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Hospital Ward Master - Evansville, Indiana

Item MED-9297
April 30, 1862 John T. Pool
Price: $275.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 3 pages, written in period pencil.


April 30th 1862

J. O. Jones, Esquire

Dear Sir,

Yours of the 28th inst. came to hand and also did the nurse, which you sent us. For both of which we are truly thankful. The city hospital is now in good running order. Especially Ward Number 3, of which your humble servant has the charge.

The Indiana boys are furloughed as fast as they are able to travel. And those that are now in hospital, are generally doing well. About 30 transports have come up the river since the Battle of Pittsburgh with sick and wounded. One yesterday landed two sick, one this morning with a lot of Indiana boys, but would not allow us to take them off here, as their orders were to deliver them at Cincinnati. Why they should send the Indiana boys to Ohio and leave the Ohio boys here is a matter we do not quite understand in this benighted region.

The hospital authorities here are not willing to spare me. And the Indiana boys beg that I will not leave them. It is a hard case, for Uncle Sam pays but 40 cents a day. And I do not see how my family is to get along with so slight a support. I have had some very doubtful wounds to take care of here. And have brought them out to the satisfaction of the surgeons and joy of the poor fellows themselves, who already begin to talk of having another shot at the rebels. I think that the citizens here will do something towards giving good nurses a fair compensation for their labor; at any rate, I shall stay here as long as circumstances will admit. For I cannot think of leaving our Indiana boys when they stand so much in need of careful attention.

We have several wounded secesh here but they do not bear the pain of their wounds with half the fortitude our boys do. We are sending them to Indianapolis as fast as they are able to bear the journey. I made one of them open his eyes wide the other day by telling him that I was keeping him here to try doubtful experiments upon and I would make him famous as being instrumental in developing the hidden mysteries of medicine. It created a laugh among the doctors, but secesh looked horrified and began to groan. We have them all in one ward now. And allow them no visitors. By the way, I think of bringing one of the secesh up to Terra Haute with me in order that the sympathizers may have a chance to kiss his a__ at $5 a smack. Please let me know if you think it would be a successful speculation.

Give my respects to Ed Allen and all good Union men. I would have been pleased to have had the position of Ward Master at your hospital, but I suppose it is now too late. Republics are ungrateful anyhow. Please write me soon.


J. T. Pool

This letter written by 56 year-old John T. Pool (1806-18xx) of Terre Haute, Indiana. The 1860 Census gives his occupation as a “Temperance Lecturer.” He was married to Nancy D. Castro (1819-18xx) in February 1844 in Clark County, Illinois. We learn from this letter that John was working as a civilian nurse in a military hospital in Evansville, Indiana. At this stage of the war, nurses were only paid 40 cents per day plus rations and housing. Later, male nurses were compensated at the rate of $20.50 a month. This hospital may have been the Marine Hospital located below Pigeon Creek, though it was more likely the “First Street Hospital” which opened at the northwest corner of First and Vine on Christmas Day in 1861.
Pool wrote the letter to his friend Joseph O. Jones (1814-1899) of Terre Haute. Joseph was married to Persis A. Holmes (1820-1908). He was a merchant, volunteer fireman, town clerk, and post master under four different presidents who stood firm as a temperance Democrat. During the Civil War, Joseph served in the “Silver Grays” — a home guard unit whose members were all in their fifties and sixties.
Information from Spared and Shared.