Written for The Republican, A Republican Magazine
by James "Ploughboy" Jarvis, date unknown

During the holiday season, while I was on the lookout for something that would afford an interesting topic for future discussion in my department of The Republican. I was handed by an elderly lady and aunt to the writer, a carefully wrapped parcel which I found to contain a soiled and much stained copy of the New Testament -- pocket size. I suppose a copy could be bought anywhere for ten cents.

Perhaps the reader is already wondering why such a cheap article is being so highly prized by that venerable lady. "Cheap, did I say? Ah! My friends that little volume cannot be bought with money.

I look at its binding and I see that at some time it has been stained with some dark fluid, upon opening the book I find that the top of every page bears marks of same stain, some more, some less.

In the Book is pasted to the lid and first fly leaf, a touching and pathetic poem which after reading one is constrained to ask - "Did he whose hands pasted it there, have a premonition that it was a prophecy that must be fulfilled in his own tragic death?"

On a Fly leaf, partly obscured by stains of blood that flowed from a death wound in the breast of the gallant young man who penned it is the following inscription: Alpha Cook, Company A. 21st Regiment, N. C. Troops, Hokes Brigade, Early's Division.

The whole sad story can briefly be told as follows. Alpha Cook was the second son of his widowed mother, Mrs. Nancy (Jarvis) Cook of Clemmonsville, N. C. His elder brother had already been to the front and received a wound that had disabled him for life.

One beautiful Spring morning the Cook family were astir much earlier than usual. His country had demanded his service as a soldier and Alpha was to answer the summons.

After receiving his mother's benediction and a parting blessing and farewell kiss from each of his two sisters, he began with the eldest and bid farewell to four of his brothers. Not seeing the youngest, a mere child of some five or six years of age, he went into the sleeping apartment and roused his little brother that he might look into his innocent and childish face and tender blue eyes for the last time in this world.

In our imagination, we can see the family as they stand weeping while the gallant youth marches bravely off down the road with knapsack upon his back. As he comes to a turn in the road some half a mile away, I fancy I can see him as he stops, turns around and looks for the last time upon the old house which had afforded him shelter and protection all the days of his life. But alas whose threshold he was never more to cross.

He volunteered to go to the front in order that he might join the men and boys from his own immediate section, with whom he was acquainted. The last ever heard of him was during the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19th, 1864, where during a lull in the fight he came to the rear to inquire after a wounded comrade and on leaving said "he must go back to the boys" which was perhaps the last words he ever uttered.

The war closed and long and anxious did that mother wait, hope(ing) and pray(ing) for the return of her darling boy. The family had not only given up all hope of his ever returning but had lost all hope of ever hearing anything of how, where or when he died.

During the year 1879, Mr. Edward G. Eaglen of Palatine, West Virginia published a statement in one of the state papers, The West Virginian, that he had in his possession a Testament bearing the inscription above given and which he took from the inside breast pocket of a dead soldier on the battlefield of Cedar Creek. The poem was copied from one paper to another until news of it reached The Cook family. Then a correspondence was started with Mr. Eaglen and the Testament was soon recovered to the family.

Mr. Eaglen says the boy had this Testament and a small Bible in the same packet but the Bible was so much soaked and covered with blood that he let it lying on the dead boy's breast.

I have before me a letter from Mr. Eaglen to the dead man's brother written 15 years after the sad occurrence and while Mr. Eaglen wore the Blue and young Cook the Gray, he says"I have always had an idea that he was a good man and always had a kind feeling for him and his friends and I hope some day we shall all meet in heaven."

Alpha Cook was born in 1845 and gave his life for his county upon the field of Battle in the year 1864 and his body sleeps in an unmarked grave somewhere between Cedar Creek and New Town, Virginia.

The following is a copy of the poem that is pasted inside the Testament

I want to see my Mother nigh
Oh, can you call her here?
It wouldn't seem so hard to die
to have my Mother near.
My home is in the mountains,
up where the pine trees wave:
Was there I heard the bugle
calling for the brave.

"But I want to see my Mother,
her tender, Loving eye--
and hear her footstep,
to hear her call my name.
To Have her pray beside me--
No other prays the same.

"I Want to clasp her dear hand,
and hold her to my heart,
And say, "God bless you Mother,"
once more before we part.
Mother, Mother, come to me!
I cannot die alone
Come quick my Angel Mother
Oh, Don't you hear me groan..

"On No, she doesn't hear me,
she doesn't know my pain
and She'll never, ever, see me
in my old seat again
She's tending darling sister--
I've dreamed of her all day.
And I hear my little prattler
lisping, "Brudder far away."

"O God! O Chaplain, Hear Me!
Pray Heaven will give me grace
to still this Dying longing
To see my Mother's face.
There. Peace! I'll turn to Jesus
He Never would complain-
He came to save his country
Yet Jesus too was slain.

Yes, Brother, God has heard you,
He's calmed my agony.
My sins are all forgiven now:
and he is all to me
Then Tell my blessed Mother
I'm dying peacefully-
Christ Jesus now is Mother!
and He'll take care of me.

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