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One of the darkest chapters of the Civil War is “The Palmyra Massacre.” In 1862, the Confederate Army released 45 Confederate prisoners from a Union stronghold and arrested an Union sympathizer, Andrew Allsman.

Union Provost Marshal William R. Strachan re-took the post and demanded that Allsman be returned or 10 Confederate POWs would be executed. (This would be considered a war crime today.) The Confederacy didn’t give in to the blackmail.

Ten men were escorted from the prison and forced to sit upon their own coffins. A hundred spectators gathered to gawk at the gruesome scene. The officer in command now stepped forward, and gave the word of command. The firing squad did their work.

One of the ten men originally on the list of prisoners to be executed received a last-minute acquittal. The reprieved man was William T. Humphrey. You see, an-other soldier came forward, explaining that he was unmarried and without a family. He asked permission to take the place of Humphrey, stating that perhaps it would be better for a single man to die than a man with a family.

If you go to that soldier’s grave, you will find a tombstone with this inscription: “This monument is dedicated to the memory of Hiram Smith. The hero who sleeps beneath the sod here was shot in Palmyra, October 17, 1862 as a substitute for William T. Humphrey, my father.”

Hiram Smith paid the ultimate price for another. Likewise, Jesus paid the ultimate price for you. And the cross is his monument. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Someone died that you might live.

Larry Fitzgerald
Abilene, TX

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