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In Their Own Words

February 28, 1862

Diary Entry on Sick Soldiers

During the Civil War, far more soldiers – both Confederate and Union – died from sickness and disease than enemy bullets. Less than a year from the outbreak of hostilities, Atlanta’s hospital was full – leading local authorities to convert hotels and other buildings to makeshift hospitals. Local merchant Samuel P. Richards recorded in his diary the large number of sick Confederate soldiers being treated in Atlanta:

“… Our city is now full of sick soldiers, many of the large hotels and public buildings being appropriated as hospitals. Mrs. West proposed that we should go and see the soldiers and we went to one of the hospitals, but soon got enough of seeing such miserable beings as the sick soldiers are – dirty and ignorant as well as sick. One poor fellow died today, who in coming here passed within thirty miles of his wife, and prayed to be put out there that he might go home to die, but the rules of war would not permit, so he had to die among strangers… .”

Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969 reprint of 1954 original volume), Vol. I, p. 531.