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Gentle Annie: A Daughter Of The Regiment
by [?]

“It is Annie,” said General Berry. “Let her come, let her come. I would risk my life for Annie any time!” As Annie approached from one side a prisoner was brought up on the other, and after some words with him, and receiving his sword, the General sent him to the rear, and after greeting Annie cordially he gave the prisoner into her charge, directing him to walk by her horse. This was Annie’s last interview with the brave General, for he was killed early the next morning in the desperate fight for possession of the plank road, in the woods not far from the hospital, leading past the Chancellor House.

During the same battle Annie found an artillery man so badly wounded that he could not move. The batteries had no surgeons of their own, and despite his entreaties the infantry surgeons with their hands full in caring for their own wounded men, had refused to assist him. Annie, after binding up the poor man’s wounds, insisted on having him cared for, and a year later she received the following letter:

WASHINGTON, D. C., Jan. 14, 1864.

Annie :– Dearest Friend :–I am not long for this world, and I wish to thank you for your kindness ere I go.

You were the only one who was ever kind to me since I entered the Army. At Chancellorsville, I was shot through the body, the ball entering my side and coming out through the shoulder. I was also hit in the arm, and was carried to the hospital in the woods where I lay for hours and not a surgeon would touch me when you came along and gave me water and bound up my wounds. Please accept my heartfelt gratitude; and may God bless you and protect you from all dangers; may you be eminently successful in your present pursuit. I enclose a flower, a present from a sainted mother; it is the only gift I have to send you. Had I a picture, I would send you one. I know nothing of your history, but I hope you always have and always may be happy, and since I will be unable to see you in this world, I hope I may meet you in the better world where there is no war. May God bless you, both now and forever, is the wish of your grateful friend.

Such rewards for loving service must have been very grateful to one of Annie’s sensitive nature, and she continued to toil on in the spirit of love and heroism through the battle of Gettysburg, and the engagements of Grant’s closing campaign, where her gentleness and courage were favourite themes of the soldiers, who could scarcely bear to have her out of their sight when they were sick or wounded.

At the battle of the Wilderness, when the fighting was fiercest and the balls were raining like hailstones, the Fifth Michigan, to which Annie was now attached, together with other troops, were surrounded and nearly cut off by the rebels and as the line of battle swung round, the rebels at once took the places vacated by the Union men. Annie was at that moment speaking to a little drummer boy when a bullet pierced his heart, and he fell against Annie, dead. For the first and only time during the war she was overcome by a panic of terror and laying the dead boy on the ground, she ran like a hunted deer towards what she took to be the Union troops, to find to her horror she was mistaken. It was the rebel forces, but, too late to retrace her steps she dashed ahead, cutting her swift way through the enemy’s line, and though shots whistled after her, she escaped in safety.

With every month of service, Annie’s patriotism grew stronger and her desire to serve the cause for which the Union was fighting, keener. During the battle of Spotsylvania she met a number of soldiers retreating, and when imploring them to turn back had no effect, she offered to lead them herself, and shamed into doing their duty, by a woman’s courage, they turned, and led by the dauntless girl, went back into the thick of the fight, under heavy fire from the enemy. Never did Annie bear the regimental colours or flourish sword or flag, as has been asserted; she simply inspired men to deeds of valour or to the doing of their simple duty by her own contagious example of unwavering patriotism.