Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 34.djvu/55

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Prison Reminiscenses. 47

The death and burial of Lt. Henry Wilkinson, Company B, 9th Va., deeply affected me ; and I cannot deny him a kind word of mention in these pages. He was the only one of my regiment who died in the prison. He was severely wounded at Gettys- burg, at the Bloody Angle. He was from Norfolk. He was a gallant, conscientious, patriotic soldier. He asked only once for a furlough. That came to him after we had started or were about to start on our Pennsylvania campaign. He declined it. It was to him as if he were taking a furlough in the presence of the enemy. There was something pathetic in the refusal. It was to give him opportunity to meet, and see, one whom he loved. He sacrificed to duty the heart's dearest longing.

Well do I remember his burial. That open grave is even now clearly before me, as vividly as on that day. His comrades are standing around. There is a tender pathos in the voice of the holy man, a Confederate minister, who is conducting the solemn service. There are tears in the eyes of us all. The deep feeling was not from any words spoken but a silent welling up from our hearts. The inspiration felt in common was from the occasion itself the lowering down the youthful form of this patriotic soldier into the cold bosom of that bleak far off island so far away so far from his home and kindred so far away from the one that loved him best. Well do I remember as I stood there looking into that grave into which we had lowered him, there came to me feelings that overcame me. I seemed to iden- tify myself with him. I put myself in his place. Then there came to me as it were the tender wailing grief of all who loved me most dear ones at home. Even now as I recall the scene, the feelings that then flowed, break out afresh and I am "again in tears.



From his dim prison house by Lake Erie's bleak shore

He is borne to his last resting place, The glance of affection and friendship no more

Shall rest on the Captive's wan face. The terms of the Cartel his God had arranged

And the victim of war has at length been "exchanged."