So, why did I write the book and where did I get the idea? Well, my own great-grandfather was a Confederate soldier who ended his service as a prisoner of war at Point Lookout, but the similarity with the lead character, Joshua Eldridge, ends there. That explains the idea but the why is best exemplified by the following story. I think it makes the point of the story very clear.
THE CANDID FRIENDSHIP OF A FORMER CONFEDERATE AND A FORMER UNION SOLDIER
Tom and Joe were two older fellows in their 70's in 1915. Tom was a native North Carolinian, a Tar Heel, who had served in the Army of the Confederacy during the Civil War, then came home to work hard and succeed very well as a farmer. Joe, a native upstate New Yorker, worked in a factory before and after serving in the Union Army, did very well and advanced to the level of General Manager of a large plant before retiring in 1905. He was wounded and over the years the wound caused some disability, but he saved his money and decided on retirement to move to a small homestead in North Carolina where the weather would be warmer. He thrived and cultivated a nice garden that he and his wife tended and they both enjoyed the weather and the nearness to the Albemarle in their later years.
The two men met one day shortly after Joe made his move at the local post office. They lived only about a mile apart and quickly struck up a friendship. It didn't take long for them to realize that each had served in the Civil War on opposite sides, but they held no ill will for each other for, after all, they had fought for their homeland as teenagers, for back in those days people had a much closer relationship with their local communities and their home state than some far off government in Washington, D.C. Frankly, national politics was alien to them both and neither cared much for it, figuring that serving their homeland was a duty. Both were glad it was over and through the years had been able to get it out of their minds. Meeting to visit regularly, the subject of the war would on occasion come up and they realized they had both been involved in the Siege of Petersburg, a bloody series of battles where Tom was captured and ultimately landed in the POW camp.
One spring afternoon, they gathered together after their farming chores for some sweet tea on Tom's shaded porch. It was a beautiful day and they laughed, telling each other stories about the old days as older men often do. But then Joe looked at Tom and said he wanted to ask him a question.
"Sure, Joe," said Tom, "ask me anything you want."
Joe was pensive for a moment, then rubbed his chin and leaned forward saying, "Tom, I know you were just like me and would have done anything for North Carolina as I would have for New York. But, surely you knew that the North had the equipment and a much larger number of men to serve in the Army, so why did you join the Confederate Army and fight a losing war."
Joe was afraid that he might have hit a raw nerve, but Tom just smiled and said, "Well, Joe, I was a poor country boy and didn't know very much outside of my own little world. I really didn't know why I was going to war but I knew I had to and the reason was very clear. Your side was on our property and they weren't invited. That's really all I knew and what I cared about and I doubt you were too much different."
Joe nodded and said, "Well, I guess you are right. I was poor, too, just working in a factory to survive and trying to figure out my life when the war came. So, I enlisted, figuring it was my duty, but I did notice that all the big wigs who proclaimed the need for war mostly didn't serve and neither did their children. War is a poor man's job, below their dignity and their lifestyle."
Tom smiled and said, "Well, Joe, you sound like I used to but I realize now that life is too short to keep anger and it's better to make amends and move on. And I'll tell you some of us down here all our lives know things would have been much better had Mr. Lincoln not been assassinated. He wanted the country unified quickly and moving forward. My dad lost a lot during those days afterward but we weathered it and moved on. And I'm glad that we met and can discuss such things with understanding, not hate. That is always good for our soul."
The two men clinked their glasses and smiled at one another, then moved on to another topic: fishing. What could be better than that on a warm spring afternoon?
And that's why I wrote the book, folks. We need to look at history in view of the times in which it took place, not with twenty-first century views. Times were different and things were different and we need to learn from the reality of our past, not our preconceived notions by today's standards. Just copy and paste the following link in your browser to see this and other books that are available. There is even a short section of the books you can read with no obligation: