Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where They Are Now

To mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, USA Today ran a cover story this weekend on the descendants of some of the principal leaders of that conflict. Who would have guessed that Robert E. Lee the Fifth would be a football coach, J.E.B. Stuart the Fifth an orthopedic surgeon, and Stonewall Jackson's great-great-grandson a song-writer? Someone with more imagination than your humble narrator, certainly.

I also wouldn't have guessed that there were still one hundred living children of Civil War veterans, but I shouldn't be surprised; some veterans of that war married late and had children in their 70s. These included my own great-grandfather, Willes Bruce (no relation to Bruce Willis), who according to my sister Corinna's research was 72 when our grandfather Jack was born. Willes was from Tennessee and was supposedly an officer in the Confederate army. He was born in 1829, when Andrew Jackson was president and work had just started on the United States' first railroad; his son died in 1979, 150 years and 32 presidents later, and nearly ten years after the first Moon landing.

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