During the four years of the Civil War, Floridians endured great challenges and hardships, both during military service and at home. Florida physicians were called upon to serve the Confederate armies, and the sons of Florida families contended with the dangers of battle, rampant disease, and inadequate food and hygiene.
This is a transcribed copy of pages from a small diary documenting the trip that Dr. Arthur Moray Randolph of Tallahassee took to attend his son Thomas in his last illness in Virginia in October and November of 1862.
Thomas Eston Randolph (grandfather to the dying Thomas) and his wife Jane Cary Randolph moved from Virginia to Florida in 1829 and settled in Tallahassee, where they became active in civic and social life. Thomas Randolph was appointed U.S. Marshal for the Middle Florida district in 1831, and co-founded St. John's Episcopal Church in Tallahassee. The Randolphs had eight children, including two doctors—Arthur and James Randolph.
Arthur Moray Randolph's career in medicine was short-lived, owing to a case of tuberculosis. He switched to civil engineering, making a number of surveys of Florida for the federal government. His brother, Dr. James Randolph, represented Leon County in the General Assembly in 1845 and was a founding stockholder in one of Florida's first railways, the Tallahassee Railroad Company. He served as a surgeon in the provisional army of the Confederacy during the Civil War, and in 1881 was appointed superintendent and physician in charge of the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee by Governor William D. Bloxham.
Dr. Theophilus West was a prominent citizen, physician, and druggist in Jackson County, Florida. He moved from Leon County where his father, Charles Bundick West, was a successful farmer.
Dr. West's career spanned the fields of medicine, teaching, and farming. He enlisted in Company E, 8th Florida Infantry, of the Confederate StatesArmy and was appointed assistant surgeon. He accompanied his regiment to northern Virginia, where he served out the war.
After the war, Dr. West returned to Jackson County and started anew at his plantation near Marianna and resumed his medical practice. In 1872, he moved to Marianna, the county seat, and opened the city's first drug store.
This letter was sent from Dr. West, then at a camp near Brandy Station, Virginia, to his sister, Mrs. A.M. Watson of Marianna, Florida, November 6, 1863. In the letter, Dr. West described the overall health of the soldiers as “very good,” although his own health was not as good as he would have liked. He also discussed the opportunities for Christian worship available and the importance of regular services for the well-being of the troops.