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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 294 pages of information about Half a Century.

“That is it, exactly!  You will get over this!  I will have you transferred to a gunboat, and next time you will go into the Rebellion prow foremost.  You ought to be at work, in time to help take Charleston.”

I continued to talk, in a sing-song croone, to stroke his head, and hold his hand, until he slept, which was but a few moments after settling that transfer, and the last time I saw him, which was in ’79, he got over the ground and up and down stairs, as fast as most people, his new bone being quite as good as any of the old ones, except being a little short and decidedly crooked, although the crook did not effect its usefulness or general appearance.

CHAPTER LXIII.

A HEROIC MOTHER.

James Bride, who drew me to Campbell, by asking for “something to quench thirst,” was one of the thousands who died of flesh-wounds, for want of surgical trap doors, through which nature might throw out her chips.  His wound was in the hip, and no opening ever was made to the center of the injury, except that made by the bullet which had gone in and staid there.

His mother came three days before he died, and being minus hoops and finery, the ward surgeon was anxious she should remain with her son, and we arranged that she should sleep in my room.  There was just space between the cot and wall for the breadth of a mattress, and when the door was shut, that space was long enough, for me to lie between the door and the stand.  I have never entertained a guest more cheerfully, or one by whose presence I felt more honored; yet the traveling costume was a short calico dress, strong leather shoes and blue woolen stockings, visible below the dress, a gingham sunbonnet and double-bordered cap tied under her chin.

Several richly dressed ladies came from Eastern cities to see dying relatives, but to none of them were the surgeons so thoroughly respectful, as to this plain, strong, clean, high-souled country-woman, who staid with her son, and was hailed with joy by all the men in his ward, to every one of whom she was sympathetic and helpful.

Her case was hard.  She and her husband, who was old and feeble, had just three sons, two strong and vigorous, one a cripple.  Their two vigorous sons enlisted together, and fell in the charge on Marie’s Hill, within ten feet and ten minutes of each other.  William was buried on the battle-field, and she had come to see James die in hospital.

When all was over and her boy was carried to the dead house, they brought her to me, and I have never heard such pathetic, eloquent expressions of grief as those she poured forth in that little, rough, barrack-room.

“Oh, William!  William!” she sobbed, “You are lying, to-night, in your bloody grave, and your mother will never know where it is! and you, James! you were my first-born, but I cannot go to you now, where you lie in the darkness among the dead!  Oh, but it is a sad story I must carry to your old father, to bring his gray hairs in sorrow to the grave.  Who can we lean upon, in our old age?  Who will take care of Johnny when we are gone?  Oh, it is a hard, hard lot.”

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