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August 28, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

A True Romance of the Civil War, Part III

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.  Click here to catch up: A True Romance of the Civil War, Part I.

The story continued:

Some days after Lucy had refused to either write or see Walter Girty, Hamilton Ashby came and took Lucy out driving. On passing through a beautiful piece of woods they saw a package of letters in the road. And picking them up Hamilton Ashby saw one addressed to Lucy. The mail boy had dropped them on the way to the office. Lucy open the letter addressed to her and these were the words:

“I am now on my way to Chicago, perhaps never to return, but before I go I will crush the heart of the little rebel who refused me. I have in my possession a watch and metal belonging to your father the rebel, Captain Morgan, who was killed by my company at the Crater fight near Petersburg, Va.,

“Walter Girty.”

When Lucy read these lines, she fainted in the arms of Hamilton Ashby, whose wife she had just promised to be. She was long [illegible] the happy wife of Hamilton Ashby and she tells the story to her children of the Civil War. Nor can she ever forget what an awful escape she made.

Walter Girty never returned to the Morgan family the watch and metal, neither did he ever return to Virginia but committed suicide in a western city.

Mrs. Morgan lived to see all of her sons and daughters marry happily to southern men and women.

Wm. Warden Patteson.


Written and published in 1904, the story of “Lucy Morgan” and her persistent Yankee suitor was not unique, despite its shocking outcome. In my family, a similar story had a very different conclusion. Almost immediately after the surrender at Appomattox, a former Union soldier named William Hebener settled in Buckingham County. He met and married my ancestor’s sister, Ida Alice Harris. The marriage was a great success. They were the parents of nine children and moved to a small town in Iowa. There, Hebener’s intelligence and Yankee work ethic helped bring the extended Harris family back to their pre-war prosperity, making and selling monuments in Leon, Iowa.

For more about the Hebener and Harris families, visit: A Family Memoir.




Leave a Comment
  1. PATRICK MURRAY / Aug 28 2017 10:14 am

    Thanks for the story. I imagine there are so many other stories of heart break during the Civil War, South and North families. 😦

    My connection is with the PYLE-COCKE families that were in Buckingham Co. early.

    Patrick Murray SAR Nat’l No. 94310

    • Joanne Yeck / Aug 28 2017 10:39 am

      Patrick, Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I’m always happy to report that my North-South marriage was a success. Hebener’s father also married a Southern Woman from, interestingly, Petersburg. Joanne

  2. Virginia Bower / Aug 28 2017 7:41 am

    Story rather apt in these fraught days…


    • Joanne Yeck / Aug 28 2017 7:51 am

      Virginia, This story was placed in the post queue months ago. The topic did prove timely, however. Joanne

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