The 150th Anniversary of the beginning of America’s Civil War is being observed right about now.
I’ve always felt a bit conflicted about the whole “North vs South” thing.
I grew up in the South – I cut my eye teeth on Gone With The Wind and “damyankees”.
But both of my parents are originally from the Mid-West, and I have lived in New York City for the past dozen or so years.
Who do I root for?
Turns out, my roots are deep in both the North and the South.
My Great-Great-Grandfather on my Father’s side – Henry Wayne Kellogg – enlisted in the Union Army when he was 17 years old, and he served with Co E 40th Wisconsin Infantry until the end of the war.
Here is H. W. Kellogg in 1932, at a family reunion. He is the gentleman seated at the bottom right. My Dad is in his Mother’s arms on the far left.
My Great-Great-Grandfather on my mother’s side – Arthur Weldon Parks – enlisted in the Confederate Army when he was 16 years old, and he served in the light artillery brigade of Virginia.
Here is A.W. Parks, in 1936 at a family reunion. He is the one-armed gentleman standing behind the children (He lost his right arm in 1924 when he was attacked on his farm by a savage hog.) My Mom (with her cousins) is the cutie pie sitting 2nd from the right.
I don’t know much about my Northern Great-Great-Grandfather’s war-time experiences. But luckily, an article survives about my Southern Great-Great-Grandfather, and much of the details below are direct quotes from that newspaper clipping.
Private Parks spent from August, 1864, until February, 1865, mostly drilling, and serving along with his companions, as guard to important railways, bridges, etc. in order that the Confederate lines might be kept open.
His period of enlistment ended in February, 1865. As an inducement for their men to enlist again in the Confederate cause, they offered a fifteen-day furlough for those who would enlist again. Mr. Parks took the offered furlough, spent the half month leave with his parents near Lynchburg, Virginia, and again returned to serve in the Confederate Army at Richmond, Virginia. He was placed in the heavy artillery division, under the command of Brigadier General Walker, who was under Fitz U. Lee, son of Robert E. Lee, the famous head of the Southern army.
The following April 9, 1865, Parks surrendered his arms with his commander, General Robert E. Lee, at Appomattox, Virginia.
Mr. Parks reminisced on the attitude the common soldier took toward the soldier of the other side, and related stories of the fraternizing of the two armies.
Said Mr. Parks, “the picket lines of the two armies were about a quarter mile apart. The picket duty required two hours of walking duty, and four hours off. If the officer of the day of both armies was not around or not too critical, we often talked to the men on the other side. We exchanged newspapers, candy, tobacco, and trinkets when not under the observation of the superior officers. This was usually accomplished when a pre-determined “flag of truce” was hoisted by both sentries, who would leave their guns, come out and meet each other for a visit and exchange newspapers, tobacco, etc.,” said Mr. Parks.
Following several moths of duty guarding Richmond, Mr. Parks and his company was marched to Appomattox, about 130 miles to the east of Richmond, arriving there about 8 o’clock Saturday evening, April 8, 1865. Why his company had been ordered there he did not know, nor did he know what was to happen the following day.
His story of the following day – the day of surrender is something as follows:
“Myself and a number of my comrades,” said Mr. Parks, “had bedded down in a cabin, open at both ends with a fireplace in the middle. We were in a valley, and could see lights on the hills surrounding us. We went to sleep and the next morning when we awoke someone had tied a U.S. army blanket on a pole atop the chimney. Several of my companions suggested it was some sort of a joke, but when about 9 o’clock in the morning riders drove thru our camp, bearing the flag of truce, and the drummers began beating the long roll of truce and surrender, I knew the war was over, and that the North had gained the victory. We were then marched up, stacked our arms, and it was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon that I saw General Grant and General Lee riding down the street and the conflict between the North and the South was at its end,” said Mr. Parks.
“A good many people have asked me,” said Mr. Parks, “just what my reactions are toward the Union soldiers, since they defeated us in this great Civil War. I can truthfully say that I bear malice toward no one, and a great relief went up from my heart when the war was declared at an end. It was just like a great neighborhood gathering, when old friends meet after many years,” he said.
“While several of my cousins were killed in battle fighting for the cause of the Confederacy,” Mr. Parks said, “and several others including my uncles were severely wounded, I never had the opportunity to fire a single shot at any Union soldier during my service in the Confederate army,” concluded Mr. Parks.
A.W. Parks must have attended a Civil War historical event, as we have the above picture of him dressed in his regalia (with a fake gloved right hand).
When we watched the dvd of Ken Burns’ The Civil War, Hubby and I commented on the footage of parades and reunions of soldiers, until they eventually all passed away. We hoped to see Great-Great-Grandfather Parks in some of the footage. If he was there, we did not catch sight of him.
Great-Great-Grandfather Parks lived to be 99 years old.
Great-Great-Grandfather Kellogg lived to be 86 years old.
They were indeed “Brothers”, even if they didn’t know it.