Why they got sick.
The summer wore away in this way. Occasionally we would be excited by news of an exchange of prisoners, only to find our hopes blasted.
But towards the end of September it was reported that the Federals
had determined to send home the sick and wounded.
We understood that the order was for none to be exchanged who would be able within sixty days to bear arms.
It was supposed that the Confederacy
would be crushed in that time.
The report was soon confirmed and the tidings flew throughout the camp.
All the convalescents in the hospital immediately took to their beds.
It was amusing to see with what alacrity the men got into their bunks and covered up. I put my arm back into a sling and followed the general example.
Expectation was high and the hope of seeing our friends and the ‘stars and bars’ made us feel happy.
However, there were many poor fellows sick whose condition was such that it could hardly be expected that they would live to get inside our lines, but while it was apparent that the Angel of Death was slowly waving over them his dread pinions, a pale gleam of hope would pass over their white faces that perhaps they would yet be restored to home and friends.
In due time the examining surgeons made their appearance.
Passing rapidly from one to another, they made their selection.
The surgeon who came up to me addressed me in very gentle manner, ‘My poor fellow, what is the matter with you?’
His manner was so tender and compassionate that my conscience smote me for even appearing to be worse off than I really was. I held up my wrist in mute response.
My heart jumped to my mouth when I heard him say to the sergeant following him, ‘Put this man down.’