A Rhode Island soldier, utterly exhausted, stepped aside to rest a few moments under the shade. There he found a gasping and dying Southern soldier, and put his almost exhausted canteen to his parched lips. The dying soldier–an enthusiast in his cause–with high excitement gasped out: “Why do you come to fight us? We shall utterly annihilate you. We have ninety thousand men. You can never subjugate us. We have a series of batteries beyond which will destroy all the armies you can bring.” The Rhode Island soldier proceeded to state–and how strange and how tremendously real the discussion then and so!–that the object of the war was not the subjugation of the South, but the preservation of the Union. “And now,” said the manly fellow, “I have given you water from my canteen, when its drops are more precious than diamonds. If you had found me in this state, what would you have done?” The eyes of the dying man gleamed, as the soldier said, like those of a basilisk, and he replied, “I would have put my bayonet to your heart.” In a few moments he went into eternity, and the Rhode Islander resumed his place on the battle-field.
But there were also instances of Christian feeling exhibited on the battle-field, one of which is very affecting. A wounded Federal soldier was hastily carried to a wood, and placed by the side of a dying Georgian. The Georgian, evidently a gentleman, said to him, as they lay bleeding side by side. “We came on this field enemies–let us part friends;” and extended to him his hand, which the other grasped with the reciprocal expression of friendly feeling. They were both Christian men, and they lay with clasped hands on that bloody field, until the hand of the noble Georgian was cold in death. How beautiful that scene, amid the horrors of the battle-field! Who shall say, in view of it, that because of this strife between the North and South, they can never again clasp hands in mutual friendship and esteem? Who shall say that the time shall not come, when, on some well-fought field, they who met as enemies shall part as friends, and peach and restoration and mutual esteem ensue?
Another incident was sublime, and shows how close Christ Jesus is to his people, wherever they may be. A strong, tall man from Maine received a minie ball directly in his breast; and with the outstretched arms and the upward leap which is said often to mark such a death, he exclaimed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”