the Friday or Saturday preceding the battle.
Orders were then received that it should repair at once to the field and take its position.
Charlie was asleep at the time of the departure, and the father, unwilling that one so young should undergo the fatigue of the long march of twenty miles and the dangers of the coming fight, gave orders that he should not be disturbed.
Several hours after the boy awoke of his own accord.
At a glance, his eye took in the condition of affairs, and his knowledge of coming events satisfied him of the cause.
With him, to think was to act. He seized his little gun—a miniature musket which his father had made for him, and alone started on the trail of his absent regiment.
Hour after hour he trudged along, and finally, just as they were about halting preparatory to going into battle, he succeeded in joining his company.
He had travelled more than fifteen miles. His father chided him, but how could he do otherwise than admire the indomitable spirit of his boy?
The battle commenced.
Charlie took his place by his father's side, and was soon in the thickest of the fight.
A bullet struck him in the body and lore an ugly wound.
Still he pressed on, firing, cheering, and charging with the remainder of his regiment.
He seemed not to know the sensation of fear, and his youthful example on more than one occasion was the rallying point from which the men took fresh spirit.
Suddenly, at a late hour in the day, the little fellow fell shot through the leg a few inches below the hip. He gave a cheer and told his father to go on. “Don't mind me,” said he, “but keep on; I'll lie here till you come back.”
This of course the feelings of the parent would not permit him to do, and picking him up in his arms, he carried him to the nearest hospital.
Within a day or two Charlie was brought to his home in Memphis
, feeble, yet full of hope and courage.
was called upon to examine the wound and, if necessary, to perform amputation; but at a glance his experienced eye saw that the poor boy was beyond the hope of recovery.
Mortification had set in, and an operation would only increase his sufferings without prolonging life.
The lad noticed the sober countenance of the physician as he turned away and went to an adjoining room to break the mournful intelligence to the weeping father and mother.
Nothing could be done but to relieve him of pain by means of opiates.
A few moments afterwards he returned to the bedside of the sufferer, when the young hero abruptly met him with the question—
, will you answer me a straightforward question, and tell me the truth?”
The physician paused a moment, and then said:
“Yes, Charlie, I will; but you must prepare for bad news.”
“Can I live?”
was the response.
“No! Nothing can save you now but a miracle from heaven.”
“Well, I have thought so myself.
I have felt as if I was going to die. Do father and mother know this?”
“Yes,” replied the surgeon.
“I have just told them.”
“Please ask them to come in here.”
When the parents had done so, and taken their places on either side of the bed, Charlie reached out, grasped their hands in his, and said:
“Dear father and mother, Dr. Keller
says that I can't live.
And now I want to ask your forgiveness for all wrong I have done.
I have tried to be a good boy in every way but one, and that was when I disobeyed you both and joined the army.
I couldn't help that, for I felt as if I ought to be right where you were, father, and to fight as long as I was able.
I'm only sorry that I can't fight through the war. If I have said anything wrong or done anything wrong, won't you forgive me?”
The afflicted parents could only weep their assent.
“Now, father,” continued the boy, “one thing more.
Don't stay here with me, but go back to camp.
Mother will take care of me, and your services are more ”