RAYMOND: "Have You a Father and Mother?"
by Rebecca Blackwell Drake
Frank Herron, age 15, had suffered a severe wound to the thigh during the Battle of Raymond and was taken prisoner. Following surgery which was administered by a Federal Surgeon, he was left to recover with the other injured. The following is the conclusion of his memories of the Battle of Raymond.
"In a few days the wounded Federal officers were moved to the town of Raymond and the rooms at Mr. McDonald's house were used by the wounded Confederates. My wound had not been dressed in six days and was giving me great pain. I believed I was going to die.
"While there my attention was attracted to a beautiful girl standing in the door with tears trickling down her cheeks. Her true Southern heart was bleeding and she was overflowing with profound sympathy for us wounded men and boys. For a short time I was transformed into a new creature. My wound ceased to pain me and I wiped away the tears which had moistened my cheeks. In a few moments this girl came and sat down by me and took my hand saying, 'Have you a father and mother?' She then procured a basin and some water and washed my face and combed my hair as best she could, then brought me something to eat. After this she made an effort to cleanse the clotted blood from my wounds and found to our surprise that the wound was full of worms.
"In a short time I was moved to the hospital in the Court House at Raymond. This little girl visited the hospital daily, brought me something nice to eat, and a bouquet of flowers.
"Among the great mass of suffering humanity at the hospital could be seen the grand and noble daughters of the South, the majority of them raised in luxury, inexperienced in every sense for hospital work, with their sleeves rolled up to their elbows, hastening here and there, tenderly nursing the wounded and dying. Never was there more heroism and self sacrifice shown by the nurses in any part of the South than was shown to the wounded and dying soldiers and Raymond by these noble women, and it is a source of pleasure to me in my declining years to live my life over, in thought, especially that part of it which was spent at Raymond.
"In fact, I love the word 'Raymond.'
Four months following the Battle of Raymond, Frank Herron escaped from the Federals and rejoined his Tennessee regiment. Unfortunately, he was captured near Franklin, Tennessee, and imprisoned at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. Young Frank Herron, still a child, remained in prison until the end of the war. Still a teenager, he returned to McGregor, Texas, to resume his life.
"Twenty-eight years after the Battle of Raymond," reminisced Herron, "I wrote the post master there making inquiry about several of the young ladies whom I remembered and especially the precious little girl that I first saw standing in the door at her father's home. I knew her as Miss Myra McDonald, who is now Mrs. Myra Dennis, and resides in Jackson, Mississippi. The answer to my letter to the post master came from this Mrs. Myra Dennis, and I am proud to say that we have kept up a correspondence ever since. One of her daughters, a beautiful young lady of nineteen, paid myself and family a visit several years ago. It is useless for me to undertake to describe my feelings when I saw this beautiful daughter of the lady who nursed me from almost death back to life. I will never forget the kindness and tender care of Mrs. Myra Dennis to a wounded soldier boy of fifteen, and if I can pay the debt in no other way I will endeavor to pay it in gratitude.
"In conclusion, I wish to mention a command which I heard General Grant give to the Chief Surgeon at the field hospital. It was this, 'Give the wounded men every attention which it is possible and make no distinction between Federals and Confederates.' This is not given from report. I was within twenty feet of him when he gave the order."
Frank Herron was forty-three years old and living back in McGregor, Texas, when he made his first attempt to contact Myra McDonald of Raymond. The year was 1888 and a number of years had passed since the close of the War. Regardless, he mailed his letter of inquiry to the Raymond Post Master and was elated to receive a response. In her own handwriting, Myra McDonald Dennis responded that she did indeed remembered him and his stay in the Raymond Hospital.
For the remainder of Frank Herron's life, he remained close to Myra McDonald Dennis' family. And, until his dying day, he loved the very name, 'Raymond.'
*The memories of many of the soldiers who fought in the Civil War were recorded by Miss Mamie Yeary of McGregor, Texas, and printed into book form in 1912. The name of the book is Reminiscences of the Boys In Gray, 1861-1865. The book was reprinted by Moringside in 1886. Portions of this book pertaining to the Battle of Raymond were discovered by Jeff Gaimbrone who works at the Old Courthouse Museum in Vicksburg.
Photographs by James and Rebecca Drake from the 1998 Reenactment
© 1998-2005, all rights reserved