“woman's devotion” --a Winchester heroine.
The history of Winchester
is replete with romantic and glorious memories of the late war. One of the most interesting of these has been perpetuated by the glowing pencil of Oregon Wilson
, himself a native of this Valley, and the fine picture he has made of the incident portrayed by him has drawn tears from many who loved their Southern country and the devoted women who elevated and sanctified by their heroic sacrifices the cause, which, borne down for a time, now rises again to honor all who sustained it.
That truth, which is stranger than fiction, is stronger too. The simple historic facts which gave Wilson
the theme of his great picture gain nothing from the romantic glamour his beautiful art has thrown about the actors in the story.
In 1864, General Ramseur
, commanding a Confederate force near Winchester
, was suddenly attacked by a Federal force under General Averell
, and after a sharp encounter was forced back through the town.
The battle field was near the residence of Mr. Rutherford
--about two miles distant--and the wounded were gathered in his house and yard.
The Confederate surgeons left in charge of these wounded men appealed to the women of Winchester
(the men had all gone off to the war) to come out and aid in dressing the wounds and nursing the wounded.
As was always the way of these Winchester
women, they promptly responded to this appeal, and on the----July more than twenty ladies went out to Mr. Rutherford
's to minister to their suffering countrymen.
There were more than sixty severely wounded men who had been collected from the battle field and were lying in the house and garden of Mr. Rutherford
The weather was warm, and those out of doors were as comfortable and quiet as those within.
Amongst them was a beardless boy named Randolph Ridgely
; he was very severely hurt — his thigh was broken by a bullet, and his sufferings had been very great — his nervous system was shocked and unstrung, and he could find no rest.
The kind surgeon in charge of him had many others to care for; he felt that quiet sleep was all important for his young patient, and he placed him under the charge of a young girl who had accompanied these ladies from Winchester
; told her his life depended on his having quiet sleep that night; showed her how best to support his head, and promised to return and see after