Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]
I received your very acceptable letter this evening. I had looked for one all week and had began to fear that your letters had miscarried. The greatest comfort I have is reading your letters, they always bring me the [charing] news of the good health of yourself and the children. You may think that you appreciate this good health, but I do not think that you care so much as I do, for this reason, I am far away from there and could not get to them should they be sick, you do not know how proud I feel of our dear children. It is no use for me to try to express my feeling for I have not words to do it.
You will see by the heading of this that we have moved again, and away goes my
comfortable winter quarters Well this is the fortune of a
soldier, No one sees a show of regret or sadness in my [ ]. The Col said to me the day we moved, "Will Surgeon how do you like
this"? My reply to him was, all right Col. it is all in the play. "Well", said
he Surgeon you take that matter more phylosophically than I do for I must say I
dont like is very much," The most I have to anoy me is dealing with the nasty slinks who come up to the surgeons call to get rid of
doing their duty. But I have the greatest time on a march, there is the time
that you could have some my tall talk. The surgeons have to go in the rear to
look after those that fall out and see if they are sick
or fooling. If sick they are just into the ambulance. If
[ ] (which by the way is the most common)
they are ordered to this companies mighty quick and on the double quick at that.
If they dont move at the surgeons
order which may dare not wait for a second riding. The rear guard is ordered up by the surgeon to take them in charge. You would naturally think this very hard, and so did I ask first, but I must confess that I never demand that there was or could be so much downright depravity as we see if in the army, men whose word was truth itself loose all sense of home and almost shame in this endures to shirk 4 hours duty a day and some times not that. You will hardly [ ] it where I tell you that I saw there men on our march day before yesterday stand right in the road and shit their britches, for no other purpose than to get into the ambulance under pretence of being sick, when their was not the slight appearance of sick [ ] in pulse tongue [ ] or the contents of their parts. Didn't I make there dirty brutes take up, and at the point of the bayonet? If I didn't just ask the Col. And some of them have so little shame that they acknowledge afterwards that they done if one purpose to fool the surgeon. Which they failed to do. They have got to start very early to get much ahead of us surgeons. The sick are well cared for. Oh! It would make you feel proud to hear those that have been sick tell what excelent care and kindess they received from the surgeons. It is gratifying in teh extreme to my pride. When I make the morning rounds of the Hospital to see the patients bob up their head when I make my appearance and with a grateful look sing out "good moving surgeon". I tell you my dear. It compensates for the deprivation and hardships that I must necessarily suffer
While in the service. Nov 18th I have been so busy arranging our hospital which always falls to my [ ] that I did have time to finish this to go in the last mail. How I wish you could see what pains we take to make our sick comfortable. It would do your heart good and think that if some of my good friends could see the care they receive, all the reports to the contrary notwithstanding would have very little weights with them. I received your letter of the 14th containing that slanderous reports about us surgeons. Were it not for your feelings I should not stoop to take any notice of such stuff. I had heard of it before I got your letter. I will just state the simple fact in the case. Murk got home sick even after an application had been put in for his discharge, and no kind of attention or care could rally him in the heart. He sank from day to day without any well defined disease, and after he took his bed I never saw him but once before he died for he was a patient of Dr Clarks. Neither of us Surgeons ever and a harsh word to him and no one [ ] him but his own brother. He even refused to put up the head [ ] to his grave, and John Piper was so utterly ashamed of him that he went and put them up. Now as to our Surgeon. I will simply say he is the kindest man to the sick I ever saw in my life, soft spoken and gentle and I have seen the tears trickle down his cheek when patients in the delerium of fever could call for Father Mother, Wif Brother or Sister. Now a man of such a make certainly cannot have a very bad heart. But sneaks and shirks receive no [ ] at his hands not mine either, and it is now but such that make
slanderous reports or find fault. When I read your letter this evening I called in Capt Steele and him that portion of your letter relating to himself, and he denied ever writing home any thing of the kind and stated that it was a lie from top to bottom. The I sent for Murk the sneak and asked him if he wrote home such and such things about the surgeons which he denied at first then I read him your letter, where he finally acknowledged he did, but didn't mean to do no hurt by it. You can never have the least idea of the blazing he mind at my hands And I gave him notes for unfliction, that will not switch his slumber by march. Our Col is well acquainted with all the circumstances of all the sick he goes very day among them, and he is very indigment at this slithe sneak. He will be reduced to the ranks if he is not sent to the Rip-Raps- a sort of military state prison. If he can prove his charges he is just as safe as any other man, and he will have a fair trial. As for sending a sick man to duty, none but the Surgeon can do it not ever has the Col that proves no matter what the circumstances may be, when the Surgeon say no - no it is. Now there little facts give the lie to the whole fabrication. John Moulter will be here in a short time and he can tell you all about how the sick are healed as he has been in the Hospital 7 or 8 weeks. We expect to be paid off in a few days, then you shall not be so cramped, for the minutes I can lay my hands on my pay you shall have it. Now never [ ] about my conduct to the sick, for I have the big kind heart I always had, and let any reports about such things go for what they are worth. Tell Helen and [ ] that I have received their letters and will answer them soon.
Love to allJ. C. Rutherford
We are within 14 miles of Washington not quite so far as to Barton. I have my quarters nicely fixed up again, and though the night is Henry we are as cozy as heart could wish.