The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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in so short a time is a wonder to every one who recalls that he died ere he was yet forty years of age. To this day even he is always referred to in North Carolina as "the Reverend Mr. Saunders." In what esteem he was held in Florida will be shown by an extract from a letter from Hon. Walker Anderson, afterward chief justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, to Rev. W. M. Green, then professor at the University of North Carolina, now the venerable bishop of Mississippi:

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA, October 27, 1839.

        "MY DEAR SIR: It has been a long time since we interchanged a letter, and it is a sad occasion that prompts me now to renew our correspondence. We have lost a beloved and valued friend, and I know it will afford you a mournful pleasure to learn some particulars of his last hours. Our excellent pastor, the Rev. Mr. Saunders, has been removed from his labors on earth to his reward in heaven, and left a whole community in tears. He died on Thursday morning, the 24th instant, after a distressing illness of eight days with malignant brain fever. You have heard doubtless of the terrible scourage with which our near neighbor, Mobile, has been visited this fall. Among the fugitives from that place many came here, and, bringing the seeds of disease with them, they came only to linger and die among strangers. There were, therefore, many calls upon the sympathy of all; none responded to such calls more freely than our dear friend. He was continually abroad day and night with the sick and dying, exposing himself fearlessly to the sun and the dews. On the Sunday before his illness commenced he preached at the request of the Commodore of the squadron here on board of the flagship, and on his return complained that he felt the sun beating powerfully on his head as he was preaching; for the service was on deck, and his being elevated brought his head near to the awning, which was between them and the sun. Though he felt his head affected from this time, he did not complain much of it, and on Tuesday night, being called up at midnight to visit a young lady who was dying with yellow fever, he went, having to walk near a half mile in a high, keen wind. He was up the whole night, and spoke to me afterward of the severe trial of feeling he underwent from the painful circumstances of the death-bed he attended. On Wednesday morning at 9 o'clock he was taken with a chill, followed by high fever. From the first he had the best medical advice, the fleet surgeons from both the American and French squadrons being assiduous in their attention, and I need not say he was nursed as faithfully as the most devoted love could dictate by his anxious and sorrowing people. His disease at first seemed to be a common bilious fever, such as has prevailed lately to some extent among us, but which is usually mild and easily managed, and in his case it seemed to yield readily to the prescriptions, but on Monday we began to perceive indications of an affection of the brain, and during that night we could no longer mistake the malignant character of the attack. On Thursday morning after waking from a sleep of some hours his mind was greatly obscured, and before that night came a dismal darkness had settled over his fine and well-balanced intellect. He raved incessantly and incoherently, but in all his wanderings God and Christ and heaven was the burden of his thoughts. He was ever going through some of the services of the church or in a loud and anxious tone exhorting his people. He would call on us to pray, and with a devout and impassionate manner repeat scraps from the Prayer Book, and once he got as far in the Lord's Prayer as the petition 'Thy will be done.' This continued with but little intermission for forty-eight hours; for even when his strength failed him by bending your ear to his lips you would find he still was whispering about the church and kindred topics. He sunk to rest without apparent suffering, though while his extremities were chilling with the damps of death, the heat of the top of his head was almost painful to the touch. Not a single glimmering of reason was permitted to cheer those who watched his parting struggle. He was buried on the afternoon of Thursday with more than the ordinary marks of respect. The floor of of his vestry room was removed and his grave dug beneath the spot in which he was in the habit of sitting when there. The vestry, besides addressing a letter of condolence to his widow, full of admiration for his character and sorrow for his loss, have determined to erect a tablet to his memory. So universal was the reverence in which he was held that on the day of his death and funeral the stores of the whole city were closed, the Creoles and Catholics uniting heartily with his own people in this demonstration of respect, and the officers of the French squadron, which is lying in our harbor, attended the services in full uniform."

        By his marriage with Miss Baker he left four
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