Gettysburg: July 1st 1863 8:30 P.M
Dusk was falling over the field, several men were wandering amongst the prone figures, sometimes stopping and bending over figures, shaking them then moving on. Every now and then one of the shaken men would stagger to their feet and limp off into the gathering dark.
One of the searchers stepped over a body, one that had collapsed the section of fence where it landed. A prone figure stirred, the man was trapped under a body, with an arm across his face.
The searcher bent down.
"Hey, you alive there?" he asked, laying his hand on the man shoulder.
The man groaned.
"I'm alive." he said weakly.
"We'll get you to the hospital, you'll be okay."
The man groaned again.
The searcher stood and called:
"I found one!"
Several of the other searchers picked their way across the field, two had a stretcher.
The first searcher rolled the dead body off of the wounded man.
"What's your name soldier?" asked the searcher.
"Jonathan, Jonathan Niles…" he said weakly then moaned.
The other searchers brought the stretcher over the fence, one was holding a lamp, and he lit it. Jonathan stirred and raised his hand to cover his eyes. His nose was smashed, dried blood covered his face. The cloth around his leg was bloody, his side felt like hell, but there was no blood.
The gray-clad searchers gently lifted Jonathan onto the stretcher and began to carry him off the field. Jonathan lost consciousness again.
Near Gettysburg: July 1st 1863 10:30 P.M
Jonathan woke again, laying outside a tent, it was very dark now. His leg and side were killing him. He was very thirsty, he had been lying in the sun all the damn day. Jonathan turned his head, looked around. He was surrounded by men lying on stretchers. One large tent had a light in it. He tried to look closer but the flap was closed. The canvas was splattered with some dark liquid.
Jonathan passed out again.
Near Gettysburg: July 2nd 1863 7:30 A.M
A man knelt over Jonathan, holding a mug and a plate. Jonathan stirred.
"You hungry private?" asked the man.
Jonathan groaned, "yes…"
The man set down the plate and pressed the mug into Jonathan's hand, patted him on the shoulder and left.
Jonathan drank the water in one gulp, he had not drunk anything for twenty-four hours. Not since the first assault yesterday. He downed the food in only a few minutes, some hardtack and a small piece of bacon.
An hour later an orderly came over, changed the bandage on Jonathan's leg and left. Jonathan lay still for a while, tried to sleep, but the damn sun kept him from sleeping, that and the pain from his wounds.
The day wore on. Wounded men all around him, some died and began to smell in the hot sun. The pain in Jonathan's leg worsened as the day dragged on. By noon all he could do was keep from screaming.
At around two in the afternoon he couldn't even do that.
By three o'clock he was totally exhausted. He drifted in and out of consciousness for a while.
Close to four o'clock he fell into a fitful sleep. After another hour he saw the first wounded from today's fighting drift into the hospital. By evening, when the orderly came back with more food and water there were hundreds of men all around Jonathan. Most were moaning or screaming sporadically.
By six o'clock Jonathan was asleep. Around eight o'clock he woke for a while, screaming, before he exhaustedly fell unconscious.
Gettysburg: July 3rd 1863 6:00 A.M
Early in the morning Jonathan awoke again. He was surrounded by thousands of wounded men. The surgeons were performing amputations in front of everyone. A huge heap of limbs poked out from behind one of the tents.
Later in the morning a different orderly gave Jonathan some water. His leg felt like it was on fire. The bandage was bloody again. The orderly changed it.
Jonathan screamed for a while then passed out for several hours. When he woke up again the smell was horrifying. He heard artillery in the distance. He did not care. His leg was almost beyond feeling.
Jonathan fell into a blurry haze of fitful sleep, screaming and pain. Hours passed and the pain grew even worse. Jonathan was beyond exhausted, he could not move at all. He did not remember anything past the last five minutes, and even before that his memory was hazy.
Eventually someone loaded him into a wagon. After about an hour or two the wagon started rolling. Every bump was agony. Every time the wagon turned men rolled onto Jonathan's leg.
Every bump Jonathan screamed. He heard others say something, he could no longer understand speech, and he was delirious by the second hour in the wagon. Eventually he fell asleep. The next day the wagon rolled on. Jonathan stopped screaming, he could no longer make noise.
Several days passed, every few hours someone came to the back of the wagon and gave the wounded water. Eventually Jonathan was unloaded. He was fed and given water. Someone put him in a bed.
The next morning Jonathan Niles was dead.