Aunt Katy's Civil War Tale

Chapter 6

For three days Pa and Uncle Bert lay in that barn. Others were taken to the hospital in Frederick City but Uncle Bert refused to go unless they took Pa too, and the doctors thought it not worth while to bother with a head wound. Finally on Saturday the twelfth, they were taken to the hospital. Uncle Bert's knee wound, now crawling with maggots and terribly infected, was looked at. He refused to let them cut off his leg as was the custom, so they cleaned it up and bandaged it, predicting he'd die of it. He didn't die, but the knee never bent again.

Pa they completely dispaired of but they removed the broken fragments of skull bone, scooped out the slug and dirt impregnated brain tissue, and sewed up the scalp. For three weeks he lay unconscious, clinging to life with all his young strength. It was during that time that Mr Lincoln came to visit the hospital.

It was Uncle Bert who spoke to the president when he visited the ward where they lay. The doctors pointed Pa out as badly hurt and not expected to live. Uncle Bert watched through his own haze of pain as the President crossed the room to stand towering over their beds.

"He's my brother, sir, my sister's husband. I promised her I'd look out for him." He said in answer to Mr Linclon's question.

"God help you both, son." and the sorrowful man moved away, seeming to have added one more burden to his load.

The days passed into weeks and Pa not only lived, but finally woke. He knew Uncle Bert and indeed, seemed little affected by his grave injury. He was able to sit up in bed by the time the President came again. He heard Mr Lincoln say:
"I suppose than young soldier with the head wound is gone by now."
When told that he was not "gone" but had awakened and would seemingly recover fully, the President again came to Pa's bedside.

He took Pa's hand and held it in both his huge paws as he stooped to look in the blue eyes just visable under the white bandage turban. The deep shadows of worry and grief disappeared as he grinned in satisfaction.

"I'm glad to see you are on the mend, my boy. Mighty, mighty glad." and Mr Lincoln shook his hand gently before he turned away, looking almost happy for the moment.

It was weeks before the two of them were able to travel but eventually they were invalided out of the service and made the long trip home. Pa suffered "dizzy spells" most of his life but was not impaired mentally otherwise. He stood as straight, proud, and alert during his ninety-third year as he did when he marched away to war in 1861.

The rest of the letters are from Uncle Lonzo to Aunt Bea. They are his courtship of her as well as a record of the last months of the war.