Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Mrs. Harriet Eaton, of Portland, Maine, was a widow with three children by the time the Civil War began. When Mrs. Isabella Fogg asked for assistance in the war effort, Harriet signed up, leaving her two younger children with friends. Her son had already enlisted in the army. The two women faced extreme hardships as they traveled through the war-torn country-side in the vicinity of Virginia and Maryland, distributing supplies sent from home. They visited regimental encampments and hospitals throughout the area and were constantly apalled by conditions they found. Harriet wrote in her journal, " Oh these poor men! They have to dress their own wounds, wash themselves if they are washed at all and eat -- I wish I could attach one of their rations to this book that it might be seen at home... It is discouraging to go into this Hospital for the poor men are most starved I have not a doubt of it. " The two women struggled on and did what they could. After the battle of Chancellorsville, where the hospital she was working in came under attack, Harriet returned home to her children, and worked with the Maine Camp Hospital Association in Portland. In 1864 she returned to work at City Point, Virginia, very close to where the Union Army was laying siege to Petersburg, Virginia and remained several months at the "Maine Agency" until Mrs. Mayhew, from Rockland, Maine, relieved her.