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[331]

Rachel Somers, the noble mother.

Mr. J. R. Gilmore (Edmund Kirke) relates an incident which occured under his own observation in East Tennessee, which proves that the Spartan mother who gave her sons the charge, as she handed them their shields, “Come back with these, or upon them!” has been far surpassed in lofty heroism by an American, Christian mother. A chaplain of one of the regiments of the Army of the Cumberland, whom he was visiting, invited him to accompany him to the regimental hospital. “One of my boys is dying,” he said-“a Tennessee boy, wounded at Stone river. He has lingered long, but now is going.” Mr. Gilmore continues:

Walking rapidly across the open fields, we entered, at the end of a short half hour, a dingy warehouse in the very heart of the city. About fifty low cots were ranged along the two sides of a narrow, cheerless apartment on the ground floor of this building, and on one of them the wounded soldier was lying. His face was pallid, his eyes were fixed, a cold, clammy sweat was on his forehead-he was dying. Sitting at his feet was a lad of sixteen; and kneeling at his side, her hand in his, was a middle-aged woman, with worn garments, and a thin, sorrow-marked face.

“You are too late! He is almost gone,” said the colonel of the regiment, as we paused before the group.

The chaplain made no reply, but slowly uncovered his head, for the dying man was speaking.

“Mother,” he said, “good-by. And you, Tom, good [332] by. Be of good heart, mother. God will take care of you, and save-save the- .” A low sound then rattled in his throat, and he passed away, with the name of his country on his lips.

The mother bent down and closed the eyelids of her dead son; and then, kissing again and again his pale face, turned to go away. As she did so, the chaplain, taking her hand in his, said to her:

The Lord gave: the Lord hath taken away.

Looking up to him with tranquil face and tearless eyes, the woman answered:

“ ‘ Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ They have murdered my husband, Mr. Chaplin, my oldest boy, and now John, too, is gone.” Then, laying her hand on the shoulder of her living son, she turned to the colonel, and while her voice trembled a very little, she added: “He's all I've got now, Mr. Cunnel-give him John's place in the regiment.”

A tear rolled down the colonel's weather-beaten cheek, and he turned his face away, but said nothing. There was a convulsive twitching about the chaplain's firm-set mouth, as he said:

The Spartan mother gave only two sons to her country: would you give three?

“ I'd give all-all I've got, Mr. Chapl'in,” was the low answer.

And this was a “poor white” woman! Her words should be heard all over the land. They should go down in history, and make her name-Rachel Somers --immortal.

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