|Nurse Maria Hall, who cared for wounded soldiers after the Battle of Antietam,|
was beloved by soldiers. "Her self-sacrifice is worthy of something more than
a newspaper notice," a soldier in the 78th New York wrote.
(Photo: U.S. Army Military Heritage Institute)
|In this enlargement of an image taken at Smoketown Hospital,|
Maria Hall is seen with wounded soldiers.
(Eli Collection, Edward G. Miner Library, Rochester, N.Y.)
Finally well enough to be sent home, Swarman was discharged from the army for disability on April 2, 1863, several weeks before Smoketown was disbanded. Twenty-two days later, Hall wrote a four-page letter to the former Antietam patient, noting "we miss your cheerful face & voice from Ward D" and reflecting on her more than seven months' service at the hospital. (Complete letter below.)
|Post-war image of Swarman.|
"It has been a very happy home to us for some months," Hall wrote, "a place of intense suffering & close sympathy. But it has given me so much solid pleasure -- the very best kind of pleasure to have the privilege of ministering ... to relieve the sufferings and loneliness of our brave Antietam boys." She also implored Swarman to remember those who took care of him at Smoketown.
"Forget not, my friend," she wrote, "to whose gracious protection and care you owe your life and its blessings."
Apparently eager to re-join the army, Swarman re-enlisted again on Aug. 17, 1863 in the Veterans Reserve Corps, but his Antietam wounds wouldn't allow him to serve for long. In January 1864, he was discharged for good. After the war, he got married, reared three children, ran a grocery and dry goods store and became postmaster in Medway, Mass. Swarman died of cancer at age 76 on March 2, 1915.
Sources: James, Ephraim Orcutt, The Military History of Medway, Mass., 1745-1885, Millis, Mass., E.O. Jameson, 1886.
1860 and 1870 U.S. census, ancestry.com
|Hall wrote a four-page letter to 12th Massachusetts Corporal Frederick Swarman three weeks |
after he was released from Smoketown Hospital, also known as Antietam Hospital.
(Copy of letter courtesy George Glastris)
It is just after tea my good friend & I am much inclined to spend a few moments in chatting to you. I was very glad to hear from you, and I rejoice in your happiness in being once more at home "sweet home." Doubtless there is some one besides yourself who rejoices in your presence there once more. We miss your cheerful face and voice from Ward D & often speak of the lady who sat in my tent one evening with her hood on. Poor Charley misses you more than any one who has left the ward. He is now in Porter's tent, waiting to see what will turn up for him. But I presume he has given you all the items of interest in regard to himself & the ward for I asked him to send a note with me. Smoketown begins to look ....
|"Well the end of Smoketown draweth nigh!" Hall wrote. The hospital disbanded in May 1863, |
eight months after the Battle of Antietam.
|"I hope you find no Copperheads in your region to battle against," Hall wrote. The|
Copperheads were a vocal group of Northern Democrats who opposed the war.
Dr. Vanderkieft is made very happy by the arrival of his long-expected wife. They are very happy to be once more together ...
|Hall wrote that she was eager to hear from Swarman again, but noted that "my correspondents|
are so numerous that I can hardly promise to answer you promptly."
I am so thankful for you that you are there in safety. Forget not, my friend, to whose gracious protection and care you owe your life and its blessings. Alfred Munroe has just been in to get some paper. [Note: Munroe was a private in Company H of the 12th Massachusetts. A shoemaker from Weymouth, Mass., he was wounded at Gettysburg, necessitating amputation of his left arm.] He desires his love to you and says that he expects soon to go to the Regiment & see the boys once more. The enclosed letter was brought me by Egbert a few days ago to send to you. It must have been somewhat delayed by the way. Theodore wrote me of his safe arrival. His address is 93 1/2 West 26th Street N.Y. My sister is with me spending a few days. It is almost homelike. I would be very glad to hear from you again but my correspondents are so numerous that I can hardly promise to answer you promptly. Indeed I must confess that you are indebted to the enclosed letter and Charley's note for my being even at all prompt -- for many of the unanswered are staring me in the face at this moment. With kind regards to your wife I remain your sincere friend.
Maria M.C. Hall
|Attempting to squeeze as much into the four-page letter as she could, Hall included this|
at the top of the first page of the letter. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)