|The Angel of Marye's Heights"
Richard Kirkland was a Confederate soldier from South Carolina.
December, 1862, found his brigade stationed behind a stone wall at the base of Marye's Heights. ("Marye" is pronounced "ma-ree.) Down a gentle slope lay the town of Fredericksburg, Virginia; occupying the town was the Union Army under the command of General Ambrose Burnside, whose long whiskers gave us the term "sideburns."
Burnside, who did not want to command this army, ordered a series of fruitless, and tragic, Federal assaults against this stone wall and the entrenched Rebel lines. Seven assaults gained them nothing; Burnside was seen to retreat into his tent in agony. he finally called off the charges.
A silence fell across the battlefield. Then a low moan could be heard; it was the cries of the wounded Union soldiers lying on the field in front of the stone wall. This mournful sound went on and on for hours.
Finally young Kirkland could stand it no longer. With the "ok" from his commanding officer, General Kershaw, Kirkland grabbed as many canteens as he could hold and, filling them with water, climbed over the stone wall and began to take the water to the Union wounded, his very enemies.
Kershaw did not allow Kirkland to use a white flag, yet neither side fired a shot; they all watched in wonder and amazement as Kirkland went from soldier to soldier for over an hour and a half.
Kirkland was killed one year later at Chickamagua. But today there is a large bronze statue of him giving water to an enemy soldier.
For this courageous and noble act, he is now known as the "Angel of Marye's Heights."