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On this day, in 1863, the South suffered a great loss.  For on this day, a brave and strong General, “strong as a stone wall,” succumbed to the after effects of friendly fire and pneumonia.

General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was a general of whom armies dream……one wonders where he would have led the Confederates if an accident of war had not taken his life.

If the words battle brought out the best of him could ever be understood, it was exemplified in the life of Jackson.   He intertwined his faith in God and his fierceness in battle tighter than any weave of cloth.   While others succumbed to the hardships of war, his health and vigor fed on the strife.

Until fate stepped in.

Strong in leadership and strong in faith, Stonewall died on the Sabbath, one thinks he had a hand in this and chose to meet his God on his day.

His final words, “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees,” aptly apply for any army……either of the Confederacy or the army of God’s soldiers….. under both of which, he loyally served.

Honoring a General………..


There was a Confederate flag rally yesterday in Gettysburg, near the Peace Light.I did not attend……..

Vulgarity and tension permeated the hallowed atmosphere……

The eternal Peace Flame wavered like a flag over angry words and hatred.

One can only imagine what the spirits of those whose lives ended almost two centuries ago thought when witnessing it………

The energy of this country is in tremendous need of balance, and needs a great leader to accomplish this feat.
I worry for this country and the world…….and what it holds for my grandchildren.

But, then again, maybe no leader can balance it.   Perhaps if the Messiah descended down a celestial staircase, it still wouldn’t change humanity.

Put rifles in the hands of the crowd yesterday and one can only imagine what might have happened.   The hands that would have held those rifles are the hands of those who have grasped the holy wafer in Communion.   Has it changed those hands?   Could any leader, whether from a log cabin, or a mansion of endless rooms, change what is in the deepest part of man………..

Men fight, they hate, they kill……a lot of times in the name of religion.

So, perhaps, praying that even religion will save us is an unanswerable prayer.





I had some strange things happen at my farmhouse this weekend. I will tell one. It was dusk. I came downstairs to ask my husband a question and went in the kitchen…..He wasn’t there, I looked into the adjoining room, it was getting fairly dark, couldn’t see him. I called out, “Are you in there?” That is not a particularly good phrase for the faint of heart in Gettysburg. As I said it, the door behind me swung open, inches from hitting my back. Okay, just random…..Except for one thing, as I looked down, the doorstop was still placed beneath it……The doorstop we keep in place to stop it from opening. My husband was outside, he wasn’t in the room……but I wasn’t alone………..:-)

More of these stories may be read in my book about experiences in this unique, hallowed town and the farmhouse I call home.
“The Returning Ones,” available at's snow


That title stuck in my head on Saturday……actually, it’s a Renaissance song.
But Saturday, it was literal…the turkey vultures were actually flying over my head, landing in the neighboring field.
There must have been some tiny soul’s decomposing body there….maybe a feral cat, or the carcass of a deer or skunk.
In Gettysburg, in 1863, the whole town smelled of death.
Death has a unique smell; since moving to a farmhouse, I am familiar with it.
At my farm, I recognize the smell when a little mouse takes his last breath and is decomposing nearby.
I cannot imagine the smell of death that passed over my field in 1863. It lingered for months and months.
I am overwhelmed by the smell of one tiny mouse; how could the residents of 19th Century Gettysburg have continued with their routines and lives among the stench of death.
I suppose the vultures flew high during those July days in 1863.Buzzard 1
buzzards 2
buzzards 3



general's snowI went shopping this weekend at a Civil War artifacts shop in Gettysburg. Filled with relics, soles of shoes, sewing kits, buttons, letters, it is a great place to take a child interested in history.
No paragraph in a book can match gazing at the sole of a soldier’s tattered shoe, or the bullet ridden, battered canteen dug up from the Battlefield.
Behind the glass, I was moved by a dress….a handsewn patched dress, ridden with blood. All that was known about the dress was it was from a nurse, thought to be named Beech.
Funny how some thread and cotton can tell more than a million words on a page.
You can watch the PBS Civil War series over and over, you can walk along the boulders of Devil’s Den, you can watch a reenactment; but gaze directly through the glass at a tattered piece of leather or a patched scrap of bloody cloth,or hold a dented button or weathered diary in your hands and you cannot help but think of the lives and horrors of those who wore or wrote in them almost two hundred years ago.