“Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the President.
The soldier obviously didn’t recognize Lincoln, and with some effort he was able to whisper, “Could you please write a letter to my mother?”
A pen and paper were provided and the President carefully began writing down what the young man was able to say:
“My dearest mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty. I’m afraid I’m not going to recover. Don’t grieve too much for me, please. Kiss Mary and John for me. May God bless you and father.”
The soldier was too weak to continue, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and added, “written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.”
The young man asked to see the note and was astonished when he discovered who had written it. “Are you really the President?” he asked.
“Yes, I am,” Lincoln replied quietly. Then he asked if there was anything else he could do.
“Could you please hold my hand?” the soldier asked. “It will help to see me through to the end.”
In the hushed room, the tall gaunt President took the boy’s hand in his and spoke warm words of encouragement until death came.