LETTERS OF A CIVIL WAR NURSE: CORNELIA HANCOCK 1863-1865 By: Gianna B, Alexis D. 1-18-16 6th hour Who was Cornelia Hancock? Cornelia was born on February 8th, 1840 at Hancock's Bridge in New Jersey. Her parents were Thomas Yorke and Rachel Nicholson Hancock. Both were Quakers, and her father was a fisherman, while her mother was a nurse. She had two siblings, William and Ellen. C. Hancock started nursing and proceeded surgery to the wounded in 1863 during the war. Cornelia Hancock died on December 31, 1927 her ashes were buried at Cedar Hills Friends Cemetery in Harmersville, New Jersey. She died due to Nephritis. (Kidney issue that troubled
breathing, and caused swelling. ) Letter #1 Dear cousin Gettysburg--July 8th, 1863. MY DEAR COUSIN I AM very tired tonight; have been on the field all day--went to the 3rd Division 2nd Army Corps. I suppose there are about five hundred wounded belonging to it. They have one patch of woods devoted to each army corps for a hospital. I being interested in the 2nd, because Will [her brother] had been in it, got into one of its ambulances, and went out at eight this morning and came back at six this evening. There are no words in the English language to express the sufferings I witnessed today. The men lie on the ground; their clothes have been cut off them to dress their wounds; they are half naked, have nothing but hard-tack to eat only as Sanitary Commissions, Christian Associations, and so forth give them. I was the first woman who reached the 2nd Corps after the three days fight at Gettysburg. I was in that Corps all day, not another woman within a half mile. Mrs. Harris was in first division of 2nd Corps. I was introduced to the surgeon of the post, went anywhere through the Corps, and received nothing but the greatest politeness from even the lowest private. You can tell Aunt that there is every opportunity for "seech" sympathizers to do a good work among the butternuts; we have lots of them here suffering fearfully. To give you some idea of the extent and numbers of the wounds, four surgeons, none of whom were idle fifteen minutes at a time, were busy all day amputating legs and arms. I gave to every man that had a leg or arm off a gill of wine, to every wounded in Third Division, one glass of lemonade, some bread and preserves and tobacco--as much as I am opposed to the latter, for they need it very much, they are so exhausted.
Continue of Letter 1. I feel very thankful that this was a successful battle; the spirit of the men is so high that many of the poor fellows said today, "What is an arm or leg to whipping Lee out of Penn." I would get on first rate if they would not ask me to write to their wives; that I cannot do without crying, which is not pleasant to either party. I do not mind the sight of blood, have seen limbs taken off and was not sick at all. It is a very beautiful, rolling country here; under favorable circumstances I should think healthy, but now for five miles around, there is an awful smell of putrefaction. Women are needed here very badly, anyone who is willing to go to field hospitals, but nothing short of an order from Secretary Stanton or General Halleck will let you through the lines. Major General Schenk's order for us was not regarded as anything; if we had not met Miss Dix at Baltimore Depot, we should not have gotten through. It seems a strange taste but I am glad we did. We stay at Doctor Homer's house at night--direct letters care of Dr. Horner, Gettysburg, Pa. If you could mail me a newspaper, it would be a great satisfaction, as we do not get the news here and the soldiers are so anxious to hear; things will be different here in a short time. CORNELIA Gettysburg--July 8th, 1863. Letter #1 Dear cousin Gettysburg--July 8th, 1863.
Question #1: Who was the author? A: Cornelia Hancock Question #2: Who is the intended audience? A: Her cousin Question #3: What was going on locally when the letter was written? A: The Civil War, but where Cornelia was there were a bunch of guys lying on the ground that had clothes cut off, and wounds everywhere with blood oozing everywhere. They just got or were in the middle of war.
Question #4: What was going on nationally when the letter was written? A: The Civil War. Question #5: Is there bias in the letter? A: Yes. She wrote that she would rather be saving peoples lives, and not worrying or doing anything else. She says saving peoples lives is way more important than anything else. Letter #1 Dear cousin Gettysburg--July 8th, 1863. Questions 1st Question: How does Cornelia H. respond to the suffering around her? 2nd Question: How do you think Cornelia felt while handling patients? Letter #2 Dear Sister
2nd Army Corps--3rd Division Hospital near Gettysburg. July 21st, 1863. MY DEAR SISTER WE have been two days on the field; go out about eight and come in about six--go in ambulances or army buggies. The surgeons of the Second Corps had one put at our disposal. I feel assured I shall never feel horrified at anything that may happen to me hereafter. There is a great want of surgeons here; there are hundreds of brave fellows, who have not had their wounds dressed since the battle. Brave is not the word; more, more Christian fortitude never was witnessed than they exhibit, always say--"Help my neighbor first he is worse." The Second Corps did the heaviest fighting, and, of course, all who were badly wounded, were in the thickest of the fight, and, therefore, we deal with the very best class of the men--that is the bravest. My name is particularly grateful to them because it is Hancock. General Hancock is very popular with his men. The reason why they suffer more in this battle is because our army is victorious and marching on after Lee, leaving the wounded for citizens and a very few surgeons. The citizens are stripped of everything they have, so you must see the exhausting state of affairs. The Second Army Corps alone had two thousand men wounded, this I had from the Surgeon's head quarters. I cannot write
more. There is no mail that comes in, we send letters out: I believe the Government haspossession of the road. I hope you will write. It would be very pleasant to have letters to read in the evening, for I am so tired I cannot write them. Get the Penn Relief to send clothing here; there are many men without anything but a shirt lying in poor shelter tents, calling on God to take them from this world of suffering; in fact the air is rent with petitions to deliver them from their sufferings. C. HANCOCK Letter #2 Dear Sister 2nd Army Corps--3rd Division Hospital near Gettysburg. July 21st, 1863. I do not know when I shall go home--it will be according to how long this hospital stays here and whether another battle comes soon. I can go right in an ambulance without being any expense to myself. The Christian Committee support us and when they get tired the Sanitary is on hand. Uncle Sam is very rich, but very slow, and if it was not for the Sanitary, much suffering would ensue. We give the men toast and eggs for breakfast, beef tea at ten o'clock, ham and bread for dinner, and jelly and bread for supper. Dried rusk would be nice if they were only here. Old sheets we would give much for. Bandages are plenty but sheets very scarce. We have plenty of woolen blankets now, in fact the hospital is well supplied, but for about five days after the battle, the men had no blankets nor scarce any shelter. It took nearly five days for some three hundred surgeons to perform the amputations that occurred here, during which time the rebels lay in a dying condition without their wounds being dressed or scarcely any food. If the rebels did not get severely punished for this battle, then I am no judge. We have but one rebel in our camp now; he says he never fired his gun if he could help it, and, therefore, we treat him first rate. One man died this morning. I fixed him up as nicely as the place will allow; he will be buried this afternoon. We are becoming somewhat civilized here now and the men are cared for well. On reading the news of the copperhead performance, in a tent where eight men lay with nothing but stumps (they call a leg cut off above the knee a "stump") they said if they held on a little longer they would form a stump brigade and go and fight them. We have some plucky boys in the hospital, but they suffer awfully. One had his leg cut off yesterday, and some of the ladies, newcomers, were up to see him. I told
them if they had seen as many as I had they would not go far to see the sight again. I could stand by and see a man's head taken off I believe--you get so used to it here. I should be perfectly contented if I could receive my letters. I have the cooking all on my mind pretty much. I have torn almost all my clothes off of me, and Uncle Sam has given me a new suit. William says I am very popular here as I am such a contrast to some of the office seeking women who swarm around hospitals. I am black as an Indian and dirty as a pig and as well as I ever was in my life--have a nice bunk and tent about twelve feet square. I have a bed that is made of four crotch sticks and some sticks laid across and pine boughs laid on that with blankets on top. It is equal to any mattress ever made. The tent is open at night and sometimes I have laid in the damp all night long, and got up all right in the morning. The suffering we get used to and the nurses and doctors, stewards, etc., are very jolly and sometimes we have a good time. It is very pleasant weather now. There is all in getting to do what you want to do and I am doing that. Letter #2 Dear Sister 2nd Army Corps--3rd Division Hospital near Gettysburg. July 21st, 1863. The First Minnesota Regiment bears the first honors here for loss in the late battle. The Colonel was wounded--Lieutenant Colonel, Major, and Adjutant. They had four captains killed outright and when they came out of battle, the command devolved on the First Lieutenant. Three hundred and eighty-four men went into battle, one hundred and eighty were wounded and fifty-four killed. The Colonel I know well; he is a very fine man. He has three bullets in him; has had two taken out by Dr. Child, the other he got in at Antietam and it is there yet. I do hope he will recover. Most of themen are from New York here now; they are very intelligent and talk good politics.McClellan is their man mostly. Meade they think sympathizes with McClellan and therefore they like him. Hooker is at a very low ebb except as they think he fed them well--a circumstance that soldiers make great account of. Such feeders you never saw. Pads are terribly needed here. Bandages and lint are plenty. I would like to see seven barrels of dried rusk here. I do not
know the day of the week or anything else. Business is slackening a little though --order is beginning to reign in the hospital and soon things will be right. One poor fellow is hollowing fearfully now while his wounds are being dressed. There is no more impropriety in a young person being here provided they are sensible than a sexagenarian. Most polite and obliging are all the soldiers to me. It is a very good place to meet celebrities; they come here from all parts of the United States to see their wounded. Senator Wilson, Mr. Washburn, and one of the Minnesota Senators have been here. I get beef tenderloin for dinner.--Ladies who work are favored but the dress-up palaverers are passed by on the other side. I tell you I have lost my memory almost entirely, but it is gradually returning. Dr. Child has done very good service here. All is well with me; we do not know much war news, but I know I am doing all I can, so I do not concern further. Kill the copperheads. Write everything,however trifling, it is all interest here. From thy affectionate C. HANCOCK Letter #2 Dear Sister 2nd Army Corps--3rd Division Hospital near Gettysburg. July 21st, 1863.
Question #1: Who is the author? A: Cornelia Hancock Question #2: Who is the intended audience? A: Her sister Question #3: What was going on locally when the letter was written? A: The Civil War, she's been in the war helping the wounded, she has been proceeding to do surgery on all the injured men it took five days for 300 surgeons to do surgery on the men. Question #4: What was going on nationally when the letter was written? A: The Civil War Question #5: is there any bias in the letter? A: We haven't found any. Letter #2 Dear Sister 2nd Army Corps--3rd Division Hospital near Gettysburg. July 21st, 1863.
Questions. 1st Question : How would you feel if you were in Cornelia's shoes? 2nd Question: Would you be nervous if you had to do surgery on 300 men? Letter #3 Dear Mother 2nd Army Corps--3rd Division Hospital near Gettysburg. July 21st, 1863.
MY DEAR MOTHER IT is with trouble that I can find time and quiet enough to write to anyone. I have been sick but one day since I have been here, and then I went into a tent and was waited upon like a princess. I like to be here very much, am perfectly used to the suffering and the work just suits me; it is more superintending than real work, still the work is constant. I like being in the open air, sleep well and eat well. The rumors about camp are that this hospital is to be moved down to Gettysburg. I hope it is not so but I expect it is. The field hospital is a number of tents and nothing more; it is in first rate order now, and I am sorry it has to be moved. All the officers will be changed I suppose. The men are very polite to me and I get on remarkably well, but quiet is impossible to obtain at camp. I have succeeded in getting a washerwoman today which is a great institution here indeed. Old sheets and pads of every description are wanted in my hospital. Food we are scarce of sometimes but it is generally plenty. I received, a few days ago, a Silver Medal worth twenty dollars. The inscription on one side is "Miss Cornelia Hancock, presented by the wounded soldiers 3rd Division 2nd Army Corps." On the other side is "Testimonial of regard for ministrations of mercy tothe wounded soldiers at Gettysburg, Pa.--July 1863." Letter #3 Dear Mother 2nd Army Corps--3rd Division Hospital near Gettysburg. July 21st, 1863.
Question #1: Who is the author? A: Cornelia Hancock Questions #2: Who is the intended audience? A: Mother Question #3: What was going on locally? A: The Civil War, she has been recently sick, and is having trouble and cant find any quietness to write her letters. Question #4: What was going on nationally? A: The Civil War Question #5: Is there any bias in the letter?
A: No, there isnt. Letter #3 Dear Mother 2nd Army Corps--3rd Division Hospital near Gettysburg. July 21st, 1863. Questions. 1st Question : What do you think it was like being right next to the war? 2nd Question: Do you think she ever found any quietness?
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