She chronicled her pity by what she saw on the faces of captured Rebels in her little town: filth, exhaustion, hunger, fear and hopelessness. Her diary gives us a clear picture of how she responded to the battle. She felt such compassion for one Confederate that she gave him a pair of her husband’s boots. It could have been considered a treasonous act to give comfort and aid to the enemy in a time of war, but Americans hardly viewed each other as enemies. This was no ordinary war. It was a fight between brothers and sisters.
By recording what she saw, she was able to give her readers a sense of how ordinary people perform under the most stressful conditions. She was confronted with what appeared to be an impossible task: she was asked to attend to a severely wounded man, which was something she had never done.
I did not know whether I could render any assistance in that way, but I thought I would try…Stooping over him, I asked for his wound, and he pointed to his leg. Such a horrible sight I had never seen and hope never to see again. His leg was all covered with worms.
She helped carry other wounded men from water-soaked cellars of local homes to the fourth floor of the Lutheran Seminary building. Five days after the battle, she concluded: “Some weeks since I would have fainted had I seen as much blood as I have to-day, but I am proof now, only caring to relieve suffering.”
Nerve-racking conditions struck her with the force of an epiphany. She learned so much about herself in so short a time that she was able to pen the most persuasive comment about human potential:
“…we do not know until tried what we are capable of.”
Effort uncovers abilities.
Discover unknown talents by doing something new. By contrast, doing nothing new makes you a boring person. You are predictable because you repeat the same activities everyday. By doing something new, Broadhead was influenced by discoveries about herself and uncovered previously unknown abilities. You can do the same right now. Put down this book and do something you have never done before.
Copyright 2012 Paul Lloyd Hemphill