Memorial Day began after the Civil War. Never before had so many casualties been caused. With the advent of the minie ball, a French invention, rifles could be used in combat. One of the reasons there is so much death and gore associated with this war is because of this new type of battle. And thus many field hospitals were required and more injuries than either side thought possible. Nursing as a profession began out of necessity to treat the injured soldiers.
This is the 400th anniversary of Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia, which served as a field hospital for both Union and Confederate troops. The ladies of Shirley Plantation rose to the task and assisted in serving the injured. I can't imagine the mother of adult sons not feeling compassion for those lying in her fields.
Did you know--Robert E. Lee spent much of his childhood at Shirley Plantation with his mother, one of the Carter daughters? Former governor and American Revolutionary War hero Henry "Lighthorse" Lee married Anne Carter, his second wife. However, Anne and Robert lived at Shirley for some time and part of the laundry building at Shirley was converted into a school room for him. There are two versions I have heard of why Henry Lee left his family and departed for the islands. One was that he sought to escape possible imprisonment for debts but the other, per Wikipedia is that he was severely injured while defending a friend from attack, was beaten severely himself, and went to the Indies to recover. Regardless he died on a Georgia island when Robert was about eleven.
This weekend Julian Charity will be doing a book signing at Shirley Plantation on Saturday and on Monday, Memorial Day. He will be signing his book "Courage at Home and Abroad."
Do you have family letters from those who served on either side of this conflict? If so, what were you most deeply touched by?