A correspondent, writing from the hospitals of Alexandria, Va., relates the following anecdote: Joe enlisted in the First Maryland regiment, and was plainly a “rough” originally. As we passed along the hall we first saw him crouched near an open window, lustily singing, “Iam a bold soldier boy;” and observing the broad bandage over his eyes, I said: “Whats your name, my good fellow?” “Joe, sir,” he answered, “Joe Parsons.” “And what is the matter with you?” “Blind, sir, blind as a bat.” “In battle?” “Yes, at Antietam; both eyes shot out at one clip.” Poor Joe was in the front, at Antietam Creek, and a Minie ball had passed directly through his eyes, across his face, destroying his sight forever. He was but twenty years old, but he was as happy as a lark! “It is dreadful,” I said. “Im very thankful Im alive, sir. It might ha been worse, yer see,” he continued. And then he told us his story.
“I was hit,” he said, “and it knocked me down. I lay there all night, and the next day the fight was renewed. I could stand the pain, yer see, but the balls was flyin all round, and I wanted to get away. I couldnt see nothin, though. So I waited and listened; and at last I heard a feller groanin beyond me. Hello! says I. Hello yourself, says he. Who be yer? says I–a rebel? Youre a Yankee. says he. So I am, says I; whats the matter with yer? My legs smashed, says he. Cant yer walk? No. Can yer see? Yes. Well, says I, youre a —-rebel, but will you do me a little favor? I will, says he, ef I ken. Then I says: Well, ole butternut, I cant see nothin. My eyes is knocked out; but I ken walk. Come over yere. Lets git out o this. you pint the way, an Ill tote yer off the field on my back. Bully for you, says he. And so we managed to git together. We shook hands on it. I took a wink out o his canteen, and he got on to my shoulders.
“I did the walkin for both, an he did the navigatin. An ef he didnt make me carry him straight into a rebel colonels tent, a mile away, Im a liar! Howsever, the colonel came up, an says he, Whar dyer come from? who be yer? I told him. He said I was done for, and couldnt do no more shootn; an he sent me over to our lines. So, after three days, I came down here with the wounded boys, where were doin pretty well, all things considered.” “But you will never see the light again, my poor fellow,” I suggested, sympathetically. “Thats so,” he answered, glibly, ” but I cant help it, you notice. I did my dooty–got shot, pop in the eye–an thats my misfortin, not my fault–as the old man said of his blind hoss. But–Im a bold soldier boy,” he continued, cheerily renewing his song; and we left him in his singular merriment. Poor, sightless, unlucky, but stout-hearted Joe Parsons!
Originally posted 2008-05-08 14:31:38.