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“Mikey why do you have to go?” whined Annie.
“Annie I have to Uncle Sam’s making me. But you’re going to stay with Lily ‘til I get back.” Michael responded
“Yeah I get to stay with Lily!”
“Yes Annie you get to stay with her. She is getting you’re room ready for you now so we have to hurry over there.”
“I get my own room!” screamed Annie
“Yes Annie bear you get your own room. But can you promise me something?”
“Mikey I can do that. Lily taught me how to keep them too!”
“Okay Annie will you promise me that you will be good for Lily, she’s letting you stay in her home so I want you to do whatever she asks you to do. I also want you to write to me all the time so I know what you’re doing. Okay can you promise me that?”
“Mikey that’s not something that’s! That’s Something’s!” Annie said laughing not realizing the seriousness that Michael ment the words in.
“Yes you’re right Annie Bear. But can you promise me those something’s?”
“Yes Mickey I can promise you the something’s.”
“But Mickey I don’t know how to write!” said starting to cry.
“Annie bear don’t cry Lily is going to show you how to write.” Mickey responded as he scooped Annie up into his arms and started the walk to Lily’s home.
“Bye- Bye Mikey! I love you”
“I love you too, Annie Bear.”
Then Mike turned and walked toward the train. Mike was heading off to war. He was going to defend the right to have slaves. I really don’t want to go, I hate the thought of leaving Annie with Lily after only losing our parents a year ago, but I have to. Lily will take care of her ‘til I get back then we will get married and raise Annie like our own child, Mike thought. As Mike sat down in his seat, he turned toward the window and waved at his crying sister and fiancée.
“Lily why does Mikey have to go?” Annie asked, choking on her words.
“He has to go because Uncle Sam needs him.” Lily said trying to comfort the crying child that was wrapped around her leg.
“But why can’t Uncle Sam get some one else to go for him? He didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I know he didn’t do anything wrong Annie, but Uncle Sam needs your brother. And there’s not much we can do about it, I’m sorry. Look Annie! Mikey’s waving to you!”
Annie looks up just in time to see her older brother waving at her as the train took off. Lily stood there waiting for Annie; while she was she started to think about how this whole thing with Annie got started.
“What am I going to do with Annie when I leave?” asked Mike.
“She can always live with me. I can take care of her. She’s already like my little sister, so it won’t be a big deal.” Lily said with a meaningful look on her face.
“I can’t ask you to take care of her for that long, I don’t know how long I’m going be gone, it could be years before I come back, and she has been very moody since the accident. She can be a hand full at times.”
“Well I can imagine that’s she’s not perfectly sound after survive that crash, and she’s only five years old, so she can’t be any more moody than a normal child.”
“Lily I can’t ask you to do this for me. You’ve done too much for me already. You saved me. That’s all I can ask you to do. And if you do accept my proposal she’s going to be living with us. So don’t you want some space from her?”
“No, I don’t want any space from her. I told you that she is like my little sister. If she doesn’t live with me, where is she going to go? Are you going to put her in an orphanage? What if she gets adopted before you come back? You’ll never see her again. If she lives with me you will be able to see her and hear from her. Just please let her stay with me.”
“Okay, Lily, she can stay with you.” Mike said very reluctantly.
Now, as she watched Mike leave for the Civil War she started to wonder what she got herself into.
“Lily will you teach me how to write? Because that’s one of the secret something’s that Mikey made me promise him before he left.”
“Why of course I’ll teach you how to write, I also have a favor I want to ask you if you could do for someone?”
“Thank you! But what’s the favor?”
“You remember Mikey’s friend Robert right?”
“Yeah he always gave me candy when I saw him,” Annie said reminiscent of the memory.
“Well he had to go with Mikey today, and he doesn’t have a little sister to write to him. So I was wondering if you wanted to write to both of them.”
“Yeah that will be really fun!”
“Well let’s get started!”
It’s been well over two months since Mike and Robert left for war. They have not received a letter from Mike, but they got one from Robert almost every week. The latest one really bothers Lily because she knew that she couldn’t help him.
One, I want to thank you for all the letter’s you have written me. They have really helped. And Annie, Mike has gotten your letter. I know you were really concerned that he hadn’t got it, but he did. He just can’t respond to it right now. But he said he loved it and that you are really becoming a good writer. He also sends his love. Well I’m sorry that this is such a short letter but it looks like we are on the move. I’m also sorry in advance if you don’t get a letter anytime soon because it looks like we are headed for the front lines. But don’t you worry about us. We will both be fine.
With lots of love,
P.S Lily there is a separate letter for you attached please read as soon as possible.
I’m sorry that this is not a good formal letter but there is something wrong with Mike. And I can’t tell if it’s just homesickness or something worse. He’s just not acting like himself. He cried like a baby when he got Annie’s letter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him cry like that before. He has also tried to respond to it but he tells me he just can’t. I need you to send him a letter because last night in his sleep he said that he was going to try and get himself killed cause he can’t stand being here. I don’t know what to do. A letter from you may help. I’m really worried.
Lily thought to herself what should I say to him? I mean I could tell him I love him or something but he really needs to send me something like his thoughts. Maybe he can’t deal with the thought of killing people. Well I’ll just write him and see what happens.
Well, we haven’t heard from you in a while so I’m just writing to see how you’re doing. Annie really misses you and I think a letter from you saying you’re ok will help her a lot. She keeps asking if Mikey’s dead like Mommy and Daddy. I keep telling her no but you need to respond soon. And Robert’s really worried about you, he says you’re not acting like you. If you’re scared about telling me what its like out there, don’t be. I can handle it; I promise I won’t let Annie see any of them.
I love you,
Well that’s all I can do for now, Lily thought to herself, now we wait.
“Has Mikey responded yet?” Annie asked Lily after she came in from riding.
“No, not yet Sweetie, but I’m sure he will soon. You remember what Robert said, right? They were on the move so they don’t have much time to write.”
“Oh, okay I forgot about that. Later after I do my chores can I go riding again?”
“No, you can go out again tomorrow morning. Today Maggie is coming to fit you for your new Church dress. So you have to go wash up and put on some nice clothes.”
“Fine,” Annie replied. She really didn’t what to see Maggie today; she just wants to ride Midnight all day. But she was remembering her Something’s and she was keeping them very well. I don’t want to let Mikey down. I promised I would be good for Lily and I’m doing a good job so far. The only something that I’m not doing well at is writing thing but, Mikey isn’t writing me back. She thought to herself, maybe I will write him another letter one that talks all about Midnight and how I’m keeping my promises.
Mike was marching in line right next to Robert; they were on their way to attack the union army who were camped in the Virginian countryside. This is all so dumb, Mike thought to himself, why do we have to do this, we are already losing the war, and we haven’t won a battle since only God knows when. We are losing men left and right, the new recruits have no idea what they’re doing, they have never been trained and for most of them this is their first time they’ve ever left home.
“Hey man are you ready?” Robert asked Mike interrupting his complaining thoughts.
“Umm… Yeah sure, ready as I’ll ever be. I just hope one of the new guys doesn’t shoot me in the back of the head like they did to Ole Jack last week.” Mike said accusingly, as he looked back at all the new guys. In just the quick glance that he was able to get, he could have sworn that a couple of them were shaking so hard that they were having a hard time keeping up with the marching company.
“Yeah well when we get into the battle we can always fan out and get away from them,” Robert said jokingly trying to hide the fact that he actually thinking about doing it.
“Get ready men, ready, aim, fire!” the general called out to his anxious men.
This is when the chaos started the new guys started shooting at random killing a bunch of the men in the front of the formation. Mike and Robert took off sprinting away from the new guys but closer to the Yankee’s. Both of there minds turned into “The kill but don’t get yourself killed,” mind set that they learned from General George B. McClellan at the beginning of the war. They had both almost made it up to the enemy’s main line when suddenly return fire came out of nowhere.
“Mike fall back! Let’s regroup in the forest!” Robert screamed as he turned to run back.
Mike followed as quickly as he could. But with the cannon’s firing off on both sides it soon became hard to see two feet in front of him. He was almost to the forest when he felt the most excruciating pain he’s ever felt before. He could feel the bullet ripping through the tough, strong muscles in his shoulder, feeling the bones of his shoulder shatter caused him to let out the horrifying scream that had been building up inside him. Mike fell to the ground and waited, he knew that no one would come looking for him, until the battle was over and they came to collect the dead. He quietly debated with himself, should I drag myself to safety of the forest or should I lie here and wait ‘til they come for the dead?
When Robert looked back behind him he realized the Mike was not there. He quickly started to scan the area hoping that he had went into the forest a different way.
“MIKE! Where are you?” Robert screamed hoping he’d get a quick answer from his buddy. Then he waited and waited but he didn’t get the response he wanted so he called out again this time with more anxiety creeping out in his voice.
“MIKE! MIKE! Come on, man, answer me!”
When Robert didn’t get a response and heard the fall back command, he gave up and went back to camping hoping that Mike heard the command too and fall back. Robert then remembered the promise that they made with each other at the beginning of the war:
“If we ever get separated during battle we will meet back up at the camp. That way the other doesn’t go looking for the lost one and fall into the enemy’s hands,” Mike and Robert had both promised each other.
“God I hope he remembers the promise,” Robert said aloud to know one in particular as he started the long walk back to camp.
“MIKE! MIKE! Come on, answer me!” This was the first thing that Mike heard when he regained consciousness. But he couldn’t make his mouth move to answer the roaring voice. The only thing he was able to do was raise his head and look around him at the horrific scene that was surrounding him. There was still some smoke in the air from the cannons, the ground around him was coated in a thin layer of blood, which he didn’t know if it was his or the guy next to him who didn’t have an arm.
When he saw the arm lying next to him he remembers his own injury. He slowly started to realize that he was closer to the union side of the battle field. When they come to get there died he might be picked up as a prisoner of war. So he quickly decided to get up and try to walk back to camp, if he made it semi-close to camp some of his own people might find him.
Without utilizing his left arm, he pushes himself up off the ground and starts to slowly make the long journey back to camp where he would hopefully get medical care, which meant he would have his arm cut off because that was as advanced as they were with the medical knowledge.
Why isn’t he here? Robert thought to himself after looking all over the camp for Mike, I thought for sure I had got started after him. Maybe he is on his way back now, I really should wait for him but I’m really tired Robert thought to himself. We share the same tent so he will have to come back and wake me up when he gets here.
So Robert went to bed not realizing that his friend had just made in back to the camp’s field hospital and was waiting to have his shoulder looked at.
Mike had just made it to the field hospital before he collapsed. The pain in his shoulder was so great that he could not stand it any longer.
When he collapsed he yelled out “Will someone please just cut my arm off already.”
“Well you made it just in time, they just went out to get the dead and wounded from the battle field,” The surgeon that was in charge of the hospital told Mike.
“Do you really have to cut my arm off?” Mike asked already knowing what the answer would be.
“Well, probably son but losing an arm and going home is better than losing your life and never being able to see you family again,” the surgeon said trying to comfort Mike.
“Yeah I guess your right. So when do you get to saw my arm off?” Mike asked trying to lighten his own mood.
“Well as soon as you get up off the ground and on to my operating table,” The surgeon replied jokingly picking up on Mike’s mood.
So Mike hopped up off the ground and walked over to the surgeons table and got his arm cut off. The grueling surgery took just about an hour and a half. Then Mike went to go find Robert and tell him that he got his orders to go home. This was pretty upsetting to Mike, but at least the war was almost over because it was March 22, 1865.
I’m sorry I never wrote to you but it was too hard for me to write the about the good stuff. And the bad stuff was just too bad to think about let alone write. Well I’m writing you this letter because I got my discharge notice because I got shot in the arm and had to have it cut off. So far I am one of the lucky ones because not many have survived this surgery. And please tell Annie in advance why I look so different and why I may act different for a little while. I will be home in a couple of weeks.
God I miss you both so much it’s been too long since I’ve seen you both. I will be at the same train station that I left from. Oh and can you tell Robert’s mother that he is fine and dandy and according to rumors that are spreading around camp is that the war is almost over so he will be on his way home soon after me. Will you also please tell Annie that I love her and that I’m really sorry that I didn’t keep up my end of the something’s.
I Love you to,