She found him in the lane that led to the road. He lay there. She'd wandered down to the lane to see if all of the marching yankees had passed.
It was a good time really in two ways: the war was over. Yes, they hadn't prevailed and Lee had given out at last but it was over. And the yankees were marching home.
They were remote enough to not have been bothered too much. She was forever grateful for the fact that the local commander was a respecter of the rights of women. So, she hadn't been bothered, although the yankees had commandeered about all that the place had to offer. She knew that they had some things left but precious little.
Momma Amalia, who stayed, despite that proclamation that Mr Lincoln had made about freeing slaves, complained about all that the 'damn' yankees took, leaving her little or nothing to work with in the kitchen.
It had come down to the two of them: her, Sue Anne and Momma Amalia. The rest were gone, simply gone, and not coming back. She knew that. Timmy, the oldest had been the first to go with fervor about 'the cause' and they'd been notified about him dying at a place called Antietam or Sharpsburg, certainly not close to where they were.
Augie had been next, excited about joining up and doing something. Pa had thought that Augie was too you and, in what Sue Anne thought was a crazy idea, had joined with him. The two of them tramping off to be soldiers and promising to come back. But all that came back were notices about deaths, this time in a place called Gettysburg and it was both of them, everlastingly both of them.
There were no more to go and they, with their small place —- at least small by some local standards —- were left alone to cope. She took to wearing Augie's clothes and working the land, as well as she could. It was hard work but it was keeping them okay.
The stock of course was gone. The yankees had seen to that. Yet, despite their constantly calling with their lists, they remained pleasant. There had been only that one time with two drunken soldiers out 'for fun', as they'd said it. And in that case, Momma Amalia had tried to take over until Sue Anne showed up with the shotgun and the yankees had gone on.
She saw them the next day, trudging along the road, both of them hung over and, she thought, looking chagrined. She only nodded to them and they gave her a nod too and were on their way.
Sue Anne Reynolds was 17, when the war started and she thought, most of the time, that it would never end. But of course it had. But it had dragged her life down with it, or so it seemed.
"What chances for a normal or happy life were there for a young girl, even a young pretty girl like Sue Anne, when all the men were dead or gone?" These were her thoughts in those grim, grim days.
She was petite in her stature but had grown into a lovely woman at her age of 21. Though, of course, celebrating birthdays was kind of out these days, indeed celebrating anything was. Despite her 5'3" stature, she was a well built woman and made sure that she wore more dowdy and ill fitting clothes to hide the fact. Momma Amalia had insisted on that.
They'd had two other slaves on the place but both of them, young men, had run off, never to be heard of again. They were just gone, is all. So, Sue Anne and Momma Amalia, who said time after time that 'she wasn't goin' nowhere at all', took care of the place.
It was only that morning that she'd said to Momma Amalia: "Momma, they're gone. I've looked out and they're gone."
"Glory be!" Momma said, "Ain't that a treat! Dem Yankees is gone at last."
She gave Sue Anne a hug, both of them thinking it good news.
"You kin start dressin' like a lovely young lady again," Momma had said.
"No one around to dress like a lovely young lady for," Sue Anne said, with tears in her eyes.
Momma Amalia gathered her into her arms and pressed her against the warms of herself and simply cooed to her to try to keep her calm.
"You goan be fine, honey," Momma Amalia cooed to her, during the hug. "Jes fine!"
And right then Sue Anne believed her clearly enough.
Then, later that morning, Sue Anne found the yankee in the lane.
She thought that he was dead, when she first saw him lying there but on closer inspection, she discovered that he had only fainted. His right pant leg was soaked red with blood and it had apparently put him out.
"Darn yankees!" she'd said to herself. "Don't even have the sense to take care of their own!"
She noted his uniform, that hated blue color of it! It seemed that he was some kind of officer. She thought maybe a lieutenant. But she considered this only for a few seconds, and then ran to fetch Momma Amalia.
She was excited and out of breath by the time that she got to the house.
"Momma! Momma!" she called out and got Amalia's attention right away.
"What you goin' on about, girl?" Momma Amalia asked, coming out of the kitchen.
"There's a yankee lying down in the lane!" she said, out of breath.
"He alive?" Momma asked.
"Yes, but his right pant leg is all bloody!" Sue Anne went on.
"They jes left him!" Momma Amalia said with a snort. "Left him for us to deal wit, one more gift from dem damn yankees!"
"I think so!" Sue Anne said.
"Well," Momma Amalia said, "Let's go and see."
They went to where the yankee was still lying, still passed out, and apparently still bleeding.
"Gotta get this boy up to da house," Momma Amalia said, "An' quick!"
Between the two of them they managed to get him taken up to the house and into the parlor. They put him on the floor, and only a little after that did they take him to one of the boy's bedrooms.
Momma Amalia was busy right away. "Gotta get these things off'n him," she said. "See about dis bleedin'. You go and heat some water please, Missy and I'll do this."
Sue Anne understood but she was also stubborn. "I understand what you're doin', Momma Amalia," she said softly, "But I won't be put off like a girl. This is serious and there are only the two of us to help."
Momma Amalia looked up at her as though receiving a kind of message for the first time.
"Of course, you right!" she said, "Dat's my gal! Let's get him outta dese things."
They worked together and got the yankee down to his drawers and these too had to go. They were also soaked with blood. They got him on a sheet and Sue Anne fetched water to clean him.
"Not too bad," Momma Amalia said, "But he's lost some blood an' will need ta rest before he goes on. You fetch a night shirt o' Mr Timmy. That'll do."
"Yes, Momma," Sue Anne said, going for the night shirt.
LT JEREMY CARTER:
He cursed the luck! He was angry about it! He was furious! It was almost as if he'd led a charmed life during this damn war, engaging in certainly his share of the fighting and not, not at all getting scrapped or hurt or wounded. And they all knew that the end was near and then it was home! Then on almost that last damn day, he got his finally: a wound in the leg, the thigh. It wasn't too terribly bad but it bled. He absolutely refused to allow them to take a saw to him.
"No! His Momma's Jeremy wasn't about to leave his leg on a pile down south here. No way!" flashed through his mind.
It had, his leg had, been dressed and he was okay to go, so they said. Of course, they weren't being completely truthful about that. By the time they let him out of the medical unit, telling him that he could make his way home, since his unit had already gone, he joined the large tatterdemalion crew that was moving slowly north. There didn't seem to be as much discipline and form with this group as he expected a victorious army to show but at least they were heading north toward home.
He was sure that he'd be able to find his way and get there. His leg hurt but it kept gamely on.
Slowly, ever so slowly, he began to fall toward the back of the pack. But there was no way that he was going to give up.
"Jeremy Carter doesn't give up!" he said to himself any number of times as he trudged the road.
"If only I can find my unit," he said.
He asked constantly for 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry but no one seemed to know about them or could tell him anything about their whereabouts. And this damn saber cut on his thigh hurt like hell today. But he was dealing with it. Jeremy was dealing with it.
That is, he dealt with it until he finally had to sit down from the combination of pain and fatigue, and there he simply passed out. It was apparently then that it had started to bleed again. The wound and the walking were getting the better of him at last.
He lay there until Sue Anne Reynolds found him, and called for her Momma Amalia to help her get him up and inside. It was a heavy task for the two women, even though Momma Amalia was a robust woman but they eventually got the yankee soldier inside.
Sue Anne came back with the nightshirt and found that Momma Amalia had the yankee totally naked. She just stared.
Momma Amalia looked up with a grin on her face and said, as though the two of them were sharing a secret:
"He a dandy, Sue Anne! Jes a dandy!"
Sue Anne put her hand over her mouth and giggled into her hand, and was joined by Momma Amalia in the soft laughter.
"We'd best see about dis hurt," Momma Amalia said. "Can do that now dat he's out."
They fussed a bit and Momma Amalia got her 'kit', as she called it. With it, and with Sue Anne looking on wide eyed but determined to be a help, Momma Amalia sewed up the torn edges of the gash in his thigh, that were causing the bleeding.
.... There is more of this story ...