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Historic Diaries: Emily Quiner, 1863

Aug. 25,: 1863: Tearful Goodbyes

Editor's Note:

With the war in the West so quiet, there was simply no need for so many volunteer staff at the Gayoso Hospital. Emily's reflections on leaving speak for themselves.


Platte Valley: This steamship had served in the southern Mississippi Valley throughout the war, and had been attacked by Confederate troops as early as November 1861. By the time Emily boarded it, the boat was a wornout veteran of many trips up and down the river.


View Emily's entire diary at Turning Points in Wisconsin History.


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Tuesday 25th


We went up to the office immediately after breakfast to see what the prospects were for going home. Mrs. Burke went with us, Mr. Smith said that it was very probable that we would go tonight. We made a few purchases in town and then returned to prepare for our journey. I packed my trunks and dressed myself after dinner and then went to bid the boys good bye. Went through Ward 1 first. Poor boys, some of them cried at parting with me, I have been up there a good deal and it seemed very hard to go away and leave them so sick. I went through Ward B and also the kitchen and shook hands with all the boys, before going into my own ward. I felt as bad at leaving my boys that it took away all the pleasure I had felt in the prospect of going home, some seemed to feel sad at the thought that I was going to leave them poor fellows they are so grateful for any kindness shown them. I was glad when I had got around, I shall miss my ward, and my poor sick boys, whether they do me or not.


I had not much time to spare, I had a long talk with Dr. Nelson in which he very kindly advised me in matters affecting my interests, and whether I take the advice or not I shall always be grateful to him for the interest he has taken in my welfare. He has been very kind to me and I shall always remember him as a true hearted gentleman. He gave me some cotton flowers to bring home and also another rose flower whose name he did not know, and also a book which he had lent me. He asked me for my address and gave me his, promising to call upon me in Madison on his way home if he possibly could.


We bade all our friends good bye and started for the boat about half past four. Mr. Watt, Mr. Cotton & Dr. Jackson accompanied us. The boat was almost ready to start and we bade them good bye, and shortly after [were] standing on the [indecipherable] as the domes and spires of Memphis receding from our view. I stood on deck until the city was lost to my view behind the winding banks of the river and then went into the cabin.


I felt sad tonight and for several reasons, the principal one was leaving the boys sick in the Hospital. Most of them I shall never see again, if any, I felt a sort of presentiment when I came away that I should never return, however that may be, the God who careth for us all keep them in His kind guardianship. We took passage on the [steamboat] Platte Valley, not a very large boat but a good sailor. Went out upon deck after supper but could not remain long on account of the chilliness of the atmosphere. Retired early.

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