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
"Water! Water!" But there was none to give, the canteens
"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
"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.
II. THE BRAVERY OF RICHARD KIRTLAND
Richard Kirtland was a sergeant in the Second Regiment of
South Carolina Volunteers. The day after the great battle of
Fredericksburg, Kershaw's brigade occupied the road at the
foot of Marye's Hill.
One hundred and fifty yards in front of the road, on the
other side of a stone wall, lay Sykes's division of the
United States Army. Between these troops and Kershaw's
command a skirmish fight was continued through the entire
day. The ground between the lines was literally covered with
dead and dying Federal soldiers.
All day long the wounded were calling, "Water! water!
In the afternoon, Sergeant Kirtland, a
Con-  federate soldier, went to the headquarters of General Kershaw, and
said with deep emotion: "General, all through last night and
to-day; I have been hearing those poor wounded Federal
soldiers out there cry for water. Let me go and give them
"Don't you know," replied the general, "that you would get a
bullet through you the moment you stepped over the wall?"
"Yes, sir," said the sergeant; "but if you will let me go I
am willing to try it."
The general reflected a minute, then answered: "Kirtland, I
ought not to allow you to take this risk, but the spirit
that moves you is so noble I cannot refuse. Go, and may God
In the face of almost certain death the sergeant climbed the
wall, watched with anxiety by the soldiers of his army.
Under the curious gaze of his foes, and exposed to their
fire, he dropped to the ground and hastened on his errand of
mercy. Unharmed, untouched, he reached the nearest sufferer.
He knelt beside him, tenderly raised his drooping head,
rested it gently on his breast, and poured the cooling
life-giving water down the parched throat. This done he laid
him carefully down, placed the soldier's knapsack under his
head, straightened his broken limbs, spread his coat over
him, replaced the empty canteen with a full one, then turned
to another sufferer.
 By this time his conduct was understood by friend and foe
alike and the firing ceased on both sides.
For an hour and a half did he pursue his noble mission,
until he had relieved the wounded on all parts of the
battlefield. Then he returned to his post uninjured.
Surely such a noble deed is worthy of the admiration of men
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