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TITLE: Compassion was Hard to Find
By David Huckabay Jr
03/24/07
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The killing was intense during the American Civil War. Yet, even when compassion was hard to find, there it was. Please feel free to critique and offer your opinions and sugestions. Let me know how I could improve my writing.
Compassion was Hard to Find ©
By D.L. Huckabay Jr.

Compassion was hard to find during those cold December days of 1862 in a field called Marye Heights outside of Fredericksburg, PA. The cold air was pierced by the hot lead of musket fire as the Confederate troops behind a stone wall laid waste the Union troops from the 20th Main who were huddled in a shallow depression of the earth. During a freezing night on the ground, men used their dead comrades to cover them from the cold air and hot lead. Zips and thuds were heard buzzing just inches above their heads, blood splattered and flowed every where. The field was an undulating mass of carnage; broken bodies heaving in pain and torment. The wounded moaned and screamed; crying for water, for death, for their mothers, for God, and some just cursed. This recital played throughout the night and the next day. Aside from a grand show of the Aurora Borealis, compassion was hard to find as the killing and wounding persisted.
As the sun broke the eastern horizon on December 14, Confederate Sgt. Richard Kirkland, a 19 year old from South Carolina had enough. The haunting sounds of dieing men were driving him crazy. The compassionate side of his heart was begging to give some relief. With the reluctant permission from his commanding officer, he gathered up several water canteens and jumped over the stone wall through another wall of lead. He was not touched by death as he walked to his wounded enemy. From one wounded soldier to another, giving comfort to those who would have killed him if given the chance. He made three trips over the wall to give more water for the wounded.
As he did, the intensity of musket fire tapered. Silence fell of the battlefield. Compassion had found a place in amongst the cruel killing. Sgt. Kirkland some how found the courage to minister compassion to others. In spite of the fact they were his enemy, yet, they were just men like him, brother Americans. To men from both sides, he was called the Angle of Marye Heights.
In September of 1863, Sgt. Kirkland was killed by the Union Army during a failed charge. He was heard saying to his fellow soldiers, “Save yourselves. Tell Pa I died right.”
Years after the war, a statue was erected in honor of Sgt. Kirkland on the very field he offered compassion. The statue shows him leaning over a wounded soldier and giving him a drink. An inscription on the statue’s base reads, “In memoriam Richard Rowland Kirkland Co. G. 2nd South Carolina Volunteers C.S.A. At the risk of his life, this American soldier of sublime compassion brought water to his wounded foes at Fredericksburg. The fighting men on both sides of the line called him ‘The Angel of Marye’s Heights.’”
Col. 3:12-13 states that we should put on a heart of compassion and we should forgive others just as the Lord forgave us. It’s not certain if Sgt. Kirkland was a follower of Christ, yet he demonstrated under difficult circumstances that Christian principles can be lived out. To die right, one must only live right.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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