Half a Century eBook

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

“Now, George, do you think you can sleep?” He said he could, and I added: 

“Will you pray before you sleep?” He said he would.

“Do you always pray before going to sleep?” He nodded, and I continued: 

“Let us pray together, to-night, just the little prayer your mother taught you first.”

He clasped his hands, and together we repeated “Now I lay me down to sleep,” to the end; when I said: 

“Do you mean that, George?  Do you mean to ask God to keep your soul, for Christ’s sake, while you are here; and, for His sake, to take it to Himself when you go hence, whenever that may be?”

The tears were running over his cheeks, and he said, solemnly: 

“I do.”

“Then it is all well with you, and you can rest in Him who giveth his beloved sleep.”

There was no time for long prayers, and I must go to another sufferer.

A kind, strong man, from the Michigan Aid Society, came and worked two days among my men, and said: 

“If I only had them in a tent, on the ground; but this floor is dreadful!”

Up stairs were some wounds I must dress, while a corpse lay close beside one of the men, so that I must kneel touching it, while I worked.  It lay twelve hours before I could get it taken to its shallow, coffinless grave; and while I knelt there, the man whose wound I was dressing, said: 

“Never mind; we’ll make you up a good purse for this!”

He had no sooner spoken than a murmur of contemptuous disapproval came from the other men, and one said: 

“A purse for her!  She’s got more money than all of us, I bet!”

Another called out:  “No, we won’t!  Won’t do anything of the kind!  We’re your boys; ain’t we, mother?  You’re not working for money!”

“Why,” persisted the generous man, “we made up a purse of eighty dollars for a woman t’ other time I was hurt, and she hadn’t done half as much for us!”

“Eighty dollars!” called out the man who thought me rich; “eighty dollars for her! why I tell you she could give every one of us eighty dollars, and would not miss it!”

Another said: 

“She isn’t one of the sort that are ’round after purses!”

Why any of them should have thought me rich I cannot imagine except for the respect with which officers treated me.  To veil the iron hand I held over my nurses, I made a jest of my authority, pinned a bit of bandage on my shoulder, and played commander-in-chief.  Officers and guards would salute when we passed, as an innocent joke, but the men came to regard me as a person of rank.

Citizens of Fredericksburg, who at first insulted me on the street, as they did other Yankee nurses, heard that I was a person of great influence, and began to solicit my good offices on behalf of friends arrested by order of Secretary Stanton, and held as hostages, for our sixty wounded who were made prisoners while trying to pass through the city, before we took possession.

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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