By the fall of 1862, after a serious wound in his thigh from a Confederate Minié ball in the Virginia Battle of Gaines Mill, my great-grandfather Archibald Van Orden finally arrived in Washington, D.C., for recuperative care and recovery.
The recently opened Campbell Hospital in the Capitol was his first stop. Pain, sickness and infection were constant companions of Union soldiers who were able to receive care there. But the camaraderie of wounded vets encouraged all.
Like Archie, many fellow soldiers and bunk mates survived dire wounds during The Seven Days Battles. They talked of exploits in war and hopes of returning home alive.
Yet, when Archie was mustered out of the 12th NY Infantry due to his debilitating leg wound that would prevent further infantry service, he was greatly saddened. Comrades-in-arms had become his best friends and he missed them dearly.
Returning home that winter to Peekskill, NY, to continue rehabilitation and recovery, Archie avidly followed reports of the war, reading newspapers and Harper’s Weekly. Distressingly, most of the news was bad for the North. Southern victories came often, and Northern losses mounted devastatingly. Emotional depression descended deeply into the psyche of Knickerbockers, who waited grudgingly for Spring to bring a new Campaign season — and victories.
Posted in Key Person, Key Place, Progress
Tagged Archibald Van Orden, Battle of Gaines' Mill, Campbell Hospital, Civil War, History, Knickerbockers, NY, Peekskill, Washington D.C.
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” This wisdom from Abraham Lincoln continues to inspire many lives.
My great-grandfather, Archibald Van Orden, first saw President-Elect Lincoln at Peekskill, NY, in 1861. He would meet President Lincoln personally in 1865. Lincoln and his abiding commitment to Union would inspire Archie for a lifetime.
As I post in this blog highlights from the historical research I am pursuing, I am moved to add these thoughts about my great-grandfather himself: During four years serving his country in the Civil War, Archie lived more — and more fully — than most men live in a lifetime.
It is my honor and privilege to author the book that is inspired by Archie’s life — dire challenges, fearsome warfare, devastating losses, and the final triumph of love — that make his adventures more than a story of a man, and truly a tale for the ages.
The Civil War between southern and northern states was raging on December 24.
Loved ones at home prayed for the safety of their soldiers in the field, as this drawing by Thomas Nast in Harper’s Illustrated so touchingly depicts:
On this Christmas Eve 2012, I pray for the safe homecomings of our armed forces in the service of our country, the United States of America, all around the world.
May our brave ones soon be reunited with their loved ones at home.