Posts tagged Civil War

Every War Has Brought Us Here






The times and experiences of today may differ, however, when we take a close look, they often easily add up to the situations we find ourselves in today.

The Revolutionary War was a victory for the obvious underdog-US-the United states of America. There were celebrations all along the East Coast of the Colonies, now States of a new Country. No doubt, the world found its self in a bit of shock. Citizens shouted that we were free. We were of one soul, one mind-freedom. We read the declaration of Independence, the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, even with the knowledge that the fight was far from over, we felt victorious. But who among us, was really “free.”

Women? People of color? The poor, illiterate immigrant? No. On paper, we had freedom of (or from) religion, freedom of taxation without representation and so much more. The document that stated these things was beautifully written. Unfortunately, those old prejudices lived on. Many still do.

We had another war with Great Britain in 1812-again, the United States of America “won”.

About 85 years after the Revolutionary War,, we were fighting amongst ourselves. Was it about “states rights” or“slavery” . Most likely, it was about much more. A new and restless nation, part which had become a leader in world industry and another which had become an agrarian based society with little modern industry. It had found itself dependent on slave labor to make the growing and harvesting of it’s crops profitable. In Europe, such differences in culture and life-style generally produced a new “kingdom. Here, many saw the power of a nation of such size being “one country” as vital to being a world power. Among these men was Abraham Lincoln.

My great-grandfather spent three years without this “freedom”, as a Confederate Officer during the War between the States. He was called up to serve, went with quite a few family members to sing up and was later captured in what was written up as a cowardly surrender by his superior officer near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The letters that he wrote to his wife and children are still tucked in a drawer in my mother’s cedar chest.

This man did not have slaves, he fought for hearth and home, as the average Southern man did. He, in fact, went to court to support a “black” woman’s claim to freedom, and helped her win. He was not wealthy. Neither was the common Northerner who got caught up in this horrible tragedy. My Southern family had its homes burned, crops destroyed, women raped, cattle stolen. Does this make slavery right-absolutely not. Brothers were fighting cousins and uncles. Neighbors, who had gone to church together were suddenly enemies.

Over 500,00 Americans killed-still, we have to pay attention to the question that brought our country into being-are we free yet? The Civil War, The War Between the States, which ever one might call it, it was a tragedy that was not healed by the war, not necessary by any means and set our country back decades from what we should have been doing-upholding the constitution that we fought the British Empire to gain.

It is 1918. World war I has just ended. The Unitted States had tried to stay out of the war, sending supplies, money and support but not troops. Finally, seeing Great Britain and France falling, we were forced to enter this war with our troops. Then, as the war ended, our troops come home to confetti parades, electrically-light arches built in cities across the country to celebrate the end of “The War to End All Wars”. Were we “free” yet?

A terribly written and enforced “Peace Treaty”, The Treaty of Versailles” humiliated Germany, Italy and its neighbors, setting the stage for yet another unthinkably horrible war, only 30 years later. These people were ripe fr anyone who would help them regain their dignity and place in world power. Unfortunately, the “men” who showed up to help with this cause were those like Hitler and Mussolini.Even our “Allies”, such as Stalin were to become a scourge to freedom very soon after a war we fought on both sides of our country was ended in a most unthinkable way-the race for the creation of the atomic bomb. We “won.” Were we now “free?”

I think of slogans, some made popular in earlier wars, that each war fought was “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight”. Throughout history, the poor, the weak, slaves, simple farmers have fought and died while the wealthy, for the most part, sat it out, making plans that cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

There were wars across the world, the Greek Revolution, the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union, the chill of the Korean war, the steaming jungles of Viet Nam, they all haunted the concept of freedom. The violence over human rights and dignity here at home have only gradually began to find some answers. We still have a long way to go. Again, the idea of freedom for all is more a hope than a reality, even in the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”.

I look at the use of religious beliefs as a cause of war. It is not a topic that many like to address. Yet, it is true,historically, many battles have been fought over religion, many people tortured and killed for holding the “wrong” beliefs at that particular time. There are fanatics in every faith. That makes no sense. If we are Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Catholic, Judaic or any other in our belief, why can we not just live in peace and have respect fr the views of others? Will we every find this illusive “freedom” as long as fighting over just about any difference of opinion continues?

How many rows of graves, or ancient crypts will it take to obtain peace? This is a question without answer. I humbly remember and deeply respect all of those who gave their lives in the quest for what some leader demanded was necessary to finally procure “peace’. I will never understand how we can, “fight for peace”. What a horrible oxymoron. There has been so much loss, over and over. This essay may be too long, but it barely touches the history of war.

Why can we not coexist-live in a world where everyone is free from war and hate? The first step is to simply live our lives in a way that is respectful of others, moral, and honest . To continue to repeat the mistakes of the past is entirely useless.



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The Beauty and the Truth

They anxiously took a seat at one of the rather luxurious tables on the ferry. Feeling humbled, the listened to the announcer on the television screens mounted all around telling about the battles that had taken place at the Civil War fort that they could see ahead as they traveled across the bay.

 Copyright - Ted Strutz

It seemed irreverent, a bit foreboding, to ride, in luxury, to a place where hundred died and the history of a nation changed. She grasped the family history book that told of her ancestors’ death at this fort, then wiped a tear and traveled on.

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Women and Children in the Face of War

She walked out in the cold of winter, faded dress blowing in the wind, torn shawl clutched to her shoulder. There was no term “Civil War” to her. The soldiers had conscripted her husband, leaving her with three young children and a belly swollen with child. The war was old, many soldiers had deserted. She had no slaves, many slaves ate better than she and her children did.

The ham was gone from the barn loft where she had hidden it. The Yankee soldiers had stolen it. She was lucky she hadn’t been beaten and raped. She remembered the quote she had read in the newspaper, “It’s a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”. “What,” she cried, “ about the women and children?”

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Bon Moore’s Story

When a Soldier Comes Home from a Civil War Prison Camp-
Bon Moore’s Story

Children grow a lot in two years.  When Bon Moore’s farmhouse came into sight at the end of the long, dirt drive, he saw his two oldest children racing up the road toward him.  “Papa! Papa!” they screamed in unison.
A smaller boy sat on a wagon by the steps.  “Elisha.”  The man whispered to himself.  He smiled as the three and a half year old boy looked up at him and then went on with his playing.  There was no sign of recognition on this little son’s face.  That hurt.  It hurt a lot.  Then his dear Margaret appeared on the porch with a toddler he had never laid eyes on.  He swallowed stiffly to keep the tears from flowing down his cheek.
It had been a long war, and Bon was stiff and sore from the long  trip home.  He was thirty-six years old and the last two years had weighed heavy on his body and soul.  His home in the western tip of North Carolina was a long way from Lake Erie and he had been traveling for some weeks.
Bon breathed in his first deep smell of home, the red clay soil, the pungent scent of new mown hay, the blood red blossoms on the rose bush that he had given Margaret for an anniversary long ago.  Margaret ran down the unpainted steps and into his arms, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Look!” She cried. “it’s your papa come home from the war at last!”
Bon took the small boy from his wife’s arms, but the boy started to whimper.  Sadly, he handed him back to his wife and reached to hug his other children, Jack, Susie and Elisha, who were waiting impatiently behind their mothers skirts.
“Oh, Lordy!” he sighed, “It  is so good to be home.”

Bon had been a Captain in the 62nd North Carolina Regiment of the Confederate States of America.  He had enlisted in the service of his new country on June 18, 1861 in Cherokee County, “for the war”.  This term, often found in record books meant for the duration of the war, and for Bon Moore, the war would be over for months before he was able to return home for good.  Early in the war, he had come home on several occasions, lingering for weeks, as soldiers often did, in order to plant or gather crops, or take care of family matters.  Two of his children had been conceived on these visits.  It was a crazy war, a war about states rights, not slavery, to most backwoods southerners like Bon Moore.
Bon’s family were among the first white settlers in the rugged area of North Carolina now known as Clay County.  Several of his brothers served in the  CSA, one of them as a surgeon.  Two cousins had joined the CSA with him on that summer day in 1861.  Bon, like most of the Moore men, was short and stocky, only 5’5’’ tall, with soft gray eyes and dark brown hair.  His complexion, described as “florid” on the Prisoner of War records, was that of a man who had worked out of doors.  Bronzed from the sun, roughly textured from the weather.
The war, for many troops, wasn’t exciting or even dangerous the majority of the time.  Soldiers were much more likely to die of disease than  from injuries sustained in battle.  Still, when a battle or skirmish developed, it was usually devastating to the troops as they fell in droves to bullets and bombs fired at close range.
Most of the men’s time was spend moving from place to place, following the enemy and preparing for any battle that might occur.  They would clean the equipment, eat whatever food had been available and sleep in tents strewn across fields or at the edge of towns.
For the 62nd Regiment of North Carolina troops, all of that changed in early September of 1863.  After a summer of guarding bridges near Knoxville and conducting operations in East Tennessee, the 62nd found themselves in a very compromising position.  On September 9, 1863, Bon Moore was serving under Brigadier General Frazier near Chattanooga, Tennessee when the Brigadier General received news that Knoxville was occupied  by Union forces and that CSA General Buckner had been forced to retreat.  Upon hearing this news, Brigadier General Frazier, knowing that the Union troops were greatly superior to his own, surrendered his garrison of 2,500 men, 36 guns and 3000 small arms to the Union Forces.  In the coming years, he was greatly criticized for this move, but was later exonerated.
Many of the CSA soldiers, stunned and disgusted with this surrender without a battle, took off into the woods, thereby escaping.  The officers and soldiers of the 62nd North Carolina Regiment were not so fortunate.  They were taken to Johnson’s Island Officers Prison in Sandusky Bay, Ohio, which lies on Lake Erie.
Bon Moore was a prolific writer of letters.  During the years he was imprisoned at Sandusky Bay, he frequently wrote to his wife, Margaret.  His letters were filled with news from his regiment, who were all imprisoned together. Along with news of friends and relatives were Bon’s beautifully written messages for Margaret.  The letters this devoted family man wrote home filled the empty moments of Margaret’s life as well as those of her children and others who had loved ones in prison at Johnson’s Island.

At last, Bon Moore was home.  He smiled as he looked out on the field of hay that his brother, Benjamin, had mowed for him only a few days before. He strolled towards the unpainted two story house with his arm around his wife and his children following closely behind.
He thought of Benjamin, his older brother, who had mown the field.  He had been a doctor before the war, but his experiences as a surgeon during the war had been an entirely different matter.  There were so many dead and dying men in the places that Benjamin had found himself during the war.  Bon had never envied his job during the war years.
Several years ago, when Bon and Benjamin had been planting crops while on a furlow home, they had spoken at length about their experiences during the early years of the war.  Bon looked out on the fields that Benjamin had so thoughtfully mowed and remembered his brothers words.
“There are never enough supplies,” Benjamin had said, “but there is plenty of suffering.  The screams of the wounded rack your soul.  You are supposed to help them-save them-sometimes you do. Then you watch them die of infection or limp around on one leg and wonder how God could look down on such a sight without crying himself.”

Bon knew that mowing the field had been a blessing to both his family and his brother.  Benjamin worked outdoors to rid his mind of the war.  He had once written to Bon when he was held Prisoner and told him that working the fields helped him sleep at night.
Benjamin was setting up an office in Hayesville, the nearby town where he and his family lived. He and his wife, Roxanna had recently become grandparents for the first time.

Bon felt a chill run down his spine as he listened to the creaking of the wooden plank stairs that lead to his front door. Even in summer, the old wooden house entertained a slightly musty, yet welcomed odor.
“I wasn’t sure when you’d arrive,” Margaret apologized. “I haven’t prepared a meal since I fed the children their breakfast.”
“I’ve waited several years for a decent meal,” Bon laughed. “I think I can wait a few more hours!”
Margaret went to the kitchen and brought a plate of cold biscuits and a jar of molasses  from the pantry shelf.  “Maybe this will hold you ‘till I can prepare you a proper homecoming meal,” she smiled.
She opened a metal can that held a small amount of ground coffee and the wonderful aroma filled the room.  “I got it from Uncle John’s store in Hayesville, she whispered.  “First time they’ve had it in a while.”
Bon let out a deep laugh as he slapped his hand on the table.  “Well, what are you waiting on, woman,” he grinned. “Get that water going and lets have a cup!”
Without waiting on the coffee to brew, Bon lit into the cold biscuits and molasses.  He spooned the dark, sweet ‘lasses out onto the white china plate and broke apart a biscuit the size of a jar lid.  Margaret saw him put his nose down close to the plate and sniff the fragrant molasses as he sopped them up on his biscuit.
By the time he had finished the plate of biscuits and molasses, Margaret was setting a steaming mug of coffee in front of him.  “Oh, my!’ He exclaimed as he took a hot sip. “I believe I’ve died and gone to heaven!”
Margaret laughed as she sat down beside him with a cup of her own.  Bon put his finger to his lip and made a “shh” sound as Margaret opened her mouth to speak.  He pointed out the window to where the children were playing and they listened joyfully to their conversation for several minutes.
“Papa’s gonna get you for messin’ up that clean shirt!’ Susie scolded.
“Papa knows boys are bound to get dirty.” Jack shouted back.

Baby Bill was watching Elisha pull a cart.  “Come play with me, Bill.” Elisha hollered.
Bon leaned back in the dark wooden chair and smiled.  “The sound of children…” he sighed.  “How I missed it.”
“They missed you, too.” Margaret whispered.  “The younger ones will be glad to have their papa around.  They’ll grow to love you in no time at all.”
The supper that Margaret had prepared for him that night had been wonderful.  There had been fried chicken and thick flour gravy to pour on hot biscuits, sweet peas fresh from the garden and the first of the peaches made up into cobbler.  The children had chattered nervously during the meal, something that would not have ordinarily been allowed.  Margaret, usually stern about manners, had let Jack and Susie ask their father endless questions about his long absence.
Bon seemed to delight in the sound of their voices and answered their questions with a great degree of patience. It didn’t take a lot to satisfy the curiosity of children their age.  Jack had just turned seven while Susie was five and a half.  Their father had been absent so much of their lives that having him there was a novelty to them.
Elisha was quiet and solemn like his mother.  He listened as his older brother and sister quizzed their father about the war.  When Bon rose up from his chair after supper, he went to Elisha and stroked his light brown hair.  “Are you glad to see me, little fellow?” he asked.
“Mama said you would come home.”  Elisha smiled, looking up at Bon. “Will you pull me in the wagon?”
“You bet I will!” Bon told him.  “You and Bill both.”
Bill was sitting in the wooden high chair that Bon had made for Jack when he was a baby.  Bill was hitting his hand on the table and babbling in a language only he knew.  He had finished up the biscuits and gravy in his bowl and was a mess.
“Margaret, our little one needs some work,” Bon laughed.
Margaret got a rag and wet it in a pan of water.  She came over to Bill and gently washed his face and hands, then took off his bib and put him in his fathers arms.
Elisha was waiting in the wagon, and Bon put Bill in front of him and told Elisha to hold onto the baby as he pulled them around the dirt front yard. When Margaret had finished cleaning up the supper dishes, Bon took the baby back in to her.
He looked at Margaret and whispered, “I’ll be back in a bit.”  He walked out the back door and headed for the barn.  Margaret watched him out the kitchen window as he drifted around the barnyard.  He touched the aging gray wood  on the barn and then took a few steps towards the fence.  He seemed to be taking in every detail of the home he had loved and missed.
He bent down and grabbed a hand full of the red clay soil and watched as it sifted out of his hand back onto the ground.  When Margaret saw Bon walking down the rows of corn towards the far fields, she returned to her work in the house and left him to his thoughts.

Bon was not yet acclimated to home.  He would close his eyes for a moment and the prison camp would close in on him.  Although he didn’t know that nearly 26,000 Confederate soldiers had died in Yankee prisons, he knew personally of hundreds who had died within his sight.  Sanitary conditions had been deplorable.  Rats and filth were everywhere.  In every letter that he had written to his wife while in the prison camp in Ohio, he would report who had been sick and who had died since his last letter.  If no one he knew had died, he counted it a blessing.
He walked for a long time on that summer evening, his first back home in over two years.  He pondered the fate of the country that he had grown to love so well during the war years.  As the sun dipped lower in the sky, the humidity and heat made sweat pour from Bon’s body, yet he seemed unaware of it.  He thought back on the day that he and his cousins had traveled to a nearby county to join the war effort.  He questioned their idealism, the reasons they had felt they were fighting.   Weren’t they fighting for state’s rights?  Hadn’t the call to arms been against the north’s efforts at controlling the way the south governed itself?
He grew sad at the thought of how slavery had become the primary issue.  Maybe the southerners like himself had turned their eyes from the evils of slavery.  The laborers who lived on the property of backcountry white southerners had little in common with the slaves on big plantations.  Bon thought back on the time, before the war, that he had gone to court to help prove that a young woman that he knew was not, by law, a slave.
“Should anyone be a slave?”  Bon thought as he walked through the pastureland near his home.  He remembered his time as a prisoner of war, a time when he had  no rights, no choices and little hope.  He imagined that would be what life as a slave was like.   Yes, his family had been slave owners at one time.   They never had many slaves and Bon felt that they had been well treated. Still, it bothered him, now that the war was over.
His older brothers and sisters from his father’s first marriage had been cared for by a slave, a dear member of the household after their mother had died.  Moriah had been like a mother to them. The youngest child, James had been less than a year old when his mother passed away.  Bon, himself remembered Moriah, who still lived and worked in the house when John Moore had remarried and had a second set of children.  He realized that he had never thought of Moriah as a slave.  She had her own family and her own cabin on the farm.
Bon sat down under a maple tree to catch his breath.  He thought of Moriah and her family. “Wonder what even became of them?”  he mumbled to him self.  He thought of his own family.  What hardship would they face now that the war was over? Bon listened to the rustling of summer’s green canopy of leaves.  As he watched the shadows of the leaves waver across the grasses, so many thoughts filled his head.  What did the north have in store for the battered south now that the war had ended?
Bon shivered as a thought of the prison flashed upon his mind.  He had little trust in the desire of the Yankees to put the war behind them.  They had been as cold and thoughtless as the winters on Lake Erie.  He remembered well the chill and the humidity around the lake.  In the winter, cold was a constant source of misery for the prisoners, many of them sick and malnourished.  There was a great lack of clothing to keep them warm during those long cold winters.  Their quarters offered little protection form the chill of the wind and freezing temperatures.  Their barracks were heated with coal, when it was available.  Often, it was not.  Coal dust and smoke irritated the lungs of the already sickly men, worsening their fragile condition.  Many men died during winter.  Pneumonia, tuberculosis, often  called consumption, and bloody flux, an intestinal ailment abounded in camp.
Food supplies were sporadic, there never seemed to be enough and the quality was often very poor.  January of 1864 had been especially cruel, with below zero temperatures and strong winds persisting throughout the month.  In the spring of that year, Bon had written home with hopes of being released in the near future.  Another hard year in the Yankee prison had come and gone before the war was over and the last of the prisoners went home.
The men found little to do with their time a prisoners.  They passed the days taking with each other, remembering stories of their homes and families.  Sometimes, newspapers, supposedly forbidden, would make their way into the camps.  Since most of the prisoners at Sandusky Bay were officers and literate, they enjoyed these glimpses from the outside world.
After a while, Bon forced his thoughts away from his days as a prisoner and made his way through the fields.  He stood by the well not far from the kitchen door and took a deep breath.  He reached up and turned the pulley above the well until he had retrieved a bucket of fresh mountain water from the  darkness below.  He dipped a dipper of water out of the bucket and sipped it thoughtfully.  “No more briny lake water, “ he thought and finished drinking the scoop of water.  He scooped up some water from the bucket with his hand and splashed it on his face. The coolness of the droplets mixed with the sweat on his brow and washed down his face in rivulets.  He whooped out with joy at this simple pleasure, and soon made his way back to the house.

It had been nearly the middle of July, 1865 by the time Bon Moore returned home to North Carolina.  It was hot and muggy in the wood-frame house but even July in the mountains holds a wonderful coolness after sunset.  By the time Bon returned to the house, his wife was preparing the children for bed.  They walked the children to their rooms upstairs and read them a chapter from the Bible.  The children each said a grateful prayer for their father’s return.  Margaret tucked a thin sheet around each child and quietly walked down the stairs.
She and Bon went out onto the front steps and sat down.  Bon reached into his pocket and drew out a folded sheet of paper.  It was worn and damp, but he gently unfolded it and handed it to his wife.
“My oath of allegiance to the United States.” He said.
Margaret knew that it was reluctance to sign this document that had slowed his release and delayed his return home.  She ran her finger over the date of his release: June 12, 1865.  Some of the men in Bon’s regiment had started out their long trip home together., but had separated along the way.  Bon saw long, hot days of foot travel as he headed homeward.  As he drew  further south, there were times when a willing soul who had a horse and wagon would offer the soldiers a ride to the next village or town.
Bon took Margaret’s hand in his as they sat in the moonlight on the unpainted steps.  There was little of the spoken word between them on that night.  There was to much to say, so much time to make up for. On that first night, they found words both inadequate and unnecessary.
Margaret laid her head on Bon’s shoulder.  Somehow, this night made her feel very old.  She would turn 29 on the 22nd of July.  No gift could be greater than having her husband home again.  She took the pins that had held her hair tightly in a bun and laid them beside her.  Bon reached up and stroked her hair, still damp near the nape of her neck from the swelter  of the daylight hours.

There would be time to decide what the future held after the crops were gathered in the fall.  Maybe Bon would go back to surveying or maybe he would buy more land and farm.  Right now, all that mattered was that he was home with his family.  He felt whole and alive again.  He would watch his children grow-maybe more children would come along.  He would visit with his family, go to church on Sundays, work the fields until he thought he could work no more.
There would be laughter, and joy, challenges and obstacles, but he and Margaret would face them together. He would write letters to his family in Georgia, maybe visit in the fall.
A soft breeze enveloped Bon and Margaret as they sat on their front steps that night.  For the first time in years, there was hope in their hearts.  For many years, the pain and suffering of the war would linger, but they were survivors-proud and determined.  Their love and courage would live on for many years.
Even their grandchildren’s great grandchildren would hear their story and read the letters that Bon wrote to Margaret, and later to his son, Elisha.  Bon Moore’s story is one of hardship and  hope.  His story was repeated a million times as southerners and northerners alike tried to reclaim their lives after the war.  We are here today to tell of their victory over circumstances. Their story is our story.  We hold onto their voices of the past and preserve them reverently for those yet to come.

My grandfather told me that as long as someone remembers a person, they continue to live.  With love and admiration, we pass these stories, the dreams and sorrows of those that came before us onto each new generation.  Through the words and deeds of those would forged the paths that we now walk on, we find our paths to be smoother, our place in life secured.
This story is dedicated to all of the generations of my family that I have herd stories about, researched and have grown to know and love.  You will continue to live in all  of our hearts, never to be forgotten.

Brenda Culbreth Lewis
May 13, 1999

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The Silence was Deafening

I took my two teens to see “Lincoln“, the new Steven Speilberg movie today and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves history and appreciates a well made and researched movie.  I had an experience there that I had never had at a movie theater.  When the movie ended, and the list of actors came up with the movie theme in the background, the entire audience, sat quietly and watched and listened.  The silence was deafening.  Always before, the minute the movie ended, the theater has been filled with noise and chatter, people quickly leaving their seats and going home. Everyone there seems to be spellbound by the impact of the movie.  It was quite impressive!

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From a Yankee Prison Camp, with Love


My Beloved  Wife:

It is with some hope that I write you today. We have heard rumors that a treaty may be in the works for a prisoner exchange. We have heard this before, but hope gets us through the frigid cold here in this God-forsaken prison camp. You can write me here under my name and rank at Sandusky Bay Officers Prison, Sandusky, Ohio. I image it will take a month or more to receive a card, but please write. Tell my sister that Jeb sends his love to her and the baby. No one else has died this month. I am limited to this page.

With the love of an absent husband,  John



My Dearest John:

It was with great joy that I received your postcard. Papa picked it up on the way home from the cattle market in Atlanta.  I find myself feeling childish, but things are not as favorable here as when you left to join our troops last summer. There are no supplies, no men to do the hard labor, food is scare. I do hope you will soon be released and can return to us here on the farm. Amalie and little Josie send their undying love to Jeb. Maybe you should write me at Papa’s address, as we may all have to go there for our safety and to share what provisions we still have.

With my fondest love,  Elizabeth

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A Haunting Afternoon

My son and I were going to pick up a few things at the local hardware store, garden supplies, a few herbs, a hand shovel. It was dark and stormy, we ran to the door just as huge drops started to spatter the ground.  My son saw a fireworks display and asked to buy some, reminding me that it was July 2nd.  Suddenly a streak of lightning light the sky and the lights flickered out.  I grabbed my son’s hand said, “It will be okay.”

The next few moments were the most intriguing of my life. Everything was dark around me, but inside my mind, I was in a different place, a different time.  I heard someone cry out to “hold the line”. I saw soldiers falling on an open field. Rocky outcrops lined the hill above me, and I saw a Confederate flag waving in the distance. The air was filled with gun fire, cannon shots, shouts and screams.  My heart was beating loudly, I held my breath in fear. “Where was I? What was happening?”

My son looked towards me and said, “Mom, Mom, are you alright?” I shook my head as the lights flickered back on. I was still shaking. “Yeah, I think so,” I said. “ I just had the weirdest experience.”  “What?”, he asked as we approached the cash register. “I’ll tell you in the car,” I replied as the cashier told me the amount of my purchase.  “$18.63.” She said with a smile. I handed her the money, grabbed the receipt and bags and headed for the car.

“Well, Mom,” my son said, “What was it?”  “I know you believe in the paranormal.” I said and hesitated.  “Yes,” he replied, waiting. “I think I just had a flashback to Gettysburg.” I reminded him that today was July 2nd, the heat of the Battle of Gettysburg, and that the years of the battle was 1863-the amount my bill had totaled. I told him of the experience I had when the lightning blew out the lights in the store and he shuddered. Mom, I was there, too he said. I saw Uncle Jim Merritt get shot in the face. I was hold the flag up, waving for help.” We both smiled a knowing smile, we had just seen a piece of our family history!

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