Decision Story

"Thy father calleth thee"

Harold M. S. Richards was founder and speaker of the Voice of Prophecy radio broadcasting program. This article is taken from his book Feed My Sheep published by Review and Herald Publishing Association in 1958.

It was the third day of the awful battle of Gettysburg. Two great armies faced each other the Confederate forces led by Lee were on Seminary Ridge, and the Union forces led by Meade were on Cemetery Ridge. Meade had been appointed at midnight before the battle by President Lincoln. The two generals had been classmates at Westpoint. Here was a battle which would determine the future of our country-brother against brother-50,000 dead in three days. For three hours on this third day, 300 Confederate cannons, one mile away, pounded the Union forces, and the Union cannons were forced to pull back. Then came silence the cannons stopped. Suddenly 16,000 men, all over six feet tall sabers shimmering in the sun began to cross the wheat field it was Picket's charge. The Union cannons opened fire, cutting swaths through the oncoming men. On through the peach orchard they came-and finally with a great Confederate yell, they came over the Union wall. But they couldn't keep their position, and were forced to retreat back across the field. Lee retreated down to the Potomac to turn South. The river was too high for crossing, delaying the retreat. Lincoln kept telegramming Meade to "pursue the enemy, and finish the war," but Meade didn't, which only extended the War.

Wounded spanned the field of battle. There wasn't much organization, or medicine, or people to help the sufferers. Near to the battleground was a Quaker farmhouse. On the evening of the third day, after the battle ended, the Quaker farmer took a lantern and began to cross the fields saying, "John Hartman, thy father calleth thee." And then he'd listen. No answer. "John Hartman, thy father calleth thee." One soldier, upon hearing this repeated call, said, "O to God that were my father." With his light, the farmer goes by Devil's Den, then over to Little Round Top calling, 'John Hartman, thy father calleth thee." Then he hears the faint response, "This way, father." "I'm coming son. I'm coming." Reaching his son, the father lifts him with strong arms and carries him home.

As told by Elder H. M. S. Richards, Sr.