A correspondent writing from Norfolk, Va., on the eighteenth of April, 1864 says: A scene of very thrilling interest transpired here on Wednesday last, in reference to a soldier of the Tenth N. Hampshire who had been condemned to be shot on charge of desertion. The facts were briefly these. The soldier, a young man of 24 years of age, was a native of Virginia. With other young men who had loved the old flag, he had been conscripted and forced into the rebel army. During the siege of Washington, N. C., a year since, he served in the Eighteenth Virginia one of the regiments that attempted to take that town. When, however, the rebel army withdrew without accomplishing its object, he with six other Virginians, and three East Tennesseans, deserted and came into our lines. I remember them distinctly and had a number of conversations with them while they were kept under guard. They all took the oath of allegiance at length, and enlisted in the Union service, except the one named above. He desired to go north and was permitted to do so. When the last calls for troops were made e found himself at Portsmouth, N. H., and was finally induced, by the large bounty and love of military life, to enlist in the Tenth regiment of that state. The regiment came out here and was stationed some eight or ten miles from this city. He desired, it seems, to visit the city, and frequently applied to his captain for a pass, but was as frequently refused. In an evil hour, he resolved to get a suit of citizen’s clothes and come to the city without a pass. a man living on the borders of the camp furnished him the suit, and thus attired he started for the city. He had only just come into the road when he met his Lt. Col. and Captain, and was challenged, disarmed, arrested and finally tried by court martial for desertion and condemned to be shot. He was absent from camp only six hours all told, and affirmed to the last that he never dreamed of deserting. His sentence was read to him on Tuesday, and on Wednesday at 12 o’clock, he was to be shot. He was overwhelmed with amazement and fear, not having once conceived so fatal an issue to his case. From that time till he was led out of his prison to be executed, one or more chaplains were with him a large part of the time, to offer him the spiritual counsel and comfort that he needed. He, in the end, became calm, and looked on death with composure, forgave all who had sought his life, and left messages for his friends.
In the mean time efforts were made to obtain his reprieve, but up to nine o’clock on Wednesday morning, nothing had been effected, and the prisoner was taken from his cell, and started for the field, where his coffin and grave, and troops drawn up in hollow around them, awaited his coming. But on the way the hoped-for reprieve, for seven days, overtook him. the train was stopped and the commander of the escort read him the unexpected paper. In a moment he turned deadly pale, and then threw his arms around the neck of the guard, who sat in front of him, and wept aloud. It was a scene I never shall forget. Strong men wept like children, in the great joy that had well-nigh killed the prisoner.
Originally posted 2009-01-07 15:50:53.