Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

April 15, 2018

 

 

 

 

Outstanding Civil War Nurse had Roots in the North Country

 

“She carried comfort and help to the sick and wounded men and as a volunteer served without pay or reward.”

 

     Two crumpled, incomplete and unidentified newspaper articles area all that remains to tell the story of Charlotte Bennett Hazen’s significant Civil War contribution as a nurse in the thick of battle.

 

 

     Charlotte Augusta Bennett was born in Ticonderoga, NY on March 4, 1810, the daughter of Daniel and Sarah (Fitch/Burroughs) Bennett.  Daniel Bennett was born at Fort Ticonderoga and served as a volunteer in the War of 1812.  Sarah Fitch’s family traces to the 1683 New England branch of that name.

     Charlotte married John Henry Hazen, a box manufacturer on July 18, 1831.  They were the parents of children:  Sophia Pell, George Henry, Rufus Gilbert, Julia Anna, John, Charlotte Augusta, Sarah Lucretia, Edgar Hoyt, Alfred Freeman, Mary Browning, and William, all born prior to 1852.  Charlotte died March 30, 1885.

     Early in her married life, Charlotte Bennett Hazen, a native of Ticonderoga, found herself in New York City.  By 1852 the last of her 11 children had been born and in 1861 she was ready to volunteer in the war effort.  In her own words she wrote:

     “I commenced my work for soldiers on the 26th of April 1861 by forming a society for the relief of soldiers passing through New York, by making havelocks and other necessary articles required for comfort in marching.  These articles I delivered personally at the Part to regiments halting there for rest.  Being the directress of the society, that devolved on me.

     The society to which I was an officer was attached to Dr. Armitage’s church.  In the meantime, one was formed in the Madison Avenue Church and meeting on different days of the week, gave me the opportunity to work in both societies, which I did.

     The Ladies’ Hospital, Lexington Avenue, was opened on May 2.  On May 3 I volunteered, as did others, my services, being present an d closing the eyes of the first patient dying (Lieutenant Vily or Vez).  I worked form that time until the 2nd of January 1862, in every different department, caring for the sick and wounded, and at the same time, learning of the routine or organizing and carrying out the work of that kind, receiving individually supplies from Putnam and Dutchess County churches as well as churches in the city.,

     I was helped by Horace Greeley and Peter Cooper besides our medical faculty consisting of Drs. Mott, Alfred Purdy, Bolle, and Peag.  On January 4 or 6 I went with Mrs. Lander to Port Royal with other ladies.  There was some trouble getting ladies into hospitals.

     We were taken to Beaufort, SC where there were no general hospitals, but rather regimental ones.  Through the influence of Dr. Hoffman of the 90th regiment, who knew me in the Ladies’ Hospital in New York, I succeeded in getting into No. 5 hospital attached to Connecticut.  I think General Hawley’s regiment remained long enough to get in other nurses for Mrs. Lander.

     I then went to No. 4 hospital belonging to the 4th New Hampshire.  There everything was in confusion.  No hospital fund or anything to do with, and so bitterly opposed to ladies.  But (with) the substantial information gained in our Ladies’ Hospital in New York I soon overcame that, and with the help of Dr. Greeley, who had charge of it, we soon got in working order, raising in a short time, with what help I got from one of the commissions that arrived about that time, a fund that was sufficient to care for all.

     I remained with this hospital until spring (1863) when I was taken from under Mrs. Lander by Surgeon-General Crane and ordered to United States Hospital, Hilton Head, with two other of her other nurses.  The hospital was under the management of Drs. Semple, Miller, and Bell.  I remained there for some time after General Hunter’s failure to take Charleston, visiting for Pulaski and taking delicacies to the sick.

     After entering the hospital at Hilton Head, I received my donations that I used to receive at Hilton Head through Surgeon-General Crane with the addition of exchange papers from Horace Greeley for the soldiers with a liberal supply of the best wines and brandies from a source I never knew, but found them of great service in the hospital.

     I remained there I can’t say how long after (as I contracted a fever from a marine that died in my ward of ship fever), and I had to be sent home, but I soon recovered.

     I was then informed of the great want of vegetables as the hospital at Hilton Head, and I went up to Putnam and Dutchess Counties, and as a result of my labors, received a large number of barrels of vegetables which the quartermaster general forwarded and which were the first vegetables at the hospital that had ever been received there.

     I received nothing for my services until I entered the US Hospital.  They gave me an order at the hospital for salary which I was obliged to take.  The hospital was destitute of chairs and comfort for the sick.  As I was then not in want of money and considering myself a volunteer I use the money for the men’s comfort.”

     An account written at a later date gives further information on Mrs. Hazen’s experiences.  “After the Battle of the Wilderness, Charlotte Hazen was called to City Point and afterward she served with Mason’s Mission and established a diet kitchen.  When the mine exploded at Petersburg, she aided Senator Anthony all night in caring for the injured.  Under the strain and constant work her health broke down, but on the transport that Lt. Col., now Brigadier General Ross, who lost one leg and needed constant attention, Mrs. Hazen came forth.”

     A letter from General Ross written to Mrs. Hazen’s daughter speaks the feeling of gratefulness (he had) on that journey when the enemy were shelling the boat and everyone deserted the wounded man but the heroic woman, who he says, ‘sat at the head of my stretcher seeking by her example to encourage me, feeding or watering me as though I were a child.’

     No pension was given her, and the granting of it was not made known until after her death.  Not only were her own means freely spent but her home in NY sheltered many soldiers who were recuperating their health.  Her children used to call it the “hospital” or “the repair shop.”

     On one occasion when caring for her wounded after a battle, Mrs. Hazen was asked by General Grant who was passing, for a drink of water.  She refused it upon which he said, “I don’t think you know who I am.”  “Yes I do,” she replied, “but the lives of the wounded depend upon this water.”  (The) explanation seemed to be perfectly satisfactory to the general as he commended her for it.

     The volunteer work done by Mrs. Hazen was carried on with much less help from organized bodies than can be had by workers in the present war (?).  Her passes from General Grant and General Sherman were almost her only protection and with these she passed from one end to the other of the Union lines, carrying comfort and healing wherever she went.

     A mob once attached her home in NY.  She went to the door to face the rioters when the leader, recognizing her as the nurse who had tended him when he was wounded and ill, turned upon the his following and forbade them to hurt her or her house. … (The account ends here).

 

This material was taken from two unidentified newspaper articles, one without a title and containing the written words of Charlotte Hazen; the second entitled, “Nurse in Civil War.”  Copies are in the possession of Frederic A. Silva, formerly of South Glens Falls, now residing in Lebanon, Oregon.  Mr. Silva is the great-great grandson of Charlotte Bennett Hazen.  Genealogy information is from The Hazen Family in America by Tracy Elliot Hazen, Ph.D. and published by Robert Hazen, M.D., Thomaston Connecticut, 1947.  Thank you to Dr. Marilyn Van Dyke for pulling this story together.

 

Warren County Historical Society // 50 Gurney Lane // Queensbury, NY 12804 // (518) 743-0734

 

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