Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sweet Saturday Samples - August 17, 2013

Welcome back to Sweet Saturday Samples.  

In this snippet from my American Civil War era work-in-progress, Gone For a Soldier, Rulon Owen is in the midst of one of the harshest realities of that great conflict: illness.

After two days in the hospital tent, and several draughts a day of quinine mixed in water, Rulon still hadn't shaken off the chills and fever. His jaw ached, and now his ear was beginning to ring as though a troop of spur-jingling cavalry kept passing through his head. Worse still, he hadn't mustered the strength to read Mary's letter.

Feeling like a mewling new-born calf, Rulon struggled to sit up, determined that he would open the envelope at the very least. Once that was accomplished, perhaps it would be easy to read out the words she'd sent him.

When he had worked the flap loose, he saw that the letter was three weeks old, dated on the 12th of July. The first line told him Mary had confirmed her hopes that she was carrying his child. Joy surged through him, momentarily giving him the strength to sit longer and finish the letter. Further down the page, his heart lurched with additional gladness as he read that she was sure the child would be a boy. How could she know that, he wondered? He supposed her assurance came because he had so strongly and repeatedly expressed his wish for a son. She believed it because he wanted it. Dear sweet Mary.

Exhausted from the effort of reading the letter, Rulon lay back on his cot, his eyes wet from the emotion. Yes, he had said he wanted a son. He didn't know much about babies and how they formed in the mother's womb, but he imagined the outcome was fixed now. Son or daughter, it really didn't matter. Sometime early next year, he would be a father.

"God, let me live to see my child," he whispered. "Don't let me died in camp because of the mumps."


Thank you for visiting. I love to read your comments, so if anything in the sample compels you to speak up, rest assured that I eventually read what you write and will reply, if needed. Questions? I'm open to them, too.

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  1. If anything can give him the strength to survive, it would be the hope of seeing his son! Wonderful descriptions here.

  2. I wonder what the statistics are on soldiers dying from disease versus battlefield injuries for the civil war. Great excerpt. :)

    1. Thanks, Rachel.

      Union records show that two thirds of the deaths in the civil war were caused by disease and that another 12% died from wound infections, not mortal battlefield wounds. Those only accounted for about 19% of deaths. Due to a disastrous fire that destroyed the records in Richmond after the war, less accurate accountings are available for causes of death on the Confederate side, but estimates say more than 250,000 soldiers lost their lives, with 160,000 of those deaths caused by disease or wound infection.

      That's terribly grim, but came from an age where germs were still not recognized as the cause of disease, and it certainly was before innoculations came along.

      Thanks for asking.


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