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Two Hero-stories Of The Civil War

from Good Stories For Great Holidays - MEMORIAL DAY





BY BEN LA BREE (ADAPTED)

I. BRAVERY HONORED BY A FOE

In a rifle-pit, on the brow of a hill near Fredericksburg, were a number
of Confederate soldiers who had exhausted their ammunition in the vain
attempt to check the advancing column of Hooker's finely equipped and
disciplined army which was crossing the river. To the relief of these
few came the brigade in double-quick time. But no sooner were the
soldiers intrenched than the firing on the opposite side of the river
became terrific.

A heavy mist obscured the scene. The Federal soldiers poured a merciless
fire into the trenches. Soon many Confederates fell, and the agonized
cries of the wounded who lay there calling for water, smote the hearts
of their helpless comrades.

"Water! Water!" But there was none to give, the canteens were-empty.

"Boys," exclaimed Nathan Cunningham, a lad of eighteen, the color-bearer
for his regiment, "I can't stand this any more. They want water, and
water they must have. So let me have a few canteens and I'll go for
some."

Carefully laying the colors, which he had borne on many a field, in a
trench, he seized some canteens, and, leaping into the mist, was soon
out of sight.

Shortly after this the firing ceased for a while, and an order came for
the men to fall back to the main line.

As the Confederates were retreating they met Nathan Cunningham, his
canteens full of water, hurrying to relieve the thirst of the wounded
men in the trenches. He glanced over the passing column and saw that
the faded flag, which he had carried so long, was not there. The men in
their haste to obey orders HAD FORGOTTEN OR OVERLOOKED THE COLORS.

Quickly the lad sped to the trenches, intent now not only on giving
water to his comrades, but on rescuing the flag and so to save the honor
of his regiment.

His mission of mercy was soon accomplished. The wounded men drank
freely. The lad then found and seized his colors, and turned to rejoin
his regiment. Scarcely had he gone three paces when a company of Federal
soldiers appeared ascending the hill.

"Halt and surrender," came the stern command, and a hundred rifles were
leveled at the boy's breast.

"NEVER! while I hold the colors," was his firm reply.

The morning sun, piercing with a lurid glare the dense mist, showed the
lad proudly standing with his head thrown back and his flag grasped in
his hand, while his unprotected breast was exposed to the fire of his
foe.

A moment's pause. Then the Federal officer gave his command:--

"Back with your pieces, men, don't shoot that brave boy."

And Nathan Cunningham, with colors flying over his head, passed on and
joined his regiment.

His comrades in arms still tell with pride of his brave deed and of the
generous act of a foe.





Next: Ii The Bravery Of Richard Kirtland

Previous: A Flag Incident



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