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From the Diary of Clara Solomon:

Collecting Goods for the Hospital at Corinth

 

Clara Solomon


In this journal entry, Clara tells of her school's collection of goods for the soldiers who were hospitalized at Corinth, Mississippi, following the Battle of Shiloh. She also mentions Passover and the lack of food supplies in New Orleans, as a result of the war.

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Saturday, April 19th, 1862

7 A.M. ...[On Thursday] I helped Ma to pack a basket of things to send to School. They were raising a box to send to the Hospital at Corinth [Mississippi], composed of the contributions from each scholar.... It is an excellent idea, & I hope that the children's mite will be appreciated. I did not study as usual.... Mrs. S. [Shaw] requires us to write a history of the war from its commencement to the present day. It is, as you may imagine, a slight task. [My friend] Miss [Juanita] Del T. [Trigo] kindly lent me hers from which I [will] copy. Were I compelled to search for the events myself, it would take me a life time. In fact, I could never do it.

Before [lunch], I went round to [my sister] A. 's [Alice's] School [Webster School, where she teaches]. Everything is bustle & confusion. Lints, bandages, bottles, etc. in the greatest profusion.... I did not stay long, knowing Ma was waiting for dinner, so left with A.

Ma had decided upon getting no [lunch] of any importance, but as it was it was suited far better to my taste than our usual [lunches]. Everything is so dear. It is an utter impossibility to obtain bread. The bakers have suspended baking, & flour is selling at enormous rates. Our "motzoes" [(matzah) for Passover] are so miserably sour that I don't think I have eaten a whole one. A little bit of corn-bread suffices me. I expect before long we shall all starve.

[After lunch] I met [my friend] Alice going to School, & we trod together the old familiar path.... I have discovered that I know my lesson as well without much study.... Oh! I derive no pleasure from School. There is no one there for whom I have a particular affection. Oh! how often do I sigh for my old friend, Clara Gascion. She was so sweet, so affectionate, (every fault is drowned in this one virtue. I hate "cold" people. Let them be as far removed from me, as the poles are from each other). There are Misses L. Very nice girls to be sure, but what does that mean. What does it express.... Then Maggie, she says she likes me, but do I believe it? Were she never to see me, she would never think of me. Oh! for some congenial spirit!...

After School I came directly home. Ma was down stairs sewing, A. [Alice] up dressing, F. [my sister Fanny] out. I resumed my writing for a short time then went to take [care of my sister] Josie. Resisted my efforts to quiet her. F. came.... The pretty ladies [she] had seen had made her quite envious particularly of their toilettes & she cautioned me not to go on Canal St. for I would see too much grand dressing for my own comfort. Innocent child! How often have I returned home almost downhearted at the remembrance of the pretty dresses & faces I had seen. I put the chicks to bed.... Was asleep at 8, & in bed at 9....

Yesterday, being "Good Friday", there was no School, but the previous afternoon it was agreed that the teachers should meet at School the following day to superintend the arranging & packing [of the goods to be delivered to the hospital at Corinth]. A. went about 10, but as I had some little work to do, I promised to follow ere the lapse of much time. I was faithful to my word for it was not an hour after that I was on my way to the institution "which is for briefness"...we shall call W.S. [Webster School].

Everything was very orderly & as only a few suitable large girls had received permission to come. A. was stationed in the yard, receiving & disposing of the articles as they were sent down by Miss Cornelius. I gave a helping hand & in a time they were all conveyed to the proper place. Went up where some were busy doing everything, labeling goods, sewing up bags, etc.... Such a collection of things! It was perfectly astonishing how it amasses. But from such a quantity of individuals everything swells the number.

There was everything necessary for Man's comfort & well-being. Every variety of everything, & it seemed as tho' each thoughtful parent had contributed some useful thing unthought of by another. There were over 1000 bandages, ranging from 1 to 20 yds. in length, clothes & lint! why a blanket full. Crockery, medicines, & I can't begin to tell you. But I can say that not a needy thing was missing, & I was almost envious when I saw the delicious things consigned to the box. But with everyone went our blessing & the hope that every drop of the contents of the bottles would infuse new life into the dear wounded soldiers.

We received a visit from Mr. C. the gentleman to whose care the box was to be intrusted. He was perfectly delighted with everything & said he would tell them all how the children neglected their studies & the teachers devoted their energies for the promotion of their comfort. We told him that we designed them for the wounded soldiers, privates in the hospital. He promised to comply with all our wishes & insured us that they would reach their destination in good order.

After considerable time was occupied in the tight, close packing of one box, we all took a farewell glance at it, speculating by whom it would be opened, how received, etc.; the gentleman covered it up & then left to obtain another one, saying he would be back in 1/2 hour. We began to feel the necessity of refreshing the inner man, so we concluded to dispose of a bottle of preserves, conscious that the one bottle would in no degree detract from the soldier's share. The tempting biscuits before me, I refused. But there is not sacrifice in keeping a fast [for Passover], if temptations are not placed before us.

At three o'clock A. & I deemed it advisable to go, which we did, promising to return. [Lunch] soon was ready, & subsequent to its disposition we left for School. The other box was packed...four well filled boxes was the result of the collection. No School has excelled us. On top of one was some fans & we earnestly wished that our hands would, with them, cool some fevered brow, & all lamenting our inability to accompany them. I should like to administer the things myself.

May every wound, to which the lint, picked by the fingers of old & young, with warm Southern hearts devoted to their country, be applied, heal. May they all perform the missions for which they were intended. We remunerated the "gent" & a smile of satisfaction beamed over his pallid features. It was quite late before we left the building after the performance of one day's devotion to the brave defenders of our homes....


The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon: Growing Up in New Orleans, 1861-1862, edited by Elliott Ashkenazi, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA, 1995, pp. 333-337.

Image of Clara Solomon care of Alice Dale Cohan.

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