Half a Century eBook

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


“Do you remember a man there, that every one said was going to die, and you said he wouldn’t?”


“Well, I’m the fellow.”

I looked at him inquiringly, and said: 

“Well, did you die?”

He burst into uproarious laughter, and replied: 

“No, but I’m blamed if I wouldn’t, if you hadn’t come along.”

I passed on, left him leaning against the wall finishing his laugh, and saw or heard of him no more.

It was but a few days after he passed out of my knowledge that news came of the death of Gen. Lowrie.  It was the old story, “the great man down,” for he died in poverty and neglect, but with his better self in the ascendent.  His body lies in an unmarked grave, in that land where once his word was law.

Pondering on his death, I thought of that country boy going to his father’s house, with the life restored by one he knew not, even by name, and the going home of that mature man, who thought he knew my inmost soul, and with whose political death I was charged.  Only the wisdom of eternity can determine which, if either, I served or injured.  To the one, life may lack blessing, to the other, death be all gain.



I sat down stairs, for the first time after a two weeks’ illness, when Georgie Willets, of Jersey City, came in, saying: 

“Here is a pass for you and one for me, to go to Fredericksburg!  A boat leaves in two hours, and we must hurry!”

For several days the air had shuddered with accounts of the terrible suffering of our men, wounded in the battle of the Wilderness; and a pall of uncertainty and gloom hung over the city.

I made a tuck in a queen’s-cloth dress, donned it, selected a light satchel, put into one side a bottle of whiskey and one of sherry, half a pound of green tea, two rolls of bandage and as much old table-linen as packed them close; put some clothing for myself in the other side, and a cake of black castile soap, for cleansing wounds; took a pair of good scissors, with one sharp point, and a small rubber syringe, as surgical instruments; put these in my pocket, with strings attaching them to my belt; got on my Shaker bonnet, and with a large blanket shawl and tin cup, was on board with Georgie, an hour before the boat left.

It had brought a load of wounded from Belle Plain; some were still on board, and suffering intensely from thirst, and hard, dry dressings.  It was a hot day, and we both went to work giving drinks of water, wetting wounds, and bathing hot heads and hands.  As Georgie passed the foot of the cabin stairs, Miss Dix was coming down, and called to her, saying: 

“What are you doing here?”

She made no reply, but passed on to her work, when the irate lady turned to where I was drawing water from a cooler, and asked, in a tone of high displeasure: 

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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