|"The Angel of Marye’s Heights.
The day after the sanguinary battle of Fredericksburg, Kershaw's Brigade occupied the
road at the foot of Marye's Hill and the grounds about Marye's House, the scene of their desperate defense of the day before. One hundred and fifty yards in front of the road, the stone facing of which constituted the famous stone wall, lay Sykes Division of Regulars, U. S. A. between whom and our troops a murderous skirmish occupied the whole day, fatal to many who heedlessly exposed themselves even for a moment. The ground between the lines was nearly bridged with the wounded, dead and dying Federals, victims of the many desperately gallant assaults of that column of 30,000 brave men, hurled vainly against that impregnable position. All that day those wounded men rent the air with their groans and agonizing cries of " water ! water !"
In the afternoon the General sat in the North room upstairs of Mrs Stevens' House in front of the road, surveying the field, when Kirkland came up. With an expression of indignant remonstrance pervading his person, his manner and the tone of his voice, he said: "General, I can't stand this" "What is the matter, Sergeant?" asked the General. He replied: " All night and all day I have heard those poor
people crying for water and can stand it no longer", I came to ask permission to go and give them water."
The General regarded him for a moment with feelings of profound admiration and said: " Kirkland, don't you know that you would get a bullet through your head the moment you stepped over the wall?" " Yes, Sir, he said, I know all about that, but if you will let me, I am willing to try it" After a pause the General said: " Kirkland, I ought not to allow you to run such a risk, but the sentiment which actuates you is so noble, that I will not refuse your request, trusting that God may protect you. You may go."
The Sergeant's eyes lighted up with pleasure. He said "Thank you Sir" and ran rapidly down stairs. The General heard him pause for a moment and then return, bounding two steps at a time. He thought the Sergeant's heart had failed him. He was mistaken. The Sergeant stopped at the door and said: " General, can I show a white handkerchief ?" The General slowly shook his head, saying emphatically: " No, Kirkland, you can't do that.' "All right, Sir, he said, I'll take my chances." With profound anxiety, he was watched as he stepped over the wall on his errand of mercy, Christ-like mercy. Unharmed he reached the
nearest sufferer. He knelt beside him, tenderly raised the drooping head, rested it gently upon his own noble breast, and poured precious life giving fluid down the fever scorched throat. This done he laid him gently down, placed his knap-sack under his head, straightened out his broken limb, spread his over-coat over him, replaced his empty canteen with a full one, and turned to another sufferer."
Last edited on Fri Apr 9th, 2010 03:27 pm by Old Blu