Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Pennsylvania's Emergency Men

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Archive Find: "My name is Mrs. L. M. Ferman and am a soldier"

Lately, I have been drawn in several directions, on many research topics and projects.  When sifting through hundreds of archived records and other fascinating documents; one is bound to become sidetracked by an interesting photograph, a grabbing headline, or an eyebrow raising quote. 

Recently, while perusing the collections, at the Pennsylvania State Archives, my eyes came upon the intriguing quote seen in the title of this post.  Reading on, I became fascinated by the story of one "Mrs. L. M. Ferman".   

A family goes to war - Library of Congress, via

Writing to Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, Mrs. L. M. Ferman offer fascinating glimpses into the life of a woman "gone to war", who eventually finds herself caring for the sick and wounded in a Washington hospital.  While many women did follow their husbands into the army, their stories are not always as well known as their armed counterparts.  Mrs. Ferman's story reminds us of both the physical and mental hardships that these women suffered side by side with their husbands, and, as in the case of L. M. Ferman, with their patients as well.  Stories, letters, and voices like Mrs. Ferman's compliment the stories of battles and soldiers, and help paint a more rounded and vivid picture of the human tragedy that was the American Civil War.

Sept 18th 1862
Honorable Sir
Will you spare one moment of your limited time to read a few lines from a stranger altho I have had the Honor of seeing you that was on the 26th of last February at Camp Curtin Harrisburg Pa.  you may think strange of my addressing you, the Governor of the state of Penn. however I take the liberty to do so.  My name is Mrs. L. M. Ferman and am a soldier.  I enlisted with my husband one year ago the 10 of this month.  I have seen some hard time marching from place to place.  We belong [to] the 111 Penn Vol. [Pennsylvania Volunteers]  We belong in Crawford Co Penn. we camped at Camp Read Erie Pa. until the 25th of last Feb when they were ordered to Baltimore on our way we campt at Camp Curtin.  I remember it was bitter cold.  Our regiment was presented with a beautiful flag by Gov. Curtin.  We came on to Baltimore + campt at Camp McKim.  While then my husband was sick.  he was Seargant but they thought proper to detach him for the Hospital therefore put him + myself in the Hospital together.  I am the daughter of the 111 P.V. [Pennsylvania Volunteers]  When we were ordered to Harpers Ferry I was in the General Hospital then nurseing takeing care of the sick + wounded.  I left my home for the purpose of doing my duty to my Country in takeing care of the sick + wounded.  Therefore I wish to do all I can for  them  the poor sufferers my heart aches for them.  We are in the Georgetown College Hospital.  My husband is to work as a Wound Dresser, and of the best kind, and I am here with him and have no posision.  For in this place nurses have their appointment from Authority of those that have power to appoint nurses – therefore will you grant to me a situation as nurse.  You wil not only confer a great favour but the Almighty will Bless you.  I hear from a Lady that has just came through Harrisburg that you are one of the kindest Gov. that ever lived.  At any rate I suppose I can stay with my husband where he is in any Hospital.  Please tel me if I can.  We came here from Gen Hospital Harpers Ferry to this place the 26th of Aug.  could not get to our Reg. [Regiment] on account of this late [2nd] Battle of Bull Run.  We had our baggage marked for our Reg. but could not get them.  We have lost every thing we had to ware.  I have no clothes for a change and am entirely out of funds.  Therefore I wish to go to work for I must be going something.  My husband wil not get any money this 2 months.  I cannot be idle. No way.  I have been here one week in this hospital and have worked every day.  But I want a permanent situation.  Please write immediately.  Direct to my husband G. C. Ferman[1]  Georgetown College Hospital D.C.  there is other ladies here and more are needed

[written in the top margin of the third page]
P.S. I have a recommend from the Church but it is in my trunk and lost with the rest of my things therefore I wil send you one from our Reg that are wel acquainted with me at home.

[written along the left edge of the third page]
The Dr that takes charge here.  His name is Brown.

[written along the right edge of the third page]
Your most obedient servant  Mrs L M Ferman

[1] Samuel Bates’ History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865  lists George C. Ferman as a Private of Co. E, 111th Pennsylvania Infantry.  He enlisted for 3 years on November 22, 1861, but was discharged on Surgeon’s Certificate, March 14, 1863.

Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5 : prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869. 

Ferman, Mrs. L.M. Letter to Governor Curtin, September 18, 1862. Pennsylvania State Archives, Record Group 19, Office of the Adjutant General, Series 19.29, General Correspondence.

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