Some wounds I dressed, and while engaged on one, a man called from the other side of the house to know what the fun was all about, when the man whose wound I was attending placed a hand on each of his sides, screamed with laughter, and replied:
“Oh, Jim! do get her to dress your wound, for I swear, she’d make a dead man laugh!”
I found some of the nurses; a surgeon came in who would, I thought, attend to them, and I went back to my post to find every man on duty.
It was near sundown when we heard that this backward movement was a “change of base;” but to me it seemed more like looking for a base, as there had been none to change. The stream thickened toward nightfall, and continued until two o’clock next morning; so that our army was twenty-four hours passing through Fredericksburg; and in that time I do not think a man strayed off on to any other street! All poured down that side street, turned that corner, and went on down Princess Ann.
PRAYERS ENOUGH AND TO SPARE.
The next evening, after hearing of the battle of Spottsylvania, and while waiting to know if it had been renewed, I sat after sundown on the door-step of our quarters, when an orderly hurried up and inquired for the Christian Commission. A lieutenant was dying, and wanted to see a preacher. I directed the messenger, but doubted if he would find a preacher, as I had seen nothing of any save a Catholic priest, with whom I had formed an alliance; and I went to stay with the dying man, who was alone.
I found him nervous and tired, with nothing to hinder his return to his regiment inside of a month. He had been converted, was a member of the Methodist church, and seemed an humble Christian man. I told him he was getting well, had seen too much company, and must go to sleep, which he proceeded to do in a very short time after being assured that that motion was in order.
He had slept perhaps five minutes when the messenger returned, followed by six preachers! I made a sign that he slept and should not be disturbed, but they gathered around the bed with so much noise they waked him.
There seemed to be a struggle for precedence among his visitors, but one gained the victory. They all wanted to shake hands with the man in the bed, but his left arm was off, and I objected; whereupon the head spokesman groaned a good solid groan, to which the others groaned a response. He stood at the foot of the bed, spread his chest, and inquired:
“Well, brother, how is your soul in this solemn hour?”
The answer was such as a good Christian might make; and I told the gentleman that the lieutenant had been unnecessarily alarmed; that he had seen too much company, was weary and excited, needed rest, and was rapidly recovering; that he ought to go to sleep; but they all knelt around the bed, and the first prayed a good, long, loud prayer; talked about “the lake that burneth,” and other pleasant things, while I held the patient’s hand, and felt his nerves jerk.