One Wore Blue and One Wore Grey

I love the words to that song about two brothers who went to war:

One wore blue and one wore grey
As they marched along the way
A fife and drum began to play
All on a beautiful morning
One was gentle, one was kind
One was gentle, one was kind
One came home, one stayed behind
A cannonball don't pay no mind
A cannonball don't pay no mind
Though you're gentle or you're kind
It don't think of the folks behind

All on a beautiful morning

In an earlier post I mentioned that My great grandfather (me, my mom, her dad, his dad) George Colvin died from Typhoid Fever while serving in the Union Camp during The Civil War. Fevers and infections were just as fatal as a cannon ball back when there were no antibiotics
or surgeons with precision tools and sterile recovery rooms.

My great grandfather (me, my dad, his mom, her dad) Elisha Shepherd, also served. He, however, wore the grey of the confederacy. On
August 15, 1861 he enlisted at the age of 27. He was wounded in May of 1862 and hospitalized at Richmond. Yet, he returned to battle and on June 27 in Gaines' Mill, Virginia received critical and life threatening wounds. Our family stories say that he lost his arm. According to his Distinguished Service record that I was able to pull up on he had injuries to his right lung, backbone & shoulder and was "disability discharged" in June of 1863. His regiment went on without him to fight on July 1-3 at Gettysburg, PA. (Elisha reenlisted later, which I find so amazing, and was detailed at the Richmond, Virginia hospital.)

I was delighted to read a physical description in his military records: He was 5'
11'', had blue eyes, light hair and fair complexion. This is the closet thing I've had of a picture of this man.

He was a farmer and returned to his home near the small town of Pedlar, Amherst County Virginia after the war. The 1880 handwritten census shows his 8 year old daughter as Jinnie. That's another mystery for me to solve, as my father said his mothers name was Jennie.

On the northern side of the war the hubby's great great grandfather (him, his mom, her mom, her mom, her dad), Ambrose Merrill Lord, joined the
Union Army on October 19, 1861 in Company D, 1st Calvary Regiment Maine. The regimental history reads, " It was the equal of any in the service in the character of its men and the quality of its horses. He was nineteen. In this picture it appears that both he and his horse are not in the best of moods. I would say he is a lonesome and frightened young man.

We had an opportunity to look through a pocket diary that he had sporadically written in. The entry that stood out in my mind was when he penned his thoughts about the terrified screams and painful moaning from the infirmary where amputations were being performed with little or no anesthesia.

The list of battles these men fought were extensive. I reviewed them with one goal in mind: to see if our grandfathers ever faced each other on the battlefield.

I was shocked when I discovered that the day our grandfathers would have met in battle was
July 3, 1863 in Gettysburg, PA. However, my grandfather Elisha did not join his troop because of the critical wounds that forced his discharge the previous month.

There are few people who have not heard of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Lincoln memorialized it in his address there the following November.

"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

(Ambrose married, became a lumber inspector and moved to the Pacific Northwest where he died in 1909 in Everett, Washington.)

As we have studied the lives or our parents and their parents, the tree blossoms into the branches of people who have defined me, my husband, and my children.

History isn't just something that is written in a book that you pick up at school. These were people who lived and had dreams, they had families who loved them and buried them with tenderness.

Today I had tears as I thought about these brave men who fought for what they believed was their destiny and the women who worked the farms and held their children alone at night. Their "greatness" lives on in the potential of my grandchildren. Because of them.

Rest in Peace Grandfathers.

(Interesting update from my brother: In the 58th Virginia Infantry Book it is noted that there was an application for a prothesis for Elisha, but that he took money instead. He probably needed it to invest in his farm and family.)


Amanda said…
WOW! I can't believe they would have fought each other. And to think, their extended offspring would end up falling in love in starting a family together. Amazing how things work out, isn't it. Loved this post mom. Very interesting. And you are right; history is something so important. There is much more to it than we give credit to.
Swampwitch said…
What a history lesson...and a personal one. I'm sure there were many instances of brothers fighting brothers in the Civil War...Great pic, too.
Anonymous said…
I don't know much about my great-grandparents.. and beyond.

It's fabulous that you have so many treasures from the past to share.

C said…
It is very interesting to read about the past especially facts that bring it close to home. I have often thought about the women who stayed home and waited sometimes to never see their husbands again.
Karmyn R said…
Interesting to think how our past ancestors lived and died.
kailani said…
Could you imagine how it would affect the families if they did have to fight each other? Thank you for sharing this personal story with us!
Gattina said…
It's really a very interesting story ! and you are so lucky to have been able to find all this out ! It's so interesting to find out what your ancestors did or where they lived. The only thing I know is that my great great grandma worked as a room maid in a castle (I have seen it already) and were the mistress of the count. Can you immagine what it was at this time to have a child without husband ? Nobody knows what became out of her, my grandma's mother never talked about her mother. Therefore I have blue blood in me ! (lol)
Swampwitch said…
Pamela, I just had to come back and read your story again. It makes history so much more interesting to hear it told through the words of someone I "know." We have visited several museums and battlefields of the Civil War, and I am always amazed at how many 1,000's were killed and injured. So many of us were in some way affected by that War and don't know it, but you have proof. How wonderful for you and your children to know your historical story.
Jeanette said…
What a lovely story and history lesson rolled into one
Pass the Torch said…
What an amazing history you have! I think it's so cool that you research it so your family will know this. How awesome!
Sue said…
How wonderful that you have these pieces of history preserved in your family. My Grandma was very into geneology and traced our family's history back to the American Revolution.
Shauna said…
That is so interesting. . .Just think what "might not have been" had Elisha been there on that day. . .Wow! ! !

Thank you so much for sharing! ! !
kate said…
very cool to have the knowledge of your family! My husbands family has a lots of records, my family has no more than 4 generations. Ah well... guess I will have to be that interesting person in history for the next few generations to come! lol
jenn said…
What a great history lesson and personal story. Thanks for sharing, I love stuff like this and found it really interesting.
Walker said…
Those census takers tried hard and did a great job, but they were winging it on spelling a lot. I've found a variety of weird spellings for family names in the census, AND a lot of mistranscriptions, too. So if you ever find it impossible to find someone, try variations on the spelling of a name. I just found an important enter was not Butter, as Ancestry had it, but instead it was BUTLER. In fairness, you just couldn't tell what the name was supposed to be.
Robin said…
The last three paragraphs of this post were particularly poignant to me. I'm glad so many of your readers actually READ this one (so many skip over family or historical "longer" posts).

So often it's easy to relegate history to a one-dimensional "telling" of something long ago and far away, far from "real". We do it with scripture all the time. What a gift you are giving your children and grands (and their children and grands) but delving into your history, to tell it again anew. You are blessed to be a blessing :).
Masago said…
What it must have been like...
Anonymous said…
I was deeply moved when I first heard the American Civil War poem/song about the two brothers some forty years ago. The line: 'a cannon ball don't pay no mind' to me says it all regarding the sad futility of the civil war and indeed all wars. However, we just don't seem to learn from our mistakes.
Jenni said…
Pamela, I so love reading your stories about your family history. You are right that history is more than something written in a dry text to learn at school. Your stories make it live and make me care about who these people were, the lives they lived and what dreams they had. Thanks, too, for the Memorial Day post. I've landed here last, so the comment goes here, but it is for both posts:o)
Sandy said…
Pamela, thank you for reposting last year's Memorial Day post and for this link. Your writing is wonderful and your family's history is intriguing.

If we are indeed all threads in the God's tapestry, He is really a marvelous weaver.
bill.everett said…
When I was young (in the early 1950s) and my great grandmother Morse would come to visit, she would hang a picture of Abraham Lincoln over her bed. She told me what a great man he was and how wonderful it was that the North had won and the slaves were freed and so on. She was the daughter of Capt. Thomas Putnam Gray of the Blue Army.

And then my great grandmother Dunavant would come to visit. She hung a picture of Robert E. Lee over her bed and told me what a great man he was and how terrible it was that the South had lost.

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