The army correspondent of the Charleston Courier
writes as follows:
, April 16, 1862.
This war has given to history some of the brightest and noblest instances of personal heroism that ever illuminated the proud annals of a nation.
There is a great spirit animating the mass — a spirit of pure, unselfish patriotism; but there is a greater still, which lives alone in the souls of age, than throbs in the restless impulses of youth — a spirit which speaks with a voice of thunder amid the din of battle, and yet becomes a Christian halo around the bed of suffering and death.
the world does not always see and recognise the inspiration until the honored possessor has slipped the cables of life, and been borne beyond the reach of everything but memory and tears.
These thoughts are suggested by an incident which was related to me by Dr. Keller
, of this city, concerning apart fifteen years of age, named Charlie Jackson
, who was wounded in the recent battle, and is now lying hopelessly at the point of death.
Some months ago his father raised a company in which Charlie was permitted to drill with the privates, and finally became so expert in the manual of arms that, young as he was, he was chosen the drill-master.
In due time, marching orders were received.
Then, the father consulting the age of his boy, and probably his own paternal feelings, gave him to understand that it was his wish he should remain at home.
To this Charlie strenuously demurred, and plainly told his parent that if he could not go with him he would join another company.
Yielding to his obstinacy, a sort of silent consent was given, and the dad left Memphis
with his comrades.
The regiment to which they belonged was detached to Burnsville
, several miles distant from Corinth
, and here it remained until the Friday or Saturday preceding the battle — Orders were then received that it should repair at once to the field and take its position, Charlie was asleep at the time of the departure and the father, unwilling that one so young should undergo the fatigues of the long march of twenty miles, and the dangers of the coming fight, gave orders that he should not be disturbed.
Several hours after the boy awoke of his own account.
At a glance, his eye took in the condition of affairs, and his knowledge of coming events satisfied him of the cause.
With him to think was to act. He seized his little gun — a miniature musket which his father had made for him, and alone started on the trail of his absent regiment.
Hour after hour he trudged along, and finally as they were just about halting preparatory to going into battle, he succeeded in joining his company.
His father chided him, but how could he do otherwise than admire the indomitable spirit of his boy. The battle commenced.
Charlie took his place by his father's side, and was soon in the thickest of the fight.
A bullet struck him in the body and tore an ugly wound.
Still he pressed on firing, charring and charging with the remainder of the regiment.
He seemed not to know the sensation of fear, and his youthful example on more than one occasion was the rallying point from which the men took fresh spirit.
Suddenly, at a late hour in the day, the little fellow fell shot through the leg a few inches below the hip — He gave a cheer and told his father to go on. "Don't mind me!" said he, "but keep on; I'll lay here till you come back" This, of course, the feelings of the parent would not permit him to do, and picking him up in his arms, he carried him to the nearest hospital within a day or two Charlie was brought to his home in Memphis
, feeble, yet full of hope and courage.
was called upon to examine the wound, and, if necessary, to perform amputation; but at a glance his experienced eye saw that the poor boy was beyond the hope of recovery.
Mortification had set in, and an operation would only increase his sufferings without prolonging life.
The lad noticed the sober countenance of the physician as he turned away, and went to an adjoining room to break the mournful intelligence to the weeping father and mother.
Nothing could be done but to relieve him of pain by means of opiates.
A few moments afterwards he returned to the bedside of the sufferer, when the young hero abruptly met him with the question--
, will you answer me a straightforward question, and tell me the truth?"
The physician paused a moment, and then said:
"Yes, Charlie, I will, but you must prepare for bad news."
"Can I live?" was the response.
No thing can save you now but a miracle from Heaven."
"Well, I have thought so myself.
I have felt as if I was going to die. Do father and mother know this?"
"Yes," replied the surgeon," I have just told them."
"Please ask them to come in here."
When the parents had done so, and taken their places on either side of the bed, Charlie reached out, grasped their hands in his, and said:
"Dear father and mother, Dr. Keller
says that I can't live.
And now I want to ask your forgiveness for all wrong I have done.
I have tried to be a good boy in every way but one, and that was when I disobeyed you both and joined the army.
I couldn't help that, for I felt as if I ought to be right where you were, father, and to fight as long as I was able.
I'm only sorry that I can't fight through the war. If I have said anything wrong or done anything wrong, won't you forgive me?"
The afflicted parents could only weep their assent.
"Now, father," continued the boy, "One thing more.
Don't stay here with me, but go back to camp.
Mother will take care of me, and your services are more necessary in your company than they are at home.
I am not afraid to die; and I wish I had a thousand lives to lose in the same way. And, father, tell the boys when you get back how I died — just as a soldier ought to. Tell them to fight the Yankees
as long as there is one left in the country, and never give up!
Tell them, too, to kill just as many as they think will avenge the death of Charlie; and whenever you fill up the company with new men let them know that besides their country there's a little boy in heaven who will watch them and pray for them as they go into battle."
And so is dying one of the bravest spirits that was ever breathed into the human body by its Divine Maker.
The scene I have described is one of which we sometimes read, but rarely behold, and the Surgeon
told me that inured as he was to spectacles of suffering and was, as he stood by this, a silent spectator, his heart overflowed in tears and he knelt down and sobbed like a child.
How true are the lines of the post--
"The good die first,
And they whose hearts are dry as summer's dust,
Burn to the socket"
Another similar incident has been related to me by a Captain in one of the Kentucky
regiments concerning the dying moments of Lieut. Col. Holbrook
, his superior officer.
I make no apology for these narrations first, because they are a port of history and deserve a place upon its noblest page; and secondly, because there are touches of nature in them, which must find a response in the heart of every reader.
They are illustrious examples of living and dying patriotism, which every Southern soldier may well strive to emulate in his perilous career to glory.
Lieut. Col. Holbrook
was severely wounded in two or three places; in one mortally, but he fell at the head of his regiment in one of its proudest moments — a victorious charge.
He was conveyed at once to the hospital, and there learned that his injuries were of a mortal character.
After the battle several of his officers paid him a visit.
They found life fast ebbing, though he was still able to converse He desired to be propped up in bed, and then he talked to them like a Christian soldier.
"In the course of my official duties with you, gentlemen," he said, "I have had little or no occasion to speak with you upon the subject of religion, but this is a time when, as fellow men, we may commune frankly together.
And I desire to bear witness to the fact that I am at the present moment deriving all my strength and consolation from the firm reliance which I have upon the blessings of religion.
I know I am not prepared for death as I ought to have been, and as I hope you may be; but I feel safe in reposing-upon the strong arm of God, and trusting to him for my future happiness.
Before this war is closed some of you may be brought upon the threshold of the eternal world, as I have been, and my earnest prayer is that the messenger of death may find you waiting.
Throughout my existence I have found nothing in my experience that has afforded me more substantial happiness than Christianity; and now, as I lie here concessions that life is waning, I desire to bear testimony of a peaceful mind, of a firm faith in the grand scheme of salvation.
"Farewell, my comrades, and may we all meet in a better world."