Chapter 10 Summary
Grisly battles of epic proportions continue during the spring and summer of 1863. At Chancellorsville, a Union Army with "greatly superior numbers" is defeated by a much smaller Confederate force led by Robert E. Lee. Seventeen thousand Union soldiers are either killed or imprisoned, and the Creightons, knowing that Shadrach Yale has likely been involved in the fighting there, anxiously wonder if he has been numbered among the casualties. Finally a letter arrives: Shad is all right, but he is weary and angry at the inept leadership his general, Joseph Hooker, had exhibited at Chancellorsville. He is also maddened at the "massive waste of life" he witnessed in this latest battle, as well as at Antietam and Fredricksburg. Reflecting on the gloom hanging over the North at this time, Shad admonishes Jenny that she should prepare herself for the possibility of heartbreak, because her love for him is "no more sacred than the loves for which thousands upon thousands of women are weeping today."
A letter which comes from John is a little more hopeful. He is serving under General Rosecrans, waiting to engage the Confederates in battle in Tennessee. Eb writes to Jethro from Mississippi, near Vicksburg, where he has been reinstated with his regiment. As a punishment for his desertion, he is assigned the harshest of duties; but he accepts his condition with humility, taking full responsibility for his situation.
While the Union struggles with its inexplicably inept military leadership, the Confederates under Lee begin to make inroads into the North, penetrating into the state of Pennsylvania. In July, a battle more terrible than any that has occurred so far takes place at Gettysburg; the Union Army emerges victorious, but imprudently allows the opposing forces to withdraw and prepare to fight again without pursuit. A second Union victory at Vicksburg is also achieved around this time, under General Grant.
Tragically, as he had predicted, Shadrach Yale is grievously wounded at Gettysburg; the Creightons receive a letter from his aunt in Washington, advising them of her nephew's condition and urgently requesting that they allow Jenny to come to him, as the young man "calls for her constantly in his delirium." Ross Milton, who has delivered the letter, tells Matt Creighton that if he will consent to allow his daughter to go, he will personally see her safely to Washington. Although Matt has opposed Jenny's relationship with Shad because of her age, he reconsiders, in light of circumstance and his deep love for his daughter. Although there is "only one chance in a hundred that [her] trip will have a happy ending," Jenny leaves with Milton for Washington in the morning.
The family lives "through many dreary days of waiting" for news of Shad's condition. Finally, a letter arrives from Ross Milton, telling them that, against all odds, it appears that the young man will live. Milton writes that though Shad is still "desperately ill," it is Jenny's presence...
(The entire section is 775 words.)