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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

January 03, 1862

New Year’s Day in Augusta

A couple of items in the Daily Constitutionalist of Augusta indicated how New Year’s Day was spent in the city (including a slave sale), and printed a private letter on conditions at the Georgia hospitals in Virginia.

New Year’s Day in Augusta. New Year’s Day was quietly, but pleasantly, observed in this city. There were no public demonstrations, but several social parties were given, both on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Night. On New Year’s Eve, a ball was given at Spaeth’s Saloon, for the benefit of the furloughed soldiers of the Washington Artillery, now in this city. It was a very pleasant assembly, we understand, and passed off satisfactorily to all present. At Concert Hall, at Tableaux Exhibition was given by the young ladies of Miss Sedgwick’s School. It was well attended, and the performances were well received. On New Year’s Day, the usual services were held in the Catholic church, it being the festival of “the Circumcision.” In the afternoon, the children of the Baptist Sunday Schools enjoyed a very pleasant collation at Clara’s Hall, at which a number of invited guests also participated. Very few stores were closed, and business was not generally suspended. The annual hiring of negroes, took place at the Lower Market, and good prices were generally obtained. And so the day has passed, quietly and pleasantly, as we have already observed, and, we are happy to say, without accident to life or limb, that we could hear of. To our readers, one and all, we wish many happy returns of this popular festival.
Letters from Rev. Mr. Crumley. Richmond, Dec. 18th, 1861. Mr. J. M. Newby: Dear Sir: Knowing that you feel a deep interest in the Georgia Hospitals in this city, I have long purposed to give you some facts and incidents connected with them. The reasons for this delay have been as follows: First-the suffering and death around me have hitherto claimed all my time, and taxed all my strength, leaving me scarcely, if any time, to devote to letter writing. A day of indisposition now affords the long wished for opportunity. Again, I have waited to see and learn, as much of the condition and arrangement of the Hospitals, as would enable me to form a correct estimate of their workings, and of their value to the sick. We are using as hospitals, three tobacco factories, which are large, three or four story buildings, affording very good accommodations for hospital purposes. They are well ventilated, and are furnished with water and gas. The beds, or bunks, are very conveniently arranged, each having a foot board that may serve either as a table, writing desk, or a small medicine stand. The beds are comfortable, with clean sheets and pillow cases, and a plentiful supply of warm covering. The coverlets and quilts are from Georgia homes, and remind the sick soldiers so much of the mother, or wife, or sweetheart, whose fair hands made them, or whose anxious liberality supplied them, that he is almost persuaded to believe that the dear loved ones are themselves nigh at hand. The food is good, and abundant. The Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons are able men in their profession, and labor with a will and devotion worthy of the noble cause in which they are engaged. The nurses are untiring and self-sacrificing. In this department, I could cite you to sublime instances of heroism and virtue, that appear almost superhuman. Among the female nurses are those who have daily moved around the couch of the fevered invalid, as ministering angels of mercy and love. I have visited many hospitals in Richmond, but have found none so well arranged, and so well managed as the Georgia Hospitals . It is, I must confess, gratifying to my State pride that I am able to say, with truth, thus much for the hospitals in Richmond, under the management and fostering care of the Georgia Relief and Hospital Association. It is with gratitude and with a thrill of joy that I am able to record a fact so full of comfort to every anxious son and daughter of Georgia. It should be known to Georgians at home that the hospitals here are visited by our representatives in the Confederate Congress, and especially by Mr. Vice President Stephens, who is a constant visitor, and whose tender and sympathizing voice has so often fallen on the ear and cheered the heart of many a poor soldier. Nor are our gentle countrywomen, whom the fortunes of war have called to reside for a time in this city, unfrequent visitors to these scenes of sickness and death. Mrs. General Toombs, Mrs. J. A. Jones, of Columbus, and Mrs. Captain Harris, of Marietta, often visit and comfort the sick soldier by their presence and cheering words of sympathy. Often too have they met with us in the hospitals, and joined with us in our prayers and in the worship of a common Father. Such is the piety and such is the patriotism of our Georgia women. I am afraid, my dear Newby, that you may grow weary of my theme; but I have nothing else to write about. I am lost, absorbed in the subject. I see nothing else, I hear nothing else. By day and by night the sights which I see, and the sounds which I hear, are present with me. Often have I passed alone at midnight from the death scene of some noble soldier to find the city without all buried in sleep and in darkness, save the hospital lights, that never expire, looking like beacon torches at the entrance of the valley of the shadow of death, and throwing a dim and sombre light on the untried pathway of the discharged soldier, as he is setting out on his long march for enternity [sic]. Since I entered upon this field of labor, I have gathered up many incidents of interest, which I purpose to give you from time to time. I must now close; but I cannot do so, without first giving full expression to the emotions of my heart. Every Georgian who has contributed to the hospital fund would rejoice, could he but see what these eyes have seen. With what sweet satisfaction, with what self-complacency, with what inward joy, with what thankfulness, and with what emotions of gratitude, would he view the relief, the comfort, the good and the blessings, that have flowed from his liberality and benevolence! On the other hand, with what chagrin, with what mortification, and with what self-condemnation, must they look on, who could have given, but who, instead of giving, ingloriously shut up their bowels of compassion against every cry of distress that came from Georgia ‘s sick and wounded soldiers at the seat of war! I envy not their feelings. Having borne no part in the burdens and in the sacrifices, they have no share in the honors and in the rewards. I will give you a sketch of the burial place, &c., of our soldiers in a future number. God bless you, and the many who are laboring for the good of our noble and suffering sons of Georgia. Yours, truly, W. M. Crumley.