From: Kenneth Traveller <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: January 4, 2016 at 8:46:25 PM MST
To: Arla Gibbons <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Elder Gibbons Photos Fredericksburg Kirkland Monument
This afternoon on their P-Day we took Elders Hudson and Gibbons plus Elders Goold and Bryant from the Massaponax Ward to a couple of historical sites in Fredericksburg.Please read the attached talk by President Monson about Sgt. Kirkland. The photos include the Elders taking their position at the original stonewall and at the Monument. The last photo is the Elders giving a lesson last week to one of their investigators named Emmanuel.Enjoy,Ken Traveller
Mercy—The Divine Gift
Thomas S. Monson
First Counselor in the First Presidency
April Conference 1995
At an earlier time and in a different conflict—namely the American Civil War—a historically documented account illustrates courage, coupled with mercy.
From December 11 to 13, 1862, the Union forces attacked Marye's Heights, a large hill overlooking the town of Fredericksburg, Virginia, where six thousand Rebels awaited them. The Southern troops were in secure defensive positions behind a stone wall which meandered along the foot of the hill. In addition, they stood four deep on a sunken road behind the wall, out of sight of Union forces.
The Union troops—over forty thousand strong—launched a series of suicidal attacks across open ground. They were mowed down by a scythe of shot; none got closer than forty yards from the stone wall. Soon the ground in front of the Confederate positions was littered with hundreds, then thousands, of fallen Union soldiers in their blue uniforms—over twelve thousand before sunset. Crying for help, the wounded lay in the bitter cold throughout that terrible night.
The next day, a Sunday, dawned cold and foggy. As the morning fog lifted, the agonized cries of the wounded could still be heard. Finally, a young Confederate soldier, a nineteen-year-old sergeant, had had all he could take. The young man's name was Richard Rowland Kirkland. To his commanding officer, Kirkland exclaimed, "All night and all day I have heard those poor people crying for water, and I can stand it no longer. I … ask permission to go and give them water." His request was initially denied on the grounds that it was too dangerous. Finally, however, permission was granted, and soon thousands of amazed men on both sides saw the young soldier, with several canteens draped around his neck, climb over the wall and walk to the nearest wounded Union soldier. He raised the stricken man's head, gently gave him a drink, and covered him with his own overcoat. Then he moved to the next of the wounded—and the next and the next. As Kirkland's purpose became clear, fresh cries of "Water, water, for God's sake water" arose all over the field.
The Union soldiers were at first too surprised to shoot. Soon they began to cheer the young Southerner as they saw what he was doing. For more than an hour and a half, Sergeant Kirkland continued his work of mercy.
Tragically, Richard Kirkland was himself killed a few months later at the battle of Chicamauga. His last words to his companions were, "Save yourselves, and tell my pa I died right."
Kirkland's Christlike compassion made his name synonymous with mercy for a post–Civil War generation, both North and South. He became known by soldiers on both sides of the conflict as "the angel of Marye's Heights." His loving errand of mercy is commemorated by a bronze monument which stands today in front of the stone wall at Fredericksburg. It depicts Sergeant Kirkland lifting the head of a wounded Union soldier to give him a drink of refreshing water. A tablet to Kirkland's honor hangs in the Episcopal church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. With simple eloquence, it captures the essence of the young soldier's mission of mercy. It reads: "A hero of benevolence, at the risk of his own life, he gave his enemy drink at Fredericksburg."