Fame is only a finger mark in sand,
A noble life is man's only enduring monument.
Further, it must not be supposed that when the government published the archives of the two war departments for the period referred to, the annals of that most exciting epoch were fully presented to the world. Only the views of engagements as seen by the commanding officers have been presented while the great landscape of experiences and sacrifices, of ministrations and sufferings, of devotion and romance, of consecration and self-denial -- the real web and woof of the times -- lies unrecognized, fully exemplifying the trite but no less true * asseveration that --
"Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its fragrance on the desert air."
"Viewed from the Northern standpoint and a participant in the Union Army for the defense of the nation; ...does not detract in the least degree from according sincerity of purpose, evidence of the highest bravery and consecration, and the most unselfish devotion to those involved on the other side of the bloody controversy. The conflict was one between members of the Angdo-Saxon race, and impartial history, forgetting the rancor and enmities of the time, will record the deeds of valor and the acts of consecration, with even handed justice and fairness. These gems can be secured only after the lapse of time, by actual contact with the bonafide participants in such episodes. The authentic history of the war is yet to be written by the facile pen of the unprejudiced historian.
"Could the stately palms and the redolent refreshing magnolias of the Sunny Southland reveal the many sacrifices made by the maimed and dying beneath their refreshing foliage; could the twinkling stars that looked down with silent grief upon the heroic scenes witnessed upon numerous battlefields unfold their heart-breaking records; could hospital tents and hurried ambulances give up the secrets of intense suffering and unutterable woe which they only possessed; could the briny tears of joy and satisfaction that chased one another down the cheeks of some darling boy, lately given up to war by a devoted and affectionate mother, express the message of gratitude experienced on account of loving and timely ministration in suffering; could the ominous look, the suppressed whisper, the affectionate farewell messages of the dying, and the untold evidences of sincerest appreciation and gratitude, voice forth their real and full significance; yea, could all these multiform witnesses of humane and almost God-like ministrations on the battlefield, on the march, in the hospital, in the camp -- everywhere -- join their testimonies in one mighty chorus of gratitude, they would proclaim, in notes quite divine, the untiring, the unselfish, the incessant and the inexpressible services of the army nurse, and most prominent among these would stand the name of our subject, Mrs. Newsom, the Florence Nightingale of the South."
[* the solemn or emphatic declaration or statement of something.]
The transcript submitted of the life and doings and sayings of the heroine of the Sunny Southland, Mrs. Newsom, the Confederate Nurse, the " Florence Nightingale of the Southern Army " will fail to accomplish its primary purpose if it shall fail to leave the impression that the marvelous power and influence she exerted during those four years of strife were owing primarily to the giving up of her richly endowed religious nature to the humane work of comforting, alleviating and blessing both physically and spiritually those who were fortunate enough to be subject to her ministrations. Her absolute self-abnegation, her utter obliviousness to personal comfort, her complete consecration of time, money, servants, energy -- her all, to the well-being of others, friends or foes -- these are the characteristics that challenged the admiration of her contemporaries and will secure for her, in the future, the exalted regard of the American people.
In the light of these considerations these pages should be read and weighed; and from these standpoints the most valuable lessons will be learned. Written for the American Tribune by J. Fraise Richard. The writer incorporates here a part of what he wrote for the American Tribune of Indianapolis in 1895.
The subject of our sketch, Mrs. Ella K. Trader, better known as Mrs. Newsom from heroic and unselfish devotion to the cause of the sick and suffering soldiers of the Confederate army during the late war, richly deserves to be called "The Florence Nightingale" of the South. She is a native of Brandon, Miss., and the daughter of Rev. T. S. N. King, a Baptist minister of prominence and ability. At an early date in her existence her father removed with his family to the wilds of Arkansas where, amid the roughness and adversities of pioneer life, she was skilfully trained in the most daring and accomplished feats of horsemanship, and became thoroughly qualified for the trying experiences which subsequently characterized her arduous and unselfish life in the hospital service of the Confederacy.
"With this object in view she sacrificed position, wealth, ease, health, and almost life itself in the cause of her beloved Southland. Utterly oblivious of personal comfort, she devoted herself to the hospital service and labored with fearless consecration in the midst of soul-harrowing scenes of carnage and bloodshed or in the "pestilence that walketh in darkness."
In a letter she says: "I was born in the little town of Brandon, Rankin Co., Miss. The village looked like a big ant hill, and the population though small was just about as thriving and active as the busy ant.
"My father was a Baptist minister and pastor of the only church of the peculiar people in the town. He was quite well off in this world's goods and my mother coming of an aristocratic family chose to hold herself rather aloof from the church folk.
At an early date in her existence her father removed with his family to the wilds of Arkansas, where, amid the roughness and adversities of pioneer life, she was skillfully trained in the most daring and accomplished feats of horsemanship, and became thoroughly qualified for the trying experiences which subsequently characterized her arduous and unselfish life in the hospital service of the Confederacy.
In process of time she became acquainted with Dr. Frank Newsom, a highly educated and accomplished physician of that region who early removed from Tennessee. The acquaintanceship developed into the strongest affection and culminated in matrimony. The husband dying, his widow was left with an ample fortune; but with it the sorrow and loneliness that inevitably attend the severance of most happy and compatible conjugal relations. Her only relief was consecration to duty and labor in the busy scenes of the world.
Subsequent to the War, Mrs. Newsom married a Confederate officer, Colonel Trader who lived a number of years. He dying, she was thrown, as the result of financial losses during and subsequent to the war, into a largely dependent condition. Deprived of the sight of one eye and rendered almost totally deaf, she was subjected to conditions embarrassingly in contrast with the state of affluence possessed while the widow of Dr. Newsom. Under these circumstances, her friends sought aid for her. In 1885 an effort was made at Asheville, N. C, to secure, by popular subscriptions, the means by which a suitable residence was to be established. The movement was undertaken under the direction of the Asheville Advance with a view to securing The Newsom Home Fund.
In no department has this been more manifest than in that line of work falling under the ministration of hospital agencies. The Ambulance system, or that of movable hospitals, has done much to assuage human suffering. On the field of battle stretcher-bearers have served an equally humane purpose. Trained nurses, Sisters of Charity, agents of mercy of the Red Cross and other humane agents have been successful in alleviating suffering in the various fields of martial activity.
It may interest the reader to institute a brief comparison between the two heroine Nightingales, Miss Florence and Miss Ella. We are aware that sometimes comparisons are considered odious; but in this case we are confident that the more carefully and fully the comparison is made, the more brilliant and commendable will stand forth the character of each.
1. The notable feature of both Nightingales is the highly endowed moral nature of each. This, considering the humane mission selected by each was essentially fundamental. Strong faith in God and love for him; love for suffering and distress in human kind on the field of conflict; alleviation of pain resulting from sincere sympathy for beings in distress -- these constituted the foundation, on which the whole superstructure rested.
2. Each deemed a preliminary hospital training essential to ultimate success in her calling, and each was willing patiently to undergo such training.
3. Both kindled in their patients the most intense admiration and retained it tenaciously as long as the patients lived.
4. Both had the capacity to organize and manage a corps of workers, and to inspire them individually with the same devotion and zeal which they themselves felt.
5. Each labored from the standpoint of entire consecration and devotion to the work in hand, taking no account of the lapse of time or inconvenience encountered.
6. Both counted financial means of no consequence except as those means inured to the well-being of the unfortunate sufferers.
7. Both endured bodily infirmities patiently and uninterruptedly; and in this manner they became successful teachers of their fellow mortals in the great lessons of endurance and sacrifice for others.
8. Each lady inspired, during her active career in the field of war and suffering, the most intense regard and admiration, but witnessed the period succeeded by half a century of neglect and indifference before final reward of gratitude and appreciation came.
This comparison may be closed with the observation that Florence Nightingale of England, the original angel of mercy, became the model and ideal of Mrs. Ella K. Newsom, the "Florence Nightingale of the Southern army."
Modern warfare is greatly improved on account of the mitigation of suffering. The barbarity of the past has yielded to conditions more in harmony with the spirit of the age.
The most conspicuous character in modern angelic ministration on the field of carnage is Florence Nighingale whose fame is world-wide.
Miss Florence Nightingale, philanthropist, daughter of Mr. William E. Nightingale, a Hampshire landowner in England, was born at Florence, Italy, May 12, 1820. Richly endowed and highly educated, she early took on a philanthropic mold of activity. In 1844, when but twenty-four years of age, she began to give attention to the condition of hospitals. She personally inspected and studied eleemosynary institutions all over Europe much as John Howard had done a century previous. She learned from the Sisters of Charity in Paris, and finally went herself in 1851 to Germany, entering an institution of Protestant Sisters of Mercy at Kaiserville on the Ehine. Having completed her preparation she returned to England and began the reorganization of work at a Governesses' Sanatorium.
The Florence Nightingale of the Southern Army; experiences of Mrs. Ella K. Newsom, Confederate nurse in the great war of 1861-65 (1914). Richard, J. Fraise (Jacob Fraise).