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The Power of Forgiveness

By Steve Goodier

Steve Goodier shares with us a story of forgiveness about Abraham Lincoln and a Civil War soldier.

During the American Civil War, a young man named Roswell McIntyre was drafted into the New York Cavalry. The war was not going well. Soldiers were needed so desperately that he was sent into battle with very little training. Roswell became frightened — he panicked and ran. He was later court-martialed and condemned to be shot for desertion.

McIntyre's mother appealed to President Lincoln. She pleaded that he was young and inexperienced and he needed a second chance. The generals, however, urged the president to enforce discipline. Exceptions, they asserted, would undermine the discipline of an already beleaguered army.

Lincoln thought and prayed. Then he wrote a famous statement. "I have observed," he said, "that it never does a boy much good to shoot him."

He wrote this letter in his own handwriting: "This letter will certify that Roswell McIntyre is to be readmitted into the New York Cavalry. When he serves out his required enlistment, he will be freed of any charges of desertion."

That faded letter, signed by the president, is on display in the Library of Congress. Beside it there is a note, which reads, "This letter was taken from the body of Roswell McIntyre, who died at the battle of Little Five Forks, Virginia."

It never does a boy (or anybody else for that matter) much good to shoot him. But you might be surprised at the power of forgiveness.

From Steve Goodier's RICHES OF THE HEART

Get Books By Steve Goodier Here: (877) 344-0989 OR

P.S. "I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived.

Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life. -- Eleanor Roosevelt, sent in by Byron Bostic

From Steve's Quips, Quotes and One-Liners newsletter. To subscribe free, send any e-mail to

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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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