and varied accomplishments he devoted with his whole soul to the cause of his beloved country.
And although his restricted sphere was not commensurate with his great abilities, yet in the sudden emergencies of perilous and doubtful conflict, his actual services sometimes as far transcended his rank as he was always in advance of his men when they captured a battery or pursued the flying enemy.
Just before he fell at Cold Harbor, General Ewell
pointed him out to his staff as he led the storming party against McClellan
's strongest position, a too ‘shining mark’ for a thousand deadly missiles.
There was one incident of that eventful day which, more than all besides, revealed the loftiness of his character and afforded to his mourning family and friends their most precious consolation.
His mother had sent him some months before a little book of devotions called ‘Morning and Night Watches,’ (being brief meditations and appropriate prayers of a very elevated tone of piety and great beauty and force of language), with a request that he would read it regularly.
He wrote to her that he was delighted with it, had been reading it as she desired, and would do so as long as he lived.
He begged her to send a copy of it in his name to a lady friend, who had nursed him when he was wounded, and another to a lady who had in like manner befriended his younger brother, Captain John Thomas Wheat
, who fell at Shiloh
's officers tell us that they had often seen him reading his little book, night and morning, and that he frequently asked them to listen to such passages as he thought particularly eloquent and impressive.
One who slept in the tent with him says that he several times waked him up (when he had retired first) to listen to the ‘Night-Watch
On the morning of the 27th, in the gray light of the early dawn, and just before the battle was begun, he called his officers about him, took the little book from his breast-pocket, where he was accustomed to carry it, and telling them what it was—that it was the gift of his mother, that the portion for that morning had been marked by her own hand, that he had just read it in his tent, and finding it peculiarly appropriate to men about to imperil their lives, he would read it; and expressed a hope that they would join him in the prayer.
It was a prayer for a ‘Joyful Resurrection.’
Uncovering his head (which example they followed), he reverently and devoutly read it in his own most feeling and impressive manner.
This is its conclusion: ‘Lord
, I commend myself to Thee.
Prepare me for living, prepare me for dying.
Let me live near Thee in grace now, that I may live with Thee in glory everlasting.
Let me be reconciled to endure submissively ’