41st Illinois Infantry Civil War flag

Part 2

"The Toll of Battle"

February 13, 1862 - April 20, 1862

Civil War photograph of young Aaron Loder Mastin was lost during transfer of this web site to new server.
The account below is the 2nd section from Aaron Loder Mastin's personal diary which he kept during his early years in the U.S. Civil War. I have transcribed the text as it was written for historical accuracy. I hope that you enjoy the thoughts and feelings of this 19 year old Union Army soldier.

"Feb. 13, we break up the 41st hospital and turned our things over to the surgeon of the 48th and 14 of the boys that I have been nursing was sent into their hospital and I am sent over as a nurse this evening. One of the 41st came back from Fort Donaldson [Fort Donelson] on the Cumberland.

Feb. 14, this morning there is snow on the ground and it is still snowing and is turning colder. One of the boys got a furlow for three months. He has had sore eyes for a long time and is getting a discharge from the service.

The surgeon of the 48th is in a great way for us to move our men. He says that there is not room for so many, he having a great many sick men.

We went to an old house that had been occupied by the 12th Illinois hospital this evening. We again moved the sick men. The house was so bad that Buck Posley, our ward master, went to see the medical director to have them moved. He got back about an hour after dark with a wagon and took them to the female seminary. That building is being fitted up as a hospital.

Feb 15, our forces that is up at the river has been fighting hard at Fort Donaldson[Fort Donelson]. We are now looking for some 100 to 200 wounded from the battlefield today.

Today I and P.T. Posley is detailed as nurses at the Seminary, and C. Posley is also detailed as druggist. This evening I am at the Seminary. Posley and I is going to nurse together. We have thirteen patients. There is one with small pox in the building but they are going to send him away.

Feb. 17, this morning between three and four o'clock there was 40 arrived from Donaldson[Donelson]. They was from several regiments, some from Illinois and Ohio and Iowa. There is but few of them dangerously wounded. One Lieut. from the 48th Ill. Vol. is here; he is wounded in the thigh. They was still fighting when they left, but it is the general impression they would not hold out long. We are looking for more wounded at any time now.

Feb. 18, this morning will long be remembered by the brave ones of our union for it characterizes one of the most dangerous blows that has been given to the Rebellion(the fall of Fort Donaldson). The fort was surrendered this morning with more than 10 thousand prisoners of war with all their arms and baggage and ordinance stores, and what is better still the capture of one of the old traitors. His name was Buckner.

Generals Pillow and Floyd have made their escape down south toward Nashville, Tennessee. We have also taken over 100 guns, some of them had been taken from our boys at the Bull Run disaster. Some of them is Giffield cannon.

Feb. 19, today I have 27 patients. Some of them is sick and some of them is wounded. Three of the 41st boys got a furlow today. They will leave for home this evening.

Feb. 20, today it has rained hard all day, and I have not got any news from the 41st.

February 21, A. Graham has come down from DeWitt to look for the boys from that place, he did not find any of them at this place and he is going to Fort Donaldson to look for them there.

Yesterday morning all of the Indiana boys left here for Evansville, Indiana. I have 24 men under my care this morning. C. C. Jordan died, he belonged to the 31st Indiana company. He was wounded in the shoulder and breast.

February 22, today there is two men from Tennessee has come to nurse. They had to leave there on account of their Union sentiments. Today one of the wounded men was sent to the general hospital.

February 23, this morning I got a box of provisions from home. There was five roasted chickens in it but they had all spoiled but there was some apples, apple butter, and cakes which I done justice to.

24th, clear, pleasant weather. The number of this hospital is 7th division. Dr. Kirch has been in charge of it today. Dr. S.A Williams of St. Louis is here and (he) is going to take charge of this hospital today.

Two men died late this evening. One of them, J.B. Colvin, died of a wound in the thigh having received the wound at Fort Donaldson, the other was H. Whitmer, disease unknown.

Feb. 25, beautiful morning. Surgeon Wilmers of St. Louis took charge of this hospital. He also appointed me ward master.

Feb. 26, it has been raining hard all night. H. Benson died today of pneumonia, it being the prevalent disease now in this (St. John's) hospital.

Feb. 27, fine morning. I am in good spirits at present. B. F. Fletcher died this morning of diptheria, the first case of that disease we have had.

Feb. 28, today I am well and the health of the patients seem to be growing better this fine morning.

March 1st, Spring comes in with a warm cloudy day. Pneumonia seems to be doing its final work. Several of our brave soldiers seems not able to stand it.

March 2, today all is dark and dreary but the vivid flash of lightening and the heavy thunder reminds me of the summer storms. The pouring rains brings back thoughts of bygone days and merry ways. We have admitted thirty patients today.

March 3rd, we have positive news of the evacuation of Columbus. They have taken all of their guns with them or have thrown a great many of them in the river. They have left large quantities of ammunition there.

March 4, still the cold and chilly blast brings into requisition the overcoat as an indispensable requisite to comfort. G.W. Newton died today of typhus fever.

March 5, a spring sun dawned on us this morning but was of short duration for it was soon obscured by heavy clouds and the snow has already begun to fall. We have several cases of smallpox attached to this hospital.

March 8, spring weather is now smiling again on people who have long wished for the genial rays to drive the winter clouds away. S.P. Ezad died today of typhoid fever.

March 9. Pleasant morning. Most of the wounded have recovered and are able to go home on furlows. Plummer died today, disease unknown, as he was dying when admitted.

March 10, the number of patients in St. John's is now 126 and still on the increase.

March 11, spring in all her charms has now begun to assume her best as mistress of the season. Two men died today, L.S. Thompson and Rubb, disease pneumonia.

March 12, the warm bright sun proclaims the return of spring but the day is marred by death's triumph over many brave soldiers fighting for the good of his country again.

I have to record the death of two of our boys. One died of smallpox at the best, the other one was W. Lewty, he was wounded in the head at the battle of Fort Donaldson.

March 13, vegetation now puts forth to greet a genial sun. We have two or three men that is very sick today.

March 14, we are in receipt of new cots today. We are making arrangements to accommodate 100 patients. Two men died today, M. McKinney, diresipelis and T. Whitcum, pneumonia.

March 15, today we are ordered to make arrangements for to accommodate some wounded. There is a battle anticipated somewhere soon. Sam Kauntz died of double pneumonia.

March 16, the bright sun begins to start into making vegetation lovliest hues and bids the gentle warblers to tune their songs of mirth for spring is sure here.

We got our cots today but could only have 35 instead of 100 as we was counting on. This was on account of us not having room without putting them too close together.

March 17, surgeon Wardner and Dr. Hawthorne's wives is now stopping at this post, rather distinguished and acceptable company. They are agreeable, benevolent and charitable, they have the good respect of patients and the help also.

Fairly died today. He is to be sent home to his friends.

March 18, clear as a bell, warm as a summer, beautiful as Eden, how sickening it is to be cooped up here as if I were a prisoner instead of a patient in the walls of this hospital amongst all the maladies that human beings are subject to.

March 19, heavy rains last night. Surgeon McNeal came down from the 41st. He says that the boys are in bad health. Three patients more today.

March 20th, today I was somewhat startled at the doctor pronouncing one of the patients as having the malignant typhus fever. I have taken all of the patients out of the room but him and took all the beds and bed clothing out too and sprinkled the floors to keep off such diseases as are catching. I also sprinkled the yards with copperous dissolved in water.

March 21, the man that was said to have the malignant fever was a mistake as he has got the scurvy. There was 18 admitted to St. John's yesterday and eight today. Some of them is very low with pneumonia.

March 22, there has been one admitted today.

March 23, today we have one death, W.A. Carpenter, Co. J. 2nd had disease typhoid pneumonia.

March 24, today we have some news from island No. 10 and our doctor has taken a notion to go down and see the fight. He has got Dr. Thompson of the Regt. Ohio Vol. to take charge of the St. John's until he gets back.

March 25, Dr. Wilman did not get off yesterday for Island No. 10, he has gone today. We have got some time and me and a stewart is going to whitewash a room today. D. Pursley of Co. K 36th died today, disease diarrhea and pneumonia.

March 26th, the weather is fine at this time. The stewart, the clerk and the druggist and myself drawed a dress suit from the quartermaster, price $.73.

March 27th, today we are scouring up and some of the nurses is hauling coal today. We also moved the patients over here from the branch called rubeola ward and all the clothing and stoves.

March 29, I have been taking an invoice of the property that belonged to the St. John's hospital which I find a very tedious job.

March 30th, the weather is very bad. It having rained some through the night and still raining. I received a letter today from my brother H. H. Mastin [Hiram H. Mastin]. He says that my brother's wife is very sick, she is having a congestive chill.

I give a copy of my orders from the surgeon in charge of St. John's hospital, Paducah, Kentucky.

The Ward Master will take charge of all the effect of the patients and keep an account (as in Form No. 7) in connection with the task. He will take an inventory of all things in the hospital at the end of the month. This includes the cooking utensils and everything not needed will be handed over to the stewart and an account kept of it also [report] to stewart anything lost. Also he will have the nurse report to him every morning the number of vacant beds in their respective wards and he will then report the whole number of beds vacant to the clerk. Also he will keep an inventory of the effect of the dead. See that the nurses do their duty in every respect. Keep boots, hats, and clothes out of the beds. [Signed] T.N. Wilmans, surgeon in charge.

March 30, today is Sunday and I have been to Catholic church. As this is the first time I was ever at one of their meetings, it seemed kind of odd indeed; the old priest looked quite comic, he put me in mind of the Indians with his old jacket on.

March 31, this morning I helped to clean up and to scrub and then went with J.A. Posley to take a walk. We went to a Mr. Madison's nursery and garden. The garden was very beautiful, many of the flowers was in full bloom. He has a large nursery and a couple of greenhouses. The lady took us around and showed us the flowers and told us the names of most of them and invited us back to pay her another visit. This evening, we lost another man, his name was J.D. Rich.

April 1st, last night we had a very heavy storm here, blowing down fences and unroofing houses. The streets this morning are full of railing, tin roofs blown off the houses. The weather has cleared up and we had a pleasant day.

April 3rd, this morning Dr. Wilmans arrived from Island No. 10, he reports the siege still going on. The federals have got several batteries planted below the Rebels thereby cutting off their retreat down the river.

April 4th, today is warm and pleasant. We have had one death today. His name was J.W. Robinson, 52nd Inf., disease pneumonia.

April 5th, this morning is warm and pleasant. J.A. Posley and myself took a walk out to the graveyard. The graveyard contains two hundred fifty deceased soldiers. I saw the places where they had just dug a long trench and there was 19 in one and 21 in another one, all the rest I saw was buried single. While out there I got to see some of the boys from where I was raised in Shariton County, Ohio. I got to hear from an uncle or two I had not seen or heard from for eight years.

April 6, this morning is very pleasant. We have sent twelve of the convalescents to another hospital. I thought this morning I would go to church but the deaths of one of my men prevented me. His name was Samuel Fitts, K. 38th Ill. Vol., disease congestive fever and erysiphelas.

This afternoon I went down to where the 21st used to be camped. And when I got back there was another man dead. His name was Henry Boyd, Co. H 57th Ill. Vol., tonight I went to church. The 1st lieutenant in the 6th Col. preached a good sermon.

April 7th, this morning we are looking for the commander of the first to be around to see our hospital so we have been cleaning up.

April 8th, I am fixing up this evening. We heard that island No. 10 was unconditionally surrendered and that General Grant had engaged the enemy up close to Corinth and had defeated them. We look forward with great anxiety.

April 10, today the weather is cold and chilly. The wounded from Pittsburg is coming down today. This evening we have 19 more in the hospital, 17 of them being wounded at Pittsburg.

April 11, it has been raining all day. The wounded are still growing and going up and down the Ohio River.

April 12, today it is raining and the weather is cold for the season. This evening we received ten more wounded from Pittsburg. They are most of them dangerous. There is only one from the 41st. His name is Deboris of Ohio.

April 13, today is Sunday and a nice day. I have been thinking that I would go to church today but I could not leave tonight.

April 14, today I was awakened at four o'clock to lay out a dead man. His name was Bryan Davis, K. 28th Ill. wounded through the lungs. Since writing the above a man died. His name was John Denbow, 18 Ohio. He was upwards 77 years old. His son is also in the hospital; he is over 45 years old.

April 15, the weather is very pleasant today. This afternoon one of our men had two of his fingers amputated. He had been wounded at Pittsburg. This evening Al Poosman of Co. G. 52 volunteers, died, disease pneumonia.

April 16, this morning there is some appearance of rain. There was another amputation today. It was one of the 11th boys, and his leg had been taken off just below the knee. Dr. Wilmers performed the operation. He (the patient) is very low and is not expected to survive the operation. Since writing the above the amputation case has died. He died at 8 p.m.

April 17th, today our hospital has changed hands and there is another doctor by the name of Stahl has taken charge and Dr. Wilmans is going to take charge of the Gothice hospital, a change which I am very much opposed to.

April 18th, today it has been raining almost all day. There has been one more amputation performed today, his name is Hotbran. He was wounded in the hand and had to have it taken off.

April 19, this morning I was down in town and was walking along the street when I heard a voice calling me by name. I looked around and one of the boys from the nation that had been there on furlough had got back and L.B. Young was along with him. I got a letter from home and was otherwise much pleased to see them.

April 20, this morning the boys that I spoke of yesterday (L.B. Young and H. Murray) have started up the Tennessee.

I met with an accident this morning by the accidental discharge of a revolver, the ball passing through two of my fingers on the left hand, which is quite painful just now."

Here the Civil War diary of Aaron Loder Mastin ends.

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