May 24, 1706
Atlantic (Sat 8.39)
January 8, 1900
Dear Mrs. Whitelaw Reid
I should have liked to have sent you a letter before leaving (?) but I was absolutely ? at the (?). We have experienced 10 most ? days. Leaving London in a fog we had to anchor in the Thames, a delay of 24 hrs. We encountered the most terrific gale in the Bay. I had to “…to” for 48 hrs. I have been in a good many ships & on a good many seas - but (in all?) never in a worse gale. We were very thankful to come out of it safe. Everyone was sick on board from the ship's officers to the stewardess. Of course no work could be done - but since Las ? where we stopped 4 days ago the weather has been perfect & everyone is working hard to get the wards in order and before we get to the Cape. You will be glad to hear that the whole staff seems quite satisfied & are gradually finding their proper places. The surgeons are excellent men I think & work capitally. I am very glad that I came as I think & hope that I have been instrumental in smoothing over things & preventing any friction between the American & British contingents. Besides the commanding officer we have 5 (more?) commissioned officers on board. I was rather afraid at first that the (Mills Men?) would not take kindly to so much military discipline - but I think they do not mind & am sure they realize the value of it. The want of system & method are the only subjects of criticism I would indulge in - both with the surgeons & the male nurses. But they are all “buckling to” & I am sure will do admirably. Miss Hibbard is invaluable.
?? Col. Hems..? the C.O. was in the Life Guards - he is a Gentleman & (an/as fond?) a good fellow but rather a …. - under the circumstances &?
answers very well, & I think you men will profit by it. They are nice men & come to our service on Sunday & sing lustily. You will have heard of our naming our 4 principal wards—“Whitelaw Read” (after you) Bernard Baker, Columbia & Britannia. I shall hope to write to you again from Capetown & tell you how the work is done. We were very sorry about the 3 men who left us an hour before we started. They behaved very badly as there is no doubt they never intended to come - &allowed me to pay for them at the hotel for 3 weeks & also to get their uniforms. However they are not to be considered & we shall get on very well without them. Miss Hibbard begs me say that they are all very well & very happy. My youngest son has joined the Natal Cavalry & has started for S. Africa. Of course it is a great source of anxiety to me - but I am thankful the other escaped from Pretoria. Please thank Mr. Whitelaw Reid for his letter to me. I am glad to say I have arranged the next 2 nos. of my Review & I trust it will not suffer in my absence.
Jennie Randolph Churchill
The cases of instruments are quite perfect the surgeons admire them immensely. Letters were sent by the Sec./sea for the Cocommittee to each subscriber.