Well, Isn’t That Just Peachy

by Debbie on July 2, 2015



Mrs. Andrew B. Marriner was my 3rd great grandmother. Thank you to the crack local news reporter for the Red Bank Register who filed this fine commentary on August 29, 1900.

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In Service to Soldiers

by Debbie on May 23, 2015

Civil War soldiers memorial, Old North Burial Ground, Providence, RI.

Civil War soldiers memorial, Old North Burial Ground, Providence, RI. © Debbie Hadley

Several years ago, I discovered a remarkable woman named Charlotte Burr Field Dailey in my family tree. In 1842, Charlotte Burr FIELD married Albert DAILEY, a lumber merchant in Providence, RI, who was the brother of my 3rd great grandmother Julia Heston DAILEY. Family Tree Maker tells me that Charlotte is the “wife of my 3rd great grand uncle.” So though she’s not a particularly close relation, she’s turned out to be a fascinating figure and I can’t help but want to learn more about her life.

What makes Charlotte Dailey so fascinating? During the Civil War, she was appointed by Governor William Sprague to investigate the conditions of the wounded Rhode Island soldiers. In December 1862, she was appointed to a special commission, and given the following tasks:

1st. To procure from the Secretary of War an order for the removal of sick and wounded Rhode Island soldiers to the United States Hospital at Portsmouth Grove,—similar to that given to Assistant Surgeon James Harris, dated July 5th, 1862, and directing the transfer of invalid and wounded soldiers to Providence.

2d. To visit the United States Hospitals in and around the city of Washington, and especially that in Alexandria ; and, also, the hospitals in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Baltimore, and wherever else Rhode Island soldiers may be situated, with the particular object of finding out their condition, and make a report of each case to this Department, to be presented to the Legislature at its coming Session.

3d. The Commission is particularly charged with the transfer to the hospital at Portsmouth Grove, of all wounded and invalid soldiers belonging to Rhode Island regiments, from the different hospitals as above directed ; and is ordered to perform this duty with the greatest care, having in view the comfort and welfare of the disabled.

4th. To procure the discharge of every soldier found to be unfitted for farther service ; and, also, to cause the removal to said hospital of all those cases where health can be better restored within the State, and whose services will become sooner available to the Government.

Upon receiving the appointment, Charlotte Dailey traveled immediately to Washington, DC, arriving on December 17, 1862. She spent nearly 6 weeks visiting wounded soldiers and assessing their treatment and care, while her husband Albert stayed in Providence, taking care of the household and their four children. By the time Charlotte – Lottie, as she was called by those closest to her – returned home to Providence on January 24, 1863, she had managed to visit 61 military hospitals in Washington, Baltimore, York, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Newark, and New York, as well as 5 military camps.

In her report to the Rhode Island General Assembly, dated February 2, 1863, Charlotte summarizes the conditions of the 408 wounded Rhode Island soldiers she met on her journey:

General debility describes the condition of a great proportion of our soldiers. Some are reduced by disease, and many only by exposure and fatigue. They are discouraged and disheartened by lingering so long in hospitals or the prospect of it.

Two years ago, when I first learned of Charlotte Dailey’s role in helping Rhode Island soldiers during the Civil War, I tried to find more information about her journey to visit them. I was thrilled to discover the Providence Public Library maintains an archive of Civil War documents, and that the collection included Dailey family letters from Lottie’s time on the road. I bookmarked the Providence Public Library’s Special Collections page, hoping I’d get to visit in the future and see the letters for myself.

Charlotte Dailey is buried in the Old North Burial Ground, not far from the Civil War soldiers she served. © Debbie Hadley

Charlotte Dailey is buried in the Old North Burial Ground, not far from the Civil War soldiers she served. © Debbie Hadley

Last month, I finally made the trip to Providence, and spent a day tucked away in a corner of the Providence Public Library, surrounded by old books and maps. The archivist retrieved a box full of letters for me, and I was soon engrossed in the exchange between Lottie and Albert. I photographed every page of correspondence after skimming each letter quickly, and I’m now slowly transcribing them as I find time.

Lottie was, I think, a brave woman who felt a duty to serve her country, no different than the men who took up arms and left their homes to fight. I admire her determination to provide a thorough and accurate account of each soldier’s condition and needs. An excerpt from Lottie’s first letter home, dated December 18, 1862, details her first encounter with the wounded men.

From accounts that I am hearing all the time, I think perhaps it is well I did not go [to Fredericksburg]..Oh! it is perfectly horrible down there, and here to now, for they are sending the wounded here as fast as possible. W. Gardiner was here on Thursday evening & he attempted to tell me of seeing them taken out of the ambulances, but stopped short, choked by his feelings, he said it was impossible to be there and prevent the tears trickling down the cheeks. I saw the train of ambulances & some of the soldiers faces, some were on the seat with the driver completely covered with quilts & blankets. I was riding to where Miss Southwick stays when I passed them & when I arrived there they told me that one of our soldiers had been brought there, a Lieut. Hopkins, his foot shot off; his attendant had brought the trunk of some one by the name of Briggs, who was so shockingly wounded in so many places that he could not bear the agony, so shot himself.

Just a few days later, she writes Albert again, recounting the battlefield experiences the hospitalized soldiers share with her as she interviews them.

Oh Albert it is perfectly horrible to see these men, they are mostly rom the 7th. reg. So many of them speak of Col. Bliss, he went in with his overcoat on & as one soldier said, if the others had done so they would have stood a better chance; but Col. Bliss was every thing could be asked; one man said he saw him in front of his regiment, sword drawn & cheering them on in glorious style, several told me of his catching up a gun & going right in with the men.

One man said he saw Col. Sayle’s head entirely off. One man said they had to go over a fence where they were so awfully cut up that they were laying as high as the fence, he had to walk over them. Oh! the poor 7th. & to think they had only a little old rag of a flag which they have picked up somewhere but I told them of the beautiful one they are to have.

Letter from Charlotte to her husband Albert, Christmas Day, 1862. Providence Public Library Special Collections.

Letter from Charlotte to her husband Albert, Christmas Day, 1862. Providence Public Library Special Collections.

Throughout her letters home, Lottie voices a deep respect and concern for the soldiers. She also confides in her husband that there are some soldiers who might not deserve such respect. I was amused by her comments on Major Cyrus Dyer of the 12th Regiment, who she saw just after he was reportedly wounded in the Battle of Fredricksburg.

What a pity about our 12th. Reg., Major Dyer is not wounded. Do not say it from me but he most certainly has not retrieved his character, he is reported wounded slightly, but I hear from several sources that was–to say the best, just the same as ever.

This Memorial Day, I’ll remember the soldiers who’ve given their lives on the battlefield, of course. But I’ll also remember my 3rd great grand aunt Charlotte Burr Field Dailey, who worked so hard to help the wounded men who made it off the battlefield.

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A Clampffer Family Fish Tale

May 12, 2015

I knew my Clampffer ancestors passed their love of fishing down from generation to generation, and that fishing was a tradition that goes back quite far in our family tree. In the 1780’s, my 4x great grandfather Adam Clampffer was a member of the Schuylkill Fishing Company, a social club of sorts that formed to […]

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The Last Will and Testament of Julia D. Booth

April 26, 2014

Several weeks ago, I attended a webinar on researching estate records, and learned quite a few useful tips for how to access wills and probate records online. FamilySearch.org, a free website for genealogical researchers, hosts digital images of many New York City probate records, and that’s where I found the last will and testament of […]

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If You Like Workplace Safety Standards, Thank My Family

May 18, 2013

My family tree seems to make a pretty good case for the need for OSHA standards. In searching old newspapers for details of their lives, I’ve already stumbled on several family members who met rather horrific ends in the workplace. My third great-grandfather, Andrew Marriner, fell into a circular saw at a lumber mill, and […]

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Here Lies One Tough Dude

April 8, 2013

You can only find out so much about an ancestor by looking at census records and vital records. I followed the trail of census records to discover the identity of my fourth great grandfather, Andrew B. Marriner, and noted he identified himself as a 30-year-old “laborer” on the 1850 census. The family lived in Howell […]

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A Riches to Rags Story

August 22, 2012

I started researching my family history about 6 months ago, and it quickly became an obsession. Thankfully, several of my ancestors spent a good deal of time scratching their genealogical itches, as it were, and left me quite a paper trail to follow. I’ve quickly accumulated over 800 grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins on my […]

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For Uncle Bill

May 20, 2012

Just a few nights ago, I decided to launch this blog. I’d recently started researching my family history, and I wanted a way to share my genealogical finds with my family. I was especially interested in reaching out to my uncle Bill, my mom’s half-brother. Bill started his own search for our ancestors many years […]

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