Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 19

that really were more the work of army contractors than of the service. Their rations were more often poor and scanty, and the sick were wounded did not get proper care, etc. One of our Catholic boys, Tom Woods, came home from furlough with a scarred face where a bullet had gone through his face cutting his tongue and knocking out some of his teeth. Years afterwards General Fitch, who was a surgeon in the army of Buel and Rosecrans, related that at the battle of Perryville, Ky, he saw a soldier jumping and dancing about while uttering crises of distress. He went to him and found him shot through the mouth, and dressing his wound sent him to the emergency hospital. The surgeon-general said it was really a laughable sight except for the soldier who must have thought that his end had come. Michigan Twelfth was in that battle, and Tom Woods was in the Michigan Twelfth. It looks as if in that battle, Tom was a wounded soldier.

          During a part of the winter of 1860-1, I spent a time at Niles helping an old friend of the family who had a small grocery near the railroad depot. He had gone with my oldest brother to the Pike's Peak gold mines the previous spring during the gold rush, and had contracted a cold which settled on his lungs and developed into consumption. He came back for treatment and cure, but by degrees he grew weaker although he did not take to his bed. He asked me to tell Father Cappon to call some time when at leisure. I did so, and a few evenings afterwards the priest came. It was late and Mr Graham (that was the name of the sick man) had gone to bed. Father Cappon said he felt that she should come that night even if it was late, so he spent some time hearing the confession of the invalid, etc., and went away satisfied. During that night Mr Graham woke me and asked me to get him a  drink of water. I did so, and then going back to bed, slept sounding until moring [morning]. I arose before daylight and prepared a little breakfast for both of us, but when he did not get up I became a little alarmed and went to the room where I saw him so quiet that I called a neighbor who told me that he was dead. It was too late when to get frightened, so I watched the store and sent word to my brother in another part of the town. What concerned me more was that when some men came into stretch out the body on the bed a heavy gold ring disappeared and was never found. It was not so much the value of the ring, but the thought that anyone would steal from a dead man, and I had my suspicion as to who did it. I had heard of people so mean that they would steal the pennies from the eyes of a dead man and I now believe that there were such people.

          I mentioned Father Cappon. He was the successor to Father DeNeve who had been recalled to Belgium to the sorrow of the congregation. There were few dry eyes in the church the day Father DeNeve told us goodbye. Father Cappon was also a Belgian, a good zealous priest, but a very mediocre preacher with only a limited supply of English. In those days the national spirit ran higher than it does now, and as the majority of the Catholic were Irish

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