WF, Civil War Surgeon & My Greatgrandfather

What’s in Mrs. Hale’s Receipts for the Million1857?

378. To prevent Wounds from mortifying.–Sprinkle sugar on them. The Turks wash wounds with wine, and sprinkle sugar on them. Obstinate ulcers may be cured with sugar dissolved in a strong decoction of walnut leaves.

Echoes of my greatgrandfather

I made a decision today. I took a small group of students working on a History Day project to the Pickett House here in my town. During the 1850s,  Captain George Pickett lived here while on assignment at Fort Bellingham.

One of the  centerpieces in this authentic place is a display of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. It got me thinking about my own greatgrandfather, William Fairchild Osborn, affectionately known in my family as WF.  He was at the Battle of Gettysburg, an assistant surgeon in the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Infantry, 11th Regiment.  Before and after that terrible place, he was at many of the hardest battles of the Civil War.  He is also the reason I became a historian.

A Gift of History and the 150th

I read WF’s Civil War journals when I was just a girl. They made me think about history in a personal way and they made me wonder what it was like. One of the first stories I wrote was about a doctor and his horse.  As an adult, I began to transcribe them and research his story along with my mother Martha Osborn.

Today, as we remember the Civil War of 150 years ago, I’ve decided that I’m going to tweet WF’s journals as they happened. I may not tweet every day, but I will let WF tell his story as he went from a struggling doctor and former school teacher, a 33 year old son of a Presbyterian preacher who didn’t know what to do with his life, into the battles as a Union assistant surgeon and lived to return to Gettysburg for the 50th. To follow WF, find him at @WFosborn1

Some Tweets 1861 style from Eastern PA:

April, Monday 22, 1861

Clear and warm–really spring weather–forenoon at home afternoon went Gburgh to get some advertising–town full of people excited on the war question–two companies of 77 men each are to G this evening– the ever sympathising (sic) Ladies have caught the war spirit & were seen in groups busily plying the needles & scissors in preparing garments for the solders that were to leave in a few hours.

Tuesday 23,

Clear & Warm–fine growing weather day spent in reading and waling about–evening had a call from Mrs H think she has a serious affection of the stomach–appearances of rain.

Wednesday 24,

Cloudy & warm–rain by spells most of day cleared off cool in evening.  Visited Mrs. H and prescribed for her.

April, Thursday 25, 1861

Clear & warm–Went to Greensburgh in forenoon–ordered Stethescope– afternoon visited & examined Mrs. H–evening went to military meeting & made a short speech; which was my first attempt at extempore (sic) speaking–not having the remotest idea of speaking before being called on.

Friday 26.

Clear & warm  Worked at office to day nothing of interest transpired.

Saturday 27

Clear & very warm   Continued to work at office–afternoon got horse shod–evening went to Mt Union School house to military meetings and made a short speech.

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3 thoughts on “WF, Civil War Surgeon & My Greatgrandfather

    • Your book looks interesting. Actually, very interesting. I know there is the story of the dog that was with the 11th and that there is a statute of it. I haven’t been to the Gettysburg battlefield in many years.

    • Thanks for sharing. I want to read more about Sallie. I think my grandfather talked about her. Stories from his dad. the surgeon.

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