Lincoln's inclination to grant clemency to soldiers was embodied in a popular poem of the day, "The Sleeping Sentinel," by Francis De Haas Janvier. The poem recalls Lincoln's pardon of Private William Scott of the 3rd Vermont Infantry. Scott was sentenced to be executed after falling asleep on guard. In the poem, Janvier depicts Lincoln frantically racing to the firing squad line-up to save the only son of Mrs. Scott, a widow. Although the account was mostly fiction the soldiers were convinced that it was true -- for them Father Abraham was truly "the last best hope of earth."

"The Sleeping Sentinel"