What follows is offered in response to Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge. The challenge, this week, is "Soil".
She cried as she stood next to the grave, the beads of her rosary twined through her fingers, her fingernails filled with the soil she'd thrown down onto the casket so recently lowered into the ground.
Her Johnny had died at Manassas Junction.
She had been there.
She'd sat in her carriage at the top of the hill overlooking the conflict, on a lark. Many others did, as well.
She had no idea she was watching the battle where her Johnny would die.
Hundreds died. Thousands were wounded. The Union, defeated.
This War was not going to be easy.
Until the battle at Manassas Junction, which the North referred to as the battle of Bull Run, the Civil War had been a series of minor skirmishes of little consequence. But during those mid-July days of 1861 the country began to get an inkling of what was to come. Over the term of the war, two and one half per cent of the population died. 750,000. If two and one half per cent of today's population were to die, it would amount to seven million, five hundred thousand dead.
There was no ambulance service. There were no military hospitals, cemeteries, or nurses. There was no mechanism for caring for the wounded. There was no consistent way to identify the dead.
But the Civil War would teach us how to deal with the dead and dying.
The hard way.