Half a Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Half a Century.

“Doctor, is not this hospital gangrene?”

He looked down at me, seemed to take my measure, and answered: 

“I am very sorry to say, madam, that it is.”

“Then you want lemons!”

“We would be glad to have them!” “Glad to have them?” I repeated, in profound astonishment, “why, you must have them!”

He seemed surprised at my earnestness, and set about explaining: 

“We sent to the Sanitary Commission last week, and got half a box.”

“Sanitary Commission, and half a box of lemons?  How many wounded have you?”

“Seven hundred and fifty.”

“Seven hundred and fifty wounded men!  Hospital gangrene, and half a box of lemons!”

“Well, that was all we could get; Government provides none; but our Chaplain is from Boston—­his wife has written to friends there and expects a box next week!”

“To Boston for a box of lemons!”

I went to the head nurse whom I had scolded in the morning, who now gave me writing materials, and I wrote a short note to the New York Tribune

“Hospital gangrene has broken out in Washington, and we want lemons! lemons! LEMONS! LEMONS! No man or woman in health, has a right to a glass of lemonade until these men have all they need; send us lemons!”

I signed my name and mailed it immediately, and it appeared next morning.  That day Schuyler Colfax sent a box to my lodgings, and five dollars in a note, bidding me send to him if more were wanting; but that day lemons began to pour into Washington, and soon, I think, into every hospital in the land.  Gov.  Andrews sent two hundred boxes to the Surgeon General.  I received so many, that at one time there were twenty ladies, several of them with ambulances, distributing those which came to my address, and if there was any more hospital gangrene that season I neither saw nor heard of it.

The officers in Campbell knew of the letter, and were glad of the supplies it brought, but some time passed before they identified the writer as the little sister in the bad ward, who had won the reputation of being the “best wound-dresser in Washington.”



Rules required me to leave Campbell at five o’clock, but the sun was going down, and I lay on a cot, in the bad ward, feeling that going home, or anywhere else, was impossible, when that large doctor came, felt my pulse, laid his hand on my brow, and said: 

“You must not work so hard or we will lose you!  I have been hunting for you to ask if you would like to remain with us?”

“Like to remain with you?  Well, you will have to send a file of soldiers with fixed bayonets to drive me away.”

He laughed quite heartily, and said: 

“We do not want you to go away.  I am executive officer; Surgeon Kelley and Dr. Baxter, surgeon in charge, has commissioned me to say that if you wish to stay, he will have a room prepared for you.  He hunted for you to say so in person, but is gone; now I await your decision.  Shall I order you a room?”

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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