From Ontario County Journal 27 May 1910

PERSONAL WAR EXPERIENCES - Canandaigua Has Some Living Heroes Who Had Hair Breadth Escapes in Civil Strife

It is impossible to transfer to the heart and mind of the generation which has come upon the stage of activity since the close of the Civil war the full significance and meaning of the Memorial day to be observed on Monday next, as seen and appreciated by the men who wore the blue. Personal experiences which time cannot blot from memory make the day sacred in their minds.

"What stands out in your memory as your most thrilling experience during the war?" Edward H. Frary, well-known veteran, was asked this week. Mr. Frary was wounded several times. "I have often been asked," he said, "how it felt to be wounded. That depends upon the nature and location of the wound. A flesh wound in the calf of the leg feels like a sting or a blow, hardly noticeable for a few minutes. Another time I was struck in the knee pan with a ball that was either spent or glancing from a tree. I was just stepping forward. The force of the ball threw the leg back. I fell forward, and upon getting up, the leg was so numbed I could not stand upon it. It soon recovered its normal condition. At another time I received what was nearly a finishing wound. The ball striking in the left lower triangle of the neck, came out near the third dorsal vertebrae. It had passed through the upper part of the lung and broke a rib in its passage. At the time it seemed to me as though a mighty iron hand had torn off my whole left side, blood spurted from my mouth and nose, causing me to think the end had come. After the first few minutes I sensed but little pain. While being carried to the rear by comrades, I could hardly breathe on account of the accumulation of blood in the throat and lungs. It was a long trip and I grew faint. I asked the comrades to lay me down, which they did. I became insensible, and they supposed that I was dead. After laying there several hours, I regained consciousness and was carried back finally to the field hospital. As my wound was considered fatal, I received no care whatever from the medical staff. I lay two days on the ground along with several acres of wounded. I was near enough the operating table to witness the surgeons at their bloody work. They amputated limbs until it seemed to me there must have been more than a cord of bloody severed arms and legs. It was about midnight of the third day, I guess, that they commenced to load the wounded into ambulances. Soon all were filled. Then about a hundred army wagons were loaded, and all started for Fredericksburg. I was loaded in to the last one, having been picked up because I was in the way of the team, which had stopped and refused to trample over me. Then began the ride to Fredericksburg -- across fields, logs, ditches, corduroy roads and ruts. Is it any wonder that every jolt I wondered whether I would be alive for the next one? I often dream of the horrors of that ride."

C. H. Proudfit, now residing at Rochester, tells the story of how his life was saved by H. B. Ferguson of this village, a member of his company in the 126th regiment. "It was 46 years ago the 6th of this month," said Mr. Proudfit. "I had received what were supposed to be two mortal wounds and was left upon the field for dead. My left arm was shot away and I had a bullet in my side. Ferguson was wounded too, but he picked me up and helped me to the rear. I don't know all that happened. Ferg. wrote a line north to my relatives and I have that now in my possession, highly prized."

One day at Spottsylvania stands out in memory of A. Eugene Cooley as having presented all the horrors of war. Mr. Cooley served with the Fourth N. Y. Heavy Artillery. "The morning of May 12, 1864, found us," says Mr. Cooley, "in the rear of the second corps, when the charge was made on the Bloody angle. The battle in front, forcing the rebels back, was furious, and from our position we were in plain sight of the fighting. Men fought like demons to take the life of their fellow men. Dead and wounded were lying everywhere. The carnage kept up from early morning until after dark. Screaming shells mingled with the cries and moans of the dying. The air was filled with splinters and limbs shattered by the rain of shell. The struggle over, we were marched back into the timber and laid down, hoping to get a little sleep. In a few minutes we were ordered to pack up and fall in and make no noise. Then came a view of the most horrible sight of the war. As we marched across an open field in the woods, large bonfires gave flickering glimpses of blood-stained surgeons working by fire light. It was the field hospital. Emergency operating tables were constructed on poles. I observed at the end of the tables piles of legs and arms, each as large as cocks of hay. Probably the total of killed and wounded that day was over 12,000."




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