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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Prose Works. 1892.

I. Specimen Days

68. A Case from Second Bull Run

WELL, poor John Mahay is dead. He died yesterday. His was a painful and long-lingering case, (see p. 30 ante.) I have been with him at times for the past fifteen months. He belonged to company A, 101st New York, and was shot through the lower region of the abdomen at second Bull Run, August, ’62. One scene at his bedside will suffice for the agonies of nearly two years. The bladder had been perforated by a bullet going entirely through him. Not long since I sat a good part of the morning by his bedside, ward E, Armory square. The water ran out of his eyes from the intense pain, and the muscles of his face were distorted, but he utter’d nothing except a low groan now and then. Hot moist cloths were applied, and reliev’d him somewhat. Poor Mahay, a mere boy in age, but old in misfortune. He never knew the love of parents, was placed in infancy in one of the New York charitable institutions, and subsequently bound out to a tyrannical master in Sullivan country, (the scars of whose cowhide and club remain’d yet on his back.) His wound here was a most disagreeable one, for he was a gentle, cleanly, and affectionate boy. He found friends in his hospital life, and, indeed, was a universal favorite. He had quite a funeral ceremony.