Lincoln Pardons A Soldier Condemned To Death
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IN a lecture at Round Lake, New York, one night, I referred to the pardon of young Scott by President Lincoln, to the pleading of Scott's little sister, who came all the way from Vermont to the White House, and to the scene of Lincoln's taking the child on his knee, pressing her to his heart, and telling her he would not let them kill her borther. At the close of the lecture Colonel J. D. Rogers came forward to the platform and said : " I was much interested in the Scott story. I was one of the officers detailed to carry the sentence into execution." I said, " Colonel, would you write out a little ac-count of the scene and send it to me in New York? " He said he would, and in a day or two I received the following description of the thrilling scene:
" I told you I was an eye-witness to the scene as far as it was enacted.
" It was in the summer, nearing fall, of 1861, over the Chain Bridge, in Virginia, but in sight of Washington from the high table land. There was a large part of the then forming Army of the Potomac occupying the point, having daily skirmishes with the enemy, who were in the vicinity. We were also there to build up the defenses of Washington. During this time Scott, the young flaxen-haired, fair-faced boy from Vermont, unused to anything like the deprivations and hardships of the soldier, slept on his post—an outpost—one night in face of the enemy. He was reported, court-martialed and sentenced to be shot. An example must be made, and this beautiful, unsophisticated boy was the victim for the sacrifice. It must be done in the presence of a detail from each company of every regiment in that part of the army, so that the example would have its desired effect on all the army. The trial and preliminaries for the execution took days, during which efforts from the home of the young soldier had been made in behalf of the son and brother, and touched the great heart of our great President, who determined to pardon the boy. Between the President and the commanding officer who was to carry out the sentence of the court-martial, an understanding was had that the preliminaries of the execution up to the act of taking the life were to be carried out, with the usual formalities. While waiting and delaying, a cavalcade and guard arrived from Washington, and the order of pardon was placed in the hands of the commander of the execution, and read by him. Ten thousand soldiers were marshaled in hollow square to witness the supposed execution. The condemned soldier sat on his coffin—a plain pine box—beside which yawned his open grave. Forty yards away stood a detail of soldiers with four loaded rifles, ready at command to execute the cruel law. When the order of pardon arrived, and was read in the hearing of the condemned boy and all that great body of soldiers, the boy fainted for joy and fell as if shot, while for more than an hour every man was permitted to shout. There seemed to be nothing but shouting and tears of joy.
" Thus ended the apparent tragedy, almost parallel to the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. The act, so far as its moral effect was intended, was enacted, and Scott was free. Scott made one of the best of soldiers, was mortally wounded near Yorktown, and died praying for the noble and kind-hearted President.
Scott's little sister interceded for him at the White House to secure his pardon. Condemned to death, we have our pardon through the death and inter-cession of our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, and should become faithful soldiers of the Cross.