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events which are daily passing before our eyes, and to wish that Heaven had gifted him with higher attributes and a wider field of action, in order that his achievements might be commensurate with his desires. We shall not quarrel with Mr. Murdoch’s estimate of himself. Modesty is too rare and too beautiful a quality to be drawn from its seclusion by open criticism. Whatever may have been the value of his labors, they have been earnest, single in their purpose, entirely unselfish, and perfectly successful within the limits of their sphere. Mr. Murdoch does not claim to be either a poet or an orator: yet he has set before us the most beautiful thoughts of the former with a passion, an energy, and a skilful modulation of voice that have seldom been rivalled by the latter. We are perfectly content with the scope of his work. He fills a place that would have been vacant without him; and although, since he began his peculiar career, he has raised around him a crowd of imitators, none has equalled him in merit or approached him in usefulness.
During the popular excitement which followed the firing upon the flag of Sumter, Mr. Murdoch was on his way from Milwaukie to fulfil a professional engagement at Pittsburg. He could not be insensible to the spirit which was rising around him, and which increased in enthusiasm at every step of his journey. The President's first call for volunteers was arriving at every telegraphic station, and the spark which bore the message seemed to have kindled a flame in every heart. On arriving at Pittsburg, Mr. Murdoch was met by the intelligence that his younger son, Thomas Forrest Murdoch, had enlisted in a Zouave regiment and was then on his way to Washington. Although on that night Mr. Murdoch was advertised to play “Hamlet,” he threw up his engagement and
started in search of his brave son. At Lancaster he found his boy in the ranks, patiently awaiting the order to move forward, and resolved to persevere in the course which he had chosen. What could the father do but confirm his son's choice and bestow a blessing upon him? Touched with the natural action, the comrades of his son, with a true American impulse, called upon Mr. Murdoch for a speech. The speech was made to them; and in that speech the orator not only animated the regiment, but he also convinced himself as to the line of duty which he was called upon to pursue. He at once abandoned his theatrical career, resolving to devote all his time, talent, and energy to the cause of his country, and not to reappear upon the stage until that cause should be triumphant. Mr. Murdoch made this great pecuniary sacrifice from no distaste to his profession. Like all other professions, he regards it as an honorable one when honorably followed; and at the close of the war it is his intention to return to a vocation in which he, at least, has always enjoyed the respect and admiration of his countrymen. He has adhered to the resolution thus formed most manfully, although tempted on all sides by the managers of theatres with offers of engagements that would have been far more remunerative to him than any which he had previously accepted, and although his failing health has again and again warned him to abandon his arduous, patriotic duties, and, if activity has become a necessity of his nature, to return to the lighter labors of his former profession.
The sacrifice of his professional career has not been the only one which Mr. Murdoch has made for his country. The noble boy with whom he parted in Lancaster is now lying beneath the bloody sod of the battle-field of Chickamauga. Captain Thomas Forrest Murdoch received his first commission as lieutenant for his gallantry in the campaign which closed with the terrible battle of Shiloh. At the battle of Stone River he served upon the staff of General Van Cleve; his horse was shot under him; and for his brave conduct upon that occasion he was promoted to a captaincy. He fell at the head of General Van Cleve's line of battle in the first day's fight at Chickamauga, shouting to the men, “Come on, boys! try them once more!” Memorable words, the spirit of which his country adopted in its subsequent struggles. “Try them again!” has been, and shall continue to be, our motto, until the dying warcry of the gallant young soldier shall be drowned in the overwhelming shout of triumph.
Mr. Murdoch's elder son, Captain James E. Murdoch, found it impossible to remain quietly at home, with the news of battle ringing in his ears and seeming to reproach him for his backwardness. He therefore shouldered his musket and followed his brother to the field. He was promoted for good conduct soon after he joined the army, in which he served on the staff of Brigadier-General Sill until that distinguished man fell gloriously at the battle of Stone River. Captain James E. Murdoch led his company through the long and bloody actions at Chickamauga, although his physical condition scarcely warranted his bravery; and at the close of the second day's fight but a handful of men answered to the roll-call of the company, which originally represented one hundred of the brave farmer-boys of his father's immediate neighborhood, Warren county, Ohio. Captain James E. Murdoch was afterwards obliged to quit active military duty, on account of his physical disability. He retired, with an honorable record and the highest recommendations from his corps and division commanders, and obtained a position in the invalid service. He
has since, however, returned to civil life, to cheer, as we hope, his father's declining years.
Mr. Murdoch himself has also seen some active service in the ranks of his country. At the call of the Governor of Ohio, he sallied out with the volunteers when the rebels threatened Cincinnati. He acted as aid to Commodore Duble in the gunboat flotilla on the Ohio River, and he afterwards served on the staff of that gallant soldier and loyal Kentuckian, Major-General Lovel Rousseau. For these services, as for his more peaceful efforts, Mr. Murdoch never received, nor desired to receive, a cent of
from the Government. When Mr. Murdoch came to the East, during the present spring, it was with the intention of continuing his course of “Readings,” of visiting the Army of the Potomac, and inspiring the soldiers with the enthusiasm which his recitations have always created in the Army of the Cumberland, and of collecting the money and publishing the volume which he intended to devote to the “Relic Fund.” He has failed to carry out a part of his plan, through the incapacity produced by many and, at times, serious attacks of illness. This volume is the result of so much labor as he has been able to perform; and the editor asks for it the indulgence which is usually accorded to a work produced under unfavorable circumstances and amidst the distractions of private suffering and unparalleled public excitement.
Various sums of money have been received as subscriptions to the Ladies' Societies in aid of soldiers' families, sick and wounded soldiers, &c. A copy of the book is to be presented to each subscriber. When that demand is satisfied, the book will be offered to the public, and the proceeds, after defraying expenses, will be handed to such societies as the committee may determine, for the relief of the soldiers. Of course, no subscriptions can be received after this date. The original intention of printing the subscribers' names has been abandoned, on account of the increased size of the book, as it now contains nearly one-third more of printed matter than was at first intended. The entire profits from the publication will be given to the charities above mentioned.