Letter from Thomas McKean, from Washington, D.C., June 25, 1862

June 25th, 1862.

Dear Wife – I have just come from the hospital, and find an alarming chance in Jim Henderson’s condition. About day’s light his arm commenced bleeding again, not as it did before from the artery, but what the Surgeon calls secondary hemorrhage. It did not bleed much, but the fact of its bleeding at all is a very bad symptom. He is very low in spirit for the first time, and has lost his appetite. Yesterday, I sent him a stewed chicken, and he ate some of it, but today he could think of eating nothing but some ice cream. I got him some, and he ate pretty freely of it.

He is quite restless today, and thought if he had a large rocking chair he could sit up in it more comfortably than in bed. I got one for him at a furniture store, but would not let him get into it till the Surgeon should see him. The Surgeon was busy, but said he would see him soon as possible. I talked with the surgeon about him. He does not give him up, but thinks his case is a very serious one. A troublesome cough annoys him today. In short I cannot see any favorable symptom in his case.

Yesterday I had great hopes of him, and he felt well himself, and wrote a page of a letter to his wife, getting me to finish it. Today I cannot see any room for hope. I engaged one the nurses to pay particular attention to him while I am not there. I will be with him as much as I can. You had better get Tommy or John McKean to take this letter out to Henderson’s. I do not know whather to advise any of them to come on or not. It is impossible to say how long James might last, in case the worst happens. He has about four months pay due him now, which some one must draw for him, and his father, in the event of his death, could draw it. They will, in any case, do all that is possible while he lasts, and also afterwards.

I am well, but feel shocked and nervous. I had such strong hopes yesterday, and today they are all gone. May heaven temper the stroke to his poor wife and parents, and enable them to bear it.

Ever yours Tom