A HERO OF VALLEY FORGE
 IT was winter at Valley Forge. Indeed, it was that famous
and dreadful winter when Washington and his little army
of patriots were encamped there. Half-clad, half-fed,
chilled by the raw, cold winds, is it not a wonder that
these brave men did not lose all hope and disperse to
their homes? Every one of them performed a golden deed
when he kept up his courage and stuck to his post and
thus did his part towards keeping the American army
together. But the hero of whom I shall tell you was
not a soldier; he did not even believe it right to
One day a Tory, who was well known in the neighborhood,
was captured and brought into the camp. His name was
Michael Wittman, and he was accused of having carried
aid and information to the British in Philadelphia. He
was taken to West Chester and there tried by
court-martial. It was proved that he was a very
dangerous man and that he had more than once attempted
to do great
 harm to the American army. He was pronounced guilty of
being a spy and sentenced to be hanged.
One the evening of the day before that set for the
execution, a strange old man appeared in Valle Forge.
He was a small man with long, snow-white hair falling
over his shoulders. His face, although full of
kindliness, was sad-looking and thoughtful. His eyes,
which were bright and sharp, were upon the ground and
lifted only when he was speaking.
Many of the soldiers seemed to know him, for they
greeted him kindly as he passed.
"Who is that old fellow?" asked a young sergeant from
"Why, he is one of our best friends," was the answer.
"He lives at the Dunker settlement, over near
Lancaster, and many are the wounded soldiers that he
has nursed and brought to life. He has a hospital
there of his own, and if I were hurt or sick I
shouldn't want any better place to go. He doesn't
believe in fighting, but he surely believes in helping
"Yes," said another soldier, "but the worst of it is
that he would just as lieve nurse a sick Britisher as a
sick American. All are the same to him."
 Then, one after another, the soldiers began to give the
old man's history.
His name was Peter Miller.
He was the finest scholar in the thirteen colonies. He
had translated the Declaration of Independence into
seven European languages, and the Continental Congress
had sent copies of these translations into every
country where they could be read.
He had charge of a printing press in the Dunker
He had translated into English a wonderful German book
and had printed it upon his own press. The book was a
huge thing, so large and heavy that a man would not
wish to carry more than one volume at a time. And what
do you think it was about?
It was entitled "The Martyrs' Mirror," and was mostly
about the cruelties of war. Its object was to show
that all fightings are wrong and unnecessary.
To translate it and print it was the work of three
years, and it is said that during all that time Peter
Miller never slept more than four hours a night.
 "I think I have seen that wonderful book," said a
soldier. "I think I rammed a part of it down my musket
when I loaded it yesterday."
"That is very likely," said another. "About a week
ago, six of us drove over to the settlement in two
wagons, and brought back all the "Martyrs' Mirrors" we
could find. The paper makes fine wads for the muskets,
and you know that we have almost nothing else that can
In the meanwhile, Peter Miller, with bowed head, had
made his way to the door of Washington's headquarters.
His name was announced.
"Peter Miller?" said Washington. "Certainly. Show him
in, at once."
The old man went in, scarcely raising his eyes to meet
the welcoming and inquiring look of the general.
"General Washington, I have come to ask a great favor
of you," he said, in his usual kindly tones.
"I shall be glad to grant you almost anything," said
Washington; "for we surely are
 indebted to you for many favors. Tell me what it is."
"I hear," said Peter, "that Michael Wittman has been
found guilty of treason and that he is to be hanged at
Turk's Head to-morrow. I have come to ask you to
Washington started back, and a cloud came over his
face. "That is impossible," he said. "Wittman is a
bad man. He has done all in his power to betray us.
He has even offered to join the British and aid them in
destroying us. In these times we date not be lenient
with traitors; and for that reason, I am sorry that I
cannot pardon your friend."
"Friend!" cried Peter. "Why, he is no friend of mine.
He is my bitterest enemy. He has persecuted me for
years. He has even beaten my and spit in my face,
knowing full well that I would not strike back.
Michael Wittman is no friend of mine."
Washington was puzzled. "And still you wish me to
pardon him?" he asked.
"I do," answered Peter. "I ask it of you as a great
 "Tell me," said Washington, with hesitating voice, "why
is it that you thus ask the pardon of your worst
"I ask it because Jesus did as much for me," was the
old man's brief answer.
Washington turned away and went into another room.
Soon he returned with a paper on which was written the
pardon of Michael Wittman.
"My dear friend," he said, as he placed it in the old
man's hands, "I thank you for this example of Christian
It was a matter of fifteen miles, by the shortest road,
from Valley Forge to West Chester which was then known
as Turk's Head; and the road at that time was almost
impassable. The evening was already far gone, and
Michael Wittman was to be hanged at sunrise in the
morning. How was the pardon to reach him in time to
save his life?
The matter was so important that Peter would not
intrust its management to any other person. With the
pardon safely folded in his pocket he set out on foot
for Turk's Head. All night long, through snow and
slush and along unbeaten
 paths, he toiled. In the darkness he lost his way, and
wandered far from the road. When day broke, he was not
yet at the end of his journey.
Old and feeble though he was, he began to run. From
the top of a little hill a welcome sight appeared. The
straggling village of Turk's Head was just before him,
and the sun had not yet risen. He saw a commotion in
the street; men were hurrying toward the village green;
a body of soldiers was already there, drawn up in order
beneath a tree.
Summoning all his strength, Peter ran on and soon
entered the village. Close to the tree stood Michael
Wittman with his hands tied behind him. A strong rope
was dangling from one of the branches.
In another minute the sun would begin to peep over the
snow-clad hills. An officer had already given orders
to place the rope around the traitor's neck. Peter
Miller, still running, shouted with all his might.
The officer heard and paused. The crowd looked around
and wondered. Panting and out of breath, Peter came
up, waving the paper in his hand.
 "A pardon! A pardon!" he cried. "A pardon from General
The officer took the paper and read it aloud.
"Unbind the prisoner and let him go," he commanded.
Peter Miller had saved the life of his enemy, perhaps
of his only enemy. Michael Wittman, with his head
bowed upon his breast, went forth a free man and a
changed man. The power of Christian charity had
rescued him from a shameful death, and the cause of
patriotism need have no further fears of being harmed
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