A Civil war soldier's sad story
EVENING COURIER, APRIL 13, 1883
A SOLDIER’S SAD STORY.
Heart-Rending Incident at Tullahoma.
After the battle of Stone River, and the Confederate forces had fallen back to Tullahoma, Tenn., Gen. Rosecrans, then in command of the Union army operating in Tennessee, proceeded to fortify around Murfreesboro, while the Confederates were engaged in strengthening the defenses at Tullahoma.
Our army, which had done but little fighting after the battle of Stone River, moved upon Tullahoma in July, 1863, expecting to find the “Johnnies” prepared to receive them with open arms and bloody hands.
“It was there that I witnessed the saddest event of the war”, said a veteran soldier to us while talking of the trip from Murfreesboro to Tullahoma, and he proceeded to relate substantially the following:
The 39th Indiana was in the advance, and moved cautiously upon the town, and found that the rebels had evacuated, leaving nothing but a rear guard to cover their retreat. The regiment then pushed on into the heart of the place driving the remaining rebels out and across a small river beyond, at which our troops came to a halt; and, seeing the enemy on the opposite side of the river, they awaited for our sharp-shooters to come up before venturing across.
The rebels could be seen riding around through the woods and fields six or seven hundred yards away, and just as they passed through a gap in a fence near a farm house, a man was seen to cross the road and enter the house, but soon came out again in plain view of our men. He was too far away to be reached with any common gun and was not fired upon.
It was not long before the sharp-shooters came up to the river with their long range, globe-sight riffles. The rebel could yet plainly be seen near the house, seeming to defy our guns. One of the dead-shot sharp-shooters brought his gun up to his shoulder and fired. The man fell to the ground, and in a few minutes time a woman and several little children were seen about the fallen rebel.
The enemy had now disappeared and our troops crossed the river and moved on down the road, feeling their way. When they came up to the spot where the soldier had been killed, there lay in death’s embrace—not a Confederate soldier—but an innocent little twelve year old boy, and his poor, heart-broken mother and little brothers and sisters weeping over him, and praying the God might bring him back to them again.
The boy was engaged in putting up the fence near his home that the rebels had thrown down to pass through in their retreat and was mistaken by our men for a Confederate soldier.
It was truly a sorrowful event; but the soldier that killed the little fellow would have laid down his own life as a sacrifice if it would have brought the boy back to life again to comfort his mother, who had already been robbed of a husband and an older son by the cruel war.
The regiment passed on in pursuit of the flying rebels, and left the poor woman weeping and wailing over the death of her dear boy.
Several days afterwards, when the soldiers of the 39th regiment returned to Tullahoma and passed by the house where the sad affair occurred, and saw a little mound in the front yard near the road, a feeling of sadness crept over the hardened veterans, and they could not keep back the tears that chased each other down their bronzed cheeks.
Though twenty summers have come and gone since the death of the boy, that little mound near the door of his home, where he had spent many happy days, is still green in the memory of those who saw him shot.