One day in May, 1863, while the great war was raging between the North and South, President Lincoln paid a visit to one of the military hospitals, says an exchange. He had spoken many cheering words of sympathy to the wounded as he proceeded through the various wards, and now he was at the bedside of a Vermont boy of about sixteen years of age, who lay there mortally wounded.
Taking the dying boy’s thin, white hands in his own, the President said, in a tender tone:
"Well, my poor boy, what can I do for you?"
The young fellow looked up into the President’s kindly face and asked: "Won’t you write to my mother for me?"
"That I will," answered Mr. Lincoln; and calling for a pen, ink and paper, he seated himself by the side of the bed ad wrote from the boy’s dictation. It was a long letter, but the President betrayed no sign of weariness. When it was finished, he rose, saying:
"I will post this as soon as I get back to my office. Now is there anything else I can do for you?"
The boy looked up appealingly to the President.
"Won’t you stay with me?" he asked. "I do want to hold on to your hand."
Mr. Lincoln at once perceived the lad’s meaning. The appeal was too strong for him to resist; so he sat down by his side ad took hold of his hand. For two hours the President sat there patiently as though he had been the boy’s father.
When the end came he bent over and folded the thin hands over his breast. As he did so he burst into tears, and when, soon afterward, he left the hospital, they were still streaming down his cheeks.