child, the sorrow for a broken and desolated country, the unspeakable pain of final defeat?
Alas! for the unknown graves that hide the broken hearts of our comrades, worn by disease, whom we left behind at every camp, in the sand-hills by the sea, or dotting the grassy glades of mountain valleys.
Yet the very boys emblazoned immortal deeds upon the escutcheon of their State.
, the death wound came to a lad of barely seventeen.
His musket dropped; with Spartan fortitude he raised his hand to the gushing wound, and faltered forth to his commander, Major
, I am killed; tell my father that my feet were to the enemy!
So fell Wilson Kerr
, of North Carolina
, in the suburb of Pocahontas
, lies the last man of the retreating army of Lee
. The enemy were rapidly closing on the rear guard, and he volunteered to fire the bridge in the face of certain death.
He reached its middle, applied the match, and then, though torn by a grape-shot, that boy of sixteen walked back to the bank and yielded his precious life.
The enemy, in admiration of his valor, gave him a soldier's burial on the very spot—wrapped in his old gray blanket that was slung about his shoulders, and the only shroud over his fair features from the enveloping clay, was the apron of a solitary woman, brave enough to venture there to weep over him.
So died Cummings Mebane
, of North Carolina
His country was the lady of his dreams,
Her cross his knightly sign—
And there he lies,
A stately, slender palm,
Felled down, in tender blossoming,
Across her grave!
Young men of North Carolina
, you who are her hope and pride, and who will be her strong staff, when we shall have become but a memory, see to it, I beseech you, that such sublime virtue,, which accepts certain death for the safety of the whole, and the good of the State
, be commemorated in yonder capitol in glowing canvass or enduring marble.
Happy will be that people, who, in honoring virtue and commemorating sublimity of human character, stamp the image of the ancestor upon the mind and heart of the children!