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August 22, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

A True Romance of the Civil War, Part I

In 1904, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times ran a lengthy and fascinating story of “true romance.” It was an unusual article for the newspaper to run. Thankfully, it has been preserved at the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Chronicle.  The story begins:



A short time after the Civil War there came to Virginia to live from one of the most northern states a family by the name of Girty. These names are substituted, for the real ones are withheld; but the facts in this story are true. The family bought the old homestead of the Morgans, in the county of – – –. Mrs. Morgan, who was a widow with four children, bought a smaller place near the village of M – – –, several miles from her old home. Mrs. Morgan’s husband, Captain Morgan was killed in a fight near Petersburg, Va., at the battle of the Crater, while gallantly leading his men. The Morgan home was burned by the Yankees after it had been pillaged of everything they could carry away. The family were driven out of their home early one morning and not allowed to take even their wearing apparel except what they had on, and were subjected to the greatest [illegible] and her oldest daughter, a pretty girl of twelve years, was struck in the mouth and several teeth were knocked out by one of the ruffians, leaving an ugly scar, while trying to save a box of jewelry which one of the soldiers had ruthlessly torn from her hands.

                Captain Morgan was killed soon after his house was robbed and burned. His body was left on the battlefield over night, and when found on the following morning by his men everything of value had been taken from his person. Among the things was a gold watch and metal with his name on it.

                The Girty family consisted of five persons. The three children were all grown. Walter, the oldest son, was thirty-two years old, a widower with two children, his wife having died about a year before moving to Virginia. She was the daughter of a grain speculator of one of the western cities, whose wealth went up into the millions. The Girtys having ample means, made their home in one of the prettiest places in that section. They were ultra radical and northern in their views – just the opposite of the Morgans, who were southern. Going back a short time before the death of Captain Morgan, when he was at his home for the last time, he called his family around him and told them of the dangers of a soldier’s life; that he might not be spared to live through the struggle, but he might be killed at any time. He told his children to love their mother and obey her in all things to be true to their state and the southern cause, and if he should be called away and should never see them again, to trust in God, and if they were spared to grow up, to marry only those of southern sentiments—they would be happier and not bring a [illegible] on themselves or the cause for which he fought; and if this should be the last time they would be gathered together here on earth, he would watch over them from a home beyond the skies until they met him there and an unbroken family for ever more. He had told his wife that he had a presentment that he would be killed, and this was the last time he ever saw them.

To be continued…

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