It was his wish to return to the army as chaplain, but the person who was expected to take command of the new company having declined only the day before the election, he was the unanimous choice of the men for captain.
Having been mainly instrumental in raising the company, he did not feel at liberty to decline, and thus unexpectedly he found himself regularly enrolled as a soldier.
He carried the spirit of his Master with him into the camp; he prayed with his men every night, and preached to them on Sabbath whenever circumstances permitted.
He maintained his integrity, and never compromising on any occasion his character as a minister of Christ
His men loved him devotedly, and always showed him the highest respect.
The thoughts of this good man have a melancholy interest now after the storm of war is hushed, and we look back on the past as on a horrible dream.
From the camp he wrote:
“No man leaves wife and children more reluctantly than myself.
But I have made up my mind to do it, and must bear it. I am trying to lead a godly life, and do good as best I can in my place as an officer and minister of the gospel.
I feel that I am in the way of duty, and can ask God's best blessing on my work.
I am a soldier for consciencea sake.
I am here because duty calls me, and for no other reason.
If it were not the path of duty, I should utterly loath the interminable, never-ceasing confusion of camp life.”
Again referring to his position as a soldier:
“I could not be a soldier unless conscience approved.
It is only when my own land is invaded, my wife and children endangered, that I dare bear arms; and then, when interests so vital, so personal, are at stake, it is only by effort I could remain at home.”
With a cheerful and buoyant spirit he endured the privations and fatigues of military life, sustained by such a noble and chivalric sense of duty.
His march to Perryville
was his last.
After his regiment was drawn up in line of battle, his colonel, passing along the line, observed him writing, and asked what he was doing.
He replied, “Writing to my wife.”
This hurried note, written on the edge of battle, was the last message of love to his family.
It was cut short by the order “Forward,” and at the head of his men he plunged into the fight.
His sword was shattered in his hand by a ball, and the next moment another pierced his body.
He fell and died on the field.
After the battle, two of his faithful soldiers, at their own request, were detailed to bury him, and while performing this sad duty were captured by the enemy.
One who knew him well and loved him (Rev. J. B. Cottrell
, of Alabama
) draws his character in a few meaning lines:
T. J. Koger will not again meet in Conference with us. Few of our number would be more missed.
A very peculiar man in appearance, and a peculiarly true and earnest soul, he was most highly esteemed by us all. Few men ever loved the Church better, or were more at home in her councils or at her altars.
He was popular among his brethren, and popular among the people.
Perfectly fearless, he avoided no duty or responsibility.
In every respect he was reliable. On the battlefield of Perryville he fell, attesting his devotion to his native South.
He was one of the few men who could have gone on to any position in the service in which he fell, and afterwards have come back to the work of a Methodist preacher.
One bright, sunny spirit less—we'll miss and lament him.
Rev. Dr. Joseph Cross
, who was with General Bragg
's army, thus describes the battle-field after the fight at Murfreesboro
Ah! how many expired with the year.
Here they lie, friend and foe, in every possible position, a vast promiscuous ruin.
They sleep their last sleep, they have fought their last battle;
After a pretty thorough inspection of the ground in the rear of our lines, from
No sound can awake them to glory again.