Thursday, December 27, 2012

Letters from the Front - Nathan Hayward

Saturday, December 27, 1862

Doctor Nathan Hayward penned a letter to his father from Fredericksburg, the first letter he was able to compose since the battle. He explained that he was operating on wounded soldiers from morning until after dark every day for nearly two weeks. He worked in concert with other doctors and surgeons, consulting with them for the best course of treatment and operation. He relayed that he is currently the acting surgeon for his brigade.

Doctor Hayward stated that the newspaper reports of the battle at Fredericksburg was laughable and exaggerated. He hoped that the disaster at Fredericksburg will bring about the restoration of General George McClellan. He relayed that the soldiers are dissatisfied and dispirited since the removal of McClellan and that they entered Fredericksburg expecting defeat and slaughter. Hayward spoke highly of McClellan, stating that “no other man can command the confidence of his veterans.” Hayward felt that General Ambrose Burnside is affable and a gentleman, but he remarked that these qualities do not make a great General. “The army knows full well that affectional qualities are not what it requires, but intellect in a special department, and that the only man who has displayed great intellect in this specialty has been most foolishly, almost madly, removed.”1

1Nathan Hayward, "Letters," Association of Officers of the Twentieth Massachusetts Regiment, Reports, Letters and Papers Appertaining to Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, vol. 1, p. 401-403, Twentieth Massachusetts Special Collection, Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts.

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