From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/30/1907
Interesting Paper Read Before the Daughters of the Confederacy at Waynesboro.
The story of the experience of James E. Roden in Winder Hospital during the war was prepared and read before the Waynesboro Chapter, Daughters of the Confederacy, by Mr. Roden.
Mr. Roden was a member of Company E, Seventh Louisiana Regiment, Wheat's Battalion, Hay's Brigade. He is one of Augusta county's most substantial citizens, having resided at Waynesboro for many years. The story is given below:
"The hospital experiences of an old Confederate during the war was not always very agreeable, as this will show, yet there were scenes and incidents that we enjoyed.
"I was wounded on the skirmish line near Spotsylvania Courthouse on the morning of May 13, 1864 . As the balls were flying pretty thick, my first concern was to know how to get to the rear. I made a start, and when approaching the regiment, the boys began to quiz me: 'O, yes, don't play off that way; you just want a furlough.' I passed to the field hospital, here the doctor examined my wounds and told me he would have to perform an operation. When asked if amputation would be necessary, he said, 'Not just now.' This was not very comforting, as it left the impression that it might be later.
"The operating table was a barn door set on two trestles. When on the table, chloroform was administered, and it was reported that while the doctor performed the operation the patient sang 'The Bonny Blue Flag' and other war songs.
"Immediately following this operation it was reported that Grant's army had turned our right flank and captured Guinea Station; consequently all the wounded were ordered to the rear.
"All who could walk were ordered to do so, the nearest station being Milford, some thirty miles distant. I started alone about 2 P. M., the sun being near full, and made twelve miles, stopping at a farm house overnight, where I was treated very kindly. Having yet eighteen miles before me, I started early and made fourteen miles, when I fell exhausted by the roadside. I was put into a wagon and hauled to the station, four miles over a corduroy road. There I was put on a hospital train, remaining all night at the station, and arrived in Richmond the next evening, where I was taken to Winder Hospital, this being Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning, the surgeon in charge, Dr. Tyler, examined and dressed my wound, nothing having been done to it since Wednesday, except the use of cold water to keep down inflamation.
"For the first few days things went well, but I grew weaker and the rations became distasteful. I would get a little bread and rye coffee for breakfast, and for dinner a small piece of half-baked corn bread, a little fat bacon, with a few stewed beets and potato vine leaves for salad. One morning I requested the nurse not to bring any dinner unless he could find something a little more palatable. He replied that he would continue to bring the same diet, which he proceeded to do, and upon my taking him to task, he became insolent, and as he turned to leave I threw my chunk of corn bread at him. The nurse reported me to the wardmaster, who threatened to put me in the guardhouse and see that I misbehaved no more. A comrade, wounded about the same time I was, and who lay on a cot to my right, handed me one of his crutches, and we planned, though neither of us could raise our heads, to attack the wardmaster if he attempted to put his threat into execution. The doctor came just before supper and found me in a fever. On learning the cause, sent for the ward master and reprimanded him. A few days later erysipelas developed in my wound. Four negroes carried my cot across the field to the erysipelas camp, near what is now called the Old Reservoir. I was placed in a tent by myself, where I remained two weeks, then was taken back to the hospital and placed in a ward in charge of a Dr. Braxton, who was very kind to me. Some one having stolen my knapsack, and I having failed to get clothing at the quartermaster's department, I had no change of raiment, and was in a dilema. Fortunately for me, though unfortunate for the other fellow, an old negro mammy came along with a basket of clothes, saying to me: 'I'se been looking for de man what gim'me dese close to wash and can't find him. 'Law chile is you de one?' As necessity knows no law, and she could not find the other fellow, I thought I was justified in laying claim to these clothes.
"On presenting my descriptive list to the quartermaster, I was fortunate enough to draw two months' pay - $22.
"The following Sunday a member of my company, Mr. Shaw, of the Ordnance Department, came to see me, and kindly asked if he could serve me in any way. I gave him my $22 and asked him to buy me some eggs or nourishing food (I had begun to crave something to eat), and the next day I received two dozen eggs with receipted bill. My two months' pay had gone for two dozen eggs, but it proved to be one of the best investments I ever made. Dr. Braxton asking me soon after how I felt, I told him I was 'living high' o my investment. He the asked for the remainder of the eggs, which the wardmaster had in charge, sent them to the commissary department, had my money refunded, and prescribed two eggs each morning and evening. I soon regained strength, and left Winder Hospital, after a stay of eight weeks, with a glad heart, feeling thankful that I had been spared. It is now forty-two years since these experiences, and I still feel thankful that the Lord has spared me, though I am still unable to reach my mouth with the hand of that shattered arm."