Grant’s Neglect of Federal Wounded
By W.M. Dane
We had witnessed all these horrors, with our own eyes, days before, from our lines, and had been helpless to do anything for them. Hundreds of wounded Federal soldiers lay between the lines, day after day, and perished for want of help. Several of us, unable to bear the sight of their suffering, went out one day to carry them food and water, and the Federals fired upon us, and wounded one of our men, then we had to leave them alone. They could not or would not care for their wounded, and would not let us do it. It was stated among us that General Lee had sent an offer to General Grant to permit him to send, and care for his wounded, near our lines; and he refused. And then General Lee offered, if Grant would suspend hostilities for some hours, that we would care for his wounded rather than see them suffer, and die, before our eyes; Grant refused that proposal too!
Certain it is, these poor fellows were left to their fate and perished, miserably, by wounds and famine, and fire. Their many dead, in our front, lay unburied until the odor from them was so dreadful that we could hardly stay in our works. It may be that General Grant had this in mind, and was determined that, if his live soldiers couldn’t drive us out of the works, his dead ones should. Well! he had his way of making war! And on account of his inhumanity to his wounded, his own men thought as ours did, that his way was very brutal! I heard his own men curse him bitterly. They called him “The Butcher” in those days. The feeling of his army to him was widely different from our feeling for our General.
All those dead soldiers along a line of five miles lay rotting on the ground, until we had gone away, and the people of the country neighborhood had to collect them from the fields, and thickets, and bury them, for fear of pestilence. And when one remembers that from Thursday, the 5th of May, to Thursday, the 12th of May, General Grant had lost 40,000 in killed and wounded, the dread sight of death and suffering we looked upon, can be imagined! The thronging lines of unburied dead,—it was a shocking and appalling spectacle!