The Young Sentinel
By Z. A. Mudge
In the summer of 1862, a young man
to a Vermont regiment was found sleeping at his
post. He was tried and sentenced to be shot. The
day was fixed for the execution, and the young
soldier calmly prepared to meet his fate.
Friends who knew of the case brought the
matter to Mr. Lincoln's attention. It seemed that
the boy had been on duty one night, and on the
following night he had taken the place of a comrade
too ill to stand guard. The third night he
had been again called out, and, being utterly
exhausted, had fallen asleep at his post.
As soon as Mr. Lincoln understood the case, he
signed a pardon, and sent it to the camp. The
morning before the execution arrived, and the
President had not heard whether the pardon had
reached the officers in charge of the matter. He
began to feel uneasy. He ordered a telegram to be
sent to the camp, but received no answer. State
papers could not fix his mind, nor could he banish
the condemned soldier boy from his thoughts.
At last, feeling that he MUST KNOW that the lad
was safe, he ordered the carriage and rode rapidly
ten miles over a dusty road and beneath a scorching
sun. When he reached the camp he found that
the pardon had been received and the execution
The sentinel was released, and his heart was
filled with lasting gratitude. When the campaign
opened in the spring, the young man was with his
regiment near Yorktown, Virginia. They were
ordered to attack a fort, and he fell at the first
volley of the enemy.
His comrades caught him up and carried him
bleeding and dying from the field. "Bear witness,"
he said, "that I have proved myself not
a coward, and I am not afraid to die." Then,
making a last effort, with his dying breath he
prayed for Abraham Lincoln.