Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/229

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219
"Woman's Devotion"—A Winchester Heroine.

his condition as soon and as often as his duties to the other wounded would permit.

All through that anxious night the brave girl sat sustaining the head of the wounded youth and carefully guarding him against everything that could disturb his rest or break the slumber into which he gently sank, and which was to save his life. She only knew and felt that a brave Confederate life depended on her care. She had never seen him before, nor has she ever seen him since. And when at dawn the surgeon came to her, he found her still watching and faithful, just as he had left her at dark—as only a true woman—as we love to believe our Virginia women can be. The soldier had slept soundly. He awoke only once during the night, when tired nature forced his nurse to change her posture; and when after the morning came she was relieved of her charge, and she fell ill of the exhaustion and exposure of that night, her consolation during the weary weeks she lay suffering was that she had saved a brave soldier for her country.

In the succeeding year, Captain Hancock, of the Louisiana infantry, was brought into Winchester wounded and a prisoner. He lay many weeks in the hospital, and when nearly recovered of his wounds, was notified that he would be sent to Fort Delaware. As the time drew near for his consignment to this hopeless prison, he confided to Miss Lenie Russell[1], the same young girl who had saved young Ridgely's life, that he was engaged to be married to a lady of lower Virginia, and was resolved to attempt to make his escape. She cordially entered into his plans, and aided in their successful accomplishment. The citizens of Winchester were permitted sometimes to send articles of food and comfort to the sick and wounded Confederates, and Miss Russell availed herself of this to procure the escape of the gallant captain. She caused him to don the badge of a hospital attendant, take a market basket on his arm and accompany her to a house, whence he might, with least danger of detection and arrest, effect his return to his own lines. Captain Hancock made good use of his opportunity and safely rejoined his comrades; survived the war; married his sweetheart, and to this day omits no occasion for showing his respect and gratitude for the generous woman to whose courage and address he owes his freedom and his happiness.

 

 
  1. [Wikisource Editor Note: reflects correction in Editorial Paragraphs at the end of Volume VI.]