Last of the Blue and Gray: Old Men, Stolen Glory, and the Mystery That Outlived the Civil War

By Richard A. Serrano

Richard Serrano, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Los Angeles Times, pens a narrative of 2 veterans. within the overdue Fifties, as the USA ready for the Civil struggle centennial, very previous males lay demise. Albert Woolson, 109 years previous, slipped out and in of a coma at a Duluth, Minnesota, health facility, his thoughts as a Yankee drummer boy slowly dimming. Walter Williams, at 117 blind and deaf and bedridden in his daughter's domestic in Houston, Texas, not may perhaps inform of his time as a accomplice forage grasp. The final of the Blue and the grey have been drifting away; an period was once finishing.

Unknown to the general public, centennial officers, and the White condo too, this type of males was once certainly a veteran of that terrible clash and one in accordance with the simplest proof not anything yet a fraud. One used to be a soldier. the opposite were residing an excellent, sizeable lie.

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Accomplice veteran M. H. Wolfe proudly fingered an extended scar throughout his face. He informed a Corsicana reporter it used to be a keepsake from “a Yankee saber thrust. ” The reporter additionally in short met Williams at the sq., however the come across left him puzzled. Williams, the reporter famous, “did now not glance as outdated because the different veterans. ” “He has been dwelling locally of Franklin for greater than 60 years,” Franklin’s Texan newspaper suggested in November 1950, simply after Gov. Robert Allan Shivers, a military significant in international conflict II, knighted Williams as an honorary colonel at the social gathering of his 108th birthday. by way of then, the paper famous, Williams had over 100 descendants unfold throughout 5 generations. “Most of those years have been spent farming and elevating livestock, and he nonetheless lives on his farm and directs the paintings at the position. ” Williams attended a quick rite on the courthouse in Franklin to obtain the honorary name and settle for a testimonial accompanying the army fee. He checked out the papers and studied the phrases, yet he couldn't learn them. A yr later, he made the canopy of the September 1951 United Daughters of the Confederacy journal. The picture confirmed him with sun shades and a huge grin, accepting a wide cake from one of many Daughters at a get-together in his cabin. the tale stated he was once born on November 14, 1843 (a yr later than he had claimed), and in one other county in Mississippi. It mentioned that he have been twenty-two instead of twenty whilst he joined Hood’s Brigade. yet in a different way the characteristic was once really confident approximately Walter and his spouse, Ella Mae. “Mr. Williams attributes his lengthy lifestyles to exertions and fresh living,” the tale learn. He “stated his most pleasurable hobby used to be fox looking, which he has needed to forego for the previous years. The Williams are taken to prayer assembly sometimes, while climate allows. The Colonel and his spouse nonetheless imagine that lots of this world’s difficulties can be solved, if humans might attend prayer conferences and switch for counsel to the Lord. ” “At 77,” the journal additional, “Mrs. Williams milks the cows, has a tendency the chickens and horses, does her personal planting and nonetheless reveals time to elevate flora. If she wishes support, she blows a couple of blasts on a cow horn, and a son who lives close to or a number of the buddies come over and have the same opinion. ” years later a photographer for all times journal knocked at the cabin door, and Williams posed for him at the porch. He sat in a small rocker, a fedora hat slanted atop his head. He used to be dressed really officially for the party, in a white blouse and black jacket and pants. He wore black-and-ivory cowboy boots and a stick pin in his correct lapel. His skinny eyebrows and slender moustache had in the past became grey. He had particularly huge ears for his small head. He didn't smile or snigger. Ella Mae stood at the back of him, leaning her hand on a wide coated chair to regular herself, wearing a bonnet, striped costume, and wool sweater. She didn't smile both. He begun each morning “with a toddy of whisky, a chunk of tobacco and a cup of coffee,” he acknowledged.

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