Before Louisa May Alcott achieved national fame with Little
Women, she received success and recognition for Hospital Sketches, which was
published in 1863. The book is based on her experience as a Civil War nurse at
a Union hospital in Georgetown. In “The Death of a Soldier,” an excerpt from
the fourth chapter, she recounts the final days of a young Virginian blacksmith
named John. Told through his nurse, Periwinkle, who stands by his side until his death,
John never wavers in his desire to return to his post as a soldier and fulfill
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