Two Hero-stories Of The Civil War





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.





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