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A Civil War Treasure

Updated on July 20, 2017
ziyena profile image

Indie Author via Amazon Publishing: Historical Romance and Paranormal Novellas

Full Shenandoah Moon

Full moon over Shenandoah National Park
Full moon over Shenandoah National Park | Source

Cross Keys, Virginia

Childhood Memories

I love old books ... adore them. When I was a kid, I visited a friend of my mothers' who lived in an old farmhouse on the outskirts of the Shenandoah Valley near Cross Keys, Virginia. I remember the crisp air and the rain that dribbled all day beneath plumes of mist. To pass the time, I would wander about the old ruins of a grand 1860's style plantation house that stood nearby. I found out that the mansion was built just before the onslaught of the Civil War.

Since I enjoyed Civil War history, you could imagine the thoughts that ran through my mind as I admired that old mansion. I was truly fascinated because I was standing on private property that once was overran by Civil War soldiers and the sounds of cannon and buckshot filled my mind. I remember looking out toward the road which led away to Harrisburg and envisioned Union troops winding like a long snake of never-ending blue.

History of the Valley

Finders Keepers

As a gift, my mother's friend gave me a copy of the "The Long Roll" by Mary Johnston, a rare turn of the century novel about life during the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley. I have always held on to that novel not only because of the rich story, but because of a little treasure I found in the last pages of the book - a poem written by Willian E. Byrd - 12/30/1940 who once lived at 2.48- 37th st N.W., Washington D.C., a resident of the Georgetown University area.

I have never found this person, nor do I believe he is still alive, but I do have one other clue that is inscribed in front of the book - a little oath of love - "Harry Byrd loves Ann Shiner" written by a child's hand. I often wonder if this booked belonged to one of those famous Byrds of Virginia. My little mystery still carries on to this day and if anyone recognizes these names or the address I would love to hear about the original owner of my book.

The Long Roll
The Long Roll

"The two rode on. To left and right were lighted streets of tents, visited here and there by substantial cabins. Soldiers were everywhere, dimly seen within the tents where the door-flap was fastened back, about the camp-fires in open places, clustering like bees in the small squares, everywhere apparent in the foreground and divined in the distance. From somewhere came the strains of 'Yankee Doodle.' A gust of wind blew out the folds of the stars and stripes, fastened above some regimental headquarters. The city of tents and of frame structures hasty and crude, of fires in open places, of Butlers' shops and canteens and booths of strolling players, of chapels and hospitals, of fluttering flags and wandering music, of restless blue soldiers, oscillating like motes in some searchlight of the giants, persisted for a long distance. At last it died away; there came a quiet field or two, then the old Maryland town of Frederick."from The Long Roll

 

The Battle

"The Battle," illustration from "The Long Roll," by Mary Johnston (1911)
"The Battle," illustration from "The Long Roll," by Mary Johnston (1911) | Source

Civil War Poem

Let's Cross over the river

and rest under the trees

Thus to the [cross?] of the giver

The soul of a great man flees.

To him the end of the conflict

Urging all to press on

Awaiting his [weaken?] verdict

At the set of the May Day sun.

Thinking of country only

As he lay on a bed of panes

Fighting the battle so lonely

That he might not die in vain.

Had he live till the fighting was over

Had he been able to lead

A different story would cover

the tale of blood and deed.

William E. Byrd
December 30th, 1940

About Stonewall Jackson

Hubber Notes

William E. Byrd wrote the poem as a posthumous tribute to Stonewall Jackson, who died may 10th, 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville. He was inspired by Mary Johnston's 1911 fictional novel, "The Long Roll" and on page 681, General Jackson speaks his final words, "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees", which are the first two lines of the poem notated in quotes, and with every two lines, the last words rhyme. "Panes" was a form of cloth he was laid on and the words "cross" and "weaken" were the best poetic words that could be made out.

There are a lot of Byrd's in Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington DC, but it should be duly noted that Stonewall Jackson was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and not too far from the town that my mom's friend lives, and so I think this book has travelled full circle.

I would like to credit my father, Bill Lawson for deciphering the old English scribe and breaking down the poem in its light penciled format.

© 2012 ziyena

Comments

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  • louise-barraco profile image

    Louise Barraco 5 weeks ago from Ontario

    I love history this hub was great

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 3 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

    WINK

    lol

  • Randy Godwin profile image

    Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia

    Ha Ziyena, I grew up barefooted WITHOUT a metal detector. :)

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 3 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

    Thanks Randy ... grew up barefoot with a metal detector :)

  • Randy Godwin profile image

    Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia

    As someone interested in the Civil War--my ancestors fought for the south, of course--I enjoyed this info about Jackson's final words being used to create a poem. Cool hub!

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

    Aside from Stuart, I can't think of anyone else more daring and proficient a calvary scout than Mosby. His elusive ride around Mclellan was pure genius. I've once read that Mosby had piercing blue eyes, and a mysterious demeaner that only a chosen few understood. I also commend him for his close friendship with Grant after the war. He never backed down from southern sentiments, anti-union furor over that relationship. There are so many reasons ... I could probably go on and on ... lol

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Mosby was an interesting character for sure; tell me why he is your favorite?

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

    "The Civil War: the legend of the Grey Ghost rides on"

    http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhoo...

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

    Billy ... a true testament to your enthusiasm for teaching ... by the way my favorite civil war personality during the Civil War is "The Gray Ghost" :)

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Every year when I taught middle school we would have a big Civil War unit since it was my favorite subject, and every year kids would come back while in high school to tell me how much they enjoyed that in-depth unit on the War. Great hub and a book I would love to read.

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

    Those were the days, huh Eddie? Thanks for your trip down memory lane ... reminiscing about the good ole days always brings a smile to my face. I think you should hub some more on your Bill of Sale find ... starting with

    "My grandmother lived in an old farm house in southern NH, and I used to roam around the barn filled will old tools and treasures from the past. I remember we were jumping from the second floor loft into the hay on the first floor, the sun was beaming golden rays of light in the dust filled single pained glass window, the rays of sun light were filled with the thick dust floating in the air from the dry hay we were jumping in. The sunbeams were pointing to the corner of the barn, where I could see a piece of old paper rolled up and tucked in between the beams, as I unrolled it, I noticed it was a Bill of Sale for a 1925 Ford T-Bucket for $25 ..."

    Nice writing my friend

  • eddiecarrara profile image

    Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hey Ziyena, this is a very interesting story and it is written very well. My grandmother lived in an old farm house in southern NH, and I used to roam around the barn filled will old tools and treasures from the past. I remember we were jumping from the second floor loft into the hay on the first floor, the sun was beaming golden rays of light in the dust filled single pained glass window, the rays of sun light were filled with the thick dust floating in the air from the dry hay we were jumping in. The sunbeams were pointing to the corner of the barn, where I could see a piece of old paper rolled up and tucked in between the beams, as I unrolled it, I noticed it was a Bill of Sale for a 1925 Ford T-Bucket for $25, how cool is that :)

    I'll always remember the days I roamed the barn seeking buried treasure and I will never forget the smell of the hay. Welcome to HubPages, voted up and interesting :)

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

    Thanks so much ... it is, I've been hanging on to that since I was sixteen. Very special ...

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Welcome to HP! This is an excellent article - I love history. The book you have sounds very cool!