Family Reunion, 1865

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�������� Family Reunion, 1865Family Reunion, 1865 �������� Family Reunion, 1865 Family Reunion, 1865 I grew up in a big family. There were nine first cousins, and that’s just on my mother’s side. My mother’s mother, Granny Francis, had us all over for Sunday dinner once a month when the weather was fair enough to travel. She loved it: all four of her children and their spouses, and the grandchildren running around underfoot. None of us could have predicted how the Civil War would pull us apart. You see, Granny lived in Fulton, Kentucky, right on the Tennessee border. Two of her children, my Aunt Harriet and Uncle William, lived with their families on farms nearby. Mama and Uncle Benjamin had both moved down to Tennessee when they married. After Tennessee joined the Confederacy in 1861, well, as far as we were concerned, we lived in a different country. At first, we went on having Sunday dinners. I can still see it in my mind: Papa and Uncle Ben in their gray Confederate uniforms sitting across from Uncle Jed and Uncle William in their blue Union gear saying, polite as can be, “Could I trouble you to pass the peas?” When the men went off to their regiments, Granny tried to keep the women and children coming for dinner. At the last get-together, my cousin George, Uncle William’s oldest, got into a tiff with my brother Sam over a game. George called Sam “Grayback!” and Sam shouted, “Bluebelly!” Before you knew it, the mothers were in on the commotion, and there was a lot of stamping and doors slamming. Granny looked so sad as we left. She knew that we wouldn’t be coming back. The fact is, those dinners couldn’t have gone on much longer. The two sides were so worried about spies and the shipment of supplies that a close watch was kept on the border between North and South. That border ran pretty much through our yard. We all knew without saying that it was Granny’s nightmare that any of her loved ones should meet on the battlefield. And it did happen. Papa and Uncle William were both at Shiloh in April 1862. Each knew that the other’s regiment was there, and—loyal soldiers though they were—both were mightily relieved when they got word sometime after that the other was unhurt. But we did not come through the troubles untouched. Uncle Ben was wounded at Gettysburg. Uncle Jed died at Nashville in December 1964. We all grieved for him, Confederate and Union alike. His widow, Aunt Harriet, and her two girls came to live with us on our farm. What a hullabaloo the day of our first Sunday dinner together, six months after the end of the war. There were tears and hugs all around, and enough food to feed us all twice over. Granny was just so pleased to see Papa and William shake hands, and all the little “Graybacks” and “Bluebellies” running underfoot like old times. Even us one-time secessionists could see it was better for the family—for the country—to stick together. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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