During the war I remember a young man, not twenty, who was court-martialed down in the front and sentenced to be shot; The story was this: The young fellow had enlisted. He was not obliged to, but he went off with another young man. They were what we would, call “chums.” One night this companion was ordered out on picket duty, and he asked the young man to go for him. The next night he was ordered out himself; and having been awake two nights, and not being used to it, fell asleep at his post, and for the offense he was tried and sentenced to death.
It was right after the order issued by the President that no interference would be allowed in cases of this kind. This sort of thing had become too frequent, and it must be stopped. When the news reached the father and mother in Vermont it nearly broke their hearts. The thought that their son should be shot was too great for them. They had no hope that he would be saved by anything they could do. But they had a little daughter who had read the life of Abraham Lincoln, and knew how he had loved his own children, and she said: “If Abraham Lincoln knew how my father and mother loved my brother he wouldn’t let mm he shot.” That little girl thought this matter over and made up her mind to see the President.
She went to the White House, and the sentinel, when he saw her imploring looks, passed her in, and when she came to the door and told the private secretary that she wanted to see the President, he could not refuse her. She came into the chamber and found Abraham Lincoln surrounded by his generals and counselors, and when he saw the little country girl he asked her what she wanted. The little maid told her plain, simple story–how her brother, whom her father and mother loved very dearly, had been sentenced to be shot; how they were mourning for him, and if he was to die in that way it would break their hearts.
The President’s heart was touched with compassion, and he immediately sent a dispatch canceling the sentence and giving the boy a parole so that he could come home and see that father and mother. I just tell you this to show you how Abraham Lincoln’s heart was moved by compassion for the sorrow of that father and mother, and if he showed so much do you think the Son of God will not have compassion upon you, sinner, if you only take that crushed, bruised heart to him?