Friday, February 10, 2017

Burrell's War

 Burrell:  Chaper 1 here; Chapter 2 here.

Chapter 3

Mr. Jenkins predicted accurately that the Burrell twins would continue to study and learn.  Scooter's passion for history led him to ferret out every book in the county that treated with the development of civilization, and particularly the history of the United States.  Shortly after he turned sixteen he sat  for admission at Emory and Henry College.  With his expansive knowledge of history, getting in was a breeze.  He  matriculated, applied himself to the required Latin and Greek studies, and went on to read  law with Rice & Rice in Bristol.  He was admitted to the bar in  the Commonwealth of Virginia at the age of twenty-one.

Meanwhile, Cooter had  continued his  education in a much different, but equally effective  way.  He fell in with a band of people to whom states' rights trumped the power of the federal government.  He spent hours debating these issues, mainly in the inns within the radius of a few miles, but also in the town squares.  Eventually Cooter was an observer at the Virginia General Assembly listening to the proceedings, and carrying his ideas to the people in the streets.  Always learning, always teaching.  In 1860 at the age of 23, Cooter stood  for  election  to  the House of Delegates.  He  was narrowly defeated, but not discouraged as he continued to promote his political ideals.

Inevitably both George Washington Burrell and Andrew Jackson Burrell were embroiled in the civil strife that tore  the nation apart and  when hostilities began and war was declared, each chose  his  side.  The Commonwealth along with a large bloc of Southern States seceded from the Union.  Cooter enlisted in the Confederate army.  Scooter, on the other hand, had a  deep-seated love for his  country that outweighed all other considerations.  He  joined the Union forces.

In their respective armies, each Burrell achieved the rank of Infantryman, Private and each was posted to active duty in the war.

Nearing mid-February 1865 moving with Sherman's Army up the coast Scooter Burrell was in the push against Wilmington led by General Schofield.  It was vital for the Confederacy to hold Wilmington, equally important to the Union to take it.  Scooter was near the end of the left flank as the point moved ahead.  Slogging through the marshes was incredibly tiring, but vigilance was the watchword.  As Burrell cautiously moved forward, he spotted to his left a grey uniform, twenty-five yards.  As he assayed to take aim, the splash of a fish or a bird on the water behind him caught the attention of the Reb and when he looked up he saw the Blue raising his rifle.  Cooter immediately responded in kind, and in the instant of sighting and aiming, each soldier was looking squarely into his own face.

A choking in his throat and a feeling that his heart would stop, Cooter held his aim.  A tear ran down Scooter's cheek, and the report of the rifles was as one.  Two minie balls  sped toward their targets.

The family Bible, entry on the "Deaths" page:

George Washington Burrell, February 11, 1865, Wilmington, North Carolina.  Aged 28 years, two days.
Andrew Jackson Burrell, February 11, 1865, Wilmington, North Carolina.  Aged 28 years, two days.



Secondary Roads said...

A sad tale, 'tis true.
Sadly, 'all too true.

vanilla said...

Chuck, 'Tis sad, indeed.
When I created these characters and started weaving a story I had no idea it would culminate in this fashion. If the ending is disturbing or unsatisfying, one could ideate an alternate outcome in which, for example, the brothers recognize each other, throw down their weapons and run headlong into each other's arms. Then they could be shot by another soldier, either side, whose ball penetrates the hearts of both men, or they could somehow survive the conflict, return to Virginia and live happily ever after.

The denouement I chose, however, is perfectly illustrative of the human condition, the outcome of deadened emotions when ideology trumps love and concern for our fellows, So, stet.

Grace said...


vanilla said...

Grace, hurt my heart, too. Trying to read the story aloud to BBBH. Bawling before I could finish and I created these people. But humankind. . .

Secondary Roads said...

Stet it is and stet it should be.

Vee said...

Sad, but also true that anger can build over issues to the point of irreparable divisions.

vanilla said...

Vee, this has been going on so long throughout human history that I despair of any future improvement.