December 1, 2008
    Hopedale History
    No. 121
    Virginia, 1864


    Hopedale in November   

    Hopedale teacher Tom D’Urso named to Ultimate Frisbee Hall of Fame – Milford News interview.

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      Here is part of the chapter in William F. Draper’s autobiography in which he relates the experience of being severely
    wounded during the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia in 1864. If you’d like to read the whole story, beginning at the
    same point you see below, but continuing to the end of the chapter, click here.

                                                                         Virginia, 1864

      When wounded in the Wilderness I fell unconscious.  A blow as though I were struck with a club on the left breast, a
    feeling of surprise that I was hit at all, (I had begun to believe in my star), and the certainty, from the location of the blow,
    that I was killed, was all that I felt.  If consciousness had not returned it would have been death, and my mental
    sensations would have been no different.  Neither my sins nor my friends, -- what I was to leave here or hoped for
    hereafter -- even flashed through my mind.  I simply realized that I was shot and thoroughly believed my name would be
    among those of the killed in the next morning's report.  The bullet struck me where the neck joins the shoulder, and
    passing through the body, was arrested by one of the spinal vertebrae, which it shivered more or less, as it did another
    bone or two in its passage.

      When I recovered consciousness two men were carrying me back in a blanket, we being between the rebel line,
    perhaps twenty rods back.  Bullets were flying in both directions, and I had a new fear which had not troubled me
    before, -- namely, that one of them would hit me.  When our line was reached I was deposited on the ground, and I told
    my bearers to go back to the ranks, where they were needed, -- that I should die soon.  A moment later, however, I got a
    finger of my right hand into the wound; found it above the heart; and told them perhaps I was worth saving, after all, and
    that they might carry me back until we met men with a stretcher, -- which they did, handling me most tenderly.  When a
    stretcher was found I was carried back a mile or more farther to the field hospital, where I was set down among
    hundreds of others to await my turn.  It came in a short time, as I was of comparatively high rank; and I was spread
    upon an improvised operating table and my coat, vest and shirt cut off, leaving me naked to the waist and leaving also
    my belt and pistol.  My sword had dropped from my hand when the bullet struck me.  I am not sure whether my hat was
    left or not, but I think not.  The surgeons gave me a tumbler full of whiskey and rolled me over to cut; then examined the
    wound, consulted a little, and decided to wait.  The swelling was so great that they feared to cut in the wrong place, and
    I was again placed on a stretcher to await a more careful examination.

      There I lay an hour or two, when the noise of battle came nearer and nearer.  Our right was being driven in, and stray
    bullets began to drop among us.  Pretty soon the attendants began to leave; then the wounded men who could walk
    commenced to hobble away; and finally one of the surgeons came to me and said; "Colonel, you had better get out of
    this if you can; you will certainly die if you are taken prisoner."  I said: "How am I to get out?"  He replied: "I don't know,
    but we are going and I came to give you warning."  Sergeant-major Morse was near me and not seriously hurt, and I
    asked him to see what he could do.  Meantime the supply train and the ambulances and all the camp followers had
    taken alarm and were making their way past us as rapidly as possible.  Among this crowd Morse fortunately discovered
    Quartermaster Tuttle trying to save his wagons and supplies.  He called him and told him of my plight, and the two of
    them, with the help of George Phelps (an old schoolmate), started to carry me away on a stretcher.

      This lasted till they gave out.  Phelps has told me since that he would never carry his own father as far again under
    similar circumstances.  Meantime darkness had come on, and in the confusion they did not know where to find another
    hospital.  Finally they adopted another expedient, -- laying me on my face across the saddle of Lieutenant Tuttle's horse,
    with head and arms hanging on one side, and feet and legs on the other, -- and thus we made our way until they found
    a 6th Corps hospital and found also a stretcher for me, on which I lay till morning.  The hospital had a few tents, already
    full, and hundreds like myself lay around in the open air.  William F. Draper, Recollections of a Varied Career

     The battle was on May 5 - 7, 1864. Draper recovered in Hopedale and rejoined his unit at the siege of Petersburg on
    August 9.

      More on the Battle of the Wilderness from Wikipedia.     From the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.     From
    World History Chronology.   From Son of the South     An account of the battle from a diary.    From Answers.com.

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Scene from the Battle of the Wilderness