Historic Diaries: Emily Quiner, 1863
July 22, 1863: Death and the Theater
Emily takes mortality in stride just three weeks after leaving her complacent life in Madison. She comments calmly on the death of one her own patients and one of her sister's as if they were unremarkable, and devotes more lines of her diary to a disappointing theater performance than to events in her ward. She has been quickly transformed from a naive and distant observer of the war into a hardened participant.
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Warm today. Rose early. Went to my ward this morning, found that my poor Virginian had died during the night. The nurses were with him when he died. They said that he died easy. I am sorry for his wife. I must write to her.
I have been in my ward all day. This afternoon the Ward Master brought me an order from the Surgeon in Charge to the effect that the ladies employed as nurses in the Hospital should not enter the kitchen, as they have been accustomed to, for the purposes of cooking for the sick men, neither leave their wards on any account unless by permission of the Surgeon in Charge of the ward. This was sent as a general order to all the nurses in the Hospital. It created quite an excitement but we had a good deal of fun about it, as when we asked our surgeons to let us go out in the afternoon they gave us permission to go out at any time we pleased.
A man died in Fannie's ward last night.
We all had an invitation to go to the theatre in the evening, it was a Soldier's Benefit night and we went. It was crowded to excess and so very warm that it was almost impossible to breathe, and I had not been there five minutes before I heartily wished myself back at the Gayoso. The acting was the most miserable I ever saw and if anybody ever catches me at that place again, I hope that I shall have as miserable a time as I had then.