Monday, August 12, 2013

Abraham Lincoln Discharges Teen Soldier

Pol Light #63 is when Abraham Lincoln discharged a disabled teenager from the military service on February 7, 1865. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from 1861 until his assassination in 1865.

On February 6, 1865, Col. Thomas W. Harris petitioned Illinois Sen. Lyman Trumbull and Gen. John M. Palmer to discharge his son by the way of a telegram that said, "My son Perry Harris 14 years old insane crippled has been mustered in 55th Kentucky regiment. Please have Secretary of War order him discharged. Col. Thos. W. Harris of Shelbyville, Ill."

Perry Harris had enlisted in the army without his parent's permission and he was not the legal age of 18. It was not uncommon in those days for young people to falsify their age both to enlist and to try and get out of the military once they experienced the reality of war. Discharge requests were likely considered with a grain of salt.

General Palmer passed the note to Lincoln with a note that said, "I have no doubt of the truth of this statement. John M. Palmer." When hearing of this situation, Abraham Lincoln ordered that the boy be discharged. He wrote a brief note that said, "Let this boy be discharged. - President Abraham Lincoln. (Source)." The note reached the field and Perry Harris was eventually discharged and released from his regiment in Kentucky ironically on April 15, 1865, the same day Abraham Lincoln was assassinated (Source).

Perry Chiramonte shared this story about Abraham Lincoln in an article for Fox News, when the handwritten letter from Abraham Lincoln about this Pol Light moment was uncovered and put on auction after years in a private collection. Nathan Raab an autograph dealer with the Raab Collection appraised the note at $15,000 and he described the importance of the note to Fox News,
"It shows the type of person [Lincoln] was and how he was defined by clemency. When you see it's involving a father and his son, it strikes a personal chord and likely did for Lincoln. He was a father of four who lost all but one of his sons (Source)."
Abraham Lincoln has been featured on other Pol Light posts. To view all Abraham Lincoln posts search with Abraham Lincoln label at Pol Light.

Pol Light does not endorse political candidates. We present a brighter side to politics when they are found on either side of the aisle. We don't have to agree with all of a person's politics to recognize these bright moments.

Photo: The photo in this post of Abraham Lincoln is in the Public Domain.

No comments:

Post a Comment