A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM."
1ST WISCONSIN HEAVY ARTILLERY.
A few days ago in
the town where I live, Weatherford, Texas, North Main Street was
crowded with traffic, trucks, cars, wagons and vehicles of every
kind and description passing in every direction.
A little child, a sweet little blue-eyed, curly-haired girl, had
escaped her mother's watchful eyes as she was shopping in one of
the stores and had wandered out on the street. She was unafraid,
innocent, sweet, and was enjoying the sights and sounds about
her as she watched the cars passing by. One large touring car
came toward her, and the driver, seeing the danger, was afraid
to try to pass her, fearing she might run in front of the car.
He stopped his car and pleasantly spoke to the child, telling
her to move out of the way.
She obeyed and stood wonderingly watching the cars go on. By
this time several others had observed the child, and, realizing
that if she was seen there was no danger of running over her,
they rather enjoyed the novel spectacle of a little girl
blocking the traffic on the busy street. In the meantime the
little girl was taking in the sights as unconscious of danger as
though she were at home.
By this time traffic had stopped, and the innocent cause of this
congestion was standing in the middle of the street, smiling and
unafraid. But the mother, having missed the child and
discovering her whereabouts, rushed frantically out into the
street and gathered the child in her arms, scarce realizing that
the baby's innocence and sweetness were her greatest protection.
And then my mind
went back to the dark days of 1863, when I witnessed a scene
somewhat similar to the one just enacted before my eyes.
Two armies, the
Confederate and the Union were facing each other upon the eve of
battle. The Confederate army was aligned on Lookout Mountain and
Missionary Ridge, while the Union army was entrenched in the
valley below. Both were preparing for the death struggle
awaiting them. The armies were pretty near to each other, and
both had pickets out watching every movement of the enemy.
One day we were
perfectly astonished by the sight of a little child toddling
toward our lines. She was such an innocent, unafraid creature,
entirely unconscious of any danger. She came from the direction
of the Rebel army, and, needless to say, we surrendered to her
without the firing of a gun. When she reached a place in our
lines, hundreds of our men gathered around her. Apparently she
was perfectly at home as she stood looking at us with wide-open
eyes in which shone perfect trust and confidence.
The boys began to
ply her with questions as to what her name was and where she
came from, but she could give no satisfactory answer. One of the
men asked her to whom she belonged, and she lisped: "Uncle
Jim." Then We asked her who Uncle Jim was, and she pointed
toward the Confederate lines, by which we knew she must have
strayed away from Uncle Jim and in some mysterious
manner made her way through both picket lines into the Yankee
Every man wanted to
take her in his arms and kiss her, and how they did
wish they had some candy or cakes to give her, but army rations
afforded nothing of this kind. Then some of the men thought of
sugar, and each wanted to give her some, of which they had a
plentiful supply. So we loaded her down with big lumps of the
sweet stuff, and one boy happened to remember that he had a
string of beads, which he brought and placed around her white
neck. Another had a silk handkerchief, which he tied about her
throat, while the other boys, not to be outdone, searched among
the keep- sakes which their sisters and sweethearts had sent
them and found handkerchiefs and ribbons, which they tied on her
One produced a
rosette of red, white, and blue ribbon, which he pinned on her
dress. Another found a small silk flag, and that also was pinned
on her; all of which she enjoyed immensely and seemed to think
it was all "in the play."
I saw tears come
into eyes that had not been wet since they left their mothers,
wives, and sweethearts in the far-away North.
Our captain took the
child in his arms and, while he pressed her close to his heart,
said: "Boys, I've got a little girl at home about the age
of this little one. 0 God! I wonder if I shall ever see her
At this every man
removed his hat and stood silently at attention, but if you had
asked them why they did so, they could not have told you. But I
know now a little child can bring God mighty near you under such
And then the
question was raised, and what shall we do with her? For
obviously, we could not keep the child in such circumstances of
impending danger. The problem was solved by one of the men
removing the ramrod from his gun and tying a white handkerchief
upon the end, then, after obtaining permission from the captain,
he took the child and her gifts in his arms and started toward
the Rebel lines.
Bob Chambers, one of
the biggest devils in our company, called to him to hold on a
minute, he wanted to send "Uncle Jim" some coffee.
"I'll bet he
hasn't had a good cup of coffee since the war began," he
said; so he filled a small bag with the precious grains and gave
it to the little girl, saying. "Take this to your Uncle
The boys all shouted
a good-by as they started for the Rebel lines, the little girl
still holding high the flag of truce.
As they neared the
Confederate lines several men came forward to meet them, among
whom was Uncle Jim, who was searching for his little girl in
Ed Avery, who was
carrying the child, learned from Uncle Jim that the child's
father had been killed at the battle of Chickamauga, and that
her mother had since died, leaving the child in the care of
Uncle Jim who was waiting for a chance to send her to his home
in the Southland.
Tightly holding the
baby in his arms and looking fondly at her, Uncle Jim said:
"Boys, I am going
to get permission to take her to my home, maybe while I am gone
this battle will come off. I hope it will, for damned if I feel
like shooting at you fellows after this--at least, for some time
to come." He added, with a twinkle in his dark gray eyes
and a smile upon his weather-beaten features.
And as the gray-clad
men around him grasped his meaning, a regular Rebel yell went up
from each throat, which was echoed from the blue-clad lines as
they witnessed the dramatic scene, and both sounds blended into
whispering echoes from the rugged sides of Lookout Mountain.