Moment of Mercy

Moment of Mercy (HM4GJ)

Location: Harrisburg, PA 17103 Dauphin County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 16.315', W 76° 51.36'

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By Sculptor Terry Jones

The Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December of 1862, was one of the bloodier engagements of the American Civil War. On December 13th, Federal troops made repeated assaults against Confederate positions behind the stone walls along the Sunken Road at Marye's Heights. In five hours an estimated 6,300 Union soldiers lay dead or wounded on the battlefield. As darkness approached, a light snow fell and the temperatures dropped to near zero. All through the frigid gloom, injured men cried in agony" "Help," "Water," "Somebody, please help." For one Union Commander that night was forever etched in his memory. "My ears were filled with the cries and groans of the wounded, and the ghastly faces of the dead almost made a wall around me."

By the afternoon of December 14th, Sergeant Richard R. Kirkland of the 2nd South Carolina Infantry could no longer bear those mournful cries. Shortly after mid-day, Kirkland secured permission from his commander to take water to those in need. Filling as many canteens as he could carry, Kirkland hurtled the stone wall and ran to the aid of wounded Union soldiers. Shots rang out from the Federal lines. Only when the purpose of the Confederate's errand became readily apparent, did the Union commander shout down the line: "Don't shoot that man, he's too brave to die." Then, for ninety minutes the battlefield was quiet.

Both sides observed a solemn truce as the nineteen-year-old sergeant turned Good Samaritan tenderly ministered to enemy wounded soldiers in what was most assuredly a "moment of mercy."

Soldiers in blue and soldiers in gray repeated this incident many times throughout the Civil War. This Moment of Mercy sculpture pays homage to them and the uniquely American spirit of aiding those in need.

Sponsored by The John Crain Kunkel Foundation.

HM NumberHM4GJ
Series This marker is part of the Markers Attached to Sculpture series
Year Placed2001
Placed ByThe National Civil War Museum
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 6th, 2014 at 4:34pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 342198 N 4459590
Decimal Degrees40.27191667, -76.85600000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 16.315', W 76° 51.36'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 16' 18.90" N, 76° 51' 21.60" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)717
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1 Park Cir Dr, Harrisburg PA 17103, US
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