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Cared For A Sick Soldier by Mrs. Ellen G. M'Cord

Cared For A Sick Soldier 
by 
Mrs. Ellen G. M'Cord
Albertville, Ala.

One bright Sabbath morning in the early autumn of 1864, two soldiers came to my well for water. One of them was an old man, and the other seemed a mere boy. Hood's army had left Atlanta and his soldiers had been passing by for two days. Some were riding and some were on foot. Old men and boys had been called out to defend their native State, but now the magazines had been blown up, Atlanta had fallen, and we were in the enemy's lines.

I was a widow then, with two small children, and a kind old lady, Mrs. Smith, who had lost husband, children and home by the war, lived with me.

I saw the two soldiers as they tarried at the well, and as I was going to see about dinner I stopped to speak to them. While the old man was talking to me, the boy said, "I will go out to the grove and lie down and rest a little while."

I saw that the boy was sick, and I told him to go with me to the house and I would prepare him a comfortable place to rest. He had neither coat nor blanket, only a dirty haversack.

When dinner was ready I invited them both to dine. The old soldier gladly accepted, but the sick boy could not eat.

After dinner the old man said : "Madam, we must go now." The boy tried to rise from the bed, but fell back, saying, "I can't go, I am so sick." I asked the old man to stay with hie son until morning, as he might be able to go then.

"He is not my son," said the old soldier. "When we gave up Atlanta he was sent out with other sick soldiers from the hospital and the ambulance broke down, and I have helped him this far."

I sent for old Cage, an old family servant, to come and put clean clothes on the sick boy and then put him to bed. The next morning he could not rise at all. The old man bade me goodbye with many expressions of gratitude for shelter and food, leaving the sick boy in my care.

The railroad was torn up for miles and there was no hospital near, so I told the old soldier we would take care of the lad.

We called in a physician, who said he had the typhoid fever. I sat down by his bed and inquired where he lived and asked his name, but he could not tell me anything at all. He tried to collect his thoughts, but his mind wandered. For two weeks he knew nothing, but lay and muttered about shooting men, and sometimes he talked of people we supposed to be his friends at home. He was neither bright nor attractive, but we remembered that he was a soldier and felt that somewhere a mother longed to see her boy, so we nursed him through the long days and nights. The doctor attended faithfully, and he did not suffer for anything the neighbors could do for him. One day I carried the poor, dirty haversack to the washerwoman, and we opened it to find two small pieces of cornbread and two thin slices of bacon and a small rag of salt. Somehow the little rag of salt and the poor lunch caused me to shed the first tears I had given the sick soldier. We had made nice soups for him, but he could eat nothing.

One morning when I entered his room I noticed an expression of intelligence on his face. When I carried the medicine to his bed, he said, "How long have I been here, and where am I?''

I replied that he had been very sick and that we had been nursing him for two weeks.

To my inquiry as to where he lived and if his parents were alive, be told me they lived in southern Alabama, lb' gave me their address and requested me to write to them and let them know where he was. I wrote to them and tiny answered, thanking me for attentions, but were too poor to come to him. Weeks passed by and the soidier boy grew strong and well and no Federal soldier bad visited us. but we were in their lines; so one morning 1 told "Uncle Cage" to take the mules and wagon and a load of wheat below Griffin to some friends of mine for the enemy were foraging near us. Thp soldier asked me to let him go on the wagon so he could go from Griffin on the cars home. I gave him a good suit of gray jeans clothes and some money to pay his fare home, aunt Smith gave him a great deal of good advice, and he bade us goodbye.

After a while there came a letter saying he was at home, but when tin' war ended he would come back and oversee the hands on the farm for me.

I never saw our soldier boy again, but 1 often glad that I helped 'o save the life of one Confederate soldier, and I pray God that he may be true in all the relations of life.

S. A. Cunningham, Confederate Veterans, Volume 3, No. 1 (Nashville, Tenn.: January, 1895), 9.

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