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Human endurance.

It is wonderful how much a human being can stand. I myself, who was never sick during the whole war, was taken down with the erysipelas. It was a bad case, so the Federal surgeon said who examined me. ‘Entirely too late to do anything for him; neck and face swollen black and green.’ Those who did the packing up, that is placing the dead bodies in rough boxes, seeing me, one of them said, ‘there goes a fellow we will have to box up to-morrow.’ I was removed to the hospital pen, and with two of my company, Alexander Moss and John Harris, both of whom I saw stretched out in the dead house on the following day. The hospital could only accommodate about twelve hundred sick, and there were no less than six thousand sick and dying men lying within the main building and in the tents surrounding it. Being assigned to a tent where there was room for about sixteen, but which had no less than forty in it, I was placed on the damp ground, only one thin blanket being given me. The two nights I spent there were simply horrible. The praying, crying, and the fearful struggles of the dying during the dark night, lit up by a single small lantern, was awful. The first night about five or six died, and the next morning found me lying next to two dead comrades. The second night was a repetition of the first; and that day, though just in the same condition, I asked the Federal surgeon to allow me to return to camp, which he at once granted, thinking I might just as well die there as anywhere else. But I got better, how I cannot explain; perhaps it was my determination not to die there in spite of them, that kept me alive.

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Alexander Moss (1)
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