James Browning Miles.

Address at the funeral obesquies of Sergeant Henry Todd online

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The reception home of the Piemains of the gallant
young Soldier, Sergeant HENKY TODD, of the Thirty-
Sixth Massachusetts Eegiment, who fell at the battle
of the Wilderness, while bravely bearing his Eegimental
Colors in front of the enemy, created a melancholy in-
terest in this, his native city ; and the Funeral Services,
holden at the First Church, Xovembcr 5th, 18G5, were
not only attended by a large number of his personal
friends and companions in arms, but by the City Author-
ities and a large concourse of sympathising citizens. —
The services there, so highly interesting and appropriate,
especially the address of his pastor, Ilev. J. B. Miles,
created a desire on the part of his friends, to have them
preserved, as a fitting memorial of the worth and noble
character of the young hero. To gratify this wish, Mr.
Miles has very kindly consented to furnish a synopsis of
his remarks, which are printed for private distribution.


Beloved Friends :

We have come up to the sanctuary to perform
these funeral obsequies this afternoon, under peculiar
circumstances. The contents of this casket, which you
now see enveloped in our National Colors, and laden
with flowers, are not the mortal remains of one who
has been recently with us. A period of more than a
year and a half has elapsed since the noble and brave
spirit that animated these clods, took its flight into
eternity. On the sixth of IMay, eighteen hundred and
sixty-four, in one of the most desperate and sanguinary
of that series of battles, designated as the "battles of
the AYilderncss," at a distance of some fifteen miles
from the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia, fell the
beloved young hero, tcf whom, with deep emotion, we
pay these funeral honors to-day. We bless God that,
at length, the obstructions of war are so far removed

6 REV. MR. miles' S ADDRESS.

as to permit the recovery of these precious remains,
and that this bereaved father, brothers and sisters, and
friends, may receive the consolation of this service,
and enjoy the satisfaction of placing away in their own
family burying-place this loved form.

This occasion allows only a brief allusion to the life
and career of the youth whose untimely death we
mourn. Indeed, the story of his life may be told in a
few words. Born and nurtured under the shadow of
the sanctuary in which we are now gathered, he grew
up the loving and beloved member of the family to
which he belonged, enjoying the confidence and esteem
of all who knew him. He was educated in our schools
and Sabbath School. He was trained not for war, but
for the pursuits of civil life, and his prospects of a
business nature were unusually good and promising. —
Yd he could not resist the call sent forth by our Chief
Magistrate, summoning patriots from all the loyal
States, to defend on the battle-field* our imperiled
freedom and free institutions. Like a noble host of the
patriotic young men of our city, he promptly obeyed
his country's call. He cheerfully relinquished the
comforts and attractions of home, and accepted the lot
of the Soldier, with the hardships and perils incident
to it. He was one of the original members of the
" Warren Phalanx," a company of our young men,
whose deeds of courage have given proof, that the


mantle of the illustrious hero whose name they assum-
ed, had fallen upon them. Ilis company was assigned
to the Thirty-sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers,
and he left Boston for the scenes of conflict, as it
proved never more to return, on the second day of
September, eighteen hundred and sixty-two. In one
short week after his departure from us, he received the
painful intelligence that the beloved ^lother, who had
so recently given him her parting blessing, had passed
away from earth. Most affecting to him was the
thou2:ht, that that dear Mother Avould not a^-ain o;reet
him until she should welcome him to the Home above.
With a spirit shadowed by tliis great affliction, he went
forth to the stern and perilous duties to which his God
and his Country called him. He continued a momber
of the Phalanx, in connection with the Thirty-sixth
Regiment, until the time of his death. In all the
experience of that regiment, so eventful and honorable,
he participated through the entire Virginia, Kentucky
and ]\Iississippi campaigns. The hardships which he
and his gallant comrades were compelled to sufler
during these campaigns, can be fully known and ap-
preciated only by those who have had a similar expe-
rience. It is true that our government provided gen-
erously for the soldiers, but such are the exigencies of
war, that it is not at all times possible for supplies to
reach their destination. At one time two ears of corn
daily, per man, were all the rations received. At

8 REV. MR. miles' S ADDRESS.

another time the daily rations were five spoonfuls of
flour for six men.

The campaign in ^Mississippi, in the summer of
eighteen hundred and sixtj-three, was especially se-
vere. On the fourth day of July, with the forces
under command of our illustrious Lieutenant General,
he participated in the glorious action which wrested
Yicksburg from the enemy, and virtually sealed the
fate of the Rebellion in the West. On the next day,
the Division to which he belonged started in pursuit of
Johnston, and on that terrible march, made with scanty
rations, under a broiling southern sun, many of the
soldiers dropped dead in the ranks, and larger numbers
fell out exhausted. Sergeant Todd, possessed of a
vigorous constitution, was one of the small number that
held out until his regiment reached Kentucky, in Octo-
ber, eighteen hundred and sixty-three. But so com-
pletely exhausted was he then, that he was obliged to
be taken to the hospital, and was unable to accompany
his regiment on the campaign in Tennessee.

In the spring of eighteen hundred and sixty -four,
he was so far restored as to be abk to do military duty.
"Well knowing that fearful battles impended, he prompt-
ly resumed his place in his company. He did not
shrink from the responsible duties and peculiar trials
of tlie position of color- Sergeant. Bearing the white
State Flag, he went forth bravely leading his comrades
to the encounter with the armed host^ of treason. —


Early in the fearful charge upon the enemy's ranks,
on the sixth of May, he received a severe -woiuul, and
with good reason he might then have "withdrawn from
the conflict. lie was urged to do so. But no. Suf-
fering and bleeding as he was, he bore aloft in sight of
his gallant companions, the inspiring emblem of his
loved and honored State — thus making himself a con-
spicuous mark for the enemy. Not long were they in
discovering that mark, for soon pierced through the
temple by a rifle-ball he fell ; and the flag he had so
heroically borne into the thickest of the fight, as it
dropped from his grasp, enveloped his body and was
stained with his warm blood. What more appropriate
winding sheet could he have had !

After the storm of battle had ceased, his surviving
companions tenderly and with many tears, committed
his body to the ground. They made his grave soft
with the boughs of the trees, and " Slowly and sadly
they laid him down, from the field of his fame fresh
and gory." They carved his name upon the trunk of
a tree which served as his head-stone, and which ex-
tended its protecting branches over his new-made

** No useless cofl&n enclosed his breast,
Nor in sheet, nor in shroud they wound him ;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest,
With his martial cloak around him."


And now from that temporary sepulchre, the hands
of affection have brought to this place these precious
remains, that they may be laid side by side with those
of beloved Sister and Mother, wdio before him crossed
into the eternal world.

Such, in few words, were the prominent events in
the career of this young man. After recounting
these, I need say no more. With what fortitude and
cheerfulness he bore his trials, with what fidelity he
discharged his duties, these facts testify. Would you
know with what heroism he braved danger and met
death, let that flag which lie carried, that precious relic
riddled with bullets and stained with his blood, tell you.
Ah ! with what pathos and eloquence that sacred relic
speaks ! Let that tell us hoAv high-minded and gen-
erous-hearted he was ; how fearless he was in the dis-
charge of his duty ; what a patriot and hero he was. —
Looking upon that flag and listening to the language it
speaks to us, we do not need to have you, my honored
friends, his gallant companions in arms, say to us, aj
you do say to us, that Sergeant Todd was a great
favorite among his associates ; that he was ever actuated
by a high sense of honor ; that in circumstances of
great temptation, in emergencies peculiarly trying he
preserved his integrity untarnished, and his honor un-
corrupted ; that in all his intercourse with you, he
secured your esteem and love. Looking upon that
stained and tattered flag, we can well understand why


one, ■who sits in sorrow before me, his stricken Father,
should say, as soon as the intelligence reached him that
his son had been in the battle, even before the arrival
of definite information in regard to the casualties of the
battle, " I know Henry is killed!" He who knew
Henry so well, did not need to be told that he would
not shrink from any peril to which his position might
expose him, and he anticipated with too much correct-
ness, the tidings that were soon to come. Our depart-
ed friend nobly performed his duty and gratefully shall
his name be cherished.

And now may we all receive the salutary impres-
sions which this occasion is fitted to impart. To you,
my young friends, the associates in arms of the deceas-
ed, how touchingly this occasion appeals ! At this
hour, how must your hearts swell with gratitude to
your Heavenly Father, who has preserved you, when
so many have fallen upon your right hand and left,
and has brought you back to the embrace of those you
love. With how much feeling can you say. It is of
the Lord's mercies that we have not been consumed.

And may you, my dear friends, whose hearts by this
event, have been made so to agonize and bleed, be sus-
tained and comforted by the impartation of Heaven's
richest and sweetest consolations. You have indeed,
placed a costly sacrifice upon the altar of your country.


But not in vain have you given up this precious son
and brother. He has died nobly in a noble cause ; and
the cause for which he died has triumphed. Let me
most affectionately entreat you to receive into your
souls the abundant, all-sufficient solace which he be-
stows, who, in compassion reveals himself to us, in all
our seasons of sorrow, as the Father of mercies, and
the God of all comfort.


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Online LibraryJames Browning MilesAddress at the funeral obesquies of Sergeant Henry Todd → online text (page 1 of 1)