Lehigh University
The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
Previous Issue Next Issue
Previous Page Next Page
0 matches

Text for Page 024

              [newspaper clipping]
             An Incident at Cold Harbor.
   Six days and nights of continuous fighting and
slaughter !  Ah, how tired I got of it, child as I
was, with all of a strong child�s strength and
recklessness !  Four men carrying a pale infan-
tryman stop for an instant in my battery.  The
wounded one suffers intensely from a wound
through the foot.  My sympathy is excited for
the young fellow, and as we at the moment are
doing nothing, I ask for half an hour�s leave.
Getting it, I accompany him back into the woods
to one of the Second corps� field hospitals.
Here, groaning loudly, he awaits his turn,
which soon comes.  We lift him on the
rude table.  A surgeon holds chloroform to his
nostrils, and under its influence he lies
as if in death.  The boot is removed then the
stocking, and I see a great ragged hole on the
sole of the foot where the ball came out.  Then
I hear the coatless surgeon who is making the
examination cry out: �The cowardly whelp !�
So I edge around and look over the shoulders of
the assistant surgeon, and see that the small
wound on top of the foot, where the ball en-
tered, is blackened with powder !  I, too, mutter,
�The coward !� and am really pleased to see the
knife and saw put to work, and the craven�s leg
taken off below the knee.  He is carried into the
shade of a tree, and left there to wake up when
he will.
    With a long breath he opens his eyes.  I am
with him at once, and look sharply at him.  I
will never forget the look of horror that fastened
on his face when he found his leg was off.  Utter
hopelessness and fear that look expressed.  I en-
tered into conversation with him, and he, weak-
ened and unnerved by the loss of the leg and the
chloroform, for once told the truth.  Lying on
his back, he aimed at his great toe, meaning to
shoot   it   off, but   being rudely   joggled by a
comrade   at   the   critical   instant,   his   rifle
covered the  foot  just below the ankle, and an
ounce ball went crashing through the bunch of
bones and sinews.  The wound, instead of being
a   furlough,  was  a discharge from the army,
probably into eternity.  Our guns at the front
began to howl at the rebels again,  and  I  was
forced  to  leave  the   hospital.  The  utter  con-
tempt of the surgeons, their change from careful
handling to almost brutality, when the discov-
ered the wound was self-inflicted, was bracing to
me.  It stung  me  up  as  whiskey would have
done.  I liked it, and rammed home  the  ammu-
nition in gun No. 1 with a vim.               
Loading content ...