Of course you remember the story of Little Johnny Clem, the motherless atom of a drummer boy, “aged ten,” who strayed away from Newark, Ohio; and the first we knew of him, though small enough to live in a drum, was beating the long roll for the Twenty-second Michigan. At Chickamauga he filled the office of “marker,” carrying the guidon whereby they form the lines–a duty having its counterpart in the surveyor’s more peaceful calling; in the flag-man, who flutters the red signal along the metes and bounds. On the Sunday of the battle, the little fellow’s occupation gone, he picked up a gun that had fallen from some dying hand, provided himself with ammunition, and began putting in the periods quite on his own account, blazing away close to the ground, like a fire-fly in the grass. Late in the waning day, the waif left almost alone in the whirl of the battle, a rebel Colonel dashed up, and looking down at him, ordered him to surrender. “Surrender!” he shouted, “you little d—d son of a —–!” The words were hardly out of his mouth, when Johnny brought his piece to “order arms,” and as his hand slipped down to the hammer, he pressed it back, swung up the gun to the position of “charge bayonet;” and as the officer raised his sabre to strike the piece aside, the glancing barrel lifted into range, and the proud Colonel tumbled from his horse, his lips fresh-stained with the syllable of vile reproach he had flung on a mother’s grave in the hearing of her child!

A few swift moments ticked on by musket-shots, and the tiny gunner was swept up at a rebel swoop, and borne away a prisoner. Soldiers, bigger but not better, were taken with him, only to be washed back again by a surge of Federal troopers, and the prisoner of thirty minutes was again John Clem “of ours;” and Gen. Roserans; and the daughter of Mr. Secretary Chase presented him with a silver medal, appropriately inscribed, which he worthilly wears–a royal order of honor–upon his left breast.

About admin

I’m a lover of God and His Son Jesus Christ. In addition I love to make yesterday’s words come alive through the republishing of good and profitable books of old. The Civil War project is an ongoing labor of love. – Karan

This entry was posted in Recent Entries. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply