The Backwash of War

The Human Wreckage of the Battlefield
as Witnessed by an American Hospital Nurse

By

Ellen N. La Motte

G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London

The Knickerbocker Press
1916

 

INTRODUCTION

THIS war has been described as "Months of boredom, punctuated by moments of intense fright." The writer of these sketches has experienced many "months of boredom," in a French military field hospital, situated ten kilometres behind the lines, in Belgium. During these months, the lines have not moved, either forward or backward, but have remained dead-locked, in one position. Undoubtedly, up and down the long-reaching kilometres of "Front" there has been action, and "moments of intense fright" have produced glorious deeds of valour, courage, devotion, and nobility. But when there is little or no action, there is a stagnant place, and in a stagnant place there is much ugliness. Much ugliness is churned up in the wake of mighty, moving forces. We are witnessing a phase in the evolution of humanity, a phase called War---and the slow, onward progress stirs up the slime in the shallows, and this is the Backwash of War. It is very ugly. There are many little lives foaming up in the backwash. They are loosened by the sweeping current, and float to the surface, detached from their environment, and one glimpses them, weak, hideous, repellent. After the war, they will consolidate again into the condition called Peace.

After this war, there will be many other wars, and in the intervals there will be peace. So it will alternate for many generations. By examining the things cast up in the backwash, we can gauge the progress of humanity. When clean little lives, when clean little souls boil up in the backwash, they will consolidate, after the final war, into a peace that shall endure. But not till then.

E.N.L.M.

 

CONTENTS

HEROES
LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE
THE HOLE IN THE HEDGE
ALONE
A BELGIAN CIVILIAN
THE INTERVAL
WOMEN AND WIVES.
POUR LA PATRIE
LOCOMOTOR ATAXIA
A SURGICAL TRIUMPH
AT THE TELEPHONE
A CITATION
AN INCIDENT


Heroes