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Rated: E · Book · Research · #1363470
500-words-a-day Group #1214629
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#556270 added December 20, 2007 at 7:15pm
Restrictions: None
12/20/2007--word count=500+
The Goat Lady and Dirty Shirt Harry

Chapter One
         I remember the day I met Eli’s family, six children shivering in the barn, dirty jeans and torn shirts.  Eli, exhaustion exuded from his blue-gray intelligent eyes, was the man who saved my father’s life in the War.  The Lincoln-esqe black man fought beside my father at the end, in ravaged fields of Sherman’s destruction.  He witnessed terrible physical mutilations, and inhumane humiliations of a proud southern aristocracy.  The tearing of my father’s leg, however, from a stray musket ball dealt by a twelve-year-old boy who wore a blood stained Confederate cap, was the carnage Eli remembered most. 
         The Sergeant of the patrol’s reflexes dictated the death of an unknown freckle faced boy’s life.  The Sergeant moved forward and crouched beside the fallen young man.  The big boned, husky man dropped to one knee, and closed his eyes for the briefest moment.  He touched the young man’s hand, and then searched through his pockets for information he could pass on to a family that would grieve for their lost son.
          The boy’s life was unnoticed by everyone but the Sergeant and Eli on that day.  In his short life, the boy was Jeb Stuart Higgins.  Jeb was a farmer’s son, who learned to hunt game for the dinner table, fish for fun, and plow fields for the cotton he would help plant and pick for his family’s meager survival.  He was not aristocracy, or a political adversary.  He was the son of a farmer who tilled his fields along with his hired hand, Malachi.
          Eli attended to my father.  The ball, lodged in the big muscle of his thigh, ripped and exploded a hole the size of Eli’s fist.  Blood, dark and ominous, flowed freely through Eli’s fingers as he pressed his dirty shirt into the wound. 
         Eli screamed for help.  He knew the officers watched from a distance.  A black man in a white patrol was unusual.  A black man who attended to a white man was also a rarity.  Eli continued to scream for help as he tied a rough field dressing to his friend’s leg.  His friend laid in muck from yesterday’s rain..  Blood was everywhere, but it continued to stream.  The medic (?) skilled in tourniquets and the use of morphine dammed the bleeding, and eased the pain.  Then, he was off to the next of the dismembered or dead without a word of hope to Eli or my father.  The medic survived in a constant state of anesthetized fear.  Hope died the first year of his conscription.
         Now, Eli’s friend began to shake as if the New York wind followed them south.  With a wise man’s common sense, Eli covered my father with his blanket while he yelled for help from his patrol, and more blankets. 
         Father was a well-liked man.  Several men in his patrol offered blankets including the war weary Sergeant.  The Sergeant felt responsible for all his men.  He felt the loss
on his broad shoulders.  If he saved one man with a scratchy wool blanket, then it was one less condolence letter he would write to a family. 
         Finally, after the officers watched the scene for long enough, the major ordered a physician to my father’s side.  The man thinning hair, and pale face looked at my father’s leg.  Recently conscripted, the doctor wasn’t accustomed to such destruction of a man’s body.  He quickly ordered Eli to remove my father to the hospital tent.  Eli and his patrol cradled him to the hospital in their blankets while wading through knee-deep mud.          When I think about the war toughened men who carried my father to safety, my heart swells with pride for my father and the men.  I can only imagine how my father’s bravery and kindness helped men through the mask of Hell called war.
          Father left blood, friends and part of his soul on the battlefields of the American Civil War.  During those scarce moments when he could write home, he wrote of his chains.  Reading between the lines, I knew he felt the way of a slave, too.  He walked the blue Union line, obeyed orders from officers and submitted to another man’s morality.          

AndieK--don't forget "Life is an adventure . . . So write it down & treasure the memory forever."

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