Kudos to the creators and organizers of the notable “Civil War’ Weekend! When I first heard about the planned occasion, it sounded most interesting; but it also caused me to take a deep breath, thinking of this historic and emotionally-charged subject.
I attended many of the events, and wish I could have attended all. It was my intent to make this a personally reflective weekend: what had this all meant in time, what had my many ancestors - soldiers, fathers and wives, experienced and felt? The Emancipation Proclamation reading and accompanying drama was rewarding and truly historical for this important city of Apalachicola. And I had hoped to conclude the weekend with the singing of old hymns renewing the old adage of faith, hope and charity.
For me, the supposed non-denominational service in Lafayette Park was an extreme disappointment. It was an hour-and-one-half tirade of excess and exception - with the few minutes of sermon by Rev. “Themo” P. proving that he could have delivered a far better, unifying program. Irritated and frustrated, I hurried home before its closure. I was intent on changing my mood and in ending well what otherwise had been a rewarding weekend.
As if the spirit of ancestors were speaking, I pulled from my shelf the account of my great-grandfather, Capt. James Robert McMichael, who as part of the Company K, 12th Georgia Regiment, had been one of the “600 Immortals,” i.e. one of the 600 Confederate officers who had been set up as a human buffer in Charleston Harbor in retaliation for Andersonville. McMichael later became a doctor and a devoted community member of Buena Vista, Georgia.
Just 30 years old when the war ended, on Christmas Day just a few months before Lee’s surrender to Grant, McMichael wrote - and I was soothed, by the following:
“O who in such a place as this
Could bear his lot of pain,
Did not one radiant hope of bliss
Unclouded yet remain?
That hope the sovereign Lord has given
Who reigns above the skies
Hope that unites the soul to heaven
By faith’s endearing ties.
And every pang that wrings the breast
And every joy that dies
Tell us to seek a purer rest
And trust to holier ties.”
H. Melicent Remy