Samuel B. (Samuel Brackett) Wing.

The soldier's story : a personal narrative of the life, army experiences and marvelous sufferings since the war of Samuel B. Wing online

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The Soldiet^'s Stopy

H personal Bairative


%itc, Hrm^ Etpetiences


Marvelous Sufferings Since the War



Phonograph Steam Book and Job Print.

^<0^ ^i^Bl;,

S. B. Wing at the Present Time.


This soldier's story has been of great interest to me.

To the veteran of the war it will call up his own experiences
and make him, in a measure, live again those stirring days.
To the wives and mothers, who stayed at home while the loved
ones went afield, it will bring back a flood of pathetic longings
and yearnings that w'ill once again make the heart tender, and
now make it devoutly thankful for the good providences that
have, even at so large a cost, given us a re-united and prosper-
ous country. And to the readers of a younger generation this
little book, in its simple, quaint, soldier's style, will lift the veil
of one of the world's greatest dramas and aid in giving an in-
telligent and sympathetic appreciation of the awful ordeals
which were passed through for the Nation's perpetuity and

History has not been written until the life and experiences of
the people have been described. Nor will the narrative of the
great war of the rebellion have been penned until, to the ac-
count of famous battles and to the praise of renowned general-
ship, have been added the simpler, yet no less truthful tales of
the private soldier, who left his farm or his shop and marched
to the camp and the field to do and to suffer all that a patriot's
duty might impose upon him.

May the wish of the author be fulfilled, and the mission of
these pages be accomplished in "doing good."

Alfred Williams Anthony,
Lewiston, Maine.


Truth is often stranger than fiction. Facts that seem impos-
sible are hard for belief, even when proved. One man may live
through experiences that a hundred others could not endure.
My story is an example of this kind. I frequently call it the
story of the man who was killed, but did not die. If, before
the war, I had been told what wounds I should receive, I should
have expected nothing short of an army burial, and yet I re-
main after thirty-three years a living monument that all things
are possible with God.

Kind reader, this little book is given to you that it may in-
crease your faith in the power of God. To benefit, as well as
interest my readers, is my highest aim. If this narrative of my
life will help some young person to avoid the pitfalls set for the
unwary, if it shall afford comfort to some afflicted one of maturer
years, if it shall add to the faith of some doubter, the author
will be amply repaid, even though the book brings to him neither
fame nor fortune.

I have tried to give the plain, unvarnished facts, without em-
bellishment or exaggeration. I have endeavored to be concise
and correct. Ponder well before you turn from this story think-
ing some of its statements cannot be true. For the reliability
of the author and the truthfulness of his narrative I can refer

you, among those still living, who were witnesses of my sufFer-
ings, to Mrs. N. S. Whitman, Lewiston, Me. ; Mrs. V. A. Bar-
den, Reed's Mill, Me. ; Mr. Elias Keene, North Turner, Me. ;
Mr. M. Campbell, North Turner ]^ridge, Me. ; Mr. A. \V. Daven-
port, Phillips, Me., and Mr. H. S. Wing, Kingfield, Me.

To the kind friends who have nursed me, helped me, and sym-
pathized with me in my varied experiences I extend my heaity
thanks ; and also to atl those who have aided me by counsel and
encouragement in the preparation of these pages.

But to you, dear reader, I now submit this little book, hoping
that, as out of the untold sacrifices and sufferings of many lives
have come to us the blessings of a great and good Republic,
blessings too great for any man to compute, so by the narration
of the humble, but trying experiences of one who sought ever to
do his duty and be "faithful even unto death," there may come
to you an increase of faith and courage as you struggle over the
hard places of life, and that peace, prosperity and happiness,
may be your reward.

That the story will interest, instruct and help upbuild you in
every good word and work is the great desire of

The Author, S. B. Wing,
Phillips, Maine.


At what age a child may first receive patriotic impressions
is not for me to say. Among my earhest recollections are the
stories of the revolutionary war told by my' father and grand-
father which gave my young mind martial and patriotic feelings
deep and lasting.

My grandfather Wing was born in the town of Wayne, Me.,
and when a mere lad went into the revolutionary war. In one
battle he received a severe wound in the leg, and, while lying
on the ground anxiously peeping over a stone-wall in order to
see how the battle was going, he was struck again by a bullet,
this time in the head, so severely as to knock him senseless,
though not killing him.

When grandfather at last recovered his senses, he found that
our side had been driven back and that he had fallen into the
hands of the British. So loyal was he to the cause of his own
people and so bitterly did he hate their enemies that he would
not permit the British nurses or doctors to dress his wounds
and care for him. In consequence of the out-of-doors exposure
and this neglect of care, the leg grew so bad that at length it
was necessary to amputate it ; and my grandfather, who himself
became a doctor, ever after had to wear a w^ooden leg. But he
had rather be loyal and patriotic with one leg than to have two
and in any measure surrender himself to his country's foes.

That wooden leg used to be the occasion of capers and pranks
sometimes among the children. Of course grandfather's step
could always be known by the thumping sound made by that
w^ooden leg, and grandmother could always tell when he was
coming home from visits on his patients. If he ever happened
to be kept from home longer than grandmother expected, she


worried about him a great deal. Then my father would take a
stick of wood, and coming into the barn and the shed, hobble
around with that in imitation of the wooden leg.

As soon as grandmother saw who it really was, she would
say, "You little rascal, Til pay you for that." But father's
judgment was better than his courage and he would run away,
preferring to have her charge the bill than to settle it with him

Grandmother was a very strong woman. It was told of her
that she once carried a sack of four bushels of salt up stairs.

Grandmother had five children. My father was the oldest
son. He was born in 1792. He received a liberal education
in his youth and became a physician like his father. He served
as a soldier in the war of 18 12. He married Miss Mary B.
Norcross of Fayette, and began his practice in Solon. After-
ward he moved to Phillips, near Madrid ; and then moved into
what is now known as the Wing or Prescott district, about four
miles and a half from Phillips village. There I was born on
March 8th, 1832.

I have always had the influences of a Christian home. As
far back as I can remember mother was a firm Christian, and a
member of the Free Baptist church. Father, although not a
professor of religion, was yet upright and honorable, a man of
stern integrity and unflinching moral principles. His word
was law, and yet he was not severe with us children. I never
in my life received corporal punishment from either father or

The school district in which we lived was almost a model
one, until I was nearly fifteen. There was no one in the dis-
trict who used profane language, and I do not call to mind
that I ever in my life used an oath. To say I was an average
boy in our neighborhood is equivalent to saying that I was a
good boy, for all were clean-mouthed, wholesome lads.


I speak of this to show my young friends that the surround-
ings and companions of youth have a lasting influence upon us.
If we sow wild oats when we are young, we cannot reap wheat
wlien we are old. The garden that is kept free from noxious
weeds in the spring will not be a hard garden to clear from
weeds in the summer and in the fall will yield a good harvest.
These good habits of my early years gave. me a good constitu-
tion, without which I never could have endured what I have
since been called upon to pass through.

My father's family consisted of five boys and three girls.
We had a large farm and had plenty of healthful out-of-door ex-
ercise. I always did my share of the work, both about the
buildings and in the field.

Although possessing a large share of caution, yet, by my
older brothers, I was ahvays called the unlucky child. Perhaps
you wall agree with them when you have finished my story.
The first thing I called my own was a calf of which I took
great care and was justly proud. It grew well and was very
promising until it was a year old. That spring it got into a
bog-hole and died, and I was left without a calf.

When I was quite a boy there was a wonderful Fourth of
July celebration at the village. A company of infantry was
formed, one of cavalry and a mock tribe of Indians. I be-
longed to the infantry. During some manoeuvres on a cross
road just outside of the village, the cavalry horses became
frightened and rushed in among us who were on foot. I wath
some others was thrown over a stick of timber that lay beside
the road and my gun was discharged, wounding my hand in
four places, tearing the flesh almost from the thumb, injuring
the palm and the middle and little fingers. One of my com-
panions had his vest blown to pieces, but he was not seriously
injured himself.

This w^as my first accident, and a forerunner of what I was
to see, hear and feel in later days. I was unlucky not because


I was reckless or careless, as it seems to me, nor because of the
drinking habit, a habit I never formed. Although we had l)ut
little knowledge of the destructive power of alcohol in our quiet
neighborhood, yet I never liked the accutsed stuff. Temper-
ance was not a common theme of lecture or sermon in our hear-
ing. Even some ministers in my day took a little wine or whis-
key, "for their stomach's sake," I suppose.

Sometimes I was sent to procure liquor, but even then I was
ashamed of my errand and used to go away off through the
fields and unfrequented roads so as not to be seen. But as it
was used so freely and was called so good as medicine, I would
be persuaded to take a little for the purpose of breaking up a
cold or curing some other ailment. At times, too, when treated,
I would take a little for fear of being called odd, but instead of
forming an appetite for it by such use I liked it less and less.

One of our neighbers said to me one day :

"Liquor is good in its place, if people would take just

"How^ much is just enough?" I asked.

He did not answer, and just then the truth dawned upon me.

"Just enough is none at all," I said.

"You are right," he replied; "You are just right.""

This was my first temperance declaration, and to my sur-
prise it obtained the approval which I have ever since desired
for the same sentiments, an apj^roval which my own judgment
has repeatedly affirmed as I have seen the disastrous conse-
quences of trying to take "just enough."

In the fall when I was nineteen or twenty years old, my
father and I, with some neighbors, w^ere lumbering in the woods
about ten miles from home We used to go in on Mondays
and come out on Saturdays. On the w^ay we passed a ]:)lace
where liquor was kept for sale and used to stop for drinks. I
made up my mind that that was bad business, and by myself
resolved to have nothin<r to do with it. The next time we came


out, I thought to go right by the place, but my companions
told me that it was my turn to stand treat and that I couldn't
shirk it. Fearing that they would think me penurious, I went
in and ordered the treat. When all had taken a glass, they
wanted me to drink also, but I refused. Then someone said that
1 should not pay if I did not drink, and there was some warm
discussion. Whether or not, I finally paid for the drinks, I do
not remember, but I know that I did not drink myself at that
time, nor have I from that day to this, nor have I since then
offered to treat others.

From that day, total abstinence has been my motto. That
principle has carried me through many hard places. Without
it I should not live to tell this story. I have been a close ob-
server of men and things all through my life, and, as I draw
near its close, I am n:ore and more impressed with the neces-
sity of the prohibition, "Touch not, taste not, handle not."

To men, young and old, I say beware, beware ; let the ac-
cursed thing alone ; it may ruin you, body and soul ; let it alone.

"Many a trouble and man)- a uoe

Fve been saved, because I answered no ;

Many a sin, and many a crime

I have missed by a no, at the right time.

"Will you take a drink?'- the merchant said :

I only had to shake my head.

A shake of the head at the right time

Will keep you, my boy, from many a crime.

"A little no, or a little shake
For God, and the home, and the mother's sake,
Will keep you from many a trouble and woe.
Boys ; Remember to say no^ no, NO."


Now I come to one of the happiest parts of my hfe.

It was the winter of 1S52 and 53. I had been lumbering, as
I have already mentioned, and came home in January or Feb-
ruary. On my way home I met a man who said,

"You ought to be at home, for they are having a revival."

"A revival.?" I said, "It is just my luck to have my por-
ridge dish wrong side up when it rains porridge. I wish I
were there."

I said this in a jocular vein, but yet really felt that it was
more serious than jocular.

Although a lover of fun, yet I never felt at home with vul-
gar or profane persons, and it was far from me to make fun,
or ridicule sacred things, or to speak lightly of religious per-
sons as a side thrust at religion. From my earliest recollec-
tions I always attended meetings and sabbath school. At
this time now referred to I did not, however, have the chance
to attend the meetings, and I returned to the woods.

But soon after I again came out home, this time for the pur-
pose of repairing the mill, and now I had the precious privi-
lege of attending the meetings. Many of my schoolmates had
found peace and joy, and others were fervently seeking for
the pearl of great price.

The under-shepherd was Rev. A. H. Morrell, now long since
gone to his reward after years of faithful service, many of
them spent among the colored people of the South, at Harper's
Ferry, West Virginia. If consistency is a jewel, then he Avas
one, a shepherd in deed and in truth. While to those that
know him my words will seem exceedingly weak, yet I cannot


pass without speaking of a very few of the many good quali-
ties which he so richly possessed. His life was a noble one for
imitation. I tell of it that it may be a benefit to us and to all
around. But, alas ! how few attain to that high standard of
precept and example that he daily manifested.

First, I would say, he was an honest man. Surely all minis-
ters should be, yet some, though with right intentions fail in
some things for want of caution and judgment. He, however,
had strong and clear perceptions of what was right and wrong,
and heartily did he carry them out in his life to the very let-
ter. Not nearly right, but just right seemed to be his motto.
While you believed in his doctrine, you could not help believ-
ing in him. I have heard lectures that were good, but have
had no faith in the lecturer, and that spoiled the lecture for
me. He made all his promises with caution and with earnest-
ness fulfilled them. While he did not seem to be in a hurry,
yet he was always busy and accomplished a large amount of
work. He so let his light shine that others saw his good
works and were led to glorify their Father in heaven. To let
our light shine without flickering or going out, is good and
grand, and merits the approbation of all.

He was very sympathetic. In forming his acquaintance
you would soon feel his sincere regard for you. In giving you
counsel he drew you gently yet steadily toward righteousness
and peace.

He was a peacemaker of the first quality, but on Bible prin-
ciples. To all, high or low, rich or poor, he was impartial in
the highest degree. He was ever the same genial man, every
day alike, with warm sympathy for all and malice toward none.
Homely figures illustrate his merits : he was not like the cow
that gives a good mess of milk and then kicks it over. He
was like gold tried in the fire. He often said that if people's
hearts were all right, their heads would not disagree enough


to do any great harm : surely ''out of the heart are the issues
of life." '

He was faithful to the cause of the down-trodden slave at a
time when it was very unpopular to be outspoken in their be-
half. How often our ears were greeted with what some
fastidious and foolish folks call "a minister's dabbling in
politics." But what, pray, are ministers for if not to let their
light shine even in the darkest places ? Or, how will they be
guiltless, if the sword come and they warn not the people ?

It is high time for us now to beware lest a greater evil than
slavery come upon us. The enemy of all righteousness is not
dead, but is steadily and stealthily creeping on to Washington;
yes, is already there, tightening its coils around us year by
year. "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a curse to
any people."


Tunc, '■'•Pni Going Ho))iey Key of G,
His heart so kind was blessings all,
O may this grace on others fall :
The work the Lord by him has done,
May through our lives and actions run.

ril meet you there, Til meet you there,
ril meet you there where all is fair,
Where all is fair, where all is fair,
ni meet you there where all is fair.
His prayers and tears so strong appealed,
V\\\ glad my heart to them did yield ;
Since God, my King, was there revealed,
Praise, prayer and faith have been my shield.


If we lose heaven, we all have lost,
Then we shall know what sin has cost ;
Tf we gain heaven, tliere's nothing more:
God holds lor us all thini-s in store.



O what is it to save a soul,
And while eternal ages roll
To be with Christ ! The harps will ring ;
With heavenly rapture the angels sing.

How many souls will bless the Lord ;
Through him they did receive the word,
And did believe and were baptized,
And now will meet him in the skies.

He used to sing of peace and love.
To waft our souls to heaven above ;
Then we gamed strength to do our part :
Hope, love and joy did fill the heart.

O while I live be this my prayer,
That I may meet and see him there,
And all those glories with him share.
That mortal tongue cannot declare.

Chorus. S. B. W.

After attending a' few of the meetings held by Mr. Morrell
I was deeply interested. Indeed I had been interested before,
iDut delaying to act in keeping with my interest had hardened
my heart. While others were feeling deeply, I had no feeling
whatever, but looked on unmoved and seemed to myself like
a statue, cold and hard, I was willing enough to act, but if I
acted it would be without any feeling in the matter whatever.
That I didn't like. When at length I rose for prayers in the
meetings, it was a great effort because of my perplexities
about not having feeling, and I seemed to gain nothing. I
thought that if I only had feelings like others, I \vould make a
public confession of Christ ; but to confess without that feel-
ing seemed to me to be hypocritical.


There I made a <j:reat mistake, for 1 did not know tlien, as
I do now, that the Lord never intended that one person should
wait for an experience like another, but each should be true to
his own duties and let his feelings take care of themselves.
But I waited. ( )thers about me sought and foimd peace.
Still I waited, and remained the same. IJut the Lord knows
how to bring us out of darkness. He taught me that I had
one thing to do and only one thing, and that if I did that
everything else would be all right. 'J'hat one thing was to
obey, and then I should receive.

One night after the meetings had continued for quite a
while, three or four of us went home together. We all thought
it would be the proper thing for us to read the Bible before
going to bed. My companions asked me to read, and I was
quite willing to do so. Then we were sure that some one
ought to offer prayer. But no one was willing. I had no
particular objection, excepting that it seemed to be presump-
tion for me, without any more feeling, to take upon myself
this sacred privilege. After considerable hesitation, however,
I consented.

How much that prayer lacked ! Ha(i it thankfulness or
praise ? No. Had it feeling or emotion ? No. Had it ear-
nest pleading or supplication ? No. It lacked all these qual-
ities. It seemed to me to lack all the true elements of prayer;
and yet that prayer availed with God, for it was really a prom-
ise on my part to obey God whether I felt like it or not. to do
what he wanted me to do without regard to my feelings in the
matter, and to be faithful to my own convictions of duty,
whether I was like anybody else or not. That was the first
right step I had taken. "Obedience is better than sacrifice."
God accepted the promise I then made and the surrender of
my will then and there, and I had peace.



S. B. Wing — Taken while in the Army.


I felt my heart consent
God should reign, God should reign ;
* I felt my heart consent, God should reign,
I felt my heart consent,
But I knew not what it meani:,
And a sweet calmness went
Through my soul.

Before retiring for the night we sang :

"Did Christ o'er sinners w^eep,

And shall our cheeks be dry ?
Let floods of penitential grief

Burst forth from every eye."

I had sung sacred music from my earliest childhood, but
never had it made melody in my heart as now. Those words
had a meaning new to me and they brought a softening and a
calmness of heart such as I never felt before. This experience
was so different from any others I had ever had that I hardly
dared to acknowledge it. Truly all things were becoming new
to me, for things I once hated I now loved. I had done the one
thing needful ; I had surrendered myself to God and had be-
gun to obey.

As soon as I had an opportunity I made public confession
of him. God took me up out of a horrible pit of miry clay and
put a new song in my mouth. God had shown me that to
yield my will to him was all that was necessary for me and that
he would do the rest. That was the great lesson of my life.
Happiness and peace came to me then and have ever since
been my portion, and in obeying and trusting God I have found
strength for all my trials and sufferings through all my life. It
is His power that has carried me through what I have yet to



A number of. years passed. My family still called me the
unlucky one, for I kept on having some kind of accident hap-
pen to me off and on. Once I came near having my legs
crushed between two logs, but managed to escape with a severe
sprain of the ankle.

But now I come to the love story of my life. In this 1 was
not a bit unlucky. I cannot tell all the best parts of that story,
for such things cannot be told, and I ne\'er had a fondness for
love stories, they seemed to me either too silly or too sacred to
tell right out in public to all the world.

But pure love is the best attribute that has been given to
mortals, and there is nothing grander, nobler, or more beauti-
ful, nothing that can elevate us and bring us nearer to the
image of God than love, pure and undehled, for God is love
himself. Like gold, love is good money in any part of the
world ; and like gold, it has been counterfeited, until it is al-
most impossible to tell the good from the bad. As with gold,
too, love has been used to gild the most heinous characters,
and the less the real worth, the greater the polish oftentimes
given to the gilding, so that many of the young without experi-
ence in life take the gilt in preference to the solid gold. But,
alas ! how very soon the baser metal shows, and then the ten-
der hopes are crushed to the ground.

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Online LibrarySamuel B. (Samuel Brackett) WingThe soldier's story : a personal narrative of the life, army experiences and marvelous sufferings since the war of Samuel B. Wing → online text (page 1 of 8)