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The Backwash of War The Human Wreckage of the Battlefield as Witnessed by an American Hospital Nurse   By: (1873-1961)

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Transcriber's Note: Variations in hyphenation and spelling have been retained as in the original. Minor printer errors have been amended without note.

By Ellen N. La Motte

The Tuberculosis Nurse

The Backwash of War

The Backwash of War

The Human Wreckage of the Battlefield as Witnessed by an American Hospital Nurse

By Ellen N. La Motte

G. P. Putnam's Sons New York and London The Knickerbocker Press 1916

Copyright, 1916 BY ELLEN N. LA MOTTE

The Knickerbocker Press, New York

To MARY BORDEN TURNER

"The Little Boss"

TO WHOM I OWE MY EXPERIENCE IN THE ZONE OF THE ARMIES

INTRODUCTION

This war has been described as "Months of boredom, punctuated by moments of intense fright." The writer of these sketches has experienced many "months of boredom," in a French military field hospital, situated ten kilometres behind the lines, in Belgium. During these months, the lines have not moved, either forward or backward, but have remained dead locked, in one position. Undoubtedly, up and down the long reaching kilometres of "Front" there has been action, and "moments of intense fright" have produced glorious deeds of valour, courage, devotion, and nobility. But when there is little or no action, there is a stagnant place, and in a stagnant place there is much ugliness. Much ugliness is churned up in the wake of mighty, moving forces. We are witnessing a phase in the evolution of humanity, a phase called War and the slow, onward progress stirs up the slime in the shallows, and this is the Backwash of War. It is very ugly. There are many little lives foaming up in the backwash. They are loosened by the sweeping current, and float to the surface, detached from their environment, and one glimpses them, weak, hideous, repellent. After the war, they will consolidate again into the condition called Peace.

After this war, there will be many other wars, and in the intervals there will be peace. So it will alternate for many generations. By examining the things cast up in the backwash, we can gauge the progress of humanity. When clean little lives, when clean little souls boil up in the backwash, they will consolidate, after the final war, into a peace that shall endure. But not till then.

E. N. L. M.

CONTENTS

PAGE

HEROES 3

LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE 17

THE HOLE IN THE HEDGE 35

ALONE 49

A BELGIAN CIVILIAN 63

THE INTERVAL 77

WOMEN AND WIVES 95

POUR LA PATRIE 115

LOCOMOTOR ATAXIA 129

A SURGICAL TRIUMPH 143

AT THE TELEPHONE 159

A CITATION 167

AN INCIDENT 181

HEROES

When he could stand it no longer, he fired a revolver up through the roof of his mouth, but he made a mess of it. The ball tore out his left eye, and then lodged somewhere under his skull, so they bundled him into an ambulance and carried him, cursing and screaming, to the nearest field hospital. The journey was made in double quick time, over rough Belgian roads. To save his life, he must reach the hospital without delay, and if he was bounced to death jolting along at breakneck speed, it did not matter... Continue reading book >>




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