Dr. writes about Fair Oak wounded & oustanding description of Capitol and Congress
June 16, 1862
Francis Henry Brown was 26 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Margaret Doggett Eaton Wyman, was 28 when it was received.
Francis Henry Brown died 54 years, 10 months, 29 days after writing this.
It was written 158 years, 21 days ago.
It was a Monday.
U. S. A. General Hospital
June 16, 1862
My Dear Charlie & Maggie,
I have not yet heard from you, but I suppose you will write me in course of time so I occupy an odd moment to write you. You will have heard and seen letters from me telling you what I am doing. For the past day or two we have been a little less hurried, for the reason we are sending off a number of our men, who are I condition of convalescence, retaining only severest cases; this in order to make room for a large number we expect very shortly, when the battle takes place before Richmond. Large preparations are being made to accommodate large quantities of wounded. You will have heard that I am professionally Maj., hence, happy.
Yesterday while at dinner, we received orders for one or two surgeons from our hospital to proceed immediately to a church near the station to take charge of a large number of wounded from Shield’s Division, neither Winchester. So, Dr. Cheever [David Williams Cheever] & I hurried our two ambulances with nurses, boys, dressings of all kinds, instruments, soup, copper & brandy & went full gallop for the place. We found on arrival, that by some negligence our orders had been delivered too late and we had to come back—the wounded had been carried to other hospitals.
One day just before I came they received at this hospital 225 men from Fair Oaks and all in two hours—then they had busy work—Forty or fifty of those men I have now in charge.
I have not spoken to any of you of the Capitol. It is because I am entirely unable to describe its magnificence; its long corridors, its splendid tessellated floors, gorgeous staircases and pillars, and statues and paintings and dome and halls! There is nothing like it I this country. You must come on and see it. Today I saw the bathes used by the members of Congress. Each of them, the usual size of a bath tubs is cut from a vast rock of solid marble, supplied with hot & cold water & shower bath. Each bathroom is splendidly furnished, fine carpet, gas, etc., etc.
The ventilating and heating apparatus of the capitol is a rather interesting thing. Under each member’s seat is a small register from which in winter comes warm & in summer cool air; the former from large furnaces in the basement, the latter forced in from immense fans moved by very beautiful engines.
This morning I was in the House of Representatives at the opening of the morning session. I tell we consider if a man looks like a scamp, he must be a member of Congress or a contractor. I have no doubt they are the most reprobate set I the community. I said I was in the House at the opening, about 75 members perhaps were there. When the chaplain rose to make the prayer about half the members rose with him, very many remained seated, some continued writing or reading papers, some continued with their feet thrown up on their seats and gazing about. In no place on earth, I think, except in the Congress of the United States, our country, would such a thing ever be done.
The other day, while there, I looked around to see what attention was being given to business, about one-third of the members were in their seats—of these I only saw two listening to the gentlemen speaking, the res were doing all kinds of things.
Once a week the Marine band, the President’s one and the best band in the U. S., plays in the Capitol grounds. These grounds are very beautiful, fine trees shade the walks, beautiful lawns and fountains and flowers delight the eye and above all, the great Capitol, most splendid of buildings I ever saw, towers in marble magnificent. You know it is characteristic of Washington that the public buildings are never finished, but the Capitol, as far as its outside is concerned, is almost complete as soon as the dome is done, and the statue of Liberty raised to its place, it will be a perfect affair.
I often think of my New England home and friends. I want you to write to me often and let me know what is doing. As I have no telegram from home, I suppose Louise does not start. Why don’t you come on to see us. I can get you rooms in the same home with us, I think. Washington is not, in this part of it, as is generally supposed, unhealthy—off by the President’s home they have chills, but not here. To be sure it will be hot here in the middle of the day, but the weather since I have been here has been beautiful, only one night have I been without a thick comforter on my bed.
Strawberries are out of the market here, cherries are in, cooking south of Philadelphia is horrible, roads are miserable. You would me amused with a great many things here, but I must leave them for the next. Yours hospitably from E. E.