An Echo of Antietam - Edward Bellamy - ebook
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Though the Civil War short story "An Echo of Antietam" marks a notable departure from the utopian fantasy that helped author Edward Bellamy rise to literary acclaim, it highlights similar themes of community and solidarity. In the tale, a young man signs up to fight for the Union forces. Though he is initially ambivalent about this decision, he ultimately comes to appreciate the virtue of sacrificing oneself to a just cause. Edward Bellamy (March 26, 1850 – May 22, 1898) was an American author and socialist, most famous for his utopian novel, Looking Backward, a tale set in the distant future of the year 2000. Bellamy's vision of a harmonious future world inspired the formation of at least 165 "Nationalist Clubs" dedicated to the propagation of Bellamy's political ideas and working to make them a practical reality.

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AN ECHO OF ANTIETAM

BY

EDWARD BELLAMY

Copyright © 2018 by Edward Bellamy.

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Book and Cover design by Sheba Blake Publishing

First Edition: May 2018

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I5

II

III

IV

V

I

The air was tremulous with farewells. The regiment, recruited within sight of the steeples of Waterville, and for three months in camp just outside the city, was to march the next morning. A series of great battles had weakened the Federal armies, and the authorities at Washington had ordered all available men to the front.

The camp was to be broken up at an early hour, after which the regiment would march through the city to the depot to take the cars. The streets along the route of the march were already being decorated with flags and garlands. The city that afternoon was full of soldiers enjoying their last leave of absence. The liquor shops were crowded with parties of them drinking with their friends, while others in threes and fours, with locked arms, paraded the streets singing patriotic songs, sometimes in rather maudlin voices, for to-day in every saloon a soldier might enter, citizens vied for the privilege of treating him to the best in the house. No man in a blue coat was suffered to pay for anything.

For the most part, however, the men were sober enough over their leave-taking. One saw everywhere soldiers and civilians, strolling in pairs, absorbed in earnest talk. They are brothers, maybe, who have come away from the house to be alone with each other, while they talk of family affairs and exchange last charges and promises as to what is to be done if anything happens. Or perhaps they are business partners, and the one who has put the country's business before his own is giving his last counsels as to how the store or the shop shall be managed in his absence. Many of the blue-clad men have women with them, and these are the couples that the people oftenest turn to look at. The girl who has a soldier lover is the envy of her companions to-day as she walks by his side. Her proud eyes challenge all who come, saying, "See, this is my hero. I am the one he loves."

You could easily tell when it was a wife and not a sweetheart whom the soldier had with him. There was no challenge in the eyes of the wife. Young romance shed none of its glamour on the sacrifice she was making for her native land. It was only because they could not bear to sit any longer looking at each other in the house that she and her husband had come out to walk.

In the residence parts of the town family groups were gathered on shady piazzas, a blue-coated figure the centre of each. They were trying to talk cheerfully, making an effort even to laugh a little.

Now and then one of the women stole unobserved from the circle, but her bravely smiling face as she presently returned gave no inkling of the flood of tears that had eased her heart in some place apart. The young soldier himself was looking a little pale and nervous with all his affected good spirits, and it was safe to guess that he was even then thinking how often this scene would come before him afterwards, by the camp-fire and on the eve of battle.

In the village of Upton, some four or five miles out of Waterville, on a broad piazza at the side of a house on the main street, a group of four persons were seated around a tea-table.