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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

" . . . woe unto a soldier's life"

From the Enoch Pratt Free Library

    "I left New Kent Court-house, all in the month of May"

 I left New Kent Court-house, all in the month of May,
And from this great starvation I was glad to get away;
They led me down into the boat, and laid me on the floor,
I thought my soul I'd starve to death before I got to Baltimore.

When I was in the regiment, it was three crackers a day,
And, woe unto a soldier's life, I wished I was far away;
The ladies at Baltimore, they were so very kind,
And better people in the world you'll never, never find.

They gave us bread and butter, and sometimes chicken-meat -
You'll never wish in Baltimore for anything to eat;
There was a Quaker lady so very kind to me,
I often thought I'd live with her if ever I got free.

She had a very kind daughter, as you shall plainly see -
Could you have seen the boquet [sic] that she had sent to me;
She had a boy that lived with her, the people knew all round,
That a better boy than he, was never to be found.

She used to say, young Edwin, you are gaining very fast,
I wished my time at Baltimore, would never, never pass;
I was so sick at Baltimore, I could hardly get my breath,
And if the nurses had not fanned me, it would have caused my death.

Our nurses, here in Baltimore, are very hard to beat,
They are so very kind, and give you plenty to eat;
There is our faithful doctor, he is never behind,
He gives us very good medicine, and is so very kind.

We had as good a steward as ever trod the ground,
And often a good book, for me to read, he found;
Our kind ward-master, a kind gentleman was he,
He often came into the ward the sick ones for to see.

There was a Pennsylvania lady, the truth to you I'll tell,
For a month or more in Baltimore this lady she did dwell;
She used to fetch fresh fish, which was the dish for me,
I never shall forget this very kind lady.

For to eat fresh fish it was to me but fun,
But to repay their kindness it never can be done;
The ladies in Baltimore I never shall forget,
The kindest ladies I ever saw, live in Baltimore yet.

Now kind people of Baltimore, I must bid you all adieu,
For I have left the hospital, my journey to pursue;
Now my song is ended, and I will sing no more,
If you want to be treated kindly, just go to Baltimore.

-A broadside published in Baltimore in 1862 from the collection of the Enoch Pratt Free Library recounting the experiences of a young soldier of the 52nd Pennsylvania who returned wounded from the Peninsula.

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