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´╗┐Title: The Captured Scout of the Army of the James - A Sketch of the Life of Sergeant Henry H. Manning, of the - Twenty-fourth Mass. Regiment
Author: Trumbull, H. Clay (Henry Clay), 1830-1903
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  A Sketch of the Life of






  Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1868, by
  In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of




  Twenty-Fourth Regiment Massachusetts Vols.,









This little sketch is the best, because the only, tribute to the memory
of its subject that the writer, amid the pressure of varied duties, can
find time to render.

Prepared, in great part, for use in a memorial discourse, it has not
been rewritten, although extended by additions which perhaps mar the
harmony of its first design.

The fact that it was shaped to be spoken rather than to be
read,--designed for the ear rather than for the eye,--will account, to
those accustomed to public address, for some of its unsuitableness of
style for the form in which it now appears.

                                                            H. C. T.


The Dead of the Army of the James                          9

Cost of the Slaveholders' War                             10

A Massachusetts Boy.--Foreshadowings of a noble Life      13

The Soldier of Christ and Country                         14

A good Regiment.--A good Record                           16

Fighting and Praying                                      17

James Island.--Hospital Supply of Rebel Shells            19

Charleston Siege-work.--Sharpshooting                     20

The Veterans.--Love for the old Flag                      22

Campaigns it in Virginia.--Volunteers as a Scout          24

The Capture.--The Dungeon.--The Gallows                   27

Gloom of the Stockade and Jail.--Consecration Vow         29

Escape and Recapture.--Torn by Blood-hounds               31

Andersonville Horrors                                     34

In the Rebel Ranks.--Loyal still                          35

A Prisoner among Friends.--Good News for Home             37

Again with his Regiment.--Merited Promotion               38

Home at last                                              39

Telling his Story.--Fulfilling his Vow                    40

Student-life at Andover.--Loving Service for Jesus        41

Toil for Bread.--Unfailing Trust                          43

Failing Health.--A Grateful Heart                         47

In Hospital.--Gentle Ministry there                       48

Hope against Hope.--The Privilege of Christian Work       53

Only Waiting.--Rest at last                               55

Claims of the Dead on the Living                          58



On the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1868, some two hundred ex-officers
of the "Army of the James" were assembled in the dining-hall of the St.
James Hotel, Boston, in delightful re-union, as comrades of camp and
campaigning. The writer of this little sketch was called on to say words
in tribute to "The memory of the honored dead" of that army, and in
consequence the tenderest recollections were revived of those who fell
in the long years of war with rebellion.

Hardly had the writer reached his home from that re-union, before word
came to him of the death of another soldier of the Army of the James;
one whose varied and thrilling experiences, peculiar services to the
Union cause, and noble Christian character entitled him to special
mention, as a noteworthy and satisfactory illustration of the bravery
and worth of the enlisted men of that army. While on his death-bed, this
young soldier had sent particular request to one who, as an army
chaplain in his brigade, had known something of his personal character
and history, to preach a commemorative discourse on the occasion of his
decease. Thus called on again to pay just tribute to the memory of the
dead of the Army of the James, the writer prepared this sketch as part
of a sermon preached at Warwick, Mass., Sept. 13, 1868, and now gives it
to the public at the request of those who, knowing something of the
young soldier's history, naturally desire to know more.


Others than his immediate comrades have reasons for an interest in this
young soldier, and should join in honoring his memory, and recalling at
his death the record of his army life. Dying though he did among the
green hills of Massachusetts, in these days of palmy peace, with parents
and sisters ministering to his comfort, as he wasted slowly before their
loving gaze, he was really one of the dead of the war, one of the
starved of Andersonville. His vigorous constitution was broken down
under the malarial damps of the sea-island death-swamps, beneath the
smiting sun-glare of the Carolina sands, in the fatigues of dreary
marches and anxious picket service, and amid the excitements of battle
and the crushing responsibilities of a mission of imminent peril within
the lines of the enemy. His young life was really worn away, not here at
the North, but there at the South, in dragging months of imprisonment,
in teeming hours of attempted escape, in rapid flight from the swift
pursuers, and in the death-clutch with the fierce-fanged hounds in the
swamp of despair!

And he was but one of many,--a representative youth; one out of thirteen
thousand martyrs of Andersonville,--

    "The men who perished in swamp and fen,
    The slowly starved of the prison pen;"--

a solitary soldier among fully three hundred thousand who gave their
lives for the nation's life, the sodden mounds of whose graves, like an
encircling earthwork, make secure that nation's proud though
dearly-bought position among the kingdoms of the world. Surely, there is
little danger that the story of such a man will be told too widely, or
his services be too highly esteemed; small cause for fear, that, in the
glad days of rest from war, there will be too vividly recalled those
dark hours of the imperilled republic, when the bared right arms of two
and a half millions of loyal and loving Union soldiers and sailors were
essential to the preservation of a free and righteous government; and
not only each blood-drop shed by those who stood or fell in battle for
their country, but every heart-throb of their suffering or toil, and
every tear of those who loved them, counted on the ransom of Liberty,
and helped--

    "To make, for children yet to come,
      This land of their bequeathing,
    The imperial and the peerless home
      Of happiest beings breathing."


Henry Hatch Manning was born in Warwick, Mass., May 17, 1844. He was
ever a loving and dutiful son and brother. Just before his
death, his mother remarked, "I cannot now recall any act of his
disobedience."--"Our brightest earthly hopes will perish with him,"
added his sister. When young, his frequent wish was that he had been the
eldest child, so as to lift burdens his sisters now must bear. At eight
years old, he was at work for a neighbor, earning something beyond his
board. While thus occupied, he was startled by the sudden death of his
employer by accident. Hurrying to his home, he whispered the sad story
to his mother, adding in almost the same breath, "But don't tell father.
He wouldn't let me go back; and what would Mrs. Holmes do without me?"
Thus early he showed his independence of character, and his desire to
live for others.

Having the ordinary common-school advantages of a Massachusetts
town,--such as are now, thank God! extended into regions whither they
won an entrance by blood,--Henry Manning improved them well. He had,
moreover, faithful home instruction; and the influence of a Christian
mother's prayerful teachings followed him like a continual benediction.
When about sixteen years old, while at work in another town from this,
in a season of spiritual declension and coldness there, he was drawn by
God's Spirit to make a full surrender of himself to Jesus. Evil
influences were around him just then: a sneering scoffer sought
persistently to dissuade him from his new-formed purpose; but God was
with him, and he witnessed faithfully for Christ. Others followed his
example, and a precious revival of God's Spirit-work followed in that
long cold and formal community.


It was soon after this that the echo of rebel guns against Fort Sumter
aroused the New-England sons of Revolutionary patriots to the perils of
the nationality their fathers had founded in blood. Henry Manning was
not yet seventeen when the old flag was dishonored in Charleston
Harbor; but he was old enough to realize his country's need, and
patriotic enough to stake every thing in her defence. His heart, warm
with new love for the Saviour who died for him, throbbed to evidence its
affection in some sacrifice for a cause approved of God. Delayed
somewhat in his original plans, he enlisted, in the early autumn of
1861, as a private in the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment, then
forming near Boston, under the gallant and lamented Stevenson.

After his enlistment, on the Sabbath before he left for the war, he
stood up alone in his home-church, and made public profession of his new
faith, and was there enrolled as a follower of Jesus; his pastor
preaching an appropriate sermon from the text, "Thou therefore endure
hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ;" which inspired counsel
Manning certainly followed to the letter. Going out thence, clad in the
"whole armor of God," Manning commenced his career as a soldier of the
cross and his country, and thenceforward followed unflinchingly the flag
of his government and the blood-stained banner of Jesus.


The Twenty-fourth Massachusetts was a noble battalion, with a glorious
record. Through its four years of service, its well-earned reputation
for good discipline, thorough drill, and staunch courage was
unsurpassed; and few regiments were its equals in hard fighting and
practical efficiency. It would be enough for any man's soldierly
reputation that he stood well in that regiment; for he who won honor
there deserved it everywhere. Hence the good name there secured by Henry
Manning shows his personal worth, and indicates the value of his
services. Said Col. Ordway, at the close of Manning's term of service,
"I have known his whole course since he has been a soldier.... He has
always been a brave, faithful, truthful, soldier, ... honest and
temperate, and in every way to be trusted." Maj. Edmands added, "I can
cheerfully say, that I have never known a braver man in the
regiment--and I was formerly his captain. He is, I believe, competent
to fill any position where fidelity, integrity, and energy are
required." Adjutant Stoddard also testified, "[He] has always been
especially noticed for the efficient manner in which he has performed
his duties as a soldier: always ready for any daring undertaking, he has
won for himself a place in the hearts of the officers and his comrades
of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts; and his name can never be
obliterated from the pages of the history of that regiment."


The Twenty-fourth went out in the Burnside expedition to the waters of
North Carolina, and, passing the perils of Hatteras "Swash," had an
honorable and distinguished part, under brave and beloved Gen. John G.
Foster, in the battles of Roanoke, Newbern, Little Washington, Rawl's
Mills, Kinston, Whitehall, and Goldsboro'. In all this service, Manning
gained in manliness and in the Christian graces, under the developing
influences of active army life. At Kinston he had a narrow escape from
death. A bullet struck the rail of a fence, behind which he was
stationed as a sharpshooter, just in range of his head; a knot turned it
aside so that it barely passed his cheek, scattering the splinters in
his eyes.

In the spring and early summer of 1863, the Twenty-fourth was in South
Carolina, passing months on the sickly sea-islands, where it was said no
white man had before lived at that season of the year. It was there that
the writer of this sketch--then chaplain of another regiment in the same
brigade--first met young Manning. His regiment then having no chaplain,
he was one of an association of earnest Christians who had banded
together to keep up religious meetings, and to do good as they had
opportunity, among their fellows. Under their rustic canopy of boughs,
beneath the grand old live oaks, and amid the stately palms of Seabrook
Island, were enjoyed never-to-be-forgotten hours of prayer and praise.


From Seabrook to James Island, the Twenty-fourth moved, in July, 1863,
under Gen. Terry, in co-operation with Gen. Gillmore's advance on Morris
Island. Stricken down with sunstroke there, his whole system prostrate
under repeated attacks of fever and chills, fastened on him in the
malarial regions of his recent service, Manning lay sick in the rude
regimental hospital on the morning of July 16, when the enemy in force
made a sudden attack on the Union lines. The shock of this battle was
bravely met by Col. Shaw's Fifty-fourth Massachusetts regiment, then
first in action. The hospital of the Twenty-fourth was found to be in
the focus of the enemy's sharpest fire, and a hurried move was ordered
down the island. As the poor invalids, with failing limbs, dragged their
tedious way to the beach, shell after shell from the enemy's guns came
shrieking past, or bursting among them. One such seemed to explode in
Manning's very face, and he fell, with the half conviction that it had
killed him. As he rose again to his feet, another burst above him, and a
ragged fragment of the hot iron tore down along his very side, laying
open his clothing, and bruising and lacerating his arm. But this injury
probably saved him from a severer; for, checked by it a moment, he saw
yet another shell explode directly before him, in the group he had
fallen behind, killing and wounding not a few of that number. Sorry
comfort, this, for sick soldiers! Yet such was but an incident in the
trying army service of our Union soldiers, in the prolonged war with


Immediately after the fight at James Island, the Twenty-fourth passed
over to Morris Island, to have a part in the operations against
Charleston from that point, commencing with that terrible assault on
Fort Wagner in which Col. Shaw lost his life,--when Gen. Stevenson's
brigade (including the Twenty-fourth) was in reserve, holding the front
after the sad repulse. There, Manning was again stricken down with
sunstroke. Later, he was assigned to a company of sharpshooters in
active service at the extreme front. He then had narrow escapes daily.
On one occasion, as he and a comrade were alternating in rifle firing
through a loop-hole, he had thrown himself down to rest under his rubber
blanket, raised for a shade, when a bullet wounded his comrade in the
face; as he sprang up to aid him, a huge fragment of a mortar shell came
tearing down through the air, and crushed the rubber blanket into the
ground on the very spot where Manning had lain. Those were toilsome days
on Morris Island, in the slow dragging siege; men who were there will
not soon forget its shifting sands, its blazing sunlight, its
unintermitted fire of artillery and musketry, its labors on traverse and
parallel and sap, its frequent struggles of sortie or assault, and its
atmosphere laden with disease:

    "How they marched together, sound or sick,
      Sank in the trench o'er the heavy spade!
    How they charged on the guns at double-quick,
    Kept ranks for Death to choose and to pick,
      And lay on the beds no fair hands made!"

The Twenty-fourth sweltered and toiled with the other regiments, and won
for itself a proud name by its brilliant charge on the rifle-pits in the
very face of Wagner's guns. Thence it passed down the coast to Florida,
and had a little rest in the quaint old Spanish city of St. Augustine.


It was while the regiment was at St. Augustine that the call came from
the government for the re-enlistment of its veteran soldiers. It did not
take Henry Manning much longer to make up his mind to a second
enlistment than it did to the first. Had he been wanted for thirty or
fifty years, instead of three or five, he would doubtless have been
ready. God be praised that such boys lived, and were willing to die, in
the hour of our country's need!

A little incident, occurring as the veterans of the Twenty-fourth left
St. Augustine, on the furlough granted them as a consideration of
re-enlistment, well illustrated the character and spirit of the soldiers
of the war. They were gathered about the head of the dock, just ready
to embark for the North, to leave soldier-life for a while behind them.
Their thoughts were naturally of their release from service, and of the
homes and loved ones to which they were hastening. Their comrades, who
were to remain behind, had assembled to see them off: citizens of the
old town were also there; and all was glad-hearted cheerfulness. But
unexpectedly to nearly all, as they stood thus together, the regimental
colors were brought down from Fort Marion, to be taken with them to the
North. As the dear old flag came in sight,--the bullet-rent and
storm-worn colors which they had followed unflinchingly on the weary
march and in the battle's crash, and for which so many whom they loved
had died,--instinctively, as by the word of command, every voice was
hushed; every farewell stayed; and the soldier group parted and fell
back on either hand, in reverent, affectionate regard for that symbol of
all that they lived for then; and, as through the open ranks the loved
flag was borne down the pier to the steamer's deck,--

          "Every foot was quiet,
      Every head was bare;
    The soft trade-wind was lifting
      A hundred locks of hair;"

while tearful eyes, in bronzed and manly faces bore precious testimony
to the patriotism and generous devotion of those brave and
tender-hearted soldiers. It was with such men and in that spirit that
Henry Manning came home, in the spring of 1864, on his veteran furlough.


Rejoining his regiment at Gloucester Point, Va., he was in Gen. Butler's
expedition up the James River, towards Drewry's Bluff. Early in June,
while the Army of the James was shut in the peninsula at Bermuda
Hundred, Gen. Butler called for a volunteer scout--or quasi spy--to
venture within the enemy's lines, and bring back information of his
position and numbers. This call found a ready response in Manning's
heart, and he volunteered for the undertaking. He found, as he said in
writing to his home of his determination, peculiar satisfaction in the
thought that he could now be of real service to the cause he loved. On
the vedette-post, in the rifle-pit, or on the battle-line, he must stand
or fall as one man, doing only what any lad might compass; but in this
new mission, all his nervous energy and cautious shrewdness and
consecrated purpose would tell in an effort worthy of a soldier, whether
that effort brought success or failure. As expressive of his feelings,
he enclosed to his friends the following lines he had clipped from some

    "We must forget all feelings save the _one_;
    We must resign all passions save our purpose;
    We must behold no object save OUR COUNTRY,
    And only look on death as beautiful,
    So that the sacrifice ascend to heaven
    And draw down freedom on her evermore."

It requires not a little moral courage and true nerve to deliberately
leave one's military lines in the face of the enemy, and pass over into
the encircling forces of the foe. But Henry Manning had counted the cost
of his undertaking; and late on the evening of June 7, 1864, he glided
stealthily down the steep right bank of the river James, and along the
water's edge in the shade of the heavy foliage, until he had passed the
rebel picket in front of the famous "Howlett Battery;" then cautiously,
and with bated breath, he crept up the bank, and was within the enemy's
intrenchments. Bayonets glistened, lights flashed, voices hummed about
him: he was everywhere surrounded by sights and sounds of life, but he
saw never a friendly look, heard never a friendly note.

    "He hears the rustling flag,
      And the armed sentry's tramp;
    And the starlight and moonlight
      His silent wanderings lamp.

    With slow tread and still tread,
      He scans the tented line;
    And he counts the battery guns
      By the gaunt and shadowy pine;
    And his slow tread and still tread
      Give no warning sound."

Carefully making his observations, he passed from point to point up and
down the intrenchment lines, out to the Richmond pike, and beyond to the
Petersburg railroad. Concealing himself during the day, he scouted again
on the second night. The defences of the enemy were noted, with the
general disposition and number of the troops. Long after this he wrote,
"[I was] in possession of such valuable information that if I could only
have got back with it, all the time, treasure, and blood which have been
spent before Petersburg would have been spared. It could have been
captured then with very small loss." But the attempt to regain the Union
lines must be postponed until the following night, now that the dawn of
the second day found him far from his starting point; so, seeking a
secluded spot in the forest, near Chester Station, he concealed himself
in its cover, and was soon fast asleep.


Awaking after a few hours, he heard the unexpected murmur of voices near
him. A change of position had been made by some of the troops, and he
was surrounded by the enemy. He hardly moved before he was discovered.

    "A sharp clang, a steel clang!
      And terror in the sound;
    For the sentry, falcon-eyed,
      In the camp a spy hath found:
    With a sharp clang, a steel clang,
      The patriot is bound."

As a prisoner he was hurried before Brig.-Gen. Johnson, and by him sent
forward to Gen. Beauregard's headquarters. The order to him from Gen.
Butler, being found on his person, gave color to the charge that he was
an authorized spy; and the first proposition was to hang him at once to
a tree. Indeed, he was told that his body should swing before sundown.
But from some reason it was decided to try him by formal court-martial;
and he was sent to Petersburg, where he was shut in a vile hole,
underneath the jail, "a low, filthy dungeon," as he described it, "dark,
gloomy, and crawling with vermin." Those who have never been prisoners
of war under special charges, in the gloom of solitary confinement, with
the staring gallows threatened, cannot fully realize the terribleness of
Henry Manning's struggle of mind during that first night in the
Petersburg dungeon. Earnestly did he call on God for strength, that, if
he must yield his young life thus and then, he might be faithful even
unto such a death. And God sustained him.


    "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills."

Manning was sent to Georgia for trial. By mistake he was carried with a
party to Andersonville, and turned into that place of yet untold
horrors; but thither, after seven days, he was tracked out by the
authorities, and to them turned over by the brutal Capt. Wirz, who, at
parting, shook his clenched fist in his face, and cursed him vehemently
as "one of Butler's spies," disgracing that foul stockade by his
temporary presence. Thence to Macon, he was shut in a felon's cell in
the common jail. There the days dragged heavily, while he lacked air,
exercise, fitting food, hope. He pined away until it seemed as if he
could not live. "I heard it whispered around, many a time," he wrote
afterwards, "'Poor Manning! What a pity that he must die in such a
place as this. Poor boy! he's past recovery.'" It was while shut in
there, anticipating trial, conviction, death, that Manning cast himself
before the Lord, and cried mightily for help. On his knees, behind the
grated door of his hope-barred cell, he pleaded that he might yet have
life and again find liberty. Although in intense and agonized
earnestness, he yet prayed in trustful submission to God's righteous
will; and, in no mere selfish love of ease and safety, solemnly he
promised there that if his life was spared, it should be given wholly
and heartily to the service of Jesus. In relating this incident after
his release, he added artlessly, "I told God that if my life was spared,
I should know _He_ did it, for there was no other hope for me, then."
That prayer and that vow seemed to be favorably heard of God. An alarm
from an anticipated attack startled the authorities at Macon; the
provost-marshal of the post was ordered on active duty; in the transfer
of authorities, the charges against Manning were lost, and in
consequence his court-martial trial did not take place. But his personal
trials were by no means at an end. His tedious prison-life had barely


With some of his fellow-prisoners he made several attempts at escape:
once he was actually outside the jail, but was soon retaken. From the
jail he was removed to the Macon stockade. Digging out thence, he was
making his way towards our lines at Atlanta,--travelling only nights,
resting in the woods by day,--when he was caught by a rebel scout, and
returned to his prison quarters. From Macon he was taken to Millen, to
be guarded in the stockade at Camp Lawton. Returned to Macon, he was
ordered thence again to Andersonville. Shrinking from the horrors of
that well-remembered pen, he was willing to risk every thing in another
attempt at escape on his way thither. Going by rail, he determined to
jump from the moving train; and, as several who had thus jumped with the
cars in slow motion had been shot down by the guard, he made up his mind
to leap while the train was at highest speed. On a down grade, he made
the fearful plunge, and, as though by a miracle, he rolled unharmed down
the embankment and into the ditch below. Quick as thought he was up and
off for the woods. How pure and free seemed the fresh air of heaven! God
speed and shield the flying boy! At the next station, the guard of the
train gave the alarm, and soon a pack of five blood-hounds, with their
mounted brutal keepers, were on his track, and in full pursuit. Bravely
but vainly Manning sought to retain the freedom he had won at such
fearful risk. Plunging into the recesses of a dismal swamp, he had brief
hope that he should evade his pursuers; but soon the baying of the
hounds was in his strained ears, and about him were the ringing echoes
of the on-spurring guard. His hiding-place was speedily surrounded, and
his hope of escape cut off. Yet he clung to dear liberty to the last.
Again and again came the blaspheming shouts of his pursuers, demanding
his surrender, and threatening him with "no quarter" if he compelled
them to push further through the entangling briers and slimy morasses.
He waded out into the sluggish waters of the inner swamp depths, to turn
if possible the trail of the keen-scented hounds; but with undeviating
directness they bounded towards him through brake and fen: he heard
their labored breathing; then caught a glimpse of their flashing eyes
and foaming jaws, as, with a vindictive howl at their long-delayed
triumph, they leaped ferociously out of the thicket into the water where
he stood, firm in despair. "Oh! 'twas a horrid moment," he said, "when
they caught me and made a spring for my throat. I sank in the mire: a
gurgling sound filled my ears--" One hound clutched him by the shoulder
as he fell in the water: another sent his sharp fangs through the flesh
of his side. As he rolled in the deadly struggle, the keepers came up
and choked off the dogs, although one of them was urgent to have him
torn in pieces because of his temerity. Weak, bruised, bleeding,
despondent, Manning was carried to the Andersonville stockade, there to
have his only nursing at the hands of the keepers of that accursed den,
amid its exposures, its privations, its gloom, and its loathsomeness.


Oh, how wearily the hours dragged in Andersonville! Shivering,
unsheltered, in the cold nights of rain; sweltering, all exposed, under
the noonday's sun; cramped in the seething mass of the close-packed
stockade, where half-naked men strove with each other for the last
garment from the body of their latest dead comrade; weighed down with
the poison-laden air of the malarial swamp; knowing no relief from the
gnawings of hunger in the soul-straining processes of slow starvation;
needing Christian courage to hold back from the relief of the dead-line;
full of sad forebodings of evil to home loved ones who mourned him as
dead, and from whom no comforting word could come; and chafing, most of
all, in his overwrought and high-strung nervous powers, under enforced
inaction at a time when every patriot's strength should tell for God and
Government,--Manning's life wasted surely away, and his system imbibed
fairly that disease which at length destroyed his firm and vigorous
constitution, and brought him so early in life's day to the house
appointed to all living.


Finding himself still held as a suspected spy, although the special
charges against him had been lost, and denied the treatment of an
ordinary prisoner of war, Manning prayerfully determined on a course he
would not have counselled for one captured in open battle. The special
orders from his department commander clearly authorized such a
proceeding in his case, and he sought to find a temporary place in the
rebel ranks, that he might escape to the Union lines with the valuable
information he had in various ways obtained. Circumstances
providentially favored him, and he adroitly managed to pass out with a
squad who had regularly enlisted; and, without taking any oath of
allegiance to the "Confederate" powers, he was counted and equipped as a
soldier in that army, and hurried towards the rebel front. However any
might question the propriety or policy of this movement on his part, it
cannot be denied that in it he acted conscientiously, and verily felt he
was doing God service. He was acting for his government, to which he
was loyal as ever, and was carrying out the very letter and spirit of
his specific instructions. "I gained all the information I could, from
every thing that passed," he wrote, "and laid it up in my memory. When I
saw a big bridge, I studied how I might blow it up; when I passed a
large city, I was planning how I might set it on fire; and when I saw a
leading general, I was contriving some way how I might blow his brains
out. I was in the enemy's country,--nothing but enemies around me; and
the more harm I could do them, the greater service I should be doing my
country." It was not long before the Union cavalry made a dash on the
rebel lines in Manning's vicinity. At once he ran for the battle-line of
the assailing force, facing its sharpest fire, while also fired at by
his rebel comrades who divined the object of his move; and he reached
the Union ranks unharmed.


Once more under the old flag, Manning told his strange story to the
commander before whom he was taken; but it is not to be wondered at that
it was discredited, in the absence of proof. He was deemed a rebel
prisoner, and as such was sent to the military prison at Alton,
Illinois. Sending forward his complaint to his regiment, he was, after a
few weeks' delay, ordered released by direct command from the War
Department. It was then--for he would not write to his dear ones while a
prisoner at Alton--that he sent his first letter home. The simple

                                    "ST. LOUIS, MO. March 10, 1865.

  "I still live, and you shall hear from me soon.

                                                "HENRY H. MANNING."

written on a sheet of "Christian Commission" paper, with the appropriate
printed motto, "Let it hasten to those who wait for tidings,"--came as a
voice from the grave to those who had mourned him, and gave to them glad
and grateful hearts; for now their dead was alive again, and their lost
was found.


Subjected, on his way to his regiment, to those vexatious arrests and
detentions to which an enlisted man absent from his command without a
"descriptive list" was liable, in war time, Manning at length rejoined
his comrades of the Twenty-fourth, at Richmond, Va., where the regiment
was doing provost duty, about the middle of April, 1865. The ten months
intervening since he left his command, not a dozen miles from where he
now rejoined it, had been teeming ones to the gallant and war-worn
battalion in its varied campaigning, as well as to himself within the
enemy's lines. He missed many a comrade who had fallen in the fight
while he suffered in the hands of the foe. But they were hearty
greetings that passed between those who at last thus met in safety and
dear-bought peace.

The following regimental order shows something of the estimate put on
his services by his immediate commander:--

                                     HEADQUARTERS 24th Mass. Vol. Inf.
                                        RICHMOND, VA., April 22, 1865.


Corporal H. H. Manning, Co. G, is hereby promoted to be sergeant in
the same company, as a special commendation for the services
rendered by him.

Captured within the lines of the enemy while on secret service, and
arraigned for trial as a spy, Sergeant Manning passed through a
series of dangerous adventures, sufficient to shake the firmest
resolution. Throughout his captivity he displayed a courage and
constancy to duty which deserve a greater reward than his commanding
officer has power to bestow.

                                                By order of
                                                        ALBERT ORDWAY,
                         Lieut.-Col. 24th Mass. Vol. Inf. Comd'g Regt.

    1st Lieut. and Adj.


Manning was too far reduced by his prison life to be of further use in
the army; moreover, active campaigning was at an end; and he was
honorably discharged, June 16, 1865, after nearly four years of such
service as few even of the Union soldiers in the late war were called
to. Returning to his Massachusetts home, his first effort was to
rebuild his health. A visit to the West refreshed him, and he hoped for
ultimate recovery. Investing his army earnings for the benefit of his
home loved ones, he looked about him for something to do. He had not
forgotten his promise to God in Macon jail: his only doubt was how he
could best redeem it.


Visiting an army comrade in North Bridgewater, Manning met the Rev. S.
H. Lee, now of Greenfield, who counselled him to attempt studying for
the ministry; and, that he might procure funds to start with, Mr. Lee
suggested his preparing a lecture on his army service and prison
adventures, to deliver as opportunity offered, until the proceeds of it
should amount to one hundred dollars, when he could hopefully commence
school-life, and thenceforward work his way along through a course of
study. The lecture was prepared, and, under Mr. Lee's auspices, brought
out at North Bridgewater. It was repeated a score of times or so,
during the winter of 1865-6, with good success. It is much to be
regretted that no copy of this manuscript was retained; for Manning
wrote with no little graphic power, and such a record of his eventful
soldier-life would have proved of thrilling interest now.


In the spring of 1866, he was on his way to Phillips Academy, Andover,
with the one hundred dollars in hand,--or rather with one hundred and
one dollars; and, as he had been advised to start with one hundred, he
gave the odd dollar to a poor man on the road. At Andover, while an
earnest student, he was an untiring Christian worker. He taught in a
mission-school, took part in prayer-meetings, and conversed on the
subject of personal religion with many school-mates, winning thus
friends to himself and souls to Jesus. His life really seemed--as he had
promised it should be--wholly consecrate to Jesus. "Way down in the
inmost recesses of my heart," he wrote, "the great all-absorbing purpose
and desire is to do the will of God as it is made known to me by his
providence.... I desire to be led by the hand of God.... I wish to do
away with every selfish thought, and live only for Jesus." Yet he worked
from no mere sense of stern duty, in the slavish performance of a
binding vow: love prompted his service, out of a willing heart. "How
much real enjoyment it gives me to work for Jesus!" he said. "All other
pleasures fade away and are lost, by the side of it." And this enjoyment
in work for Jesus was increased by the conviction that souls were
benefited by it. He loved to work for others, because Jesus commanded
it; and he loved to work for Jesus, because others were blessed by it.
"You know," he said, "the words of our Saviour are, 'Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto
me.' How soothing and encouraging these words are! I don't see how any
one can help doing all the good they can.... I have an insatiable thirst
after perishing souls, and hope and pray that God will lead me to do
good wherever I am.... I am thankful for the hope that, perhaps ere
long, I can throw aside all other things, and enter with my whole heart
upon the work of saving souls.... My heart pants to be wholly engaged in
my Master's service."


One hundred dollars will not go far towards a young man's thorough
education, nowadays; and Manning found himself before long pressed for
means of support. Then he was driven to work hard for money, while
toiling incessantly at study. He swept the school-rooms, and performed
similar service at the academy, for fifteen cents an hour; he went out
in the early mornings to do mowing and other farm labor, until the hour
of school-time; and thus he kept along in every thing but health and
rest. He had no odd hours unimproved. Writing of his mission-scholars,
in whom he was deeply interested, he said, "I generally spend two
evenings a week with them, and two evenings at literary societies for
improvement of the mind, and there are not often but three evenings
left, and those are our prayer-meeting nights."

Had Manning been in full health, he might have stood all this; but
disease, fastened on him in the prison stockade, never relaxed its hold;
and his strength failed steadily. Some of his friends advised him to
abandon student-life and seek renewed vigor in active out-door
occupation; but others, who were nearest him, with unaccountable
blindness and persistency, uniformly urged his adherence to first-formed
plans. Again and again his enfeebled frame gave way; and as often his
unwavering determination enabled him to rally for another effort. It was
hard for him to relinquish his purpose of _activity_ in Christ's
service. He was far from wilful in this struggle. "I desire to be led by
the hand of God," he said; "I am praying very earnestly, ... asking God
to tell me what to do, and I know he will not tell me wrong.... Feeling
that I am performing my mission here on earth, I take every step
gladly;" but he wanted to take some step, not to stand still: it was
easier for him to do any thing for Christ than to do nothing. "I will
endeavor," he wrote, "to keep within bounds, and not try to strain my
rope when I find I have arrived at the end of it;" but he was loath to
believe there was any end to his rope. "God willing, I shall be able to
do something by and by," he said, "and what shall it be?" He had the
feeling that God, having accepted his consecration vow in prison, would
somehow find work for him to do for Jesus, in accordance with its terms.
No lesson concerning God's "kingly state" seemed so hard for him to
learn as that--

    "They also serve who only stand and wait."

And, doubtless, his energy, coupled with his faith, prolonged his useful
life. In his condition, and with his temperament, he would have fallen
sooner but for his indomitable will, his determination not yet to yield
to the closing pressure of disease, and his conviction that God would
still sustain him in his work; that so long as he did what he could and
should, his Father would supply all lack. It is, unquestionably, every
man's duty to consider his health, even in the prosecution of a
religious enterprise, and no desire for high and holy attainment will
justify reckless over-effort of body or mind. But not all are to be
judged by the same standard of prudence in amount or kinds of effort or
toil. What is rest for one man would prove torture to another. Not a few
depend for very life upon tireless activity; like the traveller on the
Alps, if in their exhaustion they sit down at the approach of night,
they chill and sleep and die. They must keep moving or perish. So in the
case of Henry Manning: while his example of unintermitted nervous
endeavor may not be commended to ordinary men for imitation, it may be
admired and approved in him, doomed as he was to an early death from the
hour he entered the Petersburg dungeon, and kept alive through his
resolute activity, his over-estimate of remaining strength, and his ever
sanguine anticipations of returning health.

And with all his weakness of body, his faith never faltered. "If God
wants me to stay at school," he said while at Andover, "I have no fear
but that he will find a way for me to get along there." Then he told of
his rising one morning without a cent of money in the world, and going
earnestly to God in prayer for help, and of his finding, but a few
minutes later, between the pages of the book he took up to study,
fifteen dollars (which God had put it into the heart of some friend to
give to him in that delicate way); and he added, in affirmation of his
undoubting faith, "And God will do so again if it is best."


It was in the spring of 1867, that Manning finally left his studies. He
struggled manfully with disease, but it gained on him steadily. He
visited among friends, to try change of air and scene, and was under
various medical treatment, but all to little purpose. His prison
privations were working out in his shattered constitution their
inevitable result. For all attention shown or aid rendered him, he was
ever grateful, and he seemed to feel that none had better friends than
he. Of a pleasant home where he had passed a brief time, he wrote, "It's
a second paradise: isn't it? If Christ was on earth now, I do believe
that he would make his home there--a part of the time at least: don't

Those who were privileged to assist him from time to time may surely
feel, as he felt, that their gifts were unto the Lord. "I want
assistance," he wrote on this point, once, "only that I may be useful;
and, strictly speaking, I want to be useful only for Jesus!" To God he
gave glory for whatever help came to him from any direction. Returning
thanks for a generous donation--which proved most timely--from one who
sent it as "a cup of cold water to a disciple," he said, feelingly, "How
very strange and mysterious are the Lord's dealings with this poor weak
child of his! Every earthly prop is struck from under me, and I am just
sinking in utter hopeless despair, when the Lord not only succors and
relieves me, but catches me right up in his arms, and gives me such
blessings as I had no thought of asking for."


In his health-seeking, Manning visited Boston to secure the valued
counsel of Dr. S. A. Green, his former regimental surgeon, who had on
many occasions shown special interest in him, and expressed a readiness
to aid him to the utmost. Soon there came a letter from him, dated in
the Massachusetts General Hospital, saying, "My health has been growing
frailer of late, and yesterday I came to this city, hoping to see Dr.
Green, and perhaps get into some hospital; but on arriving here I found
that Dr. G. was in Europe!... So, with an earnest prayer on my lips, I
turned back, and, after much difficulty, found my way to this
place,--found the head of the institution, and told my story--simple and
short! Out of health, out of money, and disappointed about meeting

"Well, I was told that this was just the place for folks in such a
condition, and I was hustled into a warm bath, and into Ward 23, among a
set of ghastly, half-in-the-grave looking fellows, some of whom lay, or
sat up, in bed, like marble posts; some were cracking vulgar jokes, and
one or two of the most deathly-looking ones were cursing and grumbling
because they could not be allowed a pint of whiskey a day.... Perhaps I
am wrong, but I can't help feeling grieved, mortified, and sad to come
here so like a beggar! but what could I do? Here I've been on expense,
more or less, ever since I left school, and no way of getting money. I
have parted with my watch, and expect to receive ten or fifteen dollars
for that shortly; so I shall get on nicely, only it galls me to have to
be in this situation here! but I hope I shall not be here long.... And
if I can get my health again, I shall know how to prize it; and shall be
as thankful to God as I was when released from prison."

He was as unselfish in hospital as elsewhere. Having a little money left
with him by friends, for the purchase of such comforts as he might
crave, he at once set about ministering to the needs of those about him
in the different wards, finding it ever "more blessed to give than to

"Perhaps it may be gratifying to you," he wrote, in returning thanks for
kindness shown to him by a slight gift, "to know of some of the effects
of that kindness; of some of the good it has brought about, and some of
the hearts it has cheered. That poor, deformed, ghastly-looking boy
that I pointed out to you while we were conversing together in the
hospital, wanted many things that were not furnished him. I expended a
little of that money that you left with me upon him, ... and it would
send a thrill of pleasure through and through you to have noted the
effect. He was so unused to kindness that it quite overcame him. Poor,
dear fellow! He is not long for this world. May the Lord watch over him,
and prepare him for the future!

"And then there was a poor Irish girl in one of the wards, a Catholic,
but one of the most devoted Christian girls I ever met.... Her home is
in Ireland; but while visiting in this country, she met with a fearful
accident, and was sent to the hospital for treatment. When I met her she
was recovering, but was feeling somewhat disheartened because her
friends were so far away; and she was often slighted on account of her
being an 'Irish Catholic.'... I was enabled to cheer her up a great
deal, and to do one or two little substantial acts of kindness for her,
which went directly to her heart, and seemed to do her so much good
that I thanked God, involuntarily, for the opportunity of cheering her,
and being of service to her.

"But I was enabled to render the most assistance to an American lady,--a
noble-hearted woman and a true Christian. Her life has been one of
adventure and suffering, and one cannot listen to the recital of her
touching story without feeling deeply interested in her. She has been in
the hospital a long time, and is at present very weak and frail; and
there is a great deal of doubt about her ever being any better. I bought
little things for her that I knew did her good; and when I came away I
left a very little money with her, in order that she might be able to
procure any little thing that she felt as if she couldn't do without,
even if the hospital did not furnish it. And so I had the pleasure of
leaving her quite light-hearted and hopeful, believing more firmly than
ever that the Lord would care for her, and never, never forsake her."

It was indeed a privilege to give assistance in any way to one so
grateful as was Manning, for all that he received of blessing, and so
ready to make others happy by ministering discreetly, and in a loving,
Christ-like spirit, to the needy and heavy-burdened about him.


From the hospital to his home, and again among friends who felt that his
presence with them was in itself a blessing, Manning still sought
health, while growing gradually weaker and less able to exert himself in
body or mind. He would not see the dark side of his case, but still
confidently hoped for recovery. "I don't feel natural yet, by any
means," he wrote from Fiskdale, where he was with good friends on a
farm, in October, 1867, "nor free from mental weakness, but I'm stronger
physically than I have been since I left Andover, certain. You see we
are a mile and a half from neighbors, and my friends are very quiet
indeed, so I talk hardly any; and when I get to work husking corn,
digging potatoes, and the like, I often even forget to _think_, and I
gain by it rapidly; but when I come down to writing letters, it puts me

Manning's days of struggle with disease were not wholly profitless to
others. He was the means of not a little good, in his moving from point
to point in the last year of his toilsome life. At South Danvers,
Bridgewater, Fiskdale, Winchester, Beverly, Hartford, and elsewhere, he
raised his voice or used his warm and loving heart for precious souls,
in ways that will never be forgotten. His crown in heaven will be bright
with stars won in those months of vain search for health. And this work
was ever a joy to him, and he thanked God for his part in it.

While in the hospital at Boston, he told in sadness of his
disappointments in efforts at Christian activity,--of his going to a
place in Vermont where was such need of religious endeavor that "even he
could do something for Jesus," and of his being taken ill on the very
day of his arrival there, and thus prevented raising his voice for the
Master. "And so it has often been," he added, regretfully. "I don't know
whether I've learned the right lesson from all this; but this is what
it seems to me God is teaching me by these disappointments: It is a
blessed privilege to work for Jesus. Jesus didn't need me in Vermont. He
has never needed me anywhere; but he has let me work for him sometimes.
Oh, if I ever get well enough to work for him again, won't I be thankful
for it!" Would to God that all Christians had learned this lesson as


At length the prolonged struggle drew towards its close. Early in May
last, Manning--told by the physicians in a water-cure establishment,
where he had been spending some months, that nothing more could be done
for him with hope--turned his steps for the last time to his Warwick
home. He still had hope of recovery, for he had passed so many perils
safely that he could hardly realize there was any death for him; but he
was now more resigned to inaction, in the same trustful love of Jesus
and his cause. "I know that my Saviour will take care of me," he wrote:
"I don't _think_ it, I _know_ it! I haven't the slightest doubt of it.
He never manifested himself to me more wonderfully than he has of late;
never satisfied the cravings of my heart more, or filled my soul more
full! And I believe I never had so much love for him, or loved to speak
of him to others, so well, as at the present time!" But he added, "It is
not my business to think whether I am to live or die, but, rather, how I
can best serve Christ. I want to do any thing, and be any thing, and
suffer any thing that he wants me to." So, as he lay down on his
home-bed to die, he had learned his last lesson,--he could wait as well
as work.

    "He was not eager, bold,
      Nor strong,--all that was past;
    He was ready not to do,
      At last, at last."

His faith grew firmer as his flesh failed, and the less he could himself
do, the more he was ready to trust God to do for him. On one occasion,
when it seemed as if his hour of death had come, his sisters who were
nearest were all summoned to his bedside, and just then two other
sisters came in unexpectedly,--one from Boston, the other from
Wisconsin,--while a friend whom he had particularly desired to see
again, also visited him. For the first time in several years the family
were all together at home. This moved Manning to profoundest gratitude
to God, and he repeatedly referred to it in this spirit, telling over
the story of recent blessings secured to himself and his loved ones, as
though he had just pride in the power and goodness of his heavenly
Father, who had done all this for his comfort. Again, when he was
pressed for means to supply his daily necessities, a sister came to him
one morning to say that a letter had been received covering a gift of
thirty dollars for his use. A pleasant smile came over his face as he
responded, "I prayed for money last night. It was the first time I had
asked for that in a good while."

There were long and weary weeks for him of final trial in racking
pain--the whole inner system destroyed by the foul air of swamp and
dungeon, and the scant or vile food of stockade and jail, while the
still young and naturally vigorous outer man refused to be yet wholly
crushed. There were dreams of prison-life, hunger and thirst ever
unsatisfied; and seasons of agony in struggle for breath, as with slow,
wasting flesh, and cold, clammy brow, the patient sufferer whispered
with livid lips, in unfailing trust, "I want nothing; I wish for
nothing; I hope for nothing: I only wait," until death brought relief
and rest on the evening of Friday, Sept. 4, 1868. Two days later, his
remains were borne out by loving hands from the church where, seven
years before, that very month, he had stood up to witness for Jesus
before going out to face death at the call of God, and tenderly laid
away under the green turf of the neighboring hill-side cemetery, close
by the tasteful granite shaft which stands "In Memory of Warwick's
Soldiers who fell in the War of the Great Rebellion."


And thus the earthly warfare of another brave soldier is concluded. His
was a noble work,--a work for others; for his fellows, his country, his
God. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life
for his friends." Henry Manning "hath done what he could" for the
interests dear to the hearts of the Union soldiers. It is for those who
survive him to hold sacred, and to guard jealously the principles and
privileges--the supremacy of the Federal Government; the integrity of
the national Union; the just liberties of the people of the Republic;
the protection in their every right of all its citizens; the execution
of the laws, and the inviolability of the national faith--for which he
and so many other soldiers battled, endured, and prayed, and gave or
risked their lives.

And the faith of Henry Manning should be deemed yet more admirable and
holy than his work. His work was heroic: his faith was sublime! It was
because of his faith in that Saviour who died for him, and was an
ever-present help in all his needs, that he went out as a soldier, and
endured unto the end so bravely. "He fought a good fight" because he
"kept the faith." "Through faith" he "escaped the edge of the sword; out
of weakness was made strong, waxed valiant in fight," "had trial ... of
bonds and imprisonment, ... being destitute, afflicted, tormented," and
out of all "obtained a good report;" and finally has "gotten the
victory," and received "a crown of glory that fadeth not away."

Surely in view of his faith and his faithfulness, and of the cause for
which Henry Manning lived and gave his life, it behooves the lovers of
their Country and of the Cross, to "hold such in reputation, because,
for the sake of Christ, he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life
to supply their lack of service."

Cambridge: Press of John Wilson and Son.


  Text in italics is indicated by underscores: _italics_.

  Inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation have been retained from
    the original.

  Punctuation has been corrected without note.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected as follows:
    Page 16: stanch has been changed to staunch

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