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bizzilizzit
09-29-2006, 01:38 PM
NASHVILLE DAILY UNION, September 11, 1862, p. 1, c. 5-6

Wounded.

"Six hundred and forty-three wounded!"
"If that were all!" my wife spoke in a sad voice. "If that were all!"
"The return is given as complete," I said, referring again to the newspaper which I held in my hand. "One hundred and forty-one killed, and six hundred and forty-three wounded."
"A fearful list; but it is not all," my wife answered. Her tones were even sadder than at first. "A great many more were wounded—a great many more."
"But this is an official report, signed by the commanding general."
"And so far, doubtless, correct. But from every battle-field go swift-winged messengers that kill and wound at a thousand miles, instead of a thousand paces; bullets invisible to mortal eyes, that pierce loving hearts. Of the dead and wounded from these we have no report. They are casualties not spoken of by our commanding general."
I had not thought of this; or, at least, not with any realizing sense of what it involved. My wife resumed:
"Let us take the matter home. We have a son in the army. The ball that strikes him strikes us. If, in the list of killed and wounded, we had found his name, would there have been no bayonet point or shattering bullet in our flesh? I shiver at the thought. Ah, these invisible messengers of pain and death wound often deeper than iron and lead."
As she spoke my eyes were resting on the official list, and I saw the name of a friend. An ejaculation of surprise dropped from my lips.
"What?" My startled wife grew slightly pale.
"Harley is wounded."
"O, dear!" The pallor increased, and she laid her hand over her heart—a sign that she felt pain there.
"Badly?" she tried to steady her voice.
"A ball through the chest. Not set down as dangerous however."
"Poor Anna! What sad tidings for her!"—My wife arose. "I must go to her immediately."
"Do so," I answered.
Soon afterward we went out together; I to my office, and she to visit the wife of our wounded friend.
It is strange how little those who are not brought into the actual presence of death and disaster on the battle-field realize their appalling nature. We read of the killed and wounded, and sum up the figures as coldly almost as if the statistics were simply commercial. We talk of our losses as indifferently as if men were crates and bales. I do not except myself. Sometimes I feel as though all sensibility, all sympathy for human suffering, had died out of my heart. It is, perhaps, as well. If we perceive to the full extent the terrible reality of things, we would be in half paralyzed states, instead of continuing our usual employments, by which the common good is served. We cannot help the suffering nor heal the wounded by our mental pain. But let us see to it that through lack of pain we fail not in ministration to the extent of our ability.
When I met my wife at dinner time, her face was paler than when I had parted with her in the morning. I saw that she had been suffering while I, intent for hours upon my work, had half forgotten my wounded friends, Harley and his wife; one pierced by a visible and the other by an invisible bullet.
"Did you see Annie?" I asked.
"Yes."
"How is she?"
"Calm, but hurt very deeply. She only had the news this morning."
"Is she going to him?"
"There has not been time to decide what is best. Her husband's brother is here, and will get as much information by telegraph as is possible to receive.—To-night or to-morrow he will leave for the battle field. Anna may go with him."
"She appeared to be hurt very deeply, you say?"
"Yes," replied my wife, "and was in most intense pain. Every line in her face exhibited suffering. One hand was pressed all the while tightly over her heart."
"What did she say?"
"Not much. She seemed looking into the distance, and trying to make out things seen but imperfectly. If he were to die I think it would kill her."
"Two deaths by the same bullet," I said, my thoughts recurring to the morning conversation.
In the evening I called with my wife to see Mrs. Harley. A telegram had been received, stating that her husband's wound, though severe, was not considered dangerous. The ball was extracted, and he was reported to be doing well. She was going to leave in the night train with her brother-in-law, and would be with her husband in the quickest time it was possible to make. How a few hours of suffering had changed her! The wound was deep and very painful.
It was nearly two months before Harley was sufficiently recovered to be removed from the hospital. His wife had been permitted to see him every day, and to remain in attendance on him for a greater part of the time.
"Did you know that Mr. Harley and his wife were at home? said I, on coming in one day.
"No. When did they arrive?" was the answer and inquiry.
"This morning. I heard it from Mr. Harley's brother."
"How are they?" asked my wife.
'He looks as well as ever, I am told, though suffering some from his wound; but she is miserable, Mr. Harley says."
A shadow fell over my wife's face, and she sighed heavily.
cont'd

Thank you, Vicki Betts!
http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/nashville_daily_union_ag62-fe63.htm

Elizabeth

bizzilizzit
09-29-2006, 01:39 PM
"I was afraid of that" she said. "I knew she was hurt badly. Flesh wounds close readily, but spirit wounds are difficult to heal. These invincible [invisible?] bullets are sure to reach some vital part."
I met Mr. Harley, not long afterward, in company with his wife. His eyes were bright, his lips firm, his cheeks flushed with health. You saw scarcely a sign of what he had endured. He talked in a brave, soldierly manner, and was anxious for the time to come when the surgeon would pronounce him in condition to join his regiment. His wound, when referred to, evidently gave him more pleasure than pain. It was a mark of distinction—a sign that he had offered even life for his country.
How different with Mrs. Harley! It touched you to look into her dreamy, absent eyes—on her patient lips and exhausted countenance.
"She has worn out herself in nursing me," said her husband, in answer to a remark on her appearance. He looked at her tenderly, and with just a shade of anxiety in his face. Was the truth not plain to him? Did he not know that she had been wounded also? That two balls had left the rifle when he was struck, one of them reaching to his distant home.
"In three weeks I hope to be in the field again, face to face with the enemy."
He spoke with the ardor of a strong desire, his eyes bright, and his face in a glow—wounding, and the pain of wounding all forgotten. But another's eyes became dim as his brightened—another's cheeks paled as his grew warm. I saw the tears shining as Mrs. Harley answered in an unsteady voice:
"I am neither brave enough or strong enough for a soldier's wife."
She had meant to say more, as was plain from her manner, but she could not trust herself.
"Oh, yes, you are; brave enough and strong enough," replied Mr. Harley, with animation.
"Not every one could have moved so calmly amidst the dreadful scenes of a camp hospital after a battle. I watched you often, and felt proud of you."
"If she had not been wounded also"—my wife began; but Mr. Harley interrupted her with the ejaculation:
"Wounded!" in a tone of surprise.
"Yes, wounded," resumed my wife; "and, as now appears, nearer to the seat of vitality than you were. Did you know that before, Mr. Harley?"
My friend was perplexed for a while. He could not get down at once to my wife's meaning.
"When you were struck she was struck also."
"Oh, yes!"
Light broke in upon Mr. Harley. He turned quickly towards his wife, and saw in her face what had been unseen before, the wasting and exhaustion that come only from deep-seated pain. He had thought that the paleness of her countenance, the weakness that made her step slow and cautious, only the result of overtasked muscles and nerves. But he knew better now.
"I didn't think of that," he said, with visible anxiety, as he gazed into his wife's countenance.
Our wounds, so ghastly to the eyes, often get no deeper than the flesh and bone. The pain is short, and nature comes quickly to the work of cure with all her healing energies. We suffer for a while, and then it is over. We are strong and ready for the conflict again.
"But," said my wife, "Into the homes that stand far away from battle-fields come swift winged messengers that kill and wound as surely as iron ball. They strike mothers, wives, sisters—some with death wounds, all with the anguish, with vital pain. Alas! for these wounded! The healing, if it follows, is never as the surgeons say, by first intention, but always slow, and often through abscess and ulceration. The larger number never entirely recover. They may linger for years, but do not lose the marks of suffering."
A long silence followed. There were others present, who like Mr. Harley had never thought of this. I noticed that for the hour we remained together he was tenderer toward his wife, and more than once I saw him looking at her when she was not observing him, with a troubled countenance. He did not again speak of early period at which he expected to join his regiment.
On the day following another list of the killed and wounded was given to the public. As I read over the names and counted the numbers, my thought came back from the bloody field and suffering hospital. "These are not all," I said. "Alas not all. The ball struck twice, thrice—sometimes oftener. There is pain, there is anguish, there is wounding, even unto death, in many, many homes, within a thousand miles of that gory place. Some are alone and neglected, dying on their battle-field, with none to put even a cup of water to their lips—some are with loving friends who fail to stop the flow of blood or bandage the shattered limb—some cover their wounds hiding them from all eyes, and bear the pain in chosen solitude. The sum of all this agony—who can give it?
Our wounded! If you would find them all, you must look beyond the hospitals. They are not every one bearded and in male attire. There sat beside you in the car, just now, a woman. You scarcely noticed her. She left at the corner below. There was not much life in her face; her steps, as they rested on the pavement, were slow. She has been wounded and is dying. Did you notice Mrs. ________ in church last Sunday? "Yes; and now I remember that she was pale, and had an altered look." One of our wounded! "Do you see a face at the window?" In the marble front house?" "Yes. It is sad enough; what in-looking eyes!" Wounded! Ah, sir, they are everywhere about us. Already from over a hundred battle-fields and skirmishing grounds, have been such missives as pain and death. They have penetrated unguarded homes in the city, town and neighborhood of our once happy and peaceful country, wounding the beloved ones left there in hoped-for security. For such there is balm in Gilead—God is their physician.

Thank you, Vicki Betts!
http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/nashville_daily_union_ag62-fe63.htm

Elizabeth

tompritchett
09-30-2006, 08:03 AM
And thank you Vicki. A very moving piece.

cookiemom
09-30-2006, 09:03 AM
... But from every battle-field go swift-winged messengers that kill and wound at a thousand miles, instead of a thousand paces; bullets invisible to mortal eyes, that pierce loving hearts. Of the dead and wounded from these we have no report .......as it always has been, is now, and always will be, wars without end...


We cannot help the suffering nor heal the wounded by our mental pain. But let us see to it that... we fail not in ministration to the extent of our ability...Amen.