A WOMAN'S WAR RECORD. 1861-1865

A WOMAN'S WAR RECORD. 1861-1865

by Septima Collins

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Overview

I have no hesitation in calling what I am about to write a "war record," for my life was "twice in jeopardy," as will be seen later on, and I served faithfully as a volunteer, though without compensation, during the entire war of the Rebellion. It is true I was not in the ranks, but I was at the front, and perhaps had a more continuous experience of army life during those four terribly eventful years than any other woman of the North. Born in Charleston, S. C., my sympathies were naturally with the South, but on December 9, 1861, I became a Union woman by marrying a Northern soldier in Philadelphia. The romance which resulted in this desertion to the enemy would perhaps interest the reader, yet I do not propose to tell it; for I am sure sure the very realistic life which it enabled me to experience for three winters in camp at army headquarters will interest him more. My first commander was Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, to whom I reported on December 11, 1861, at Frederick, Md., where my bridegroom was then a captain of an independent company, which he named and equipped as "Zouaves d'Afrique." The army being in winter quarters, a general disposition prevailed among officers and men to make the season pass merrily. Though the war had by this time assumed serious proportions and the battle of Bull Run had been fought, yet there were many who still believed that the counsels of peace and forbearance would prevail and that the conflict would be of short duration; and this I remember was the daily theme of discussion. Frederick had become a garrisoned town, every train bringing troops and supplies; army wagons and their four- mule teams had possession of the streets, while the sidewalks and shop windows were monopolized by the volunteer officers in their bright buttons and gold lace, who permitted themselves to be disturbed only by the appearance of a pretty face, or by the steady tread of the patrol with their white gloves and polished rifles. My apartments in Frederick consisted of two very modest third-story rooms, sparsely furnished, with the use of a kitchen, at a cheap rent, for we neither of us had any money; yet we indulged in the luxury of the best cook in the army, no other than Nunzio Finelli (one of our zouaves), who was afterwards the steward of the Union League of Philadelphia, and a renowned restaurateur in the same city. Finelli was then a very young man, with a face as handsome as the famous "Neapolitan boy" in the picture, and a voice as sweet and sympathetic as Brignoli's. A most obliging disposition and a fondness for operatic music made him therefore a great acquisition to our little household, - and many an omelette souffle was first beaten into snowflakes, while the dulcet and plaintive notes of "Ah che la morte" or "Spirito gentil," reaching the street, detained the spellbound passers- by; and sometimes when his friend and compatriot, Constantino Calarisi (another zouave), joined him in the kitchen, we were treated to a duet which even Patti would have applauded, for they were both veryremarkable singers. Poor Finell! a few months later a bullet at the battle of Cedar Mountain terribly disfigured him, and when I next saw him the shape of his injured nose reminded me of the inhabitants of the Ghetto.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014091244
Publisher: VARIETY BOOKS
Publication date: 01/23/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 7 MB

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