Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Never too Young to Serve

     At the start of the Civil War, the Union Army numbered less than 17,000 men.  Three days after the attack on Fort Sumter, Lincoln sent out a call for 75,000 volunteers to serve.  Many more would be needed as the war dragged on, many more.  The average age of a Northern soldier was 25 years old.  The minimum age requirement to enlist was 18, but desperate recruiting officers were not particular.  Before the war ended, there were over 100,000 young boys under the age of 15 serving on the bloody battlefields.  Records show some were not yet 12 years of age when they enlisted.

The chances of being killed in combat were 1 in 65.  The likelihood of being wounded was 1 in 10; and because of poor sanitary conditions, the reality of dying of disease was 1 in 13.  Even though these boys were exempt from service, they answered the call by the thousands.  These boy soldiers usually were recruited as drummers, musicians, messengers, or to assist the nurses in field hospitals.  Yet, during the heat of battle many of these boys put their duties aside and joined the troops in combat.

They fought like men, but were still children, missing their homes like any boy.  After the Battle of Shiloh, a 16 year old child soldier shared these thoughts, "I passed the corpse of a beautiful boy in gray who lay with his blond curls scattered about his face and his hand folded peacefully across his breast.  He was clad in a bright and neat uniform, well garnished with gold, which seemed to tell the story of a loving mother and his sisters."  It is easy to hear the heart of a boy missing his own mother in those words.

At the end of the Civil War 48 young men, all under the age of 18 had been awarded our nation's highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Our Lord and Savior has made the same appeal for troops to serve in His Army.  "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He send forth more laborers into the field."  Matthew 9:37,38  It is up to us to answer the call. There is no minimum or maximum age limits at God's recruiting office. He is just looking for a willing heart who will answer, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then said I, here I am Lord, send me." Isaiah 6:8

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