War Sermon Illustrations

War Sermon Illustrations

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French Grenadier

During the assault of Thurot on the town of Carrickfergus in 1760, an incident took place, reflecting at once the highest lustre on the soldier concerned, and evincing the union of consummate courage with noble humanity. Whilst the combatants were opposed to each other in the streets, and every inch was pertinaciously disputed by the British forces, a child by some accident escaped from a house in the midst of the scene of action, and ran, unawed by the danger, into the narrow interval between the hostile fronts. One of the French grenadiers seeing the imminent danger of the child, grounded his piece; left the ranks in the hottest fire; took the child in his arms, and placed it in safety in the house from which it had come, and then with all possible haste returned to resume his part in the fight.

George I

During the siege of Fort St. Philip, a young lieutenant of marines was so unfortunate as to lose both his legs by a chain-shot. In this miserable and helpless condition he was conveyed to England, and a memorial of his case presented to a board; but nothing more than half-pay could be obtained. Major Manson had the poor lieutenant conducted to court on a public day, in his uniform; where, posted in the ante-room, and supported by two of his brother officers, he cried out, as the king was passing to the drawing-room, "Behold, sire, a man who refuses to bend his knee to you; he has lost both in your service." The king, struck no less by the singularity of his address, than by the melancholy object before him, stopped, and hastily demanded what had been done for him. "Half-pay," replied the lieutenant, "and please your majesty." "Fye, fye on't," said the king, shaking his head; "but let me see you again next levee-day." The lieutenant did not fail to appear, when he received from the immediate hand of royalty a present of five hundred pounds, and an annuity of two hundred pounds a-year for life.

Charles VI

At the breaking out of the war against the Turks, in the year 1717, the Emperor Charles VI. of Austria took leave of his general, Prince Eugene, with the following words: "Prince, I have set over you a general, who is always to be called to your council, and in whose name all your operations are to be undertaken." With this he put into his hand a crucifix, richly set with diamonds, at the foot of which was the following inscription, 'Jesus Christus Generalissimus.'—"Forget not," added the Emperor, "that you are fighting his battles who shed his blood for man upon the Cross. Under his supreme guidance, attack and overwhelm the enemies of Christ and Christianity."

George the Second

It was once found an impracticable task to make George the Second acquiesce in a judgment passed by a court-martial on the conduct of two officers high in the army. One of the officers had made himself amenable to military law, by fighting in opposition to the orders of his commander in chief, instead of retreating; by which act of disobedience, the general's plans were frustrated. On these circumstances being detailed to the king, his majesty exclaimed, "Oh! the one fight, the other run away." "Your majesty will have the goodness to understand, that General ---- did not run away; it was necessary for the accomplishment of his schemes, that he should cause the army to retreat at that critical moment; this he would have conducted with his wonted skill, but for the breach of duty in the officer under the sentence of the court-martial." "I understand," impatiently returned the king; "one fight, he was right; the other run away, he was wrong." It was in vain that ministers renewed their arguments and explanations; his majesty could not, or would not, understand the difference between a disgraceful flight and a politic retreat; they were therefore obliged to end a discussion which merely drew forth the repetition of the same judgment—"The one face the enemy and fight, he right; the other turn his back and not fight, he wrong."


At the siege of Oran, in Africa, Cardinal Ximenes led the Spanish troops to the breach, mounted on a charger, dressed in his pontifical robes, and preceded by a monk on horseback, who bore his archiepiscopal cross. "Go on, go on, my children," exclaimed he to the soldiers, "I am at your head. A priest should think it an honour to expose his life for his religion. I have an example in my predecessors, in the archbishopric of Toledo. Go on to victory." When his victorious troops took possession of the town, he burst into tears on seeing the number of the dead that were lying on the ground; and was heard to say to himself, "They were indeed infidels, but they might have become Christians. By their death, they have deprived us of the principal advantage of the victory we have gained over them."

An Odd Grenadier

During the famous siege of Gibraltar, in the absence of the fleet, and when an attack was daily expected, one dark night, a sentinel, whose post was near a tower facing the Spanish lines, was standing at the end of his walk, looking towards them, his head filled with nothing but fire and sword, miners, breaching, storming, and bloodshed, while by the side of his box stood a deep narrow-necked earthen jug, in which was the remainder of his supper, consisting of boiled pease. A large monkey (of which there were plenty at the top of the rock), encouraged by the man's absence, and allured by the smell of the pease, ventured to the jug; and, in endeavouring to get at its contents, thrust his neck so far into the jug, as to be unable to withdraw it. At this instant, the soldier approaching, the monkey started up to escape, with the jug on his head. This terrible monster no sooner saluted the eyes of the sentry, than his frantic imagination converted poor pug into a blood-thirsty Spanish grenadier, with a tremendous cap on his head. Full of this dreadful idea, he instantly fired his piece, roaring out that the enemy had scaled the walls. The guards took the alarm; the drums were beat; signal-guns fired; and in less than ten minutes, the governor and his whole garrison were under arms. The supposed grenadier, being very much incommoded by his cap, and almost blinded by the pease, was soon overtaken and seized; and by this capture, the tranquillity of the garrison was soon restored, without that slaughter and bloodshed which every man had prognosticated at the beginning of this dire alarm.

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