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Chapter 4: influence of Christian officers—concluded.

The number and influence of Christian officers in our army is a chapter which expands so widely as one comes to write it, that I find myself compelled to condense much of the material that it may be brought within proper limits; but there are other facts which must not be omitted.

General J. E. B. Stuart, Chief of Cavalry, Army of Northern Virginia, has been called ‘the flower of cavaliers,’ the ‘Prince Rupert’ of the Confederacy, and ‘Harry of Navarre,’ and he has been described as a gay, rolicksome, laughing soldier, ‘always ready for a dance or a fight.’ And yet Stuart was an humble, earnest Christian, who took Christ as his personal Saviour, lived a stainless life, and died a triumphant death. He used to attend our Chaplains' Association when he could, took a deep interest in its proceedings, and manifested the liveliest concern for the spiritual welfare of his men.

Not long before his lamented death he sought a personal interview with me, and discussed with great interest and intelligent zeal plans for the better supply of the cavalry with chaplains and religious reading. He spoke of the active life the cavalry were compelled to lead, as at the same time a serious obstacle to regular services among them and an increased necessity for having men of God who would follow them on their rapid marches, or carry the bread of life to them on the outposts. He was especially anxious to get an efficient man at his Headquarters, who could always be found when a preacher was needed, and made a very liberal offer for the comfort and support of such an one. But he was very emphatic in saying:

I do not want a man who is not both able and willing to endure hardness as a good soldier. The man who cannot endure the fatigues, hardships and privations of our rough riding and hard service, and be in place when needed, would be of no earthly use to us, and is not wanted at my Headquarters.

[103] He fell in battle at Yellow Tavern, in a heroic and successful effort to save Richmond from Sheridan's raid in May, 1864, and in the full tide of a brilliant career. But though thus cut down when full of life and hope, he said, when the surgeon expressed the belief that he would ultimately recover: ‘Well, I don't know how this will turn out; but if it is God's will that I shall die, I am ready.’

He reached the house of his brother-in-law, Dr. Brewer, in Richmond, and began to sink so rapidly that it was very evident to his friends and to himself that he must soon pass away. He calmly made disposition of his effects, and gave necessary directions. Hearing the sound of artillery, he said to his gallant and trusted adjutant, Major H. B. McClellan, who was with him, and whose valuable services in the field he so highly appreciated: ‘Major, Fitz. Lee may need you,’ and expressed interest in how the battle was going.

But he quickly added, with a sigh: ‘But I must be preparing for another world.’

About noon President Davis visited his bedside, and tenderly taking the hand of his great cavalry-man, asked him how he felt. ‘Easy, but willing to die, if God and my country think I have fulfilled my destiny and done my duty.’ To the surgeon later in the afternoon he replied, when told that he could not live long: ‘I am resigned if it be God's will. I would like to see my wife. But God's will be done.’

His noble wife had been sent for, and was hastening to him, but she did not arrive until after his death.

To the doctor, who was holding his wrist and counting his pulse, he said: ‘Doctor, I suppose I am going fast now. It will soon be over. But God's will be done. I hope I have fulfilled my destiny to my country and my duty to God.’ Turning to Rev. Dr. Joshua Peterkin, of the Episcopal Church, of which General Stuart had long been a consistent member, he asked him to sing:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee,

and he himself joined in the song with all the strength he could summon.

He joined with fervor in prayer with the ministers present, and again said, just before he passed away: ‘I am going fast now; I am resigned; God's will be done.’ And thus the dashing [104] soldier quietly ‘fell on sleep,’ and left behind the record of a noble life, and a simple trust in Christ—the prophecy of a blissful immortality, where charging squadrons and clashing sabres never disturb the ‘rest that remaineth for the people of God.’

General John B. Gordon, of Georgia (now governor of that grand old Commonwealth), who rose from the captaincy of a company to command the remnant of the old ‘Stonewall’ corps, and to win a reputation as one of the most brilliant soldiers which the war produced, was one of the most active of our Christian workers, and exerted a fine influence in the army.

He was accustomed to lead prayer-meetings in his command, and during seasons of special revival I have heard him, with eloquent words and tearful eyes, make powerful appeals to his men to come to Christ, and have seen him go off into the woods with his arms about some ragged private, that he might point him to ‘the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.’

He was always the active friend and helper of his chaplains, and did everything in his power to promote the spiritual welfare of his men.

He wrote Dr. A. E. Dickinson, Superintendent of Army Colportage, the following stirring appeal, which was published in the Religious Herald at the time and is well worth preserving, not only as illustrating his character and influence, but as showing also the condition of things in the army:

camp near Orange Court House, Virginia, September 6, 1863.
Brother Dickinson: Why is it that our good people at home, of the various denominations, are not sending more missionaries to the army? Every effort is made to supply the soldiers with “creature comforts,” and I believe you find little difficulty in raising money to furnish religious reading to the army—but why is it so few preachers are sent us? They have either concluded that soldiers are so “demoralized” that it is useless to preach to them, or else there is criminal indifference on this subject. They cannot, after all that has been written on this point, be ignorant of the fact that there is a great lack of ministers in the army—that many whole brigades of one or two thousand men are without a chaplain and rarely hear a sermon. But, suppose I tell these good Christians, who think preaching to [105] a body of soldiers is “casting pearls before swine,” that these men, exposed as they are to temptations on every side, are more eager to listen to the Gospel than are the people at home; that the few missionaries they have been kind and generous enough to lend us for a few weeks are preaching—not in magnificent temples, it is true, and from gorgeous pulpits on Sabbath days, to empty benches, but daily, in the great temple of nature, and at night, by heaven's chandeliers—to audiences of from one to two thousand men, anxious to hear of the way of life. Suppose I tell them that many men of this army, neglected, as I must say they have been by Christians at home, are daily professing religion—that men, grown old in sin, and who never blanched in the presence of the foe, are made to tremble under the sense of guilt, and here in the forests and the fields are being converted to God—that young men, over whose departure from the paternal roof and pious influences have been shed so many and bitter tears, have been enabled under the preaching of a few faithful ministers to give to parents and friends at home such assurances as to change those bitter tears into tears of rejoicing. Suppose I tell them these things and assure them of the great encouragement afforded every missionary now laboring in this field, will it arouse them to act? or will each church admit the necessity of action, and yet conclude that “our brethren of the neighboring church ought to send their preacher, but really we can't give ours, even for a month?”

Let them beware lest, while they look upon the soldiers as too “demoralized” to be benefited by preaching, the soldiers ascertain that they are the “demoralized” portion of the army of the Cross.

I close by telling you, that in the last few weeks nearly two hundred in this single brigade have been added to the different churches.

Yours, etc.,

Let us hope that this gallant and accomplished soldier, whom Georgia has honored with a seat in the United States Senate and now as governor of the Commonwealth, may be in this high position as outspoken for Christ, and may exert as decided a religious influence as he used to do among his ragged boys in the camp!

General D. H. Hill, and General Ewell, after his profession of [106] conversion, and others of our higher officers, were equally as pronounced, and just as ready to ‘stand up for Jesus.’

But I have space for only a few illustrations of the Christian character and influence of officers of less rank.

Colonel Lewis Minor Coleman, Professor of Latin in the University of Virginia, was one of the noblest sacrifices which the old Commonwealth laid on the altar during those terrible years of trial, and his death was widely mourned, especially by the large circle of his old pupils and army comrades who will, I am sure, be glad to have reproduced here the following sketch of him as a Christian soldier, taken from an address delivered before his old command by Rev. Dr. J. L. Burrows, of Richmond, and widely circulated, in tract form, in the army. I only regret that I have not space to insert the whole of the eloquent sketch of ‘The Christian Scholar and Soldier.’ But the following extract gives his record as a peerless soldier, and an account of his glorious death:

The portentous clouds threatening the rushing tempest of war threw their gloomy shadows over these serene and happy scenes. Professor Coleman promptly settled for himself the course to be pursued in the issues that were forced upon us. “He believed in the sovereignty of his native State; he believed that the rights and privileges guaranteed to us in the Constitution had been disregarded by our Northern foes; and he earnestly believed that nothing remained for the South but the exercise of the right of secession or revolution. Virginia was invaded; his allegiance was due to Virginia, and was only subordinate to his allegiance to his God. God and the State alike demanded that Virginia's sons should defend her borders.” He deemed it his duty to remain at his post in the university until the close of the session. Even under the impulses of his fervent patriotism, he would not abandon duties to which he considered himself pledged. With the close of the term he tendered his resignation to the Board of Visitors. The board refused to accept it, keeping the place vacant for his return at the termination of the war.

When the early expedition to Harper's Ferry was determined on, many of the students at the university volunteered for that enterprise. A younger brother asked Professor Coleman's advice concerning his joining the company. “It is your [107] duty, Malcolm,” said he, “to decide for yourself.” Shortly after his decision was made, he said to his wife: “Malcolm has determined to go, and I am much pleased. I wanted him to go, but felt that I ought not to influence him.”

He remained with the gathering students at the depot till a late hour, encouraging and cheering them until the cars bore them away. Then throwing himself upon his sleepless bed, he exclaimed: “I am so sorry I did not make a speech to those noble boys. The poor fellows called me out, too. Some of them I may never see again, and, upon the verge of so important a step, I failed to urge upon them the performance of their whole duty in this matter, and especially to remind them of their accountability to God. How I regret that I did not speak to them.”

Mr. Coleman loved his profession. He was admirably fitted for it. He had reached the most prominent position to which intellectual ambition can aspire in this country, for there is no literary height to which any man can climb from a professorship in the University of Virginia. He is there upon the summit of his profession—there are no peaks above.

On the other hand, he had no predilection, no training, no taste for a soldier's life, no aspirations for military renown. Personally such a life was intensely distasteful. He anticipated the service with shrinking repugnance. It severed him from his dear family. It broke up his loved habits of study. It took him from his books, which were his delight. It dispelled the serenity and calm in which he found his highest enjoyment.

Nor was there any compulsion to drive him to the army. He was beyond the reach of all conscription laws. He was specially exempted. His friends urged upon him the importance of his position in the university. Some of the faculty protested against his resignation. Many argued with him that he could do more good to the country by remaining to aid in the education of the neglected youth. Every dissuasive that affection and prudence could suggest was employed to turn him from his purpose.

But in this, as in everything else, he was earnestly conscientious. He felt sad because of the necessity, yet, impelled by a fervent patriotism, he would not shrink from the duty which he felt he owed to his country.

A cherished friend has well said: “In the hour of his country's [108] trial, when the call was made for her children, he relinquished his cherished pursuits, his high and well-merited position, fortune, comfort, home, all—and at last, even life itself— and freely chose to stand, where his unfailing perception of the right pointed him, by his country's standard in the battle for freedom. Few, even in these days of sacrifice, have placed a richer gift on the altar of liberty.”

Immediately after the first battle of Manassas, he returned to his native county, enlisted in the service and received authority to raise an artillery company. Some discouraged the attempt by representing that most, who could be induced to volunteer, had already entered the army—that attempts of a similar kind had been made and failed. But he listened to no discouragements, and entered upon the work with characteristic energy. He appointed meetings and made speeches which roused the patriotic ardor of the people like a trumpet-blast. His graphic pictures of the perils of the country, and of the methods by which it might be delivered from oppression, and rendered free and prosperous, often drew tears from eyes unaccustomed to weep.

In beating up recruits, he visited the house of a poor, aged woman, who resided on his farm, inquiring after her son. The son was already in the service. In speaking of his visit, the old lady said: “Captain Coleman looked about and found my Bible; he read to me, and then we knelt down, nobody but him and me, and such a beautiful prayer as he offered I never heard in all my life. Just to think! that he should take so much interest in a poor old woman like me! He certainly must be the best man in the world.”

Such incidents illustrate the predominating spiritualminded-ness of the man.

By such influences and energies a very large company was speedily recruited, which was mustered into service, under Mr. Coleman as captain, in August, 1861.

He now devoted himself with characteristic energy and perseverance to the acquisition of the military knowledge necessary for his position. He soon learned all that the books could teach him. I visited him in camp on one occasion, by his invitation, to preach for his company, and found him drawn up in line, with a few of his brother-officers, receiving instructions in practical sword exercises. He omitted nothing that promised to [109] promote his intelligence and efficiency as an officer. The friend to whom I am indebted for so much that is interesting in this sketch says: “By study and continued practice he made himself one of the best artillery officers in the service, and his company also became one of the most thoroughly drilled and efficient in the army. Here, again, his power in controlling men was strikingly exhibited. Strict in discipline and in every requirement of duty, he was just and impartial, sedulous to supply all the wants of his men, furnishing them, when necessary, with shoes and clothing from his own purse, nursing them personally when sick— kind and affable at all times. He set the example of duty himself and required all to come up to the standard.” He soon gained the confidence and affection of his men. He made them feel that he relied upon them, and that they might depend upon him.

Captain Dance, of Powhatan, was preparing a company at the same time and place for the field, and was consequently thrown into close intercourse with Captain Coleman. He says: “I was struck, upon my first acquaintance with him, with his genial temperament and fine social qualities, rendering him at all times a most agreeable companion; but I soon learned to admire still more his untiring energy, perseverance and industry, as exhibited in his endeavors to equip and drill his company, and perfect himself and them in the necessary knowledge of tactics and military science. The first attempts at drilling his company excited a smile among those who had longer experience; but in a very short time his company was well drilled. His was a spirit never satisfied with mediocrity. Whatever he undertook he desired to do well and he always succeeded. Although his company was mustered in after mine,” continues Captain Dance, “yet he succeeded in getting all ready and starting before me.”

In this relation, too, he manifested an earnest, practical Christian spirit. He provided, so far as possible, for the religious instruction and culture of his men. Upon every suitable opportunity he solicited ministers of the Gospel to preach for them. He conversed with them personally concerning their need of piety toward God, and trust in Him as a preparation for the trials of life and for death.

Regularly, when the bugle sounded the reveille in early dawning, and the tattoo in the evening, he was among the first [110] to come from his tent, and taking his position in front of the line with uncovered head and raised hands, like a father at his family altar, he solemnly and in clear tones, that reached the extremity of the line, implored the favor and blessing of Almighty God upon his men. This, it is true, was not required by the regulations. It was seen and felt to be the sincere and voluntary devotion of a pious heart.

In speaking of these religious exercises held at the head of his company, Captain Kirkpatrick characterizes them as “those direct, earnest, deeply fervent prayers for which he was remarkable,” and then says: “Indeed, he had to a degree that few have, the real gift of prayer. I shall never forget the prayer he offered on the sad and memorable Sabbath morning when we commenced our retreat from Centreville. His heart was very tender and very full, and it seemed to unburden itself into the sympathizing ear of that Saviour who is God over all, blessed forever, and who yearns over all His troubled children with such unspeakable tenderness.”

“I have listened on some of these occasions,” says another brother-officer, “when his prayers, giving evidence of a highly cultivated intellect, yet marked by deep humility and fervent sincerity, left the impression that he would have been a most efficient minister of the Gospel, had he been called to that holy office.”

Another says: “Though I always had a high opinion of his power and felicity of expression, yet in these extempore prayers I was frequently struck with the force and eloquence, and always with the earnestness and fervor of his petitions.”

Oh! if such concern were generally exhibited by officers, nominally pious, for the higher, the spiritual welfare of their men, how much more easily would they be controlled; how effectively restrained from wrong and encouraged in right. Do such exhibitions of solicitous piety weaken discipline? Rather do they strengthen it, by superadding a sense of obligation to the army regulations. Do they diminish courage? He is the bravest fighter, other things being equal, who has the firmest trust in God. Even infidelity can see that such a spirit must make heroes of an army.

Under such influences and energies it is not wonderful that his company became one of the best disciplined and most efficient in the service. At a trial of skill between several rival companies, [111] soon after reaching Manassas, his command was pronounced, by competent judges, to be the second, if not the best in the corps.

Especially was this company distinguished at the bloody battle of Sharpsburg, where, in the heat of the conflict and amid severe suffering, it gallantly maintained its position, and nobly aided in the defeat of the enemy.

The day before his company was ordered to the field his aged grandmother visited him at Richmond. They were together at the residence of a mutual friend. Captain Coleman went into her room just before she retired and, kneeling at the dear old lady's feet, said: “Grandma, I shall leave in the morning before you are up, and I may never see you again in this world, for this is a serious, earnest work which I have undertaken, and I want you to bless your child before he parts from you.” And placing the hand of this aged saint upon his head he received from her, who for more than fifty years has been a bright and shining light in the Church of God, the patriarchal blessing. In imitating this beautiful ancient and oriental custom is evinced Mr. Coleman's familiarity and reverence for the old Bible. When a child of six years old, for so early he could read readily, that old grandmother would spread the family Bible upon a chair, and Lewis, drawing his little stool before it, would sit and pore over its narratives for hours together. It was not unnatural, then, that the association of childhood strengthened in youth and manhood; that his whole spirit, imbued with the fitness and beauty of the old customs, should have led him to feel “that his heart would be lightened and encouraged in the discharge of a sacred though dangerous duty by receiving from the eldest of the family” the formal patriarchal blessing.

His company was ordered to Manassas and formed a part of General Pendleton's reserve corps of artillery. Time will not permit us to do more than follow the track of the company in the retreat from Manassas, the march to Yorktown and the withdrawal from the Peninsula, the battles around Richmond and the marches to the Rappahannock and to Maryland, in all of which it honorably participated.

At the reorganization of the army, in 1862, Captain Coleman was appointed major of artillery and soon after was elected Lieutenant-Colonel of the First Regiment of Virginia Artillery.

Colonel Coleman was always to be found in his place, never [112] absenting himself from the post of duty except from necessity, and once, for several weeks, from sickness.

During the battles around Richmond he was, by a mistake of position, for a short time in the hands of the enemy. But he managed, by his coolness and presence of mind, to extricate himself. Speaking of the terrible storm of battle he said, that while beyond conception it was awful, yet a relying trust in God gave him perfect confidence and peace. One of his fellow-officers remarked that the earnestness and sincerity of his ejaculatory prayers upon the battle-field convinced him “that the soul of Colonel Coleman was always fixed upon the one sure hope and source of strength.”

“We were drawn up in line of battle,” says Captain Kirkpatrick, “on the eastern bank of the Chickahominy, with the advancing enemy in front, on a Sabbath morning in April or May, 1862. Captain Coleman approached where I was lying, took from my hands the Bible I had been reading and turning to the Eighty-fourth Psalm read it and commented upon its beautiful verses. I can now recall the earnest, longing tones in which he repeated, ‘How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God!’ He drew a parallel between David's condition when he composed that psalm and ours as we had been driven by our enemies, and spoke of the wonderful adaptedness of God's word, when even such circumstances as those around us only the more forcibly impressed its truths and beauties upon the soul. He then went on to speak in glowing words of the sweet privileges of God's house, the solemn assemblies of His saints, their blissful communion with Him in all the ordinances of His worship. The impression made upon me by that reading and those running comments will never be effaced from my memory, and while my soul retains its powers the Eighty-fourth Psalm will be associated in my mind with Lewis Minor Coleman and that beautiful but anxious Sabbath morning.”

He was prevented by severe illness from accompanying the army into Maryland in 1862. Even then his active spirit chafed under the necessary restraint. He requested a brother-officer to send for him if there was any prospect of a battle. In the dead hour of night he heard a rap at the door. “'Tis a message for me,” said he, “and I must go.” Said his wife, “you cannot go; [113] you have not strength to walk across the room.” “No matter,” he replied, “ I will go; God will give me strength.” Fortunately the message related to some other matter.

A short time before the battle of Fredericksburg he resumed his command. Three days before that fatal battle, while riding with a friend towards Port Royal, his friend remarked: “In the seven days fight around Richmond I fought literally over my father's grave; my gun being but a few yards from it. If I should fall in this war I should prefer to fall upon such, to me, sacred ground.” Colonel Coleman replied, “If I am killed in this war I should prefer to fall here, for hard by my father lies buried.” Three days after, not far distant, he received his mortal wound.

I am permitted to make a few extracts from letters written during his services in the army, which allow us a glance into his inner life, and reveal to us a little of his pure and loving heart.

In immediate expectation of a battle near Yorktown, April 27, 1862, he thus writes:

My, Dearest Mother: I have a little time this Sabbath afternoon, and will write a few lines to tell you how strongly, at this last moment, when no one knows what an hour may bring forth, the thought of all the love and tenderness and fostering care bestowed in my childhood comes over your loving son. If I have ever caused you needless trouble, let me now ask your forgiveness. All that I am, all the happiness I have ever enjoyed, is, I believe, due to you, and from you in great measure, under Providence, comes my hope of immortal life. I thank God that I can and do love, from my heart of hearts, all who are near to me—father, mother, grandma (God bless her), brothers, sisters, wife, children, all. . . . . .

I pray and hope that I may be spared to see you all in peace and happiness again. No one can tell what his fate may be in the bloody struggle which impends, and if I fall I want you all to know how dearly I love you, and to know further that my only hope and confidence is in God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In writing of his beloved wife, who, while visiting her sick father, had been surprised and detained within the enemy's lines, [114] and separated from her children, after expressing his pain and regret, he says: “But it was right for her to go and see her dying father, notwithstanding the suffering it involves. Suffering encountered in the path of duty can never do harm.”

Upon the death of the youngest brother of the family he thus writes, just a month before his own death-summons:

My Dearest Mother: It is with heartfelt anguish that I have just learned of dear Willie's death. I know your heart is bowed down with grief at the loss of your youngest born—so sweet, so gentle, so lovely in all respects. I always regarded him as the lamb of the flock. . . . . Can you not, my dear mother, in this dark hour, put your whole trust and confidence in our Heavenly Father, who doeth all things well? God grant that we may all strive to be little children, as our dear Willie was.

After speaking of the grief of two young brothers who were with him in the service, he adds:

I trust that this great affliction, which for the present seemeth so very grievous, may bring to them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. I trust, too, that I shall be stirred up to be a better guide, both by example and precept, to my two young brothers so strangely associated with me, after so many years of separation.

But I must hasten to the sad close of this sketch. Colonel Coleman was on duty with his regiment at the battle of Fredericksburg, on the 13th of December, under General Jackson, and, with unflinching courage and entire self-possession, maintained his position on that bloody field.

“He might,” says Captain Dance, “without any dereliction of duty, have kept out of that battle altogether, for when his regiment was brought up other artillery had already occupied the position. But he was anxious to render some service, and sought out the general commanding that part of the line, and obtained leave to place some of his guns in position, and two guns of my battery were all he could find room for, and it was at one of these that he received the wound which finally proved mortal. His horse had been killed, and, though on foot and wounded, he still insisted upon remaining on the ground, and even offered his assistance in filling up a ditch, that my guns might be carried over to advance on the enemy.” [115]

Late in the day he was struck by a ball in the leg, just below the knee. He deemed the wound a slight one, and, as we have seen, refused to leave the field until by increasing faintness he was compelled to do so, but not until the victory had been decided for our arms. When his wound was dressed, he playfully remarked that it would be a “good furlough” for awhile. He was borne to the house of Mr. Yerby, in Spotsylvania county. Here, when found by his uncle, Rev. James D. Coleman, he was surrounded by the wounded and dying, to whom, in his benevolent self-forgetfulness, he was striving to administer such aid and consolation as was in his power. He spoke more of his suffering comrades than of himself, and especially expressed his sympathy and sorrow for a terribly mutilated young officer who was lying by his side. He was removed to Edge Hill, Caroline county, the residence of his brother-in-law, Mr. Samuel Schooler. Soon his wound assumed a threatening and dangerous character. Virulent erysipelas supervened, and he suffered intense agony. By profuse discharges from his wound, and by constant, severe pain, his frame became emaciated and reduced to little more than a skeleton. Every attention which the skill of physicians and the affectionate care and nursing of the assembled family could render could only retard, but could not overcome the steady approaches of coming death. His friends were unwilling to believe that one for whom they so ministered, for whose recovery they so fervently prayed, upon whose continued life so many hopes and interests were depending, must be taken from them. But the gravest fears were soon excited, and before long Colonel Coleman himself began to anticipate his speedy departure from earth. He endured with marvellous patience and uncomplaining cheerfulness the most excruciating agonies of body. His faith in the rectitude and benevolence of his covenant God never wavered, rather steadily increased as death approached nearer and still nearer. And now the beautiful light of his pious spirit, like the glories of a clear autumn sunset, illumed the chamber in which he was gasping away his life, and lighted up, with sweet resignation and hope, the hearts of his lamenting kindred. In the early stages of his disease he hoped—expected to recover. He had much for which to live, and few men could better enjoy or adorn life, or render it more useful than he. He now decided. what before he had often pondered, that, with recovered health, he would devote his life and talents to the more direct service of [116] God in the work of the Gospel ministry. “At the close of the war,” said he, “more than ever will laborers be needed to reap in the harvest-field of the Gospel. I may do some good in that sphere of labor.” But a higher ministry, in a brighter sphere, had been appointed for him. “I hope I shall live,” said he to a friend; “I think I can do good—be of some use; but God knows best and His will be done.” In the solitary night, when a troubled sleep could be induced only by means of powerful opiates, his mind would wander fitfully over the scenes of the past. Now he would imagine himself in presence of a class of pupils teaching, and he would recite rapidly in Latin and French, and then he seemed at the head of his company in the battle and uttered the stern word of command. Then the names of distant friends, as in cheerful and social converse, passed his lips; then the dear names of “wife,” “mother,” “child,” in loving murmurs proved whither his restless thoughts were turning, and always the devotional ejaculation of praise to God and of fervent prayer for grace and strength would mingle with his wildest wanderings.

In one of these restless hours, shortly before he died, he roused himself up and turning to his brother said: “Malcolm, did I die as a Christian soldier ought to die?” —then entirely recovering consciousness, he smiled and said: “I thought I had died on the battle-field.”

For ninety-eight weary days he endured physical agonies, relieved by only occasional respites from pain, such as probably few men have ever been called to bear. The incurable erysipelas, the inflammation involving the whole limb, and extending by sympathy to his whole frame, the frequent incisions and probings, the drain from incessant suppuration, the inaccessible ulcers originating in his changeless position on the couch, all combined to produce excruciating pain. Yet all was borne with a patience, resignation, even cheerfulness, that has, perhaps, never been surpassed. When convinced that there was no rational hope of his recovery, he fixed the eye of his faith steadily upon the bright home in heaven, and seeming to enter already into communion with the beloved ones who had gone before, looked beyond the interval over which he must pass, and lived as though already in the light of his Redeemer's glory. He was more than patient; he was exultant, at times enraptured.

Referring to the fact that he was in the neighborhood where much of his youth had been spent, he said: “Here were most of [117] the sins of my early life committed, and here do I come to die, and to find them all forgiven through the mercy and love of Jesus.”

“Why, it is but a short trip,” said he to his weeping friends. “It is only taking a little journey, and then safe and happy forever. It is but a trip; we shall all meet again soon, and I want to start and be with Christ.”

“I had hoped,” said he, “to do good, living as a minister of the Gospel, but perhaps God will make my death a ministry for the conversion of those dear ones who are yet out of Christ. I may do more good by dying than by living.” These hopes have not been in vain. One of his brothers has already united with the Church of Christ. Another dear friend, to whom he had appealed in a former serious illness, and to whom, later, he sent this message: “Tell Charles M——that I once before knocked at the door of his heart, and that he must strive to meet me in heaven,” writes me, “his warning from the deathbed, I trust, has not been in vain. I feel that, under God, I now have a hope of a better life.” He called all the household, even the servants, to his bedside, and tenderly gave them his dying counsels and bade them loving farewells. He asked them what messages he should bear for them to the ransomed loved ones who had gone before.

Referring to the recent death of his youngest brother, he said, with a sweet smile, to his brother, Dr. Coleman: “Dear little Willie! I shall be more fortunate than you were, Robert; you went to Lexington to see him and were disappointed, but I shall not be disappointed. I shall certainly see him.”

Turning to his beloved wife, who had been an unwearied watcher and ministrant during his lingering illness, says Rev. Mr. Coleman, “he pronounced upon her character and life a most tender and beautiful eulogy, and in words that seemed to gush from the depths of his soul, praised, and thanked, and blessed her, for the happiness and joy which her love had brought to his heart and life.”

He charged those who ministered to him with pious messages to the absent. “Tell General Jackson and General Lee,” said he, “they know how Christian soldiers can fight, and I wish they could see now how a Christian soldier can die.”

In communicating this message to General Jackson, Dr. Coleman wrote: “I doubt not, general, that the intimate acquaintance [118] with yourself which my brother desired on earth, will be vouchsafed to him in heaven, and that when your career of usefulness here is ended, ‘in the green pastures and beside the still waters’ of a brighter sphere you and he will meet in sweet communion and fellowship, and that your earthly acquaintance will be purified and perfected into an eternal friendship.”

General Jackson's response was characteristic. He writes:

Had your brother lived, it was my purpose to become better acquainted with him. I saw much less of him than I desired. I look beyond this life to an existence where I hope to know him better.

Very truly, your friend,

When scarcely five weeks had passed, these anticipations were realized, and these sainted spirits met, where no sounds nor perils of war will evermore disturb the holy repose and bliss of their communion.

As Arnold had been his model as a teacher, so Havelock was his model as a Christian soldier. And almost the words of Havelock were those which he transmitted in his dying message to his own beloved generals.

Once only, when writhing in agony intense, did his faith for a brief space seem to fail, and he expressed a dread that God's face was hid from him. A few days after, he recalled this expression of doubt to mind, and said: “Doctor, you remember I said I did not feel God's presence with me. I could not hear the rustling of the angels' pinions. Now I know that he is near me, and I feel the breath of the angels' wings.”

He exacted from his younger brother, Dr. Malcolm Fleming, who watched constantly at his bedside, a promise that he would let him know when his end was approaching. When his feeble, sinking pulse indicated the speedy termination of his sufferings, Malcolm said to him, with throbbing heart and streaming eyes, “Brother Lewis, you remember my promise.” “Yes, Malcolm; do you think I am dying?” He could only bow his head in answer. Immediately, with as much composure as he had ever given a lecture to a class, he dictated his last will and then fell asleep as calmly as in childhood. When he awoke he expressed surprise that he still lived. He had fallen asleep amid [119] the farewells of loving lips and the suppressed wailings of bleeding hearts. He had hoped to waken in heaven. “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly, O come quickly,” was his frequent prayer. He was asked, “Would you not prefer to stay with us?” “No! No!” he replied; “I prefer to go.” They sang, at his request, such hymns as—

Jesus, and shall it ever be,
A mortal man ashamed of Thee;


How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word.

And in feeble tones he joined in the sacred songs. Late in the night he asked them to sing the hymn commencing—‘Jesus, I love Thy charming name,’ and the last verse he sung with them in faltering, dying tones—

I'll speak the honors of thy name
     With my last laboring breath—
And dying, clasp Thee in my arms,
     The antidote of death.

Some one said to him, “You will soon be in heaven; are you willing to go?” “Perfectly willing; certainly I am.” They were his last words, and soon, in the early dawn of the morning, on the 21st of March, 1863, he fell asleep in Jesus.

When the summons of death comes to us, may we each be ready to say— “Perfectly willing; certainly I am.”

Young men! we have thus presented, for your contemplation, an imperfect survey of the life of a Christian scholar and soldier. The extraordinary deeds of some world-worshipped hero or fabulous demigod might, perhaps, have better amused or entertained the multitude. But such a sketch as this cannot fail to be more useful, in so far as it is practical and imitable. Here are excellencies you may attain, a character you may emulate, a life you may copy.

“If no faults shade the picture,” to quote the beautiful sentiment of Rev. Dr. Hoge, in speaking of another of Virginia's noble sons fallen in battle, “it is not because I have hidden them from my readers, but because grace has hidden them from me.”

It may be true that Colonel Coleman's natural mental endowments, his original physical capabilities were of a higher order [120] than God has given to most. But as a practical life I have endeavored to sketch one that is plainly imitable.

Perhaps the most prominent characteristic of his moral nature was his conscientiousness. In little matters, as in those more important, he was accustomed to ask, and to act upon the answer, what is duty?

“His conceptions of duty,” says Major Venable, one of his earliest and latest friends, “were as true and direct as his performance of it was thorough and exact.” This is imitable by all.

Persevering industry, including earnest attention to little things, was another marked feature of Lewis Coleman's life. In his studies, earlier and later, in all the practical routine of daily requirements, in the study and lecture-room, on the farm and in the camp, whatever service devolved upon him was promptly performed. He seldom had arrearages of business to bring up. He pushed his work steadily before him, rarely needing to drag it along after its appropriate hours. Such an example may be wisely copied.

He was uniformly cheerful and social. He always had a pleasant word for all he met, even for servants. His lively wit, without a shade of malice or ill-nature; his honest ringing laugh, the wonderful sprightliness, felicity and tact of his ordinary conversation, drawing as from a perennial spring sparkling rills of facts, fancies and illustrations, made him a most genial and instructive companion.

He evinced in all his life the most unselfish benevolence of spirit. He sought to promote the happiness of others rather than his own. He lived for others rather than for himself. No friend ever asked him for a favor who did not meet a cheerful and ready response, if the bestowment was within the compass of his means and the approval of his conscience.

And for the happiness and welfare of the loved ones of his own family circle, no sacrifice was deemed too severe. There seemed only one earthly love that could surpass that of mother, father, brothers, sisters, wife and children for him, and that was his love for them.

And this trait of heart, too, is imitable.

Throwing its soft light over all these excellencies was his beautiful humility. He rarely made himself, or anything that he did, the theme of conversation. “He was a man of few professions,” [121] says Major Venable, “and his Christianity found more expression in action than words; yet it was not difficult to read the clear simplicity of his life and character.”

He never seemed himself aware that there was anything especially meritorious or unusual in his sweet, genial, benevolent life. He never seemed conscious, even upon his death-bed, that he had made any notable sacrifice in resigning his elevated position at the university for his humble position in the army. He often spoke in desponding tones of the little he had accomplished as a student and a Christian, and ever longed and struggled for higher attainments and higher usefulness.

Is not this temper worthy of imitation?

The supreme, fostering, originating principle of all these excellencies of life and heart was his piety. Early he learned that “beginning of wisdom—the fear of the Lord.” His piety was not the mere coloring that ornamented life; it entered into the warp and woof of his inner nature. He loved God, and lived in daily communion with the Redeemer, and thus became “a living epistle of Jesus Christ, known and read of all men.”

Have I not well said that his was an imitable life, and therefore well worthy of delineation for the study of young men who are aiming at something beyond mere personal, selfish enjoyment—at an honorable, beneficent life?

One who knew him well and loved him dearly has beautifully said: “As the dew, falling silently, refreshing and rendering fruitful the earth, and crystalizing upon the spires of grass and in the calyxs of flowers, crowns, as with diamonds, the brow of morning, so the unostentatious virtues of Lewis Minor Coleman refreshed the hearts, gladdened and made fruitful in good deeds the lives of others; and when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise, those virtues will shine more resplendently as gems in that crown which the Righteous Judge shall give to him on that day.”

In 1871 Rev. John Lipscomb Johnson, B. A., of the University of Virginia (for the past fourteen years professor of English in the University of Mississippi), published a volume of 765 pages, containing sketches of nearly two hundred alumni of the University of Virginia who fell in the ‘War between the States,’ and even then a number of names were omitted for lack of proper information. In eagerly reading these pages, in which Dr. Johnson has done a graceful service to his Alma Mater, [122] which should be gratefully remembered, I have been struck with the fact that a very large proportion of these men were humble, useful Christians; and I might appropriately transfer to this book a number of these sketches as beautifully illustrating ‘Christ in the Camp.’ The same may be said of the ‘Virginia Military Institute Memorial’ volume prepared by Rev. C. D. Walker, and containing sketches of one hundred and seventy of its alumni who fell in the struggle for Southern independence. And no doubt the same would be true of the colleges of the South generally. But I have space for only a part of the sketch of my old friend and brother, Rev. Dabney Carr Harrison, who was chaplain at the university when I was a student there, and of whose stainless life and efficient labors I could testify in strongest terms. I should insert the sketch prepared by the gifted and lamented Rev. Dr. Wm. J. Hoge, but, while I circulated thousands of copies in the army, I have been unable to secure a copy for my present use.

I am fortunate, however, in being able to present the following extracts from the sketch prepared for ‘The University Memorial’ by the graceful pen of my honored and distinguished brother, Rev. Dr. M. D. Hoge, of Richmond, whom I first knew as an able and eloquent preacher in the camps, and whose ‘abundant labors’ seem to increase as the years go on.

Rev. Dabney Carr Harrison, Captain, company K, Fifty-sixth Virginia Infantry.

To furnish a brief sketch of this faithful minister of Christ, this noble gentleman and valiant officer, who fell at Fort Donelson while cheering on his men and striking for the honor and independence of the young Confederacy, is to me an easy task, for I need only to abridge the carefully prepared memoir of him, written by my brother, the Rev. William J. Hoge, D. D., about a year before his own death. Short as was that memoir, it was composed so conscientiously, and was such a labor of love on the part of the writer, that I have little to add or supply, and need only say that the calmest review, after the lapse of years, only confirms my estimate of the fidelity and truthful beauty of that tribute to the memory of one so deserving of our love, and so worthy of a place among those whose names, embalmed with “our praises and our tears,” we transmit to those who come after us, in the pages of “The University memorial.”


After an exceedingly interesting sketch of Mr. Harrison's early life, education, and services as a minister (especially as chaplain at the University of Virginia), which I regret I am not able to reproduce, Dr. Hoge says:

But after many months of fruitful toil (in a new pastorate), his peaceful life was disturbed by the coming of our national troubles. Dark shadows soon became darker realities. This sovereign Commonwealth was required to aid in beating down into degradation, and whipping back into servility, her free sisters of the further South, or join with them in their just independence, and throw her generous breast before them to receive the first blow of the tyrant's rod, and bear the brunt of his wrath. She obeyed her heart, exercised her right, and stood in the breach.

In the battle of Bull Run he lost his gallant cousin, Major Carter H. Harrison. Three days later, at Manassas, his native soil was wet again by the blood of the only nephews of his mother, the only sons of their mother, Holmes and Tucker Conrad, and by the blood of his own pure and beautiful brother, Lieutenant Peyton Randolph Harrison. These four young men were all faithful servants of God. Their lives were lovely and useful. In His fear they fought. They were sustained by His grace when they fell. The Conrads were shot at the same moment, and falling side by side, lay, as in the sleep of childhood, almost in each other's arms. The younger of them was a student of theology, and was nearly ready, with glowing heart, to enter on the higher service of his Lord, in the ministry of the Gospel.

The noble deaths of these young men stirred the soul of Dabney Harrison to its lowest depths. From the beginning of the war he had longed to share the hardships and dangers of his compatriots. Nothing but his sacred office held him back for a moment. But now he hesitated no longer. His mind was made up. “I must take my brother's place,” he calmly said, and nothing could turn him from that resolve. He left “the quiet and still air of delightful studies,” left his loving people and sweet little home in Hanover, and, having raised a company by great personal exertions, entered the service.

Even then he would not have taken up the sword if he had been compelled to lay down the Bible; he would not have become a captain, if he could not have remained a minister. He entered the army believing that his usefulness, even as a preacher of God's word, would be increased in that new and hazardous field. [124]

And after he became fully enlisted in his work as a soldier, no one ever saw him even for a moment give way to a bitter spirit, or heard him speak a word unbecoming a minister of Christ. Several months after he entered the service, he said, with thankfulness and joy, that he had not been conscious of one revengeful feeling toward our enemies. No: he would fight for his country; but he would not hate. He durst die, but not sin. Conscience, not passion, made him a soldier; but who does not know that conscience is mightier than passion! His valor was, through the grace of God, without fierceness: but like steel whose heat has been quenched in cold water, it was, therefore, all the firmer and keener, of higher polish and more fatal stroke.

He spent the first three months after the organization of his company, in the Camp of Instruction, near Richmond, where I was in daily intercourse with him. In addition to my pastoral duties in the city, I served as chaplain in that camp during the years 1862 and 1863. Captain Harrison was with me longer than any other minister in the service, and delighted to avail himself of every opportunity of aiding me in my arduous work.

Whenever I was prevented by any cause from meeting my engagements, he was always ready to take my place; and I had the most abundant evidence of the efficiency of his labors, and of the gratitude of the men for his efforts to promote their temporal and spiritual welfare.

During his stay, at one time several thousand troops were stationed at our camp, and Captain Harrison was, of course, brought into contact with a large number of officers. Over these he exercised the most happy influence.

While no man was more inflexible in his adherence to his convictions of duty, or more prompt to rebuke whatever he believed to be wrong in principle or in conduct, yet his manner was so conciliating, such was the candor and kindness of his disposition, such his scrupulous respect for the rights and regard for the feelings of others, that he rarely gave offence, even when he attempted to repress what he deemed culpable. The very presence of one so frank and fearless in his bearing, so delicate and refined in his tastes, so pure and elevated in his principles, was ordinarily sufficient to check any exhibitions of profanity or vulgarity; and, withal, he was so genial in his nature, so entertaining in his conversation, and so obliging in his disposition, [125] that his presence was never regarded as imposing an irksome restraint, even in a company of the irreligious.

If others have shown

How awful goodness is,

it was Dabney Harrison's happy province to show how amiable and attractive it may appear, when thus illustrated in the life of a Christian gentleman and soldier. While he remained in our camp, he moved about as one whose superiority was tacitly acknowledged without exciting ill — will or envy; and when he left us, he was regretted as one whose place was not to be filled again.

While Captain Harrison's good work extended to the surrounding multitudes, his first anxiety was, of course, for his own men. He had gathered them and given them to the service. They were to follow him, it might be, to the death. They, of all others, would see what he actually was, as a servant of his country, as a servant of his God.

Therefore he sought to be, every day and in every thing, an example to them. He shared their hardships, and all so cheerfully, that the most despondent could hardly fail to catch some quickening ray from his sunny spirit. As far as was possible, too, he made them share any comfort pertaining to his position. The inexperienced found in him a faithful guardian, the perplexed went to him freely for counsel, and all the company felt that in him they had not only a brave and gallant commander, but a true friend. His usefulness was like a continual dew. He gave to his soldiers new impressions of the power and sweetness of the religion of Christ, when they saw how beautifully innocence could blend with wisdom; how the very purity of woman could consist with the valor of man, just as whiteness and enduring substance are combined in marble; and how the most uncompromising godliness could be interwoven with the elegance of the gentleman, while the devoutest piety but gave new fire to the ardor of the patriot.

It is unnecessary to dwell on the hardships of Captain Harrison's winter campaign in the West—hard fare and harder lodging, and constant exposure to the wet and cold. Whatever he bore, many thousands bore with him; and there are multitudes of whom that may be said which is so true of him—no one ever saw him falter, no one ever heard him murmur. A brief extract [126] from one of his letters may serve to show the pleasant spirit in which all these privations and annoyances were met:

Bowling green, Kentucky, January 18, 1862.
My Dear Father: I have been forcibly reminded to-day of an incident in Ruxton's travels. Out on a prairie he found a wretched-looking man, all alone in a pouring rain, stooping over a few smouldering embers, and singing:

How happy are we,
Who from care are free.
Oh! why are not all
Contented like me?

My tent is on a hill-side, and has a flue instead of a chimney. It rained hard all last night, has rained all of to-day, and is raining yet. The water has risen in my tent, the fire has been drowned out, the floor is nearly all mud, and I have been writing all the morning in a chair stuck deep in this mud. My bed is kept out of it by some fence rails, and my larder is a basket on the ground at the bed's head, containing a piece of pork and a bag of flour. There is not a negro in Virginia that would not despise such lodgings, but I am ‘contented.’ I sleep soundly, work hard, eat heartily, and am fattening.

A day or two later he writes: “I have just finished a large stone chimney to my tent, and shall have it floored with poles to-morrow; then I shall be in great state.”

On Monday night, February 10, six days before his death, he thus closes a long letter from the camp before Fort Donelson: “Oh, how all these adventures, with their perils and deliverances, their privations and blessings, do drive us to our God! I want no other strength than the Lord Jehovah; no other Redeemer than our blessed Saviour; no other Comforter than His Holy Spirit. I believe that when we do our duty the Lord will fight for us. I feel a constant, bright and cheery trust in Him. I think of my precious wife and little ones, and long for their society and caresses; but I am satisfied that it is right that I should be here, and I await the development of His will. I think His mercy in making us His children, in spite of all our ill-desert, ought to make us willing meekly to bear all that He chooses to lay upon us.”

Mightily as many earthly loves drew upon his soul, his Lord's [127] love for him was more than all. He had “prepared a place” for him “in His Father's House,” and now he desired his coming. Beyond the river, and before the throne, His voice was heard saying, “Father, I will that they whom Thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.” And then from Mount Zion, which is above, came words which once sounded in thunder from Mount Sinai; but now they came softly, and were unheard by any mortal ear. They were words of discharge and blessing, breathed in music that night over the pillow of the sleeping soldier: “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”

Six days for earth and labor; only six. Then his eternal Sabbath would begin; rest and worship and joy forever!

The battle of Fort Donelson began on Wednesday. That night was spent in throwing up breastworks. His men say that no man in the company worked harder, or did more in this heavy labor, than “the captain.” Thursday night was cold and stormy. The rain fell in torrents on the weary watchers in the trenches, and, soon changing into sleet, their clothes froze upon them. By Friday evening, Captain Harrison's frame, never robust, gave way for a time, and he was compelled to retire to the hospital, where he lay quite sick all that night. Yet on Saturday morning, a great while before day, and against the remonstrances of his friends, he rose and returned to his command.

The officer who commanded the Fifty-sixth Regiment at this time, gave several instances of such zeal and daring on the part of Captain Harrison, that one cannot refrain from applying to him what Clarendon says of “that incomparable young man, Lord Falkland,” in his touching account of his death: “He had a courage of the most clear and keen temper, and so far from fear, that he seemed not without some appetite of danger.”

“You ought to be braver than the rest of us,” said some of his brother-officers to Captain Harrison one day, after witnessing some exhibition of his serene fearlessness in danger.

“Why so?” said he, pleasantly.

“Because,” said they, “you have everything settled for eternity. You have nothing to fear after death.”

“Well, gentlemen,” said he, solemnly, after a moment's pause, “you are right. Everything is settled, I trust, for eternity, and I have nothing to fear.” [128]

As the sun rose on the morning of Saturday, it saw him enter the thick of the battle and wrestle valiantly with the foe. With dauntless heart he cheered on his men. They eagerly followed wherever he led. Their testimony is, that he never said, “Go on,” but always, “Come on,” while ever before them flashed his waving sword. At length, with fear and pain, they saw his firm step faltering, his erect form wavering. He fell, and the fierce tide of battle swept on. It was impossible for his most devoted men to pause. And they best did his will by passing over his prostrate body, throwing themselves on the foe, and leaving him to die. “He had warred a good warfare, ever holding faith and a good conscience.”

Three balls had passed through his hat, without harming him; a fourth cut his temple; a fifth passed through his right lung; and this was the fatal wound.

Two incidents of his dying hours are yet to be recorded. Calling, about noon, for one of his manuscript books, he took a pencil, and, with a trembling hand, feebly wrote these words:

February 16, 1862.—Sunday.
I die content and happy; trusting in the merits of my Saviour Jesus; committing my wife and children to their Father and mine.

Precious legacy of love and prayer! Precious testimony of faith and blessedness!

A little while before he died, he slept quietly for a few minutes. In dreams his soul wandered back to yesterday's conflict. He was again in the battle. The company for which he had toiled and prayed and suffered so much was before him, and he was wounded—dying on the field. But even in dreams he had not lost

tha unconquerable will,
And courage never to submit or yield.

Starting out of sleep, he sat once more erect, and exclaimed: “Company K, you have no captain now; but never give up! never surrender!”

The arms of his faithful attendant received him as he rose, and now supported him tenderly as his drooping form grew heavier. With his head pillowed on a soldier's breast, he sank, peacefully as a babe, into that sleep which no visions of strife [129] shall ever disturb. Thus he died, as he was born, on the Sabbath. Thus was his life bounded on either hand by the Day of God. Care and conflict came between, but a Sabbath blessing was on it all, and then he entered on the higher “Sabbath of the Lord his God, eternal in the heavens.”

As an appropriate appendix to this sketch, and to show that neither of the brothers concerned in its preparation held Captain Harrison in higher regard than any others who knew him well, I append the following eloquent tribute to his memory, from the pen of the Rev. Joseph M. Atkinson, of Raleigh, North Carolina. It is taken from a Southern periodical, in which it was published in 1863:

‘While our church or our country shall survive; while freedom, or religion, or learning, the noblest gifts of nature, or the brightest instincts of personal or hereditary worth, shall be treasured among men, never will the name and the memory of the Rev. Dabney Carr Harrison be forgotten; a gentleman, a scholar, a Christian, a minister, a martyr to his conscientious conviction of public duty and his uncalculating devotion to his country. Among the illustrious worthies of ancient story, among the deified heroes of ancient song, in the golden records of Grecian fame, in the glowing chronicles of medieval knighthood, in the ranks of war, in the halls of learning, in the temple of religion, a nobler name is not registered than his, nor a nobler spirit mourned.’

Captain Hugh A. White, who graduated at Washington College, and was a student at Union Theological Seminary when the war broke out, was a specimen of the Christian officer well worthy of a full sketch in this chapter; but space can be found for only brief extracts from the memoir of him written in 1864 by his venerable father, Rev. Dr. W. S. White, then pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Virginia.

The sketch of his leaving home for the army is given in full, as it well illustrates the spirit not only of this noble young man, but of thousands of others of our ‘Boys in Gray:’

He remained at the seminary until his second session closed. He stood his examinations, attended the marriage of a friend, and reached home about the middle of May, 1861. He was then twenty years and eight months of age. His appearance, though not indicative of serious disease, was such as to awaken some uneasiness in the minds of his friends. The professors [130] said he had confined himself too closely to his room and his books during the winter. His father feared that the privations and exposure of the camp might be fatal to his health, and held a full interview with him, in which he sought to convince him, that considering his age, his acquisitions, his tastes and habits, he could more effectually serve both God and his country by spending the summer as a colporter, than by entering the army at that time. He also urged, that after spending the summer in that way, he might then, in eight months more, complete his course in the seminary, obtain license to preach, and enter the army as a chaplain. A commission had already been sent to him from the Board of Publication, at Philadelphia, inviting and empowering him to labor in their service for such time and in such a field as he might prefer. But the war had already begun, and this commission, of course, could not be accepted. There was a good supply of books, however, in the depository at Lexington, and he was urged to use these in the service of the committee of Lexington Presbytery. But, having listened to his father, as he always did, with the most deferential attention, he replied substantially as follows:

“Father, what you say has much force. But this is to be no ordinary war, and for young men like me to hold back will have a very bad moral effect. The superior numbers and resources of the North will make it necessary for every man in the South, not disabled by age or infirmity, to take part in the work of resistance. I have thought and prayed much over this question for the last two months. To be entirely candid, I observed a day of fasting and prayer at the seminary, with a view to learn what the will of the Lord is, and the result is as firm a conviction that I ought at once to take part in the defence of my native State, and especially of you and mother, as I ever felt that I ought to preach the Gospel.” His appearance, manner and thoughts impressed the memory and heart of his father in a way never to be forgotten, and under the impression thus made, he said: “Go, my son, and the blessing of God go with you.” And although he fell, the blessing of God did go with him.

The students of Washington College had formed themselves into a volunteer company, with the title of the Liberty Hall Volunteers, and chosen their professor of Greek, James J. White, their captain. Hugh at once enrolled himself as a private in the ranks of this company, under the command of his eldest [131] brother, whom he had always loved and reverenced, almost as he did his father. This company was composed almost exclusively of those then connected with the college, or who were recent graduates of the college. It consisted of seventy-two in the aggregate, more than half of whom were professors of religion, and about one-fourth of whom were candidates for the ministry. It embraced an amount of intellectual and moral worth rarely equalled in any military company. On the morning of the 8th of June, 1861, they were formed in front of the Court House in Lexington. The Court House square, the main street, the windows of the houses, were crowded with the citizens of the town and of the surrounding country. They were well drilled, handsomely equipped, and made a very imposing appearance. A beautiful Confederate flag, wrought by the hands of the ladies of Falling Spring congregation, was presented in very appropriate terms by the Rev. John Miller, and received in a few pertinent words by Captain White. A brief address was then made to them, and prayer offered for them and their invaded State, by the father of the captain; after which the command was given, and with solemn step they marched away amidst the sighs and tears of the whole community. A large number in carriages, on horseback, and on foot, followed in their rear to the river, a mile below the town; then returning entered the Presbyterian Church, where prayer and praise were offered to the God of grace, who is also the God of battles.

In the first battle of Manassas, such was the gallantry displayed by this company, that they won from General Jackson the designation of “more than brave young men.” Twelve of them have fallen in battle. Seven have died of disease contracted in camp. Fourteen have been wounded in action. They have been in thirteen pitched battles, and many combats. in a period of eighteen months; and on no occasion have they failed to evince a high order of courage. From the casualties of battle and disease they are now commanded by their fourth captain.

As they awaited orders at Staunton, Hugh wrote to his father:

“Some hearts, it may be, are now swelling with the desire for military distinction, and some heads becoming dizzy with anticipations of earthly glory. But I confess I am either too cowardly or too stupid to belong to either class. They may win the laurels, provided only that our cause triumphs.” [132]

Under date of June 24, he wrote from Manasses:

“Yesterday we heard two sermons and attended a prayermeeting. This gave the appearance, at least, of holiness to the day, but still, if you had looked into our camp you would have thought it the busiest day of the week. Some were cooking, others cutting wood, and others pitching their tents. It is painful but necessary to spend the Sabbath in this way. Our religious privations are what we feel most keenly. We seek to remedy this by a brief prayer-meeting held every night after rollcall. Nearly all the members of our company attend with becoming seriousness. May the trials of our country work in it a great moral reformation. If so, we may hope for true and lasting prosperity when peace shall again come. If not, God will overturn in the future as He is doing now. May He speedily redeem our world from sin and ruin.”

In his letters describing the battle of Manasses, July 21, 1861, he said:

It was an awful Sabbath. How often I longed to be with you, enjoying the privileges of the Sabbath. Even one hour would have been delightful. But God ordered otherwise. We are all in His hands. He casts down and He keeps alive. May He speedily crown our cause with complete success! If it please Him, may I again see my father and mother in peace, and spend my life in preaching His Gospel. The scenes in which I am now engaged are very sad; yet the taste of victory, though bought by precious blood, is sweet. But to preach would be far better.

Brother James and I heartily unite with you in praising the Grace which has spared our lives in this bloody battle. He and I joined in the pursuit beyond the Stone Bridge. We saw the enemy as they passed through the woods a mile ahead of us, and we returned to attend to our wounded and dead. Night soon closed the scene. The next day we buried our dead. It rained the whole day, and that night we sat up around our fires. Brother James had religious service over their graves.

It is a great victory; but may I never pass through such a scene again. Death and hell may rejoice on the battle-field, but let man be silent. May God, who has won — this victory for us, [133] now give us peace. My best love to sister, Willie and the children.

Your affectionate brother,


Writing from Centreville to his mother, he says: “How much I would give to be permitted to spend the Sabbath day in Lexington. We have no house of worship here, and are thus deprived of the delights of the sanctuary. One day of sacred rest, like hundreds which have passed away, uncared for and unimproved, would be at this time a feast of fat things to my soul. We are almost entirely cut off here from the reviving influences of social worship. A prayer-meeting every night is in part a substitute. Mother, in your anxiety for my bodily comfort and welfare, I hope you will not forget my soul. The atmosphere surrounding that is as cold as that which surrounds my body. How much I wish that the power of Divine grace was more at work within me. But though cast down, I will not despair, but still trust in God.”

Of the death of a fellow-soldier, another of the “more than brave” Liberty Hall Volunteers—a native and resident of Rockbridge, he says: “You have doubtless heard before this of the death of another of our company; I refer to W. J. Thompson. His body, I suppose, passed through Lexington this morning, to reach his widowed mother to-day. He was cut down almost in a day. No one here was aware of his danger until the night before he was taken to the Junction. The next news from him told us of his death. He died of typhoid fever, rendered more incurable by some disease of the stomach. He was a professing Christian, honoring the name by a character which was above reproach, and by a conduct which evinced the sincerity of his profession. He was delirious much of the time after he became ill, but was permitted to enjoy an hour or two of consciousness a short time before he died. These hours he spent in making some necessary arrangements of a secular nature, and in reading his Bible, accompanied by audible prayer. We have therefore good grounds to hope that he has entered his home in heaven, though his remains may now cast sorrow over his home on earth. He is the tenth of our company who has fallen. Surely the hand of the Lord is heavy upon us. But how little apparent good results. I greatly fear that, as His chastisements have not softened our hearts and thus been made a savor of life unto life, [134] they will prove a savor of death unto death, in hardening them, and thus rendering us vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. How shall we remedy this? How shall we avert God's anger, which seems daily to gather strength? Oh that all hearts would turn unto the Lord, and by penitence and faith seek the only refuge from His wrath. ‘Turn Thou us, O Lord, and we shall be turned.’ This must be our prayer, for God alone can help us. Father, you urge me to seek to be useful. Would it be proper for me to conduct religious services whenever an opportunity offers? And should I connect the other parts of the service with a short address? If you approve of this, I will seek such opportunities.”

In March, 1862, he writes:

Let me hear how the seminary prospers. I cannot be there, but still I am anxious to hear how many are there. The war has put a great barrier across my path, but one which cannot be avoided. It must be crossed. If I get through safely, I shall enter upon the work of the ministry with unspeakable delight. I long to spend my life in the work of saving souls; and to be kept back now, when just on the verge of commencing my work, is like being kept from home when it is just in sight. But I may do more good here than in the ministry. I bear my delay therefore with patience.

Your letter was a treat to me. The expressions of affection, and the accompanying prayers for me, are grateful to the heart. You expect us to move forward very soon, either to another great battle on our own soil, or to invade that of our enemies. Of course, I cannot tell what a day may bring forth, but I see no reason to expect a great battle so soon. I am ready, I hope, for anything. I do not feel like turning my face homeward, however, until all at home are relieved from fear of the enemy. I wish to return to enjoy with you the pleasures of home in peace, and not to share the anxieties which now distress you. Let us only bear up with Christian firmness, and fight with courage, trusting in God, and we may hope for a speedy close to the war.

Thank T——for the prayer with which he closes his letter to me. Oh! if he were a Christian, how much more willing I should be to die!

Mrs. General Jackson arrived yesterday. She came to headquarters just as Bishop Johns was about to begin evening worship. [135] Her arrival occasioned some excitement. She looks very well. I had the pleasure of speaking to her after the service had ended. Her face, as always, seemed like sunshine.

Bishop Johns preached for us two very good sermons. They were simple, earnest, faithful proposals of Christ to his hearers. I enjoyed them both very much, and hope they did good to all.

Much love to one and all, but especially to you, my devoted mother.

From your son,


On his election to the captaincy of his company he wrote to his father as follows:

The result surprised me greatly. I had hoped for nothing higher than the lieutenancy, and was not confident of that. But the question was decided in my favor, and with much fear I accept the position. I do not expect any increase of happiness, but an increase of responsibility, leading to much perplexity and toil. The care, the kindness, the ceaseless effort called for, will greatly increase my need of help from the grace of God. To this source I look, praying that by example and by effort the men may become good soldiers and good Christians. I ask that all at home will pray that I may be fitted for the position I now hold.

On the same subject he writes to his brother Henry:

Promotion in itself brings neither peace nor happiness, and unless it increases one's usefulness it is a curse. An opportunity is now afforded for exerting a wider influence for good, and if enabled to improve this aright I shall then be happier than before. My life is now given to the army, and will be spent in it, even to the end of the war. But if my life is spared to see the end, and we are successful in our struggle, it will be the delight of my heart to spend the remainder of it in the work of the ministry. I am not fond of the army. Indeed many things in it are hateful to me; but nothing is so much so as the invader of my native soil.

To a sister he writes:

Our life at present is so much better than it has been for several months that we are having a delightful time. It is true the sky is our roof and the earth our bed, but then it don't rain, and we are not marching; and when a box comes in from home, [136] we live and feel like princes. I am sorry that father could not visit us, but hope he will still do so. He will feel quite at home at General Jackson's Headquarters with the general and Dr. Dabney. The latter is very busy, but preaches whenever he has an opportunity. I heard him last Saturday, then twice on the Sabbath, when about two hundred soldiers received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper at his hands. This was a spiritual feast indeed. The religious element in our company is very strong; sufficient, I hope, to control all other elements and give tone to the whole body. We hold a brief meeting every night, just after roll-call. The man whose turn it is stands up, while the rest stand around him. He reads a chapter, sometimes sings a hymn, then leads in prayer. There is some profanity, but this is lessening. Why should not the army be a school for the reformation of the wicked? Such it has proved to J. W. and J. R. They are now perfectly sober men and good soldiers. I am much gratified at the accounts I receive of your prayer-meetings held in our behalf. The prayers of those at home greatly strengthen and encourage us in the army. I will endeavor to remember you all at your hours of prayer. Yet we are so drawn about from one place and employment to another that I have scarcely a moment for connected, sober thought.

To a brother in the pastorate he writes:

Rest satisfied therefore that duty bids you stay at home; mine is to remain in the army, and I am willing to do it for the glorious cause in which our young Confederacy is engaged. If we give up, everything is lost. If we struggle on, endure hardships, exert our utmost strength, and put our trust in God, who has so far been very gracious to us, we may hope after awhile to taste the most blessed fruits from these present distresses.

My chief source of sorrow is, that I can do so little, or rather that I do so little for the cause of my Saviour. Father seems to think the army a glorious field for usefulness. To him, doubtless, it would be. But what have I done? I hope my influence for good has been felt in our own company—but to how little extent! I can only look to God to give me the heart to work, and then open up paths of usefulness for me. If I really wish to do good in the world, it must become a subject of constant study, followed by ceaseless effort. I am very glad to hear that you are so comfortably situated. You have nothing now to hinder you from doing much good. May God grant you this [137] great privilege. It is a pleasing subject of thought to me, especially on the Sabbath, that father, two brothers and a cousin are all preaching the gospel. I do not forget to pray for you. May I soon be permitted to join the number, and give my energies to the same good work.

He was ever considerate, in a remarkable degree, of his mother's comfort. One of his chief sources of anxiety at the approach of a battle was that she might be prepared for her sad share in its results. He would write to her beforehand to prepare her for it. On the eve of one of the most desperate of the eight battles in which he bore an active part, he wrote her a letter full of the tenderest filial love, and expressive of the strongest faith. He concludes this letter in these words: “Mother, don't be anxious about me. I have a sweet assurance that my soul is safe; and as to my body, that is only dust.”

And then, when the battle was over his first effort was to find time to communicate the intelligence of his safety to all at home; and a form of expression he used on such occasions was this, “May the anxious heart of my devoted mother now be comforted.” Truly his was the heart, and the tongue, and the life, of a devoted son.

The mother of a young man belonging to the army called at the Lexington parsonage to inform her pastor that her son seemed much interested about his soul, and, indeed, she hoped he was a Christian and would embrace the first opportunity to connect himself with the Church; and then, weeping as she spoke, added: “Your son Hugh has been very kind and faithful to him. As he did not belong to his company, and as he could not easily see him, he wrote to him; and soon after he went over to his camp, and asked him to walk with him. They went together into a grove, a considerable distance from the camp; and, after conversing fully with him, he proposed that they should unite in prayer; then, kneeling at the root of a tree, he prayed for the soul of my son, and now I hope he is a Christian.”

This is but a specimen of his active work for Christ.

In the last letter he ever penned, dated ‘Banks of the Rappahanock, August 24, 1862,’ and addressed to his father, he said:

This has been very little like the Sabbath. With spirits saddened by hunger and fretted by the constant roar of artillery, we have been kept in an uncomfortable frame of mind. The [138] busy preparations for to-morrow prevent any enjoyment of the Sabbath. However, Dr. Stiles is to preach to the brigade this afternoon, and I hope to hear him. It requires a great struggle to keep the busy scenes around me from driving all devotion from my heart. They ought to have a contrary effect. I ought now more than ever to seek my strength, my happiness, my all, in God. How could I live without Him? With Him no storm can disturb my peace, no danger can come nigh, no harm can befall which will not do me good.

I send you three hundred dollars. Of this I wish you to appropriate one hundred dollars for T——'s outfit for the cavalry, one hundred to be held subject to my order, and one hundred as a donation to the Confederate States Bible Society and our committee for the publication of religious tracts and books.

Give my warmest love to all at home. You are constantly in my mind and firmly engraved upon my heart. Write when you can to your devoted son.


Leaving, for the moment, the narrative of the afflicted father, I will describe the death of Captain White and Colonel Baylor as I received and wrote it at the time from the lips of eyewit-nesses.

On the night before the last day's battle at Second Manassas, Friday, August 29, 1862, Colonel W. S. H. Baylor (I ought really to call him general, for ‘StonewallJackson and R. E. Lee had both recommended his promotion, and his commission had actually been made out when news of his lamented death reached Richmond), one of the most widely known and loved young men in the State, was in command of the famous old ‘Stonewall Brigade,’ which had the year before won its name and immortal fame on these historic plains. Sending for his friend, Captain Hugh White—son of the venerable Dr. Wm. S. White, of Lexington, ‘StonewallJackson's old pastor, and himself a theological student—who commanded one of the companies in the brigade, ‘Will’ Baylor (as we used familiarly to call him) said to him: ‘I know the men are very much wearied out by the battle to-day, and that they need all of the rest they can get to fit them for the impending struggle of to-morrow. But I cannot consent that we shall sleep to-night until we have had a brief season of prayer to thank God for the victory and preservation of the day, [139] and to beseech His protection and blessing during the continuance of this terrible conflict.’ Hugh White entered at once into the proposal. Rev. A. C. Hopkins (then chaplain of the Second Virginia Infantry, now pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Charlestown, West Virginia, and one of those faithful chaplains who was always found at the post of duty, even when it was the post of hardship or of danger) was found in the bivouac near by and gladly consented to lead the meeting. The men were quietly notified that there would be a prayer-meeting at brigade headquarters as soon as they could assemble, and nearly the whole of this brigade and many from other brigades promptly gathered at the appointed spot. It was a tender, precious season of worship, there in line of battle and in full hearing of the enemy. Colonel Baylor entered into it with the burning zeal of the young Convert—he had found Christ in the camp only a short time before—and Captain Hugh White, with the ripened experience of the Christian of long-standing, and many of the participants, realized, with Jacob of old, that the place was ‘none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.’ In the great battle which followed the next day, when the Confederate line was pressing grandly forward and driving everything before it, Will Baylor, with the flag of the Thirty-third Virginia in his hands and the shout of victory on his lips, fell in the very forefront of the battle and gave his brave, noble, young life to the land and cause he loved so well and served so faithfully.

As the flag fell from the nerveless grasp of Baylor, Captain Hugh White sprang forward, caught the falling colors, waved them in the view of the veterans of the old ‘Stonewall Brigade,’ and rushing to the front called on them to follow him to victory. The smoke of battle soon concealed the young hero from his comrades, but when the line swept irresistably forward to drive the enemy before them and add ‘Second Manassas’ to the long series of Confederate victories, it was found that Hugh White, too, had been killed, and those two young men who mingled so lovingly in the prayer-meeting of the night before had entered through the pearly gates, were walking the golden streets, and were wearing fadeless crowns of victory.

Mrs. Margaret J. Preston (whose graceful verse has adorned so many bright pages of Southern literature, and who has sung so tenderly from the depths of a full heart concerning the heroes of the Confederacy) thus wrote to Captain White's afflicted mother: [140]

May the tender Jesus, who said “Weep not” to His own mother in the extremity of her sufferings, say the same to you, dear friend. What need have we to look away from the surroundings of our dear ones' deaths, to forget the battle and the blood, and all the awful circumstances through which they passed into the pure presence of God. Think of it—the exchange of the boom of cannon for ‘the harpers, harping with their harps’ —the shrieks of furious enemies for the hallelujahs of angels— the fierce onset for the “Come, ye blessed of my Father” —the madness of war for the boundless peace of heaven! These were the exchanges your precious boy made when he breathed out his life into the hands of his Saviour. For himself he felt nothing but a holy joy, as our Willie1 did, and if he turned his thoughts to the anguish of his father and mother at his loss, it must have been with the triumphant assurance that the trust in Jesus which they had taught him, and which was strong enough for him to die by, was also strong enough for them to live by.

You are an honored mother to have reared such a son for immortality. He did not need long years to fit him for a life with God, and if he has gotten home the soonest, without the toilsome march, you will not think that cause of sorrow, dear friend. If he could lean from the heavenly heights to-day, would he not say something like this: “Precious mother, there is no need of tears for me. I had all the happiness earth can give. I had a sweet, beautiful life with you all, and without the trial of any grief am translated now to the full possession of the bliss of God's redeemed. Rejoice in my joy.” [141]

His dear father and you have my tears and prayers. What have I else to give?

Yours in like faith and sufferings,

M. J. P.

From a large number of letters written to his family and friends, it is deemed advisable to insert extracts from only three. All these relate chiefly to the time and manner of his death. As to the slight discrepancy which appears in two of these accounts of the posture in which he was found, it is sufficient to remark, that one saw him before and the other after he had been turned from the posture in which he fell.

The first of these extracts is from a letter of General Thomas J. Jackson to Rev. Dr. Dabney. The general says:

In the second battle of Manassas I lost more than one personal friend. Among the number was Captain Hugh A. White. We were members of the same church, and had been co-laborers in the same Sabbath-school. His Christian labors were not confined to times of peace. In the army he adorned the doctrine of Christ his Saviour. When Testaments or other religious works were to be distributed, I found him ready for the work. Though his loss must be mourned, yet it is gratifying to know that he has left us a bright example, and that he fell, sword in hand, gallantly cheering on his men, and leading them to victory in repelling the last attack of the enemy upon that bloody field.

Very truly, your friend,

The following extract is from a letter to his brother from one who served with him as first lieutenant, and who succeeded him as captain, and who was wounded on the previous day:

Dear Sir: I have endeavored to procure all the particulars of your brother's fall, but have only partially succeeded. Many saw him just previous to his death, and several very soon afterward, but I can find no one who saw him in the interval between the time when he was struck and when he expired, if there was any. The reason seems to be this: Immediately before he was shot the brigade had been ordered to charge, but [142] had not proceeded far before it was thrown into considerable confusion, partly by obstructions in the line of march, but principally by the fierce resistance of the enemy; and it was just at this juncture, when companies were separated from their regiments, and officers from their companies, that your brother, eager to meet the foe, and undismayed by the circumstances which had produced a temporary confusion in his regiment, having advanced far to the front, with his sword in one hand and his hat in the other, calling on his men to follow him, fell unobserved near the spot already hallowed by the blood of the gallant Colonel Baylor. Before his fall, and probably at the moment the fatal missile entered his noble bosom, he was bearing the standard with which Colonel Baylor fell while leading the brigade to the charge.

But although, on account of the confusion, his death was unobserved, his presence was soon missed and a member of his company, fearing he had been injured, proceeded to look for him, and soon found his body. He was lying on his face, resting it in his hands, and his pistol and his unsheathed sword lay by his side.

He was afterwards ‘buried on the field’ by a few of his little band, assisted by some friends from other companies.

Thus fell our beloved captain, mourned not only by the company that had followed him so long, but by every soldier who knew him. We loved him not only as a soldier, but also and especially as a Christian gentleman. As a soldier and officer he was a model; to his company he was exceedingly kind, but his kindness never assumed the form of partiality. He was just. In the camp he devoted himself exclusively to the promotion of its interests, temporal and eternal. In action he was perfectly fearless, yet his courage was controlled by a sound discretion. On such occasions he was possessed with a peculiar enthusiasm—an unconquerable zeal and determination to meet the foe—and consequently he was always seen among those gallant spirits who go farthest in the direction of the foe. His command never was ‘go on,’ but always ‘come on.’

As a Christian gentleman he was also a model. Such earnestness of disposition—such nobility of soul—such sublimity of purpose—such humility—such devotion to Christ's cause; not inducing noisy demonstrations, but those quiet, irresistible movements, which are like the silent flow of deep streams. [143] How rare are such characters! I have never known one as young as he so faultless. His piety was active—a real living principle, whose movements and influences were seen and felt, not only by his fellow-Christians, but also by all who came in contact with him. His efforts to secure the salvation of his company were unceasing, and to compass this end he was much in prayer, and abounded in good works. As often as circumstances permitted, he distributed religious reading—tracts, newspapers, memoirs, etc.—among his company and sometimes in the regiment. It was also his custom, as occasion offered, to assemble his company nightly before the door of his tent for religious services.

We deeply mourn his loss, and feel that his place can never be filled. But,

Though lost to sight, to memory ever dear.

It gives me unspeakable pleasure thus to bear testimony to the inestimable worth of your noble brother.

Your friend,

2G. B. S.

The last extract is from a letter to Rev. Dr. Brown, of Richmond, from one who, at the time, belonged to the Rockbridge Artillery, but who was soon after promoted to a place on General Jackson's staff Dr. Brown published this extract in the Central Presbyterian. The writer says:

The Stonewall Brigade received the attack well; was flanked by a strong body of the enemy, fell back a few rods, changed front and, again advancing, drove the enemy with great slaughter from the field and the cover which they sought. The result to our dear old brigade was fearful. Colonel Baylor, commanding, was mortally wounded, and O! how sad I am to tell you, that our dear friend, Captain Hugh A. White, of Lexington, the noblest of soldiers, fell pierced through his body, when in advance of the brigade, with hat and sword in hand, calling to his men, ‘come on, come on.’ I have seen no one myself who saw him fall. Just after this success of our brigade we advanced with our battery to cover their advancing columns.

The ground was strewn around with the gallant, dearly loved [144] veterans of our old ‘Stonewall Brigade.’ Beyond was the long line of blue-coated hirelings, who paid for their crime with their life's blood.

I stood leaning against my gun, waiting for orders and watching the tide of battle as it steadily receded from me. Soon one of the Liberty Hall Volunteers came up, and, with tears rolling down his cheeks, told us his brave captain was lying there in front of us.

I ran forward, and there, too true, was my best, my noblest friend, with his sweet, lovely face upturned, his eyes gazing upon that world where his spirit had gone, and his body in its last, long sleep.

His sword had been already taken away. I found and took off his Bible and several letters. It was indeed heartrending as we gathered around. Dear, dear Hugh, the purest, the truest, the best of us all. May we of his companions who are spared live to love and serve our God more and better, and die to meet him in our home above. What a blessed ministry did we anticipate in his! How full of the promise of usefulness were his amiable, attractive qualities, his accurate and increasing attainments, and his quiet, yet earnest, active piety. But I must say no more, though of this subject my heart and head are full. Our victory is great. Again let us turn to God —may His goodness lead us to new repentance and obedience.

3J. P. S.

God was good in giving this son, good in making him what he was, and no less good in taking him away, just when and as He did. The belief is sincerely entertained that neither vanity nor ostentation prompts to this effort to perpetuate his memory. But as it was the ruling desire of his heart to make this bad world better, and as the bitterest grief of his parents on account of his early death flows from the consideration that he did not accomplish this by living, this effort is made so to perpetuate his existence on earth that, being dead, he may yet speak. Well may the old ask, why are we feeble, withered, fruitless branches spared, and they, so young, so fresh, so fruitful, taken away? God's ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts ours. He may enable a youth like this, who dies at [145] twenty-two, to accomplish far more for man's good and His own glory than they who live to threescore and ten years.

The young are not likely to find a more striking illustration of the truth, that “the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace,” than his life furnishes. He was habitually cheerful and happy. Seeking to enjoy everything in God, he enjoyed God in everything, and thus even the vicissitudes of life ministered to his comfort. His life was beautiful, and his death safe, honorable and useful.

It is no exaggeration to say that volumes could be filled with sketches of other officers and men, worthy to take their places beside those given above; but these must suffice.

Rev. Dr. J. A. Broadus, while preaching in the army, thus wrote, in the Religious Herald, on the ‘Influence of Officers:’

I recently became acquainted, in the Army of Northern Virginia, with Brigadier-General——, from one of the Gulf States, who is a Baptist, and a very interesting man. He is said to be an admirable officer, having taken charge of a brigade which had been in very bad condition, and made it one of the finest in the army, and having gained, by his skilful and gallant leadership in the field, the entire confidence and warm affection of his command. He struck me at once by his pleasing address, and his cordial greeting to a Christian brother. He would listen, with a glowing countenance and not without tears, to the more affecting truths of the Gospel, and in all our intercourse seemed to me an unusually zealous, devout and humble Christian. I hear that he is always ready to pray and exhort in the prayermeetings. His conversation showed an absorbing anxiety for the spiritual welfare of his men. And in mentioning incidentally an occasion on which he had tried to gather them into a special meeting for prayer, and the good results, he spoke with humble gratitude of the joy with which he found it possible to exert a marked religious influence over his officers and men. May God bless him in all his efforts to do good.

Every civilian who goes into the army will be struck with the wonderful influence possessed by the officers. Everything is arranged so as to give them authority and secure them respect—a thing necessary to the efficiency and the very existence of an army. And you very soon feel the effect upon [146] yourself. You did not care any more for officers than privates— not you. But stay in camp awhile, and you catch the feeling. You will go with a friend who is introducing you—will perhaps see a rather indifferent-looking youngster, eating his dinner, and care very little for him; but when he looks up and you see three stars on his collar, and your friend says, “Colonel——,” you take off your hat.

And let any officer, from the highest to the lowest, be a decidedly religious or a decidedly irreligious man, and the influence diffuses itself throughout his entire command. These men sought distinction, and delight in authority. Alas! many of them little think of the weighty responsibilities which always pertain to any position of influence. They cannot divest themselves of this responsibility, not merely to the nation for the military efficiency of their command, but to God for the religious influence exerted upon these their fellow-men. Of course, no one wants them to do anything officially to constrain the men into anything like religion. But their example, and their ways of talking, produce an effect that is positively astonishing.

Have you a friend who is an officer? Urge him not to neglect the solemn responsibility of his position. If he is a Christian, let him try to be such a specimen of the Christian officer as the general above described, and he may do incalculable good. If still unconverted, ask if he has a right not only to slight his own soul, but by his example and influence to be ruining the souls of others.

Are you an officer yourself? Has Providence placed you as a leader to your fellow-men, and shall you lead them to perdition? Parents ought to become Christians for the sake of their children, besides personal considerations; and so ought officers to become Christians for the sake of their men.

J. A. B. Orange Court House.

A correspondent of another paper writes:

‘The brigade, the regiment, or the company, which has enjoyed the influence of a real Christian commander, stands out in bold and bright relief. I have seen enough of this to make every Christian proud, yes, boastfully, most joyfully proud, of his blessed, his wonder-working religion. I have seen companies, composed of the same material, encamped very near each other, [147] yet steadily travelling different roads, and constantly developing the most contrary characteristics. In one you would see gambling, drinking, disorder and discontent; in the other everything would go on very much as in any well-regulated Christian household, In other words, I was never so well satisfied as I am now, that the religion of Christ is essential to the existence— not to say the efficiency—of a volunteer army. It may be that in the regular army, where the common soldier is hardly better than a brute—a mere machine—men may be trained to the arts of war, and may become most efficient soldiers without the restraints of religion; but, in an army like ours, I believe that religion is absolutely indispensable in order to make it fit to accomplish the mighty results dependent on its efforts.’

The following incident well illustrates the influence of Christian officers:

‘When General Havelock, as colonel of his regiment, was travelling through India, he always took with him a Bethel tent, in which he preached the Gospel; and when Sunday came in India he hoisted the Bethel flag, and invited all men to come and hear the Gospel; in fact, he even baptized some. He was reported for this at Headquarters, for acting in a non-military and disorderly manner; and the commander-in-chief, General Lord Gough, entertained the charge, but, with the true spirit of a generous military man, he caused the state of Colonel Havelock's regiment to be examined. He caused the reports of the moral state of the various regiments to be read for some time back, and he found that Colonel Havelock's stood at the head of the list; there was less drunkenness, less flogging, less imprisonment in it, than in any other. When that was done, the commander-in-chief said: “Go and tell Colonel Havelock, with my compliments, to baptize the whole army.” ’

Thank God that we had in the Confederate armies so many Christian officers—men worthy to take their places beside Havelock, Colonel Gardiner, Captain Headley Vickars, General George H. Gordon, and all of the Christian soldiers of history, and to exhibit the power of the Gospel in making men truer patriots, braver soldiers, and more influential leaders of their fellows.

1 Wm. C. Preston, son of Colonel J. T. L. Preston, of Lexington, Virginia, who fell in the same battle.

The following extract is taken from a sketch of his life and death, published in the Central Presbyterian:

‘Don't distress yourselves about me, boys; I am not afraid to die,’ he said to his comrades, as they pressed anxiously around him. There spoke the considerate friend—the chivalrous young soldier—the fearless Christian. Of the few remaining hours of his life little is known. Thus much we are permitted to know. His beloved captain, Hugh A. White, was with him on the morning preceding his death. Turning to the surgeon, Willie asked if it was possible for him to survive; he received a negative answer. ‘Could you get a letter to my father?’ he asked of Captain White. Upon being reminded of the difficulty, he acquiesced and said: ‘Then I will deliver my messages to you.’ These undelivered messages are forever sealed up in the bosom of the noble young leader, who fell, instantly killed, a few hours later.

Thus let the names of these martyrs in the cause of their country go down to posterity together.

2 Now Rev. Dr. Geo. B. Strickler, of Atlanta, Georgia.

3 Now Rev. James P. Smith, of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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