Stones River: A Wounded Soldier’s Account of the Suffering

I had wanted to share some sources that I have found over the years in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. I’ve not been able to keep up with it, but before we get to far away from the Stones River/Murfreesboro time frame, I wanted to share some accounts that I have on that battle which has always been of much interest to me.  Although I live in Virginia and have done all of my writing on Virginia campaigns and battles, I cut my teeth reading about the Western Theater, so I have a latent interest that needs further cultivation.

Gallipolis Journal, January 22, 1863

FROM L. D. CARTER.

Murfreesboro, Tenn., Jan. 5, 1863.

J am compelled to occupy rather a precarious position in writing to you lhat is, on my back. I am in the Hospital at Murfreesboro. Getting along finely. I was wounded on the second day of this month by a cannon ball, or rather a shell bursting on my back and hip, which bruised me badly. I was wounded amidst the hardest of the battle, about five o’clock in the evening and laid on the battlefield till about 10 o’clock that night, unable to move. I waa injured considerably more by the men running over me after I was hurt and aside from all this, the weather was vary cold and raining I thought that I had gone through the flint mill before, but I bad undergone nothing until the present affair, which was the most horrible sight I ever witnessed, or ever expect to.

I think I shall be able to join my regiment in the course of two weeks, or at least I want to in order to get satisfaction out of the rebels. I had my horse shot from under me on the 31st December, and then fell into the hands of the rebels, but escaped from them on New Year’s morning. This was before I was hurl. My flesh is not broken only in one place, which is slight, but my bruise is tolerably bad. Capt. Ross was slightly wounded, and a number more of his Company, of whom I will give the names in my next. Our regiment suffered terribly, the loss being one hundred and seventy-five in killed and wounded- – Every house in Murfreesboro and surrounding neighborhood is used for hospital purposes and I believe all are being eared for as well as could be expected. It would be useless for me at present to attempt to give you an idea of the whole proceedings here during the late hard fought battles, but shall try to give you an abstract idea in my next, which will be soon. You can form so idea how the troops suffered here during the whole affair, which lasted seven days. We were short of rations, or hadn’t time to prepare them, without tents, the rain pouring down in torrents, and were freezing the principal part of the time. I shall rite no more at present, as I think it doubtful If you can read what I have already written. I have no ink, and am compelled to use a pencil.

Yours,

Lorenzo D. Carter

Lt. Co. I, 18th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

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2 Comments

Filed under Battles, Other Campaigns and Battles, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Stones River: A Wounded Soldier’s Account of the Suffering

  1. Jerry

    Hi Scott,
    I enjoyed reading over your latest. It reminded me of an account that I read regarding an early morning reconnaissance in force along the Opequon Creek on September 13, 1864. A Confederate battery of artillery opened fire on the position of Captain Cowan’s 1st New York Battery at Seiver’s Ford. A quarter mile behind Cowan’s artillery was a grove of woods sheltering the men of the Vermont Brigade. The wooded area was desribed as clean and heavily shaded.The Federal infantry positioned inside the woods were “scattered in groups among the stacks of arms, chatting carelessly or playing their simple games.”
    The rebel guns while trying to zero in on the Federal battery, began by over shooting the battery and threw several shells into the woods where the Federal infantry had massed. The temporary heavy bombardment almost forced Vermonters to withdraw. However, once the infantrymen seen that the missiles were beginning to fall short of them, they were convinced that the Confederates didn’t know of their position and remained deployed in the woods.
    Once the danger was over, several Federals were found injured from the bombardment. Among those who were wounded was Lieutenant Henry E. Bedwell, of the 11th Vermont. An unexploded shell crashed through his left leg above the knee, leaving a ghastly mass of mangled muscle, shattered bones, and gushing arteries. As Bedwell lay upon the ground in agony, he continually screamed, “Cord it! Cord it! Don’t let me bleed to death!” The first rude tourniquet that was applied broke under the twisting of the ramrod, and allowed the blood to flow freely once again. When the second tourniquet was applied, Bedwell’s bleeding slowed and he became quiet. An operation was speedily performed and the leg was amputated. The young lieutenant survived his wound and returned home to his family later that autumn. Also wounded in the affair was Hiram Smith of Battery G he had an arm taken off below the elbow & leg off below the knee.

    Source: 11th Vermont Infantry Regimental History by James M. Warner, Brigadier-General U. S. Vols., and Aldace F. Walker, Lieutenant-Colonel Eleventh Regiment.; Vermont Brigade in the Shenandoah Valley p. 73-75

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