52 Ancestors #9 Howell Joel “Hobby” Wedgeworth


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small, and this week’s theme is “Close to home.”

You can’t get more close to home than this story. I live just south of Franklin, TN and my great aunt’s father was captured in Franklin during the Civil War, nearly in my backyard.

wedgeworth howell joel hobby and martha morrow, par of ora wedgeworth culpepperHowell Joel “Hobby” Wedgeworth was born Nov. 26, 1837 in Greene County, Alabama to Rev. Joel Walker Wedgeworth and Margaret Jane Smith. In 1852, he married Elvira Hughens and had one daughter Margaret Jane in 1858. Sadly, his wife died in 1860. I don’t know the fate of his little girl, as he went off to fight in the Civil War as a bachelor.

During the war, Hobby served with 5th Mississippi Regiment Co K as a musician. He was wounded in December of 1862, but kept serving. On November 30, 1864, he was captured at the Battle of Franklin, TN and sent to Louisville, KY to military prison, then to Camp Douglas in Chicago. After the war ended, he was released on June 18, 1865. You can read more about the Franklin battle HERE.

It was told by his granddaughter that Rev. Joel Wedgeworth went to a designated meeting place to pick up his son after the war and didn’t even recognize him because he was so thin and worn.

When Hobby returned from the war, he immediately married Martha Morrow (pictured with Hobby) in 1865 and had eight children, the youngest being Ora Wedgeworth who married my great grandpa’s brother, Floyd Culpepper.

Hobby died Jan. 5, 1907 in Neshoba County, Mississippi at the age of 69. He is buried with his wife at Hester Cemetery in Neshoba.

IMG_20141115_150317159_HDRI attended the 150th anniversary muster of the Battle of Franklin November 2014 and witnessed the re-enactment as well as a memorial salute performed in the Confederate cemetery located at the site.IMG_20141115_150047367



52 Ancestors #8 James Rodgers


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small, and this week’s theme is “Good Deeds.”

I don’t have any “deeds” for my ancestors, but I do have some “land grants.”

The following is a land grant for my 6th great grandfather, James Rodgers Sr, who was born to James Rodgers and Mary McPherson in 1732 in Massachusetts. He married Margaret Woods in 1766 in Augusta County, Virginia, and they must have immediately moved to Tennessee, as my 5th great grandfather was born in Greene County, Tennessee in 1767. (For family members who follow this blog, this James Rodgers is the grandfather of Hays Rodgers, the father-in-law of Elly Hays.)

James was forty-four years old at the beginning of the Revolution and did not fight, but he served by housing soldiers. In return for his patriotism, he was granted 200 acres of land in Greene County, Tennessee in 1792. He did not enjoy it long, as he died on the land in 1794.

The thing that strikes me is the property lines were set by trees. No wonder people ended up having feuds over whose hog was on whose property.

downloadNorth Carolina Revolutionary War Land Grants

Roll 12: Book 1: Page 284 (Greene County, Tennessee)

The State of North Carolina, to all whom these Presents shall come. Greeting:

Know ye, that we, for and in consideration of the sum of Fifty Shillings for every hundred acres hereby granted, paid into our Treasury by James Rodgers

Have given and granted and by these presents do give and grant unto the said James Rodgers a tract of land containing two hundred acres lying and being in our county of Greene on the north side of Nolachucky on Deals Branch of Lick Creek.

oak-treeBeginning at a Spanish oak, white oak and dogwood and yew. Thence south two hundred and forty poles to a white oak and black oak. Thence with said Rodgers line one hundred and thirty six poles to a stake. Thence to the beginning. As by the plat here unto annexed doth appear together with all woods, waters, mines, minerals, here did with and appurtenances to the said land belonging or appertaining to hold to the said James Rodgers his heirs and assigns forever yielding and paying to us such sums of money yearly or otherwise as our General Assembly from time to time may direct provided always that the said James Rodgers shall cause this grant to be Registered in the Registers office of our said county of Greene within twelve months from the date hereof other sum the same shall be void and of none effect.

In Testimony Whereof, we have caused these, our letters to be made patent and our great Seal to be hereunto affixed.

Witness Alexander Martin

Esquire, our Governor, Captain General and Commander-in-Chief at Danbury this 11th day of May, in the 16th year of our Independence and in the year of our lord 1792.

Alexander Martin (signed)

On This Day in 1862

My 3rd great grandfather, Rice Benjamin Carpenter, was born August 15, 1828 in Greene County, Alabama to Benjamin Carpenter and Nancy Rice Carpenter. He was the eighth of ten children.

In 1834, following the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, his family moved to Pine Springs, Lauderdale County, Mississippi for the low-cost land and fertile soil. Rice was six years old.

He married Mary Ann Rodgers in 1846. They were both seventeen.

They had five children – Martha Lettie, Benjamin Hays, William Travis, Charles Clinton, and MF – one girl and four boys.

frs4544After living with some friends in Pine Springs for a few years, in 1853 they bought 80 acres of land from Mary Ann’s father and began farming, but within a few short years, Rice realized he was a better merchant than a farmer, and by 1860 they had opened a general store in Marion Station, Mississippi.




dec 2012 388When the Civil War began, Rice signed up for the 41st Mississippi Infantry, Company C on February 8, 1862. This must have been a frightening time for the family, as Mary Ann was eight months pregnant with their last child who was born March 12th, 1862.




dec 2012 394On This Day at dawn on December 31, 1862, amid limestone boulders and cedar forest, his infantry attacked the Union soldiers at the Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. (only 20 miles from my house)





Page 6Private Rice Benjamin Carpenter died on that day on the battlefield at the age of 34, leaving behind his wife and children.









dec 2012 407He is laid to rest at Confederate Circle, Evergreen Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

RIP 3rd great grandpa. Rest well soldier, your job is done.

A portion of his story is told in my book, “Okatibbee Creek.” Available at Amazon.

This post brought to you by On This Day. 

On This Day in 1864

carrie mcgavock portrait

Yesterday, November 29, 1864, Carrie McGavock sat on the front porch of her Tennessee home, the Carnton Plantation, enjoying a warm afternoon of Indian summer. Suddenly, she witnessed thousands of Confederate troops marching across her 1400 acres, heading directly toward her home. The troops told her a battle was coming and asked if they could use her house as a hospital, and by nightfall, surgeons and medics had arrived and started moving her furniture against the walls to make way for the injured. They took the doors off her outbuildings to be used as cots and operating tables. I can only imagine how nervous she felt, dreading the unknown that was to come.



carnton house







On This Day, November 30, 1864

back of Carnton HouseAt 3:30 p.m. the five-hour battle began. Cannon fire shook the house. Bullets drilled holes into the walls of the outbuildings. By the time night fell and the battle was over, hundreds of wounded, bleeding, and dying men had been carried into her home and placed throughout the rooms, in the hallways, on the staircase. Four dead generals lay covered on this back porch. 150 soldiers died in her home that night. The wooden floors are still stained with their blood. The outbuildings still show the bullet holes.


The next morning, December 1, 1864

cemetery 1At the first light of dawn, the 750 residents of Franklin, TN began tending the nearly 10,000 Union and Confederate soldiers lying all over McGavock’s property, some dead, some wounded, moaning and crying out for help. Forty-four private homes in Franklin were converted into temporary hospitals.

By 1866, the McGavock’s had seen numerous bodies that had been buried in shallow graves all over the battlefield become unearthed by the elements and the woodland animals. The McGavocks donated two acres of their land to be used as a Confederate Cemetery and properly re-interred the soldiers. Carrie’s husband, John McGavock, and the townspeople cataloged and buried 1500 Confederate soldiers, 500 of whom they could not identify. The Union soldiers were moved to the National Cemetery in Murfreesboro, TN.



mcgavock confererate cemeteryCarrie McGavock cared for the Confederate cemetery until her death in 1905, at which time it was turned over to the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

On This Day in 1828

On This Day 1828

August 15, 1828 was the birthday of my 3rd great grandfather, Rice Benjamin Carpenter.

Rice was born to Benjamin Carpenter and Nancy Rice. He was the eighth of ten children, the first five born in North Carolina, and the last five born in Mississippi. When he was 17 years old in 1846, he married my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Ann Rodgers. The Carpenter and Rogers families lived near each other and Rice and Mary Ann had grown up together.

Jolly family bible pg2Rice and Mary Ann had five children: Martha Lettie (my 2nd great grandmother 1848-1933), Benjamin Hays (1850-1929), William Travis (1854-1856), Charles Clinton (1858-1890), and a son with the initials MF (1862-1863). As you can see by the dates, William Travis died at the age of two, and MF died as an infant. His full name is not known, but his initials are written in the family Bible, as you can see on the bottom of the first column in the photo.

Rice and Mary Ann set up house on land they got from Mary Ann’s father, but sometime around 1860, they sold the land and moved to the town of Marion Station in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, to open a general store. Abandoning the farm so Rice could become a merchant was probably their way of starting over after losing their first son. The excitement of a new life was not long-lived, however. In February of 1862, with Mary Ann eight months pregnant, Rice signed up for the 41st Infantry Regiment, the Cole Guards, and prepared to fight in the Civil War.

port-hudsonOn 31 December 1862, his company found themselves in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (only 25 miles from my house) where they met the Union troops head-on at the Battle of Stones River. As you can see in the Port Hudson News, the newspapers were reporting a successful campaign for the Rebels, but Rice was not so lucky. He was killed in the very first charge. Rice’s son MF had been born March 12, 1862. In February of that year, Rice had signed up to fight, but is shown as absent until May. Perhaps he did get to spend time with his youngest son.

On the 150th anniversary of the battle, 31 December 2012, I visited the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro. The man there told me the battle that took place on 31 December actually happened about two miles up the road in what is now a golf course.

dec 2012 407The Confederate Circle was established at Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro in 1890, and in 1891 all of the remains of soldiers from local areas were re-interred in a mass grave there. Of the 2000 soldiers buried in the Circle, about 90% are unknown or not recorded in the records – one being Rice Benjamin Carpenter. He left behind a grieving widow and three children ages 14, 12, and 4.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa Rice.

Shameless plugs:

Mary Ann’s story is told in my book Okatibbee Creek.

This post is brought to you by On This Day available at Amazon.

Farming, Winning, Unpacking, and Catching Up

Holy cow, the last month as been NUTZZZ!

IMG_20140507_075738760I moved from Michigan to Tennessee on May 1st. Whew, that was a lot of work! I felt kinda bad that I went to work on May 3rd for two weeks and left my trophy husband in Tennessee to deal with the movers, the dogs, and his new job, but I had to sit on a beach in St. Maarten and get paid. (I work for Norwegian Cruise Lines, if you don’t know.) So, trophy husband unpacked boxes as best he could and regularly emailed me pictures of the house. I was so happy to see all our stuff made it, but I must admit, my first thoughts were, “Hey, that doesn’t go there. Why would he put those things on that table? That other stuff should go there, and move those things to the other place.” LOL. Poor guy. Well, it was so cool to fly into Nashville on Saturday to come home. I’ve been home for two days and have most of our belongings sorted out. I’m still finding things we didn’t unpack when we moved three years ago, but it’s fun to go through it.

IMG_20140518_184641045In case you missed it, we now have a farm and poor trophy husband has a lot to do. While we were driving down from Michigan (eight hours in the car with two dogs panting and turning it into a smelly steam room), one of the six moo moos had a calf. I called her Peanut (standing on the left), which will be totally wrong when she weighs 900 pounds, but I don’t care. While I was away last week, we had the second calf. I named her Buttercup (laying down on the right). They are precious!!


While I was gone, Twister (the neurotic donkey) apparently went into the chicken enclosure and wouldn’t come out. He’s out now and back with his buddies, but he was a poor little loner for over a week. My house sits by the barn and the chickens, and I haven’t seen Twister since I’ve returned home. He may be a little freaked out by the whole experience. He’s hiding on the back of the property.

AOH%20cover_webAlso while I was gone, my book “An Orphan’s Heart,” was named as a finalist in the 2014 Eric Hoffer Awards. I’m tickled pink!








unnamedThe sequel to “Stuckey’s Bridge” is coming out in two weeks. “Stuckey’s Legacy” will hit the shelves on June 1st. While I was on the ship, I finished writing the third in the trilogy. “Stuckey’s Gold” is now in the pipeline and will be out in August. If you haven’t read “Stuckey’s Bridge” yet, get busy.


I think that’s all the news. I’m leaving Sunday for Bermuda for nine weeks, so I won’t be around until the end of July. Have a great summer and I’ll yack at y’all soon!

They loaded up the truck and they moved to Tennessee

Beverly Hillbillies in reverse. We live in Michigan and we’re moving to Tennessee…NEXT WEEK!

Last Thursday (April 10), my trophy husband said, “My company has a job opening in Tennessee.”

I said, “Well, what are we waiting for?”

We’ve been discussing moving South for quite a while. The snow in Michigan sucks! But since we were here, we’ve also been looking for a farm in Michigan for the last year, but everything we found, put an offer on, got an acceptance on, etc. has fallen through. Maybe we’re MEANT to move South. If you know me, you know my life is about SYNCHRONICITY! I completely believe things happen for a reason, and you will know you are on the right path by the crazy signs around you. Obviously, the difficulties we had trying to buy a farm in Michigan meant we were not on the right path. When things are right, they’re not difficult…they’re easy. Tell me if I’m on the right path when you read the following story…

10156091_10152321047728326_6600643372095374873_nThat night (April 10), I found a farmhouse online and emailed about it. We planned on going down Sunday (April 13) for a couple days for hubby to check out the job and me to check out the neighborhoods for houses. (In 2 weeks, I’ll be out of the country until August, so if this is going to happen, it has to happen quick quick quick.)

Early Sunday morning, I got a response to my email which was uber-strange, stating the owner worked for the UN and was being transferred to South Africa, and asking questions like ‘Can you attach a photo?’ ‘How much can you put down upfront?’ ‘What’s your birth date?’   It was more than a little weird, so you know me, I Googled it. Turns out it was a scam. It’s been running since 2009. They get your info, you send them a lot of money, and you don’t get the house. I searched online and found the REAL real estate agent and sent her an email, telling her there was some fraudulent activity going on with that property. In the car on the way to Nashville an hour later, I got an email from her asking me to call her. I did and we spoke about the email I had received, which I offered to forward to her. I also asked (since I had her on the phone) if I could set up an appointment with her (since she’s a real estate agent and I’m looking for a house).

10247300_10152318711128326_7398557137487060087_nMonday morning (April 14), I dropped hubby off at the new job and went driving around. Armed with coffee, my GPS, and a list of 20 houses, my plan was to look at all of them before meeting with the real estate agent at noon. All of the houses were in dinky neighborhoods with no yards. I hated them. I’m a country girl. Give me room. Give me grass. Finally, I ended up at the farmhouse I had originally emailed about. I was in LOVE. There were cows and a donkey next to the house…chickens and geese in the barn…and a beautiful 150-yr-old farmhouse.


1010207_10152321047538326_4270091319921640956_nWhile I was in the driveway, my trophy husband texted, “The job is a go! Find a house!”


I texted back, “Just did! Check your email.” I sent him pictures of the cows and the house, and I headed to the real estate office.

The agent showed me some houses on her laptop (some of which I had just driven by) and I told her the one I really loved was the old farmhouse. She told me all about the history of the house and the land. I asked her why she knew so much about the property.

She said, “Because I’m the owner.”



We signed the papers Thursday morning (Apr 17) before we left, and we’re now back in Michigan packing. The movers are coming Apr 29! I gotta go….

October Ancestry Challenge – Linda Faye Culpepper

oct ancestry challenge-001 October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 days – 23 posts – 23 ancestors. I’d like to thank the folks who participated in the challenge. It has been a pleasure getting to know your ancestors. This will be the last installment in the challenge on my page, and thank goodness, it’s been…well…a challenge to come up with 23 ancestors. I’m posting a little early as I’m participating in a Halloween Blog Hop tomorrow. Stop by tomorrow for a creepy story and a chance to win a free Kindle of “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge.” Now, without further ado…

Ancestor #23 – Linda Faye Culpepper

I saved the best for last. ♥

MommaThis beautiful woman was my mother. She was born in 1944 in Meridian, Mississippi to Earl Culpepper and Ina Inez Burke (Ancestor #7). She had only one sister and no brothers.

She married my daddy (Ancestor #22) on August 15, 1960 when she was only 15 years old (the same age she was in this photograph). She said her father tried to discourage her from marrying at such a young age, but the woman I knew was always rebellious. When I was a baby, we moved to Tennessee for a while, but by 1966, the marriage was over, and we moved back to Mississippi and lived with her parents.

While she was a young working mother, she had a woman babysit me and eventually met his son. They married and we moved to Michigan. She went to school to become a nurse and worked for thirteen years in the cardiac unit of the local hospital.

The morning of November 17, 2000, she fell from the second floor balcony of her home when the railing broke. She suffered greatly from seven broken ribs, three broken vertebrae, a ruptured spleen, and a broken arm. After months of fighting, her body gave up and she died July 11, 2001.

She is buried at Resurrection Cemetery in Clinton Township, MI in the Angel Mausoleum.

Rest in peace, momma. I miss you every day.

October Ancestry Challenge – Andrew Frank Crane

oct ancestry challenge-001 October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 days – 23 posts – 23 ancestors

 Ancestor #22 – Andrew Frank Crane

I’ve saved the best two ancestors for last.

His friends called him Andy. I called him daddy.



Andrew Frank “Andy” Crane was born in 1940 in Mississippi to Andrew Frank Sr and Azalea Pickett Crane. He was the only son of the union and had one sister. He married Linda Faye Culpepper on August 15, 1960 at the age of 20, she was 15. He worked as a carpenter at L.B. Prister and Co.

Two years later, they had “me,” and I am the only child of the union.

crane, andy and linda 1960

The marriage didn’t last long, and by 1966 he was living in Tennessee and married for the second time. In that marriage, he had two sons. He was an avid duck hunter and loved to operate his ham radio. He also played guitar. His guitar now belongs to my brother and has been passed on to my niece who seems to have the same music bug I have.

Daddy headstone He died on October 31, 1994 of complications following a removal of a pituitary tumor. He is missed by his children and by his seven grandchildren whom he never had the pleasure of meeting. crane andy headstone with lori

October Ancestry Challenge – Rice Benjamin Carpenter

oct ancestry challenge-001 October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 days – 23 posts – 23 ancestors

Ancestor #21 – Rice Benjamin Carpenter

Rice was my 3rd great grandfather. He was born to Benjamin Carpenter and Nancy Rice in 1828 in Tennessee. Before 1834, his family moved to Lauderdale County, Mississippi. This was just following the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, and the government had moved the Choctaw Indians off the land and were selling it for cheap to get it settled by Americans.

Rice married Mary Ann Rodgers (Ancestor #17) in 1846 and had five children before he went off to fight in the Civil War. On December 31, 1862, he fought in the Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The following is a chapter from my book “Okatibbee Creek.”


okatibbee creek cover front JPEGThe ground is hard. The air is chilly. Every night, it’s pitch-black out here. I haven’t been able to sleep a wink. I can hear some low, quiet talking outside, an ole hoot owl in the woods far away, a couple of bull-frogs croaking in the grass, and even someone snoring next to me. I wish I could sleep.

I remember the day we arrived. The land here was quite beautiful then. There were thick woods of cedar trees lining a beautiful river.

That was a month ago. Over the last three weeks, most of the trees have been used for firewood, to build makeshift cabins, and turned into poles to hold up tents. It’s been raining a lot, mixed with a little snow and freezing rain. When the sun comes out in the morning, everything melts. Now this once beautiful land looks like one big, muddy pigsty. The mud is awful and the smell is even worse. God, the smell.

We were told that we would be awakened well before dawn for a mission. It must be almost that time. I’m tired. I’m anxious. I’m hungry. If we have a mission this early, there won’t be time for any breakfast. Maybe some hardtack and warm canteen water and that’s it.

I don’t know what I’d do right now for a good, strong cup of hot coffee. We haven’t had any coffee for weeks. We’ve been boiling chicory and peanuts instead. I would like some real coffee.

I would also like some clean clothes and some new shoes as well. I wonder if Mr. Calhoun has new shoes selling in the store. I would like some of his well-made shoes without mud on them, and with soles that aren’t worn through. I would like some clothes that aren’t caked in mud and sweat. I would like a chicken dinner. I would like to see my wife and my children. I would like to get away from these drunken, loud men. I would like to get away from the coughing and the diseases that are spreading through our camp like wild-fire. I would like to get back to my civilized store and my comfortable life, away from this godforsaken war that has gone on far too long for my taste. I should have been home months ago.

I hear them outside moving around now. I hear them all waking up and starting to stir. Someone sticks his head in my tent and says, “Rice, come on, we’re meeting at the captain’s tent in ten minutes.”

Yeah, there is something big going on, all right. One could almost cut the tension in the air with a knife. In ten minutes, we will find out exactly what it is. I put on my coat and hat and what remains of my worn shoes, and head through the mud to the captain’s tent.

“Men, you all know we have Yankees just over the river. We’ve heard that they plan to engage us after breakfast, but we’re not going to wait for them to come across. We’re going to give them a nice little surprise wake-up right now.” He points to a map on the table and continues. “The Kentucky boys are going to go around this way, and the Tennessee boys are going to take them on from that direction. We will move through this way. Since it is so early, we should be able to catch most of them still asleep in their tents.”

He waves his stick around the map so quickly, it is almost hard to figure out exactly where we are supposed to go.

“Any questions?” he asks.

All the men shake their heads.

“Good, let’s go kick some Yankee butt. When we are finished, we will confiscate their coffee, and I’ll join you in a cup,” he says.

“Now you’re speaking my language, Captain,” I joke.

He smiles and pats me on the shoulder as I leave the tent.

We grab our muskets and revolvers and move through what remains of the dense cedar glades, up the river-bank, as quiet as deer at dusk. It is still dark. I guess it must be about four or four thirty in the morning. We usually move to the sound of drum and bugle, but not on this day. Today, we are gravely quiet. As we plant ourselves behind some low limestone rocks about seven hundred yards away from the enemy, I can see about thirty campfires and a few men wandering around, but the camp is mostly quiet. It might be my imagination, but I think I smell coffee. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a cup of that. It dawns on me that there are a lot more campfires than men, so they must want us to think that their army is a lot bigger than it actually is. Why else have so many campfires?

I am uncomfortable lying on my belly so low on the ground behind eight-inch-tall limestone rocks, and I wonder why we haven’t built some fortifications over the last month. Not that there are any trees left to build them with, but I wonder nonetheless. I assume we weren’t planning on this attack, but since the opportunity has presented itself, we are going to take advantage of it, with or without fortifications.

When everyone gets into position, we start aiming for the men who are walking around, though when they hear the first gun-shot, they crouch down, running and scurrying for their guns. I see quite a few of them fall before I ever hear one of their guns shooting back at us. For a moment, I think this is going to be an easy victory. We’ll send those Yankees back home with their tails between their legs before dawn. Then we’ll drink their coffee.

A few days ago, about twenty-five hundred of our Calvary boys rode all the way around the Union camp, confiscated four wagon trains, and took about a thousand Union prisoners, but we didn’t get any coffee. Maybe these Yankees don’t have much coffee, either.

“Well, they’re not getting any today,” I mumble to myself as I raise my musket and fire.

As the Yankees start to run away, someone behind us gives the rebel yell and we all follow suit. It is a mix of an Indian war cry and a gypsy scream. The Yankees probably think Indians are attacking them. We all rise from our positions and start running after them.

After we cross the freezing cold river, we pick up speed and are almost right on top of them. We are moving in and fast. Roughly ten thousand Confederate troops are raining down on their heads before breakfast. Most of those Yankee boys are running away like scared little rabbits.

“Run, rabbit, run!” I yell.

Our band starts playing “Dixie” and we hum along as we aim, fire, and reload. Occasionally, cannon fire shakes the ground, fills the air with smoke, and drowns out the band. One cannon fires so close behind me, I think my hearing will be gone for good. I am aiming at a Yankee when a cannon fires. I blink my eyes and the Yankee is gone.

One of the boys loading the cannon yells to me, “I got him for you, Rice. You go on home now.”

He roars with laughter as I roll my eyes at him and wiggle my finger in my ear, gesturing that I can’t hear him. He laughs louder.

Our band is now playing “My Bonnie Blue Flag” as we start moving in closer. We walk so far and so long, it seems the Yankees have all but run all the way back home. We move for a solid two miles before we catch up with them again. By the time we engage them again, it is light outside.

Our band always plays marches like “Marching Through Georgia” or “I’m a Good Ole Rebel.” The Yankee bands always play songs like “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” A popular song on both sides is “Home Sweet Home,” but our band is not allowed to play that. The captain says the melancholy tune makes everyone homesick, and he is afraid some of the men will desert and go home. But for some reason on this cold Tennessee morning, our band starts playing that song.

Our boys always sing along, but today, the strangest thing happens. The Union boys start singing along. I can hear them singing over the gunfire. I can’t believe I can hear Yankees singing, partly because they are that close, but mostly because we are in the heat of battle. Singing together seems more than bizarre to me. Then the Union band picks up on the tune and they start to play along also. Everyone is singing and for a split second, the shooting stops. For a brief moment, the cannon fire stops.

I think, how can everyone sing together and then resume shooting one another? How can everyone share this melancholy moment and take up arms again? Men on both sides are singing together like I’ve never heard anyone sing before. In another time, another place, we would be friends.

I stop firing and listen to everyone singing, thinking this is the most surreal moment I can remember in my life. I am lying flat on my stomach, and I lift my head to look around at the men. As I rise further and turn to look at the ones behind me, I feel a searing pain rip through my chest. I reach up to my chest and feel warm blood oozing out of a bullet wound. Damn. I optimistically think it is probably only a surface wound, and I will be all right if I can make it all the way back to camp. I can write to Mary and tell her I’m all right. I don’t want her and the children to worry about me.

As I try to get to my feet and turn toward the direction of camp, I feel another hot pain go through my left temple.

I hear someone yell, “Rice, get down!”

I fall to my knees, thinking this can’t possibly be the end. No, it can’t be. I have a beautiful wife and wonderful children to get home to. I try to get up again, but stumble forward and fall facedown onto the ground.

“Rice!” I hear someone yell again.

I stare at the pebbles and the pine needles on the ground. Blood starts to pool under my face, turning the dirt and pebbles and pine needles a flood of bright red.

I listen as the cannons roar and the rifles fire and the band plays “Home Sweet Home,” and I think of my beautiful Mary and my wonderful children—Mattie, Benjamin, Charlie, and Monroe. How lucky I am to have them.

Then slowly, everything fades from red to black.


dec 2012 407Private Rice Benjamin Carpenter

Killed in battle December 31, 1862

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Remains and memorial at Evergreen Cemetery in the Confederate Circle