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By Seymour Reit

In 1861, while battle erupted among the States, President Lincoln made an impassioned plea for volunteers. decided to not stay at the sidelines, Emma Edmonds cropped her hair, donned men’s garments, and enlisted within the Union military. Posing in flip as a slave, peddler, washerwoman, and fop, Emma turned a crafty grasp of conceal, risking discovery and dying at each flip at the back of accomplice lines.

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Cairo was once a bustling city, sufficiently big to boast a clinic. Emma, vulnerable and shaky, controlled to shop for a skirt, shirt, and bonnet. In a rented room, she replaced from a Union soldier again to standard omit Edmonds. Then she went to the clinic and signed herself in for therapy. Emma remained in mattress for numerous weeks, and with the correct meals, leisure, and treatment, steadily recovered. She the struggle information eagerly and discovered that Vicksburg had surrendered. while, a military lower than common George Meade defeated Lee’s forces within the conflict of Gettysburg. those occasions helped the Union flip a nook; victory was once nonetheless dream, yet used to be commencing to come nearer. Emma sensed the flip of the tide and, together with her malaria below regulate, deliberate to rejoin her outdated outfit. as an alternative, she got one other blow. Scanning the military announcements within the window of the Cairo newspaper workplace, she observed that non-public Franklin Thompson of the second one Michigan was once indexed as AWOL—absent with no go away! within the army’s books, she were branded a deserter! For Emma Edmonds, a door all at once slammed close. Now there has been no means she may perhaps soak up her previous paintings as a box nurse, courier, and Union secret agent. inner most Thompson was once thought of a deserter. He couldn’t protest with no an research within which the key could without doubt pop out. For a time, Emma used to be heartsick. Then she reacted to this setback the best way she consistently did: with motion. Frank Thompson may be entire, however the battle was once nonetheless on, and there have been some ways she might be worthy. She despatched notice to Mrs. Butler telling her what had occurred; then, with the final of her money, received a educate price ticket to Washington. After her years away, she chanced on the capital extra nerve-racking and chaotic than ever. Wounded males have been pouring in, and right here, faraway from the combating fronts, stable nurses have been badly wanted. She chanced on a spot to dwell and went speedy to paintings in a single of the bottom hospitals. For the rest of the warfare, Emma served as a nurse below her rightful identify, tending and comforting the wounded. from time to time she may run right into a trooper from Vicksburg or Yorktown and could ply him with questions about acquaintances and associates. She additionally intimately the battles of these ultimate years. Chickamauga . . . Missionary Ridge . . . Spottsylvania . . . the wasteland . . . Atlanta . . . Petersburg. Emma exulted in every one Union victory and wept for the lifeless and loss of life of each side. Early in April of 1865, govt troops eventually occupied the battered insurgent capital of Richmond. at the 9th of that very same month, normal Lee surrendered the accomplice armies to Ulysses Grant—and ultimately the lengthy ordeal used to be over. days later, Abraham Lincoln made a speech from a window of the White condominium. The president, gaunt and weary, pointed out peace and honor, of charity and the therapeutic of wounds. between these within the large crowd who cheered themselves hoarse used to be Emma Edmonds. The Sunday after the South surrendered occurred to be Easter, and Emma went to church. one of many songs that morning used to be an Easter hymn she’d regularly enjoyed.

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