Richmond Dispatch, 3/14/1862
From the Richmond Dispatch, 3/14/1862, p. 1, c. 7
[For the Richmond Dispatch]
One day, last week, in making his usual visitations, the Rev. Dr. McCabe called in at the Maryland Hospital, corner of Cary and 25th streets, and in making his rounds, was attracted to the bed of a young and delicate boy, suffering from the effects of protracted fever. The little fellow had seen only fourteen summers, and his thin, pale face bore marks of disease and suffering. The following occurred, as reported by the Chaplain:
“How old are you, my son?” said the Rev. gentleman.
“I was fourteen my last birthday.”
“Why that is very young, to be in the army?”
“Yes, sir; but I thought it my duty.”
“Where are you from?”
“What is your name?
“Why, that is a Northern name.”
“Yes, sir; my father was a Northern man, but he has lived in the South for many years, and is a good Southern man.”
“And your mother, where is she?”
His little thin lip quivered, as he said with an effort to suppress emotion, “She is dead!”
“Well, my son, you are very young, and you are very sick. You are not able to endure the fatigues of a campaign, and, if you get better, you had better return home, hadn’t you?”
The boy turned his large, eloquent eye upon his interrogator, and finally, but modestly replied, as a slight flush passed over his pale, expressive face, “not until the war is over.”
“Why, what can you do, you are so young, and so delicate?”
“I am a marker, sir, and I hope soon to be up, and in the field again. I think it my duty.”
“Well, you ought to try and be a good boy, to avoid everything that is wrong, and you ought to pray to God to give you a new heart, and to keep you from falling into bad habits.”
“I do, sir,” said the little fellow, his eye half concealing itself beneath the long, soft lash. “My mother taught me to pray. I have kept out of scrapes, and have had no difficulty with any one but once, and I did not seek that one.”
The reverend gentleman then held further conversation with the brave little fellow, and promised to see him again.
He tells us that he could not help contrasting this boy’s heroic, but modest bravery, with that of so many who are seeking to obtain substitutes in this the day and hour of our necessary struggle.
If the boys – mere children – are willing to bare their bosoms to the murderous and vindictive enemy, should not the cheek of the recusant redden with shame, and that of the patriotic men who have bounded forward to re-enlistment for the war glow with honest pride, as they see how such as these can do and dare in the hour of peril and strife? Be sure that that boy’s mother gave from her bosom patriot nourishment, on which traitors and recreants would have sickened and died in their infancy.
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