Robert Russell] Booth.

A memorial of Lieut. Franklin Butler Crosby, of the Fourth regiment U. S. artillery online

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Lieut, Franklin Butler Crosby,


MA/ 3, L863.


Brwf, bra' e, and giorioo? was- his yoitg career. :


tf'O £> ~



Entored, according to Act of Congress, in the year 18o"4, by


,1 the Clerk's OfhVe of the District Court of the United
States for the Southern District of New-York..

2 i I


The patriot's devotion to his country
ranks only next to the Christian's de-
votion to his Lord ; and when patriotic
ardor is vitalized by Christian faith, it
must impart a true heroic beauty to the
character, which will render it illustrious
in any sphere of life. TTe who in these
days are paying so terrible a price for
national existence have constant need to
keep in mind the grand moral meaning
of our struggle, and to realize the tone
and spirit which animates our sons and
brothers in their endurance unto death.
Certainty, one of the marked features
of our historic era is the readiness with
which the young men of the loyal States


have comprehended its real import, and
the alacrity with which they have arisen
to meet the grand emergency.

While politicians wavered, and old
men trembled before the coming shock,
our heroic youth saw with clear intui-
tion the line of duty, and rising in
mighty multitudes, pledged the ardor
of their brave and loyal hearts to the
rescue and salvation of the country.

It is impossible for any candid mind
to mistake the spirit which has inspired
their voluntary sacrifices. An innate love
for military service has had as little to
do with it as the mere mercenary mo-
tive which, in other lands, often trans-
forms the citizen into the soldier, solely
that he may escape the ills of poverty.
The most favored sons of fortune, the
educated and refined, have accepted their
portion in this bloody baptism as cheer-
fully as those to whom hardship was


familiar, and life an uncertain and ad-
venturous quest.

The explanation can be found only in
the wholesome influence of our free in-
stitutions, and in that wide diffusion of
Christian principle which has taught
our youth that loyalty and truth and
righteousness are always to be pre-
ferred to selfish ease and a material
prosperity. Not useless to the nation
in its time of sorest need have been the
painful labors of the Church of Christ.
Our Sabbaths sanctified, our Sunday-
schools established far and wide, our
glorious revivals sweeping across the
land, with all the inspiration of a higher
life, have been the means, under God,
of lifting our generation to the heights
of moral principle, on which alone the
crisis could be met, and the struggle
sustained, until its victorious consum-
mation. A Christian heroism has been.


in a large degree, the main spring of this
mighty movement, and has called forth
these loyal bands to guard the liberties
their fathers won — knowing full well
the cost, and willing to pay it down in
rivers of blood, for the grand recom-

To recognize this unshrinking valor
in our youth, and to bless God for its
well-timed display, is the spontaneous
impulse of every loyal heart. To send
amid their shattered ranks the nation's
blessing, to minister to their mutilated
bodies, in camp and hospital, by the
sympathy and practical relief they need,
and to place over their lowly graves the
record of a gratitude that shall endure
while memory survives — this is the
duty which we owe them, in the pre-
cious interest of liberty — in the sacred
name of Christ.

Evidently, then, nothing can be more


fitting than to perpetuate, in a perma-
nent expression, the moral lineaments
and life-work of those who have fallen
in this glorious service. We rejoice in
those contributions to our " living liter-
ature," which have already made the
lives of Frazer Stearns, Adjutant Bacon,
Sergeant Thompson, and Chaplain Ful-
ler a continuous power for lofty impulse
and self-sacrifice among us.

The name inscribed on this memorial
is a fit companion for the noblest of
these martyrs for liberty and Union.

Circumstances which need not be here
detailed have as yet prevented an elabo-
rate and finished record of his life ; but
for the sake of a large circle of sorrow-
ing friends — and it is also hoped for
public interest and profit — the follow-
ing pages have been put in print.

They consist chiefly of the addresses
made at the funeral, in the Mercer street

8 Introduction.

Church, New-York, to which his re-
mains had been brought for the last
offices of religion, where, on the twen-
tieth of May, a large congregation gath-
ered to honor his precious memory.

Imperfectly as these published frag-
ments can set forth the beauty and de-
votion of this young life, so courageous-
ly surrendered at the behest of duty,
they may avail to add one more voice
to the many witnesses who, from the
churchyards and cemeteries of our land,
proclaim the heroism of our young men,
and the value of the institutions thus
loyally defended to the death. Hallow-
ing their memories, perpetuating their
spirit, cherishing in our heart of hearts
the cause they loved so well, let those
who still survive think tenderly of those
who made their lives the ransom for the
State. R. R. B.




It is, my friends, a precious
consolation for us to know, amid
the ordinary troubles of our
earthly lot, and more especially
when the bitter sorrow which
death brings befalls us, that "af-
fliction cometh not forth from the
dust, neither doth trouble spring
out of the ground." "It is the
Lord, let him do what seemeth
good in his sight." " The Lord
gave and the Lord hath taken

io A Memorial of

away ; blessed be the name of
the Lord." "I was dumb; I
opened not my mouth because
thou didst it."

These were the utterances of
God's afflicted servants, in the
olden time ; and in this recog-
nition of a will that ought to
be supreme, of a wisdom that
can never err, and of a love
that is personal, tender, and eter-
nal, there is reason for comfort
in the bitterest bereavements of
our mortal life.

I well know that it is some-
times hard for us to realize that
such blows can fall upon us from
a loving hand. Certainly, if we
look only at the present anguish

Franklin Butler Crosby.

and bereavement, if we think
only of the hopes which have
been blighted, of the sweet fel-
lowship cut off, and the drear
vacancy that now remains, we
shall be cast down and desolate,
as we cry in our anguish : "All
thy waves and billows have
gone over me." But I speak
on God's authority, and from
experience too, in saying that
we must read these dark pages,
in the book of Providence, by
the light of God's revealed,
eternal love, if we would catch
their true meaning, and find our
chastisement "joyous and not

Life is the sovereign gift of

1 2 A Memorial of

God alone. He dates its rising,
orders its progress, and ordains
its moment of transition. It
should always be remembered
by us, in our times of loss, that
while earthly friends have been
longing and praying for its con-
tinuance, One mightier in wis-
dom and in love may have been
interceding for a contrary result,
according to his own precious
word : " Father, I will that they
also whom thou hast given me
be with me where I am, that
they may behold my glory."

" Say, mourner, wouldst thou have pre-
ferred that heard
Had been the prayer of earth or that
of heaven ;

Franklin Butler Crosby. 13

Eternal bliss deferred or realized,
The cross continued, or the kingdom
won ?"

Oars, my friends, is a time of
costly sacrifices, of widespread
desolations, of sorrows which fall
heavily on our once peaceful
homes. Our country's service
is exacting now " the price of
blood/' For liberty, and union,
and the supremacy of law, how
many thousands are wasting with
disease, or mutilated with gaping
wounds, or lying in the solemn
calm of death, like this dear
youth before us ! Among these
many martyred patriots, not one
has fallen more worthy of our

14 A Memorial of

sincere affection and grateful
memory than he.

When a young man of such
rare promise and true nobility of
character has finished his course
in the presence of the nation
and for its defense, it is the
duty and the privilege of those
who feel that he died for them
to proclaim his virtues, and im-
press the example of his beauti-
ful career.

He whom we mourn to-day
was, in a peculiar sense, the
child of this church, having been
brought here in his infancy to
the baptismal font, and having
grown up in vital union with

Franklin Butler Crosby. 15

all the ordinances and privileges
of this house of God.

It is, therefore, the occasion of
sincere thanksgiving that it has
pleased God to permit us to re-
ceive his precious dust among
us, and from this scene of his
own Christian faith and labors,
to bear it to the house appointed
for all the living.

Franklin Butler Crosby
was born on the fourth of Feb-
ruary, 1841, being the first child
of Mr. John P. and Mrs. Mar-
garet Butler Crosby. His bap-
tismal name was derived from
his maternal grandfather, Ben-
jamin Franklin Butler, between
whom and this first-born of his

A Memorial of

children's children there existed
the most tender and affectionate
sympathy, a tie of earthly love
now purified and made perpetual
in God's heavenly kingdom.

As a child of the covenant,
Frank was successively connect-
ed with the infant-class, the
Sabbath-school, and with the
church, to which, when under
the pastoral charge of the Eev.
Dr. Prentiss, he united on the
eighteenth of October, 1854, be-
ing at the time thirteen years of
age. Afterward he was connect-
ed with the young men's Bible-
class, and with the mission-school
in Avenue D, where he contin-
ued to labor as a faithful teacher

Franklin Butler Crosby. 17

until his departure from the city.
He was also interested and active
in the young men's prayer-meet-
ing. Thus, in the church of
God, he lived and grew to man-
hood in relations which became
continually closer to all that i3
lovely and of good report.

It would hardly be appropri-
ate for me to speak, in a public
assembly, of that domestic life
in which the tenderness of his
filial and fraternal love was
blended with the graces of his
growing manhood ; making him
so obedient, so helpful, so dis-
creet, that those who were re-
lated to him thus lavished upon
him the fullness of their hearts.

i8 A Memorial of

After his graduation at the
Free Academy in 1860, he en-
tered the law-office of his father,
and gave diligent attention to
his elected calling.

Soon after this, the flame of
civil war was kindled in the land,
and he immediately prepared to
give a loyal and hearty support
to his country's cause. His
health was vigorous, his form
a model of perfect manhood,
and he numbered himself, from
the beginning, among those who
ought to go to the war.

At this time he joined a reg-
iment then organizing in the
city, to be prepared for active

Franklin Butler Crosby. 19

service when the country should
require its aid.

After the battle of Bull Bum,
he felt that he was imperatively
summoned to the field. A com-
mission as Second Lieutenant in
the Fourth Kegiment, U. S. Ar-
tillery, was soon obtained, and
he joined his regiment at Fort
McIIenry, in August, 1801.

He was soon promoted, for
good conduct and ability, to be
the First Lieutenant ; and, on the
appointment of Captain Best,
his commanding officer, to the
post of Chief of Artillery in the
Twelfth Army Corps, Lieutenant
Crosby became the acting com-
mander of his. company, an . hon-

20 A Memorial of

orable and responsible position,
whose arduous duties he ever
performed to the entire satisfac-
tion of his superiors. Of the
various services which he ren-
dered to the cause in this re-
lation it would be impossible
for me to speak as they deserve.

During the winter of 1861 and
1862 he was stationed with his
battery in General Banks's divi-
sion, which was then guarding
the line of the Potomac, above
the Monocacy. Here he saw
constant service, and had a full
share in all the labors of that
arduous winter.

At one time prostrated by a
severe attack of fever, on his

Franklin Butler Crosby. 21

recovery stationed at Harper's
Ferry, afterward with the ad-
vance down the valley of Vir-
ginia to Harrisonburgh ; guard-
ing the rear in Banks's retreat
from Winchester, and bringing
off all his guns in safety ; ar-
dent in action, courageous in
reverses; always anxious for the
most active service ; careful of
his men, unsparing of himself;
courteous toward the population
around him — he continually sus-
tained the character of the pa-
triot soldier and the Christian

In a letter written from this
locality, and received since his
death, it. is remarked: u He has

22 A "Memorial of

left a truly honorable name in
this community, and every one
who knew him here in his life-
time, now that he is dead, has
an expression of regret for his
untimely fall, and a word of
j) raise for his memory."

During the spring of the pres-
ent year he was stationed with
his company at Stafford Court-
House, in Virginia, until he was
ordered to the front to partici-
pate in the recent movements
of the army. A letter which
he wrote in January will reveal
the spirit with which he stood
in his appointed lot. After de-
ploring the ill success which had
attended so . many efforts, and

Franklin Butler Crosby. 23

the failure to achieve decisive
victories, lie adds: "Each one,
however, must do his duty, work
out his own part of the great
plan ; and, although knowing
and lamenting existing errors,
which are beyond his control,
must not be discouraged, but,
with a pure intention and a firm
trust in God, go forward on his
path of duty."

It was in such a spirit that
he marched with his men to
join in the wild storm of bat-
tle which was soon to rage in
the wilderness on the south bank
of the Kappahannock.

On the second day of May,
his battery was stationed at

24 A Memorial of

Chancellorsville, and was active-
ly engaged, with some loss,
though he himself escaped all
harm. On the evening of that
day his guns were well posted,
in readiness for service, and sent
forth their volleys through the
night, assisting to repel the as-
sault of " Stonewall " Jackson.

Early on the morning of the
third, another attack was made
by the enemy upon a ridge,
where his battery, with several
others, about thirty guns in all,
had been massed to check their
furious charge. The onset was
bravely met, and the conflict
prolonged for hours about that
spot. Many brave men there

Franklin Butler Crosby. 25

yielded up their lives, and among
them it pleased God that Lieu-
tanant Crosby should be num-
bered. At half-past eight, on
that fair Sabbath morning, a
bullet from a sharpshooter, who
had secretly gained the right
flank of the battery, and had sin-
gled out its commander, pierced
his breast, and in about five
minutes his brief but glorious
career was ended. It was a
quick summons from that fiery
battle to the spirit world, but
long enough for him to resign
himself to God's forgiving mercy,
through the Lord Jesus Christ,
and to send a loving, comforting
message to his parents. " Tell

z6 A Memorial oi

my parents that I die happy.
Loid forgive my sins."

"Ah me! that by so frail and feeble
Our life is holden ; that not life
But all that life has won

May, in an hour, be gathered to tho

His body was borne tenderly
to the rear by bis own men,
whose tears fell on him as they
laid him on the green sward ;
and after the retreat, it was re-
covered, nnder flag of truce, em-
balmed, and brought for burial
to this house of God, where,
twenty -two years ago, he was

Franklin Butler Crosby. 27

publicly consecrated in the or-
dinance of baptism.

In a letter written at five
o'clock, on the morning of the
preceding day, he has expressed
tbe feelings with which he en-'
tered upon these fatal scenes.
"This, from appearances last
night," he wrote, "is destined to
be the day. If we fight, it will
be the hardest of the war, and
it is awful to think of the im-
mense slaughter. I hope I may
be preserved; but if I am not,
I trust only in the merits of a
crucified Saviour, for acceptance
with God." And this last letter
closes with a desire that if he
should be ..among the dead, his

23 A Memorial of

loss might be tenderly blessed
to the dear borne be loved so

I am permitted to extract from
tbe letter of Captain Best, bis
commanding officer, a few lines,
which reveal the esteem in which
bis subordinate was held : " Be-
lieve me, when I say that this
shock is nearly as great a one
to me as it can be to you.
Lieutenant Crosby was a young
man of fine promise, unexcep-
tionable in his habits and moral
character; a Christian who prac-
tised what he believed ; ambi-
tious in his profession, and will-
ing to stand by the government
in all its measures. He had my

Franklin Butler Crosby. tg

company in splendid condition,
and fought it well."

To these statements of his
military career one thing should
be added. His connection with
these scenes of war was only
for a purpose and for a time.
When I last spoke with him,
standing there close by the spot
where his coffin is now placed,
I asked him: " Are you in for
this service permanently, or only
till the war is over?" His re-
ply was : "I shall be very glad
to be back in the old place, but
I must do my duty to the end."
His was no craving for military
position and renown, but a pure,
patriotic fervor which made him

30 A Memorial of

a soldier from principle, so long
as his country needed his sword;
that service finished, he longed
to take his place again in peace-
ful scenes, and live apart from
strife and war.

This record should not close
without a further reference to
the consistency of his Christian
character, amid the trying scenes
of his career. We can all real-
ize how great a trial of the faith
of a young Christian it must be
to stand up for Jesus amid the
corruptions of the camp, and in
the carnage of the battle. Oar
dear friend never forgot that he
was Christ's soldier before he
was- the - soldier of the nation.

Franklin Buticr Crosby. 31

His letters show a real growth
in grace and Christian manhood
daring his military life. In one
he writes: " Another Sabbath is
just past, one in which I have
very much felt the want of some
Christian friend to converse with.
I am, as it were, alone, but not
alone, for there is one Friend
who always is with those who
trust in him. I pray that I
may be enabled to live nearer
to him, to put more implicit
trust and confidence in his
doings, to have more faith in
his word, and to do more for
his cause than I have ever done.
At times I feel very despondent,
for I do not seem to. have made

3 2 A Memorial of

any progress in the Christian
life, but to be continually more
and more falling short of my
duty. I lack perseverance. Oh!
that Christ might strengthen me
to do his work ! '

That these were really the
aspirations of a soul hungering
and thirsting after righteousness,
is evident, as one traces the
manner of his daily life. I find
him laboring for the spiritual
welfare of his men, talking about
Christ to his negro servant, act-
ing as chaplain at the burial
of his soldiers; on one occasion
reading the eleventh, chapter of
St. John's gospel, making com-
ments upon it, and offering pray-

Franklin Butler Crosby. 33

er. He was kind to the sick,
patient with the erring, atten-
tive to every little duty, winning
thus the entire devotion of his
command. I have read the tes-
timony of an unbeliever and
skeptic concerning him. " He
was a true Christian."

Many of his letters are radiant
with his Christian experience.
"What a glorious, blessed thing,"
he writes, "is the Christian re-
ligion ! How simple and how
wonderful ! I have, this past
week, been enabled to live much
nearer to Christ than ever be-
fore. And while I have enjoy-
ed it much, it makes me de-
sire, more strongly than ever,

34 A Memorial of

to live wholly to him. The
whole religion is summed up in
the one word 'faith,' and that
mine might be increased is my
earnest prayer. And when this
faith is perfected in sight, what a
blessed experience will be ours!
At times I feel as if I could
almost wish for trouble and suf-
fering, to bring me near to
Christ. How happy we shall
be when we all meet around
the throne of God in heaven,
where is no more sin or sorrow,
and where we shall know Christ
as we ought ! That through his
righteousness all our dear rela-
tions may have this blessing, is
my prayer."

Franklin Butler Crosby. 35

I look with admiration upon
this fair example of a Christian
character, coupled with so much
devotion to the stern, rugged
war-work to which he was ap-
pointed. So brave, and yet so
gentle; so thoughtful for others;
so unsparing of himself; so pure
in his morality, and yet so re-
liant on his Saviour's righteous-
ness. I utter only the honest
convictions of my heart in say-
ing, that while among the he-
roes who have fallen in this
strife, he may take rank with
Greble, with Ellsworth, and with
Winthrop, his name and mem-
ory are also worthy of a place,
in Christian annals, by the side

36 A Memorial of

of those of Major Vandeleur
and Headley Vicars, of the Brit-
ish army, or Frazer Stearns,
and Chaplain Butler, of our own.

" Soldier of Christ, well done ;
Rest from thy stern employ :
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master's joy.

" The voice at day-dawn came ;
He started up to hear ;
The mortal bullet pierced his frame,
He fell — but felt no fear.

" Soldier of Christ, well done ;
Praise be thy new employ ;
And while eternal ages run,
Rest in thy Saviour's joy."

To the young men who were
his comrades and companions we
commend this radiant picture

Franklin Butler Crosby. 37

of a heroic Christian life. His
course is finished; but although,
dead, he still is speaking to us.
The lesson of his sacrifice bids
us cherish those two great ob-
jects of devotion which he loved
so well — that flag, our coun-
try's emblem, which now en-
folds him with its stars and
stripes ; that cross to which on
earth he came, and before whose
ascended Sufferer he now stands,
clothed in a beauty not of earth.




As I look over this great
congregation, my mind's eye re-
verts to another assembly con-
vened in this same sanctuary
some nine years ago. How
well I remember the impressive
scene which presented itself, as
standing in this place I minis-
tered at the altar of God, on
that Sabbath afternoon in the
pleasant month of October !
How vividly I recall from among

Franklin Butier Crosby. 39

the faces that then slione "upon
me that of the sainted grand-
father* of him whose mortal re-
mains lie before us. Who that
saw him will ever forget that
eye or that face ? He was one
of the best men I ever knew.
I esteem it one of the privileges
of my life to have been his pas-
tor and friend, and I esteem it
a privilege hardly less to have
been so long the pastor and
friend of the noble youth whose
early confession of Christ he
watched that afternoon with such
tender interest, and around whose
bier we are gathered this morn-

* The late Hon. Benjamin F. Butler.

4.0 A Memorial of

It would be wrong, my friends,
to say that we have not been
summoned to this house of God
on a mournful errand. A great
private and public loss has call-
ed us together. The sudden ex-
tinction of so much manly
strength and beauty, of so much
Christian promise, must needs
excite emotions of sharp regret
in every bosom.

To weep with those that weep
is a sacred duty ; and who of
us does not feel like doing so
now? For myself I would
gladly leave this pulpit, take
my place among the mourners,
and mingle my tears with theirs.
Certainly they need our warm-

Franklin Butler Crosby. 41


Online LibraryRobert Russell] BoothA memorial of Lieut. Franklin Butler Crosby, of the Fourth regiment U. S. artillery → online text (page 1 of 2)