A Quiet Place

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A  Quiet Place
Tuesday 2 July 1996
Jesus said; “lo, I am with you always,  even unto the end of the world” {Matthew 28:20}

The short story you are about to read is not fiction, it is true, it is retold here as it is remembered, and as it happened!   The passing of years has made it all but impossible to retrace my steps, steps that lead to the location of a gravesite, where long before any of us were born, a Confederate Soldier died alone.   As the scenario unfolded at the time, it became a certainty in my mind, as I observed the situation, that this soldier not only died alone, but was buried with honor by strangers, in a since overgrown gravesite at the edge of nowhere.   Come with me, as together we travel back to that quite and forgotten place, wherein upon arrival, you will discover as I did, that time itself appears to stand in limbo, in this soldier’s memory.
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              “In a quite place on the edge of nowhere, a Confederate Soldier died alone!”
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 It was early June 1996, my wife, 13 year old granddaughter and myself decided we needed to get away; I was 55 years of age and still had a measure of that same energy that had been mine all my life.  Energy that has since faded with the passing of time!  The weather was beautiful as we headed up Highway 231 from Panama City on the Gulf Coast, toward Dothan in southeastern Alabama.  Upon reaching Dothan we stopped to eat, then turned northeast onto Highway 52 spending the night at Columbia.  The next morning we headed across the state line on Highway 27, crossing the Georgia State line!.
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We continued north bypassing Fort Benning and Columbus Georgia, and stopping in several small towns along the way, spending the night before reaching Atlanta.  We were not on any particular schedule, just sight seeing and enjoying the countryside!  We met numerous kind and friendly people and visited a several very interesting, sometimes out of the way places, places not normally on any tourist map.  However we did visit a couple of places, which would be high on any tourist list, the Cyclorama in Atlanta and Stone Mountain, northeast of the city, where we spent an entire day.
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Then we turned back towards town and caught Highway 9 north of Atlanta, connecting with 23, which then connects to 441 heading into the south central region of North Carolina.  After making a stop, we turned west onto Highway 64 and this is where the unusual began to take place.  We left the more populated area behind us and headed into the open country, it hadn’t been long afterward when I spotted an old white wooden sign with black letters.  It was faded and worn with age, and it could just barely be read, the sign read ‘Confederate Graveyard’ an arrow pointed off to our right.

My wife spotted something just ahead, a smaller but still paved road leading back into the country, so we turn off Highway 64 onto this backcountry road and followed it for what must have been several miles.  There wasn’t much traffic so I kept my speed at a low pace, so as to more easily see, any additional sign of a Confederate Graveyard.  I thought to myself, how many roads are there like this one, which seems to turn off and lead to nothing but endless miles of nothing.  When our suddenly granddaughter saw in the distance, off to our right hand side, what looked like a small rectangular wooded sign?
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We slowed down until the sign came into focus, it was indeed a much smaller sign then the one back on Highway 64, and it pointed down a small dirt road, a road that was more like a driveway then a road.  We slowed even more, gave our signal and turned off, only to find the road was overgrown to the point of being just barely passable.  I shifted the car’s automatic transmission into granny gear, it having two choices for drive, I continued moving forward, all of us wanting to see where all this was leading.  Soon we came to an exceedingly aged, vary wide wooden gate, held up by a set of huge old fashion hinges!

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Posted on the center of the gate we found those same nearly unreadable words ‘Confederate Graveyard’ but this time some of the signs letters were missing, having either been warn away or chipped away by the wind.  I looked in all directions, just to see if by chance anyone was about, but there was no one!  My wife called out from the car saying, “We’ve came this far, we might as well go in and see the rest.”  I walked over, took hold and pulled up on the rusted latch that held the gate closed, as I swung the gate open it creaked in the worst sort of way, almost like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
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There was a clearing before us, somewhat overgrown, but not unmanageable for the car we were driving!  I drove through the open gate, stopped and turned off the engine!  My wife, granddaughter and myself exited the car and stood looking off to the right hand side of the vehicle at an open field, a dilapidated old house stood on the far side, the paint long since warn away and it’s windows nearly all shattered and broken.  I scanned the field looking for some sign that this was indeed a Confederate Graveyard, but at first glance I saw nothing.
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Looking the second time, I then saw what looked like a stone, possibly the top of a grave marker, about 50 yards away, so I started toward it, my feet and legs pushing through the tall weeds.  Finally I came upon a gravestone, after walking about and looking over the immediate area I attempted to stoop down, while trying to brush aside the weeds.  My hands rubbed across the grave marker, as if attempting to wipe away the years, so as to see, if possible, what was written upon the stone.  I fell upon my knees in prayer, “Dear God, this soldier died alone and without a friend.
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I began to read to myself the words written on the stone, “Unknown Confederate Soldier” it said, and below these words was written, “He died alone.”  I look across the field toward the old house, thinking to myself that perhaps a man and his wife once live there, and might have tended this lone Confederate Soldier’s grave, until they themselves returned to the ground.  I became so deep in my own thoughts and in prayer, I all but forgot, the ladies were waiting at the parked car, near the gate.  But still the tears fell from my eyes, “no doubt this Soldier had a wife, brother, sister, mother or father back home.
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Yet here this Confederate Soldier was laid to rest, with no one to mourn his passing, but if only a few words might have reached his loved ones, perhaps they might have come to him.  What must he have suffered, his flesh torn in battle, it may have been raining that day, he would have been wet and hungry, with no where to turn.  Then again, if only I could but roll back the pages of time, maybe I could tend his wounds, offer him a rain parka or blanket and some food, so as to comfort him in his final hour.
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I thought to myself, I would give all that I own, even the remainder of my years upon this earth, if only I could but travel back in time and aid this Soldier.  In modern times we even offer a dying criminal his final meal and a chance to give his last testimony, yet this Confederate Soldier who fought with honor, that he might drive the invader from our homeland, received none of these.  “Dear Lord and Heavenly Master, did it have to come to this?”  Just then I heard, as if far off in the distance, my wife calling, “its late in the day, we better be getting back on the road.”
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I stood to my feet and attempted to wipe away the tears, figuring I should do as my wife suggested and get going!  As I walked away, I paused one last time, while turned around to speak, as if the Confederate Soldier buried where I was just kneeling could hear me; “My fellow soldier and patriot, the struggle continues, the cause for which you fought and died, is not lost, not yet, and you have not died in vein, my friend!”  I walked slowly across the field back to where the car was parked, and together with my wife and granddaughter we headed for the car.
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Standing by the open driver’s side door I scanned the area for the last time, my eyes focused on the top edge of the gravestone I had seen in the distance, upon arriving.  I slid behind the wheel, started the car and drove through the open gate, and then I stopped just outside, existed and closed the gate, fastening it so it would appear the way it was upon our arrival in the area.  Slowly we headed back onto the small paved country road, and returned to Highway 64, heading west, crossing the Smoky Mountains into Tennessee.
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We eventually stopped in Murfreesboro then at the Shiloh Battlefield Park near Crump, just east of Memphis!  Our ultimate destination was Jackson Tennessee, but the most memorable stop on our journey was an old Confederate Graveyard, and the place where I once knelt in prayer.  Since that day my mind has drifted back on certain occasions, during times when I felt downhearted, thinking maybe it is just not worth all the trouble.  Then I’d remember a quiet and lonely place located at the edge of nowhere, where a Confederate Soldier died alone.

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A line of Scripture came to my mind, “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”  Some time after the event it came to my realization, there actually was someone standing alongside the Confederate Soldier that day so long ago, after all, it was Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  When the fullness of time has truly come, He will vindicate the Confederate Cause, for which that Soldier fought and died!   And unlike so many other stories I’ve written, what you have just read is not fiction, it actually happened, and I will remember always, the time spend at a forgotten Confederate Graveyard.
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God save the Confederacy

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"The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding is so feeble; the life of humanity is long; that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged.   It is history that teaches us to hope." --- General Robert E. Lee.

We have only small glimpses of our past, and only a tiny twinkling of light to guide us toward the future.   Yet we can find hope based on the example of this lone Confederate Soldier, his struggle and ‘The Cause’ for which he fought, that “God will vindicate.”