Christian people were praying for him. I shall never forget the emphasis with which he grasped my hand as, with a voice and eye that betrayed deep emotion, he assured me that it was not only his comfort, but his only comfort, and declared the simple and absolute trust that he had in God, and God alone, as his helper in that terrible struggle. Another incident impressed me still more, because it brought out a most beautiful trait in his character. No one ever rendered him a service, however humble, that was not instantly and gratefully acknowledged, however lowly the person might be. During the summer of 1864, after he had been holding at bay the tremendous forces of General Grant for long weeks, retreating step by step, as he was outflanked by overwhelming numbers, until he reached the neighborhood of Cold Harbor, I had occasion to render him a slight service, so slight that, knowing at the time that he was sick, and overburdened with the great responsibilities of his arduous and continually menaced position, I never expected it to be acknowledged at all; but, to my surprise, I received a letter thanking me for this trivial service, and adding: “I thank you especially that I have a place in your prayers. No human power can avail us without the blessing of God, and I rejoice to know that, in this crisis of our affairs, good men everywhere are supplicating Him for His favor and protection.” He then added a postscript, which most touchingly exhibited his thoughtful and tender recollection of the troubles of others, even in that hour when all his thoughts might be supposed to be absorbed by his vast responsibilities as the leader of the Army of Northern Virginia.Not long before the evacuation of Petersburg, I was one day on the lines not far above Hatcher's Run, busily engaged in distributing tracts and religious newspapers, which the soldiers were eagerly crowding around to get, when I saw a large cavalcade approaching. As they drew near I recognized Generals Lee, A. P. Hill, Gordon, Heth and several other generals, who, accompanied by a large staff, were inspecting the lines. I stepped aside to let the cavalcade pass, but the keen eye of Gordon recognized and his cordial grasp detained me while he eagerly inquired about my work. General Lee reined in his noble steed (‘Traveller,’ whom we all remember so well) and joined in the conversation, the rest all gathered around, and the humble tract distributer found himself the centre of a group
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.