The lad–for he was but a stripling, though he had seen hard service–lay stretched out on the seat of the car. Another lad, of less than twenty summers, with his arm in a sling, came and took a seat behind him, gazing upon him with mournful interest. Looking up to me, for I was accompanying the sick boy to his home, he asked:
“Is he a soldier?”
“Of what regiment?”
“The thirteenth Illinois Cavalry. Are you a soldier?”
“Where do you belong?” In the one-hundred and fifth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers.”
“The one-hundred and fifth Regiment! That sounds well. Illinois is doing nobly.”
“I did belong to the eleventh Illinois Infantry.”
“Then how came you in the one-hundred and fifth?”
“I was wounded at the battle of Fort Donelson so that I was pronounced unfit for service and discharged. But I recovered from my wound, and when they commenced raising this regiment in my neighborhood, I again enlisted.
Hitherto the sick boy had been perfectly still; now he slowly turned over, looked up with glistening eyes, stretched forth his hand with the slow movement of a sick man to the top of the seat and without saying a word eagerly grasped the hand of the new recruit. The patriotism that glowed in those wan features and prompted those slow, tremulous movements, like electricity ran through every heart. The twice-enlisted youth, as soon as he saw his intention, delighted at the appreciation and reflect on of his own spirit, grasped the outstretched hand, exclaiming “Bully for you!”
Words cannot describe the effect upon the passengers as they saw those hands clasped in token of mutual esteem for love of country; a mutual pledge that each was ready to give his life, his all, for that country. They felt that the spirit of ’76’ still survived.
Originally posted 2008-12-06 12:59:13.