Today, I began writing the first profile in my forthcoming book. This follows a yearlong search for original, wartime, identified portraits of women who served as caregivers to Union and Confederate soldiers. I found 94 altogether. Of this group, 77 will be included in the book, a number consistent with my other volumes.
For this first profile, I turned to an image in my own collection, Rose Adéle Cutts Douglas Williams. She was a regular visitor to Douglas Hospital in Washington, D.C., which was named for her late husband, Sen. Stephen A. Douglas.
Here’s the result of today’s writing:
Captain James M. Gaston had made it through the worst of the fever. Like many Union soldiers stricken by malaria, the ordeal left him quite feeble. This was the condition in which Adéle Douglas found him on September 1, 1862, during a visit to the Washington, D.C., military hospital, where he had been admitted.
Douglas asked if she could do anything for him. “I have not written to for some time to my wife. I would like you to write and tell her about me,” Gaston replied. So, Douglas sat and penned a letter to Matilda Gaston, a mother with three young children in Western Pennsylvania, outside Pittsburgh.
“Your brave husband is not among the wounded or dying, and God had spared him for you for I trust a long and happy life,” Douglas stated. She added, “You must dismiss as much anxiety from your mind as is possible while you are away from your husband, and I know you find gratitude that he has spared you from these last dreadful battles. They are all our heroes, sick and wounded as well as those who have fallen.”
More to come!