of interest, because we know that much, very much must be said before anything like justice can be done to the grandeur of Harper’s Ferry, and the Heights, and the unrivalled scenery of the Cheat river region. The celebrated Viaduct and the great Kingwood Tunnel arched with stone and iron, nearly a mile long, have been so often spoken of that we shall not attempt to describe them. We remained all night at Cumberland, thus having daylight for our delightful ride, reaching Grafton about noon.
The hospital in this pleasant little town stands on hill, and at present contains about one hundred and fifty patients, mostly belonging to Virginia regiments. Dr. Kirker, the Surgeon in charge, whom the patients spoke of as a father, was absent at the time, but we must accord the first rank to this hospital of the many we have seen. Through the generous efforts of the Ladies’ Aid Society of Northern Ohio, we found the patients supplied with all needful delicacies. Books and miscellaneous reading matter appeared to form the only desideratum, and we endeavored to furnish them. The day we spent amongst Virginia’s loyal sons will long be cherished in our remembrance. Truly delightful it was to see them side by side with their brethren of New York, Ohio and Indiana fighting under the same good old flag, and animated by the same lofty patriotism.
We paid a flying visit to two companies of the 15th and 6th Va. Regiments encamped close by. Had we time we would love to linger on the pleasant scenes we witnessed, but as we write these hurried lines in a Cumberland hospital we can only express, as we feel bound to do our unbounded delight at the sentiments of pure and unqualified patriotism expressed by the solders of our sister State of Kanawha, or West Virginia. We found gray-haired men who had left their homes and families to defend their bleeding country and outraged flag. One of these, a member of the 10th Virginia, had enlisted himself, with four sons – the eldest of whom now sleeps in one of the unknown graves of Antietam. All honor to the fallen brave!
In many of the wards we saw copies of the Wheeling Intelligencer, whose bold and decided stand in this hour of national peril for our much-loved Union and blood-stained starry banner, was a source of great gratification. The loyal heart of Maryland is with Virginia, and we say to her God speed! One of the soldiers remarked that when his regiment came among others as reinforcements to the army at Harrison’s Landing, the men said: “what! Are you Union?” adding that he didn’t believe they knew Virginia had a loyal regiment in the field. “didn’t they cheer us, though, when we said – Yes, of course.”
A good permanent library is greatly needed for the hospital at Grafton. Such books as the Pilgrim’s Progress, Holy War, interesting biographies, and instructive reading would be most acceptable. English and German Testaments are also wanted. The ladies of Ohio have done much for the comfort of the soldiers. Who will now contribute to this good object?
As we listened to the voice of Virginia loyalty – a trumpet which blew with no uncertain sound – we recalled the great mass meeting when Baltimore was rallying for the combat with foul mouthed treason – the electric effect produced by the words of the speaker, H. W. Davis. “And Western Virginia, what shall we say of her?” The thunder of the long roar of tumultuous applause, and the deafening cheers of that vast assembly told the verdict of her loyal countrymen. Western Virginia has covered herself with glory!
Jane Boswell Moore.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: March 1863