"YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN"
~100 WELL - KNOWN
MEN IN ALL
RANKS OF LIFE
The Hero of the Crimea
CAPTAIN HEDLEY VICARS was born in Mauritius,
in 1826. His father was an officer in the Royal
Engineers, the family estate being at Levally, in Queen's
County, Ireland. When the boy was twelve years old his
father's dying hand was laid upon his head, with the
earnest wish "that he might be a good soldier of Jesus
Christ, and so fight manfully under His banner as to
glorify His Name."
Early in life he joined the depot of the 97th Regiment
in the Isle of Wight, and from first to last devoted him-
self to his duties.
In 1844 he went to Corfu with his regiment, and so
entered into excesses in sin that he afterwards wrote:
"You will be spared sore remorse in after years by re-
membering your Creator in the days of your youth (Eccles.
12. 1). I would give worlds if I had them to undo what
I have done." He was afterwards stationed at or visited
Jamaica, Nova Scotia, and other parts of Canada. Some-
times he was convicted of sin for a time; then again he
would neglect his Bible and his God.
When stationed in Halifax in the month of November,
1851, he was awaiting the return of a brother officer to his
room, and idly turned over the leaves of a Bible which lay
on the table. The words of the 1st Epistle of John, chapter
1, verse 7, caught his eyes: "the blood of Jesus Christ
his Son cleanseth us from all sin." Closing the Book,
he said, "If this be true for me, henceforth I will live, by
the grace of God, as a man shall live who has been washed
in the Blood of Jesus Christ."
That night he scarcely slept, pondering in his heart if
these wondrous words were really meant for him. In the
morning he arose calm in the assurance that they were
"true for him," and "a faithful saying, and worthy of all
acceptation" (1 Tim. 1. 15). "The past," he assured
himself, "is blotted out. What I have to do is to go
forward. I cannot return to the sins from which my
Saviour has cleansed me with His own Blood."
On the morning succeeding that memorable night he
bought a large Bible, placed it open on the table of his
sitting-room, determined that for the future "an open
Bible" should be his colours. Some called him names,
others shrugged their shoulders, one remarked, "Bad as
you were, I never thought you would come to this, old
fellow." But he never faltered, and much grace was given
him to confess Christ before others.
Busy years of service and happy months at home with
his mother and sisters quickly flew past. The 97th was
ordered out to the Crimea in 1854. He endeared himself
by his unceasing care of the sick and suffering during that
eventful winter before Sevastpol, the horrors of which
are historic. The night of the 22nd of March was dark and
dreary, the wind swept in wild gusts across the Crimea.
Soon after ten o'clock firing commenced in the direction
of the Victoria Redoubt. In the murky darkness a Russian
force of 15,000 men crept out of Sevastpol, surprised the
French, and passed on to the British lines. Vicars was the
first discover the enemy so near. He ordered his men to
lie down until the Russians came within twenty paces,
then leaping on the parapet, he cried, "THIS WAY 97TH,"
and led his company of 200 against an advancing force of
2000. The next moment the strong arm fell helpless, and
he dropped among his foes. His men fought their way
through the ranks of the retreating Russians to defend
the leader they loved, and bore him back to safety.
As they laid his body down at his tent door his
spirit winged its flight to the Land of unending peace.
A good soldier of Jesus Christ, he had "fought a good
fight, and finished his course; henceforth the crown"
(2 Tim. 4. 7, 8).
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