He found his feet and ankles swelling painfully, and sometimes when one patient was being carried out and another was being carried in, he would rub his right hand with his left hand. Each case was different, but since there are only limited possibilities to destroy a human being, it soon all seemed the same to him, whether the face was torn, the genitals shot off or the eyes were hit.
It was starting to seem like he’d spent most of his life slicing people up in that little damp room, and he felt doomed to stay here and keep going. But at some point the noises that came down to them changed. They had long since got used to the screams and groans, the roar of cannons and gunfire, the explosion of mines, and even the tremors that close impacts caused. But now the inferno reached a new crescendo, an incessant series of gunfire and explosions that lasted for several hours.
Then suddenly there was a relative silence in which the people in the church could all at once talk to each other without having to shout. And then there was a new noise, a roar that broke up and ebbed and billowed on and on like the ocean, and when Rob J. sent a Confederate helper out to find out what it was, the man came back a moment later and reported broken, it was the howl of triumph of the goddamn Yankees.
“Doc! My god doc! You come with me now! ”Ordway told Rob J. that he had spent almost two days in this basement, and the corporal told him where the 119th regiment was bivouacked. Rob J. let his good comrade and worst enemy take him to an unused storage room where a soft bed of clean hay had been made for him. He lay down and fell asleep immediately.
Late the following afternoon he was awakened by the groans and screams of the wounded who had been laid on the floor around him. Other surgeons had taken over the tables and got along well without him. There was no point in trying to use the church’s lavatory as it had long since overflowed. So Rob J. stepped out into the pouring rain and emptied his bladder behind some lilac bushes that now belonged to the Union again. All of Gettysburg belonged to the Union again. He had forgotten where his regiment camped and asked everyone he met. Finally he found it south of the city, scattered over several fields. Wilcox and Ordway greeted him with a warmth that touched him.
They had eggs! While Lanning Ordway was crumbling biscuits and frying the chunks and eggs in lard for breakfast for the doctor, they told him what had happened – bad first.