December 14

December 14

ON THIS DATE in 1862, nineteen-year-old Confederate sergeant Richard Rowland Kirkland showed courageous mercy to enemy soldiers during the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg. “Kirkland, don’t you know that you would get a bullet through your head the moment you stepped over the wall?” General J.B. Kershaw said after the sergeant requested permission to bring water and aid to the Union wounded. “I know that,” Kirkland replied. “But if you will let me, I am willing to try it.”

Union soldiers initially fired shots in the belief that Kirkland was robbing the dead, but when his mission became clear, the shooting stopped. General Kershaw called Kirkland’s action “an errand of mercy — Christ-like mercy.”

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