DayBreaks for 3/01/16: A Rescued Reputation
Lieut. Col. Norval E. Welch commanded the 16th Michigan on July 2nd 1863 during the afternoon struggle for Little Round Top, Battle of Gettysburg. Holding the right flank of Strong Vincent’s brigade line, Welch commanded only 150 men that day.
As the lead regiments of Confederate General Hood’s division–veteran Texans and Alabamians—attacked his position, Welch apparently lost his nerve and withdrew with the regimental flag and about 25 other men. The rest of the regiment remained in the fight. Strong Vincent, moving to bolster Welch’s flagging line, was mortally wounded.
Attempting to protect his reputation, Welch blamed others for his cowardice. Returning to Michigan on “sick leave,” he took up some recruiting duties in Detroit.
Despite his tarnished reputation, Welch returned to command the 16th Michigan one year later. At the Battle of Peebles Farm on September 30, 1864, even though his enlistment had just expired, Welch led his men over the Confederate ramparts, calling to them “On boys and over.” First to mount the heavily defended redoubt, Welch was struck by a Confederate bullet in the head and died immediately–redeeming his reputation by his brave death.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who had commanded the 20th Maine at Gettysburg and won the Medal of Honor for his efforts that day, commented after the war about Welch and others who had some bad moments in battle:
“Among these men were some doubly deserving—comrades whom we thought lost, bravely returning. . . If sometime a shadow passes over such spirits, it needs neither confession nor apology. . . Welch, of the 16th Michigan, first on the ramparts at Peebles’ Farm, shouting, ‘On boys, and over!’ and receiving from on high the same order for his own daring spirit…” If Properly Led webpage….
Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t discard us for a single failure? Or for a bad reputation? Aren’t you glad that He forgives over and over, welcoming us back to His arms?
Courage is rare, but Jesus invites us to live lives of courage, to go “On men and women, and over!” when it comes to the battle with our mortal enemy. The question is whether or not the church (and we as individuals) will rise to that challenge or whether we will take the flag and run for shelter. Will be found in the midst of the charge? Will you go “On…and over”?
If you have failed in the past, don’t let that stop you today…or tomorrow!
TODAY’S PRAYER: Give us the courage of your Spirit that we might not shirk our duty and cower in shame! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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