Family Divided Between Union Army and Confederacy

The Civil War pits brother against brother as family members join Confederacy and the Union Army.

| Good Old Days

Two stories my father told about the Civil War stand out in memory; one was tragic, the other humorous. Grandfather's family lived in a border state. Most of his family went to the Confederacy. When his favorite uncle chose the Northern side, Grandpa, a boy in his teens, soon followed him into the Union Army.

One battle Grandpa never could erase from his memory was an especially fierce one. After it was over, he was wandering around in a kind of a daze when he heard among the groans of the wounded, a sharp, bitter cry. He went toward the sound and found a man in blue bending over a man in gray. Grandfather looked on in horror while the one in blue gathered the dying boy in gray in his arms. The one in blue was the favorite uncle and the other was the uncle's youngest brother.

Is it any wonder that Grandfather used to say, with a look of pain on his face, “War is always a terrible thing, but Civil War is the most terrible of all."

There was a young man in Grandpa's company by the name of John Smith who thought he was better than other people. When he was made captain, he was sure of it. Once when they camped near a woods – on a moonlit night – Grandpa awoke and saw a figure stealing towards the woods.

He awakened a buddy and they followed it. Into the woods they went and to a clearing. Evidently the figure thought he was a safe distance from camp for he straightened up and said three times in-a commanding voice," Captain John C. Smith. Law, don't that sound!"

When anyone in our family got a "big head," Grandpa would say with a twinkle in his eye, "Captain John C. Smith. Law, don't that sound!"

9/30/2015 2:04:57 PM

The War Between the States was horrific. But it was not a civil war; a civil war is an attempt to overthrow the government. The Confederacy never tried to overthrow the U.S. government. Gen Robert E. Lee had the opportunity to take Washington, DC early in the war, but as an honorable gentleman, he chose not to- as taking over the U.S. was NOT the goal. (If only he had, so much suffering, and great cost could have been saved as Lee could have then bargained from a position of power.) The Confederate States succeded after countless attempts to rectify grievences against the People of those States had failed. Slavery is commonly touted as the cause behind the War, but this is inaccurate. There were always those who wished to abolish slavery, from the founding of the new nation. Originally, there were slaves in the northern states, including New York, and Boston, and Northern ship owners profited from the slave trade. The real cause behind the War was money. The northern mill owners did not like the southern growers trading with England and sending their cotton to English mills, instead of to the mills in the Northern States. The lucrative wool market of the North was collapsed by the invention of the cotton gin, making cotton cloth affordable. (Prices plummeted from the equivalent of more than $100./lb! Today, similar wools sell for +/-$3. to $5./lb). New Englands forests had been cleared to pasture sheep, and now they did not even get the cotton to mill. Ships from the South were harrassed, goods stolen, etc and other efforts were made to force the South to mill their crops and buy their goods from the North... among other issues. Taking advantage of anyone for any excuse is NEVER acceptable. ('Slavery is the legal fiction that people are property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a Person.') Slavery and predjudice are ugly and abominable. But less so than murder?

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