Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Dying Soldier, a story from the Youth's Companion

In the Youth's Companion of April 14, 1864 appeared this story of some of the final moments of a young Union soldier. Once again, this magazine's stated agenda of focusing on morals is evident throughout this article.Also again, I wish they had provided more specifics about units, if not names, but it's still a fine story about how one young man met his fate

   In one of those terrible battles near the Cumberland, there was a field won and lost several times. Sometimes it would be in the possession of the loyal forces, and sometimes in that of the rebels. After a fearful encounter, having just retreated over the field, our army, through the smoke of battle, heard the voice of a wounded soldier, praying aloud. They knew the voice - it was the voice of a mere youth, a pious boy, and a great favorite with his comrades. They could not go to him, no one being allowed to leave the ranks, and, moreover, the charge of the enemy was expected every moment. Alternately they heard him in prayer, and then his sweet voice breaking out in singing: 

"Jesus, lover of my soul
Let me to thy bosom fly."

   It was late at night before the battle ceased, and the weary, exhausted soldiers threw themselves on the ground for rest. The next day they went out on the field of the dead, and sought for the boy. They knew that he must be dead, for they heard his voice grow weaker an weaker till it ceased. And there they found him - a fair, beautiful boy - undoubtedly the pride and joy of his mother. He was sitting up and leaning back against a stump, with the New Testament in his had, while the forefinger of the right hand was pointing to the words on the open page, "Let not your heart be troubled. In my Father's house are many mansions." On his fair face was a smile, while the countenance was turned upward, as if he were looking directly into one of those mansions. Tenderly his companions gathered around him in silence, for they saw that he was dead! What a picture would that group make!
Death cannot bring a sting to the dying one if that soul has made Christ his refuge. The victories of armies are nothing in comparison with this victory.

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