Item Description: “Be Kind to the Soldier.” (newspaper editorial) Semi-weekly North-Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 23 October 1863.
Be Kind to the Soldier.
The Editor of the Biblical Recorder, in his account of his recent journey to the Western part of the State to attend the Baptist Convention, relates the following incident:
“A few miles from Morganton an incident occurred, which moved us deeply. We overtook a soldier on foot; the fever flush was on his cheek, and he moved slowly and in evident pain. We inquired where he was going, and why he was walking when he was clearly unfit for it ? He had no money, and was trying to make his way home, beyond Asheville, to see his wife and children, who were sick. The Captain knew him for as gallant and faithful a soldier as our army contains, and he had received a furlough in view of his excellent character and arduous services. We asked if no one would assist him? “No one has helped, me since my money gave out ,” was the reply. Had it taken our last dollar, we could hot have withheld it from him. Our companions were like-minded, and we soon made up a sufficient sum to defray his expenses, gave it to him, and left him to take the stage when it came along. How he has fared since we have not learned, but we hope he reached home safely, and found his loved ones, for whom he was attempting and suffering so much, restored to health. The thought of this man toiling along, unaided and unfriended, though weary, sick and in need, in a region where all ought to have been his friends, saddened us, and spoiled our enjoyment for the day, and we could not help asking ourselves whether a people who thus treat their defenders are worthy of freedom.”
“No one has helped me,” said the soldier, “ since my money gave out.” His money was a mere pittance, and was soon gone. It is a shame that with so many millions of property, and so many precious lives to defend, the pay of the soldier is not more than eleven dollars per month. It ought to be at least thirty. It would have been, but for a cold and unfeeling Senate. The House of Representatives passed a bill to increase the soldiers’ pay, but the Senate rejected it.
We beg our people every where to be kind to the soldiers, especially those of them who are sick or wounded. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for another.” The soldiers are laying down their lives for those of us who are at home. They are fighting for our lives and our property. They are fighting for our negro property, and it is, therefore, the especial duty of slaveholders to be kind, to be generous to soldiers and their families. The winter is near at hand, when the wives and children of many of our brave defenders will suffer, and suffer greatly, unless they are aided by persons of means in their neighborhoods. The strong arm which once provided food, and clothing, and fuel for the wife and little ones, is either lifted on the battle-field to defend those at home, or is bent by rheumatism contracted in service, or palsied by wounds, or cold in death. Do not neglect that wife and those little ones. Do not neglect that widow and her fatherless children. Aid them, not in a grudging, patronizing way, but with a kindly spirit. Some of you urged the father to volunteer, and assured him when he left that his family should not suffer. Redeem the pledge. If you are a man of honor you will do it; if you fear God, who heard you make the pledge, you will do it; but if you are a bad, cold-hearted, faithless, selfish man, you will not do it. What elation of step and bearing would characterize all our soldiers, and with what additional determination would their arms be nerved in battle, if they could only know that during the coming winter their families would be kindly provided and cared for! If they could know and feel this, desertion would at once cease, and the last man of them would stand and die, if needs be, by the common flag.
We have received a copy of a “Petition “from the women of North-Carolina,” addressed to Gov. Vance, signed by 522 soldier’s widows, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and friends, in Guilford County, calling on the Governor for relief. Among other things they say:
“The wives and children of soldiers now in actual service, are looking forward to a winter of the greatest want and privation. Even now it is often almost impossible for them to obtain bread, though they walk miles with money in their hands, from mill to mill, craving it. Men who promised our husbands, sons, and brothers when they volunteered, to do much to supply their places, now turn a deaf ear to their entreaties, and leave us a prey to the merciless speculators and extortioners, who have monopolized so much of the produce of the country. The State has heretofore made some provision for us, which we have received with thanks to his Excellency the Governor for his generous exertions in our behalf; but our necessities again impel us to ask for relief and protection.”
We can confidently assure the women of Guilford, and of the State generally, that Gov. Yance is most anxious to relieve the distress which prevails, and that he will omit no efforts during the coming winter to provide for the families of our soldiers.— But the people of the various Counties, by organizing relief associations, can greatly aid the Governor in this noble work. The people of Johnston County, for example, held a meeting a few days since, at which some $6,000 were subscribed, and the sum is expected to reach $20,000, to be used in purchasing provisions for the families of soldiers and others. We learn that William H. Avera, Dr. J. T. Leach, Nathan Williams, and Dr. John Beckwith subscribed as much as $500 each, and others freely subscribed in proportion to their means.— Why may not Guilford County, and indeed all the Counties follow their example? No true patriot will seek to grow rich, or to add to his wealth during this war.
Remember, the greatest kindness which you can show the soldier is to provide for his family while he is absent in the service of the country.
Citation: “Be Kind to the Soldier” (newspaper editorial), Semi-Weekly North Carolina Standard (Raleigh, N.C.), 23 October 1863, [page 1], column 2. North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Call number C071 Z.