30 September 2009


Well, the Chevy is history. The Good Guys Insurance Company (honest, it is—just ask anyone who has ever served in the Armed Forces and is insured by a well known, military-oriented insurer) called with the news on Monday. Jumper Girl, who had selected the Chevy for me based on one important feature—a trailer hitch—was devastated.

Yesterday, we began the search anew. First stop, the place we got the Chevy. SWMBO said “Now, it is really unlikely that they will have another truck we can afford.” Wailing ensued from the back seat.

We drove in, and there it was. JG had her “Aha” moment. “Look, it has the big cab and a trailer hitch, and everything!” It was a year newer than the Chevy, had fewer miles, and all the features I wanted, irrelevant as they might be. And it was $35 more than GGIC had paid to settle my claim. There will be no living with a 12 year old who is always right!

I leave on Friday for Chattanooga, Tennessee for the 6th Convocation of the New Wineskins Association of Churches which convenes with worship at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church on Sunday evening. I’m leaving early so that I can visit the Chickamauga Battlefield just across the Georgia line. My great grandfather fought there as a 12 year old drummer boy under the Command of General George H. Thomas. I have never been there before and it is time.

Thomas, “The Rock of Chickamauga,” is not well known outside of the ranks of Civil War buffs. It was a battle that also involved another of my favorites, “Fighting Joe” Wheeler, a Confederate cavalryman who was the commander of US forces in Cuba in 1898, where while suffering from a fever, he was heard to admonish subordinates to attack and punish “those damn Yankees!”

So, Saturday will be a fun day for me.

My great grandfather was right in the middle of our family’s military line. Two of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, one in the War of 1812, three in the Civil War (2 generations), one in WWII, my war in Vietnam, and Moleson’s forays into the Gulf make for 7 generations and 9 combat veterans in our history. Only two were killed in action, both in the Civil War.

According to my great grandmother, Lieutenant William Jack, 10th Ohio Cavalry, was WIA near Nashville, Tennessee, on June 19, 1863, and died some 10 days later. The drummer boy of Chickamauga, John Kennedy, later married Effie Rankin Jack, the orphan of Ebenezer Jack.

On April 7, 1863, my great, great grandfather, Quartermaster Sergeant Pleasant Fountain, 6th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, was KIA in an action against “skirmishers” near Fidelity Missouri. My great, great grandmother was informed that he had been wounded and that she should come to Fort Scott, Kansas from far northeast Hiawatha, Kansas to take him home to recuperate. Loading her four children into a wagon, she set off, spending the nights with scattered homesteads. After a five day journey to Fort Scott, she learned that her husband was dead.

She headed back home with her three sons, ages 10, 8, and 6, and one daughter, age 2—my great grandmother. Late on the second afternoon of her return trip, they approached a farm at which they had stayed only a few days earlier. Something alerted her, and she stopped the wagon in a small draw.

She took the 10-year old aside. “I am going to that farm,” she said. “Now, no matter what you see or hear, if I don’t come back to get you, you hide here, and then get these children home.” (They were about 60 miles from Hiawatha.)

She went up to the farm to find the entire family dead, killed by the skirmishers who had won for Kansas the soubriquet “Bloody Kansas.” She returned to her children, and they drove on into the night.

Setting up a “cold camp,” they settled in for a long dark night. About an hour later, a band of armed men rode into her camp and demanded that she cook for them. She watched as they butchered a cow that she recognized as coming from the devastated farm. An hour before sun up, the men mounted up and rode away, never to be seen by her again. Family tradition has it that she “entertained” part of the force led by Captain William Quantrill. If so, it probably did not include “Bloody Bill” Anderson who would have killed even a defenseless widow and the children of a Yankee.

And then we meet as a presbytery…….


Marlene said...

I am also leaving early to visit the battlefield on Saturday afternoon. If I don't see you at the battlefield we will visit at Signal Mountain.

A Civil War buff myself, my father grew up in Eastern Kansas. The family farm is still in the family, it is just a few miles from where William Quantrill had a land claim and worked as a teacher. One evening my great great grandmother was visiting neighbors when they invited her to stay for dinner. They darkened all the windows and down from the attic came John Brown who was in hiding for his role in the Bloody Kansas war. Shortly after that he left for Harpers Ferry.

Alan said...

I wish I could be at Signal Mountain with you all. I'd love to meet you one on one Mac.

Hope your visit to the battleground is awe inspiring