Detour Along the Way

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"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)
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Merry Christmas

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 It was Christmas Eve, and we were still a few hours away from our destination! We had planned to spend the holiday with kinfolk now living in Mississippi just south of Memphis Tennessee, so we turned onto route 157, which intersects north Birmingham Alabama running northwest toward Sheffield and heading toward the little community of Moulton. As we passed through the general area we decided to pause for a respite along the way, stopping at a the location of a little known Confederate College to the southwest on Bowersox Drive. Afterward we'd resume our journey onward toward northwestern Mississippi; it was still late afternoon, and we were somewhat reluctant fearing we'd not make our destination at reasonable hour. The Moulton College was burned to the ground by Yankees during 'the war' and is now a memorial park and Confederate Cemetery.

We made our approach to Bowersox Drive, slowed down and turned left toward the small Confederate Memorial Park, which lay at the far end of a narrow backcountry road. The park contains a few log cabins, a visitors building as well as signs posted about describing what happened in the various locations. Then the Confederate Graveyard can be found by continuing along the road past the entrance gate to a separate location. This delay would mean we'd never make our destination until the late hours of the night, but for some reason it seemed urgent that we make the stop over. We realized that we couldn't stay very long but we decided to visit the park now believing we might not get back this way anytime soon.

We were about a quarter mile from the park entrance when we came upon a heavy fog bank, and were forced to turn on our automobile lights, and slow to a crawl. Then suddenly we found we had left the pavement! I pulled to a quick stop, and got out to survey the situation! Had we gone into the ditch or into revenue? No we had not; the ground was flat and forested round about, still there was no sign of the paved road we had just left. It was as if the pavement had just stopped! I ask my wife to lock the car doors, whereupon I walked back about another half mile, well past the point where I figured we left the road. I could easily spot my tire tracks for some distance, until suddenly they just ended for no reason!

I had spent many years in and around this area, and was very familiar with the terrain! Upon returning I discovered several landmarks along the way, and reported to my wife who was waiting inside the car, that we should be at the entrance to the park. And the park was obviously here, but all the signs of modern life are gone. I decided to drive further back into this stand of trees, so as to assure myself of our location, rolling down my car window as I drove, for better side visibility. Maybe perhaps I could also hear something, which would give me a better sense of nearby civilization. However I soon discovered we were driving on what was obviously a wagon trail, and we were beginning to hear noises in the distance, human noises.

As we got closer to the origin of those noises we decided it would be best to park the car, and walk the remaining distance. Where upon we soon spotted a flat place surrounded by bushes, just large enough a space for our medium size car. So we pulled off the trail, parked and proceeded on foot! We walked a little further and saw lights some distance away, and found they were coming from campfires. However not being sure as to who these people might be, we hide behind some shrub, close enough to see, yet far enough away so as not to be spotted. We were pleasantly suppressed; these people appeared at first glance to be re-enactors camped out for a Confederate style Christmas celebration.

When suddenly we were approached from behind: "Hands in the air or y'all are dead where you stand! Now slowly turn around where I can get a good look at you folks." We both raised our hands and slowly turned around, just as the voice had ordered! I gasp: If this was a re-enactor, this was the most realistic rendition ever portrayed. I was convinced; I was looking into the face of a real live Confederate Soldier! "Who are you and what are y'all doing here?" the soldier asks. We come up from Florida, and got lost, I replied! Come with me; let ussee what the Colonel has to say! We could both hear the soldier mumbling to himself: "Looks like a bunch of Yankee folks to me - sure don't sound like anyone from around here."

We were 'herded' into the light of the campfire, and in the general direction of a tent, which appeared to in use as a command headquarters. Given its size, and all the coming and going from within! As we come near the tent the commotion we had stirred up among the troops, caused the commander, a Confederate Colonel to exit and look over the situation. "What have you hear private! Don't rightly know sir, appears like Yankees to me - least of all they sure don't seem to be from anywhere around here. Found them snooping around sir!" Our modern Southern accent, didn't match his ole style Southern draw! About that time I looked at my wife, then at myself, and it startled me to discover we were no longer dressed in modern cloths, but in the attire normal to the period of the War for Confederate Independence. I didn't dare say anything, for fear we would be thought of as crazy or something. My wife looked at me, at herself and at me again: I signaled to her not to say a word!

"They're obviously not armed: did they have any weapons with them private? No sir, just standing back yonder looking like spies! Explain yourselves,%u201D the Colonel commanded! I did my best to explain, leaving out anything, which might indicate we came from some future time. Since I seemed to be left no other option, then to believe we had somehow veered off a paved road, and into the middle of the War for Confederate Independence. I could see from where we stood, numerous cannon, stacks of arms and supply wagons round about, even more could be seen further down the trail, where there was obviously more troop encampments. The Colonel asks us several questions then addressing the private who had brought us here: "Return to your post private, I will tend to these people!"

After the private had departed the Colonel turned to us saying: "I am convinced that as unlikely as your story sounds, you are telling the truth, and have gotten lost along the way. That being the case please joins us as we pause during this war, take a respite and celebrate Christmas." We formally introduced ourselves and simply stated we were from Panama City, a small village along the northwest gulf coast of Florida, and were traveling toward Jackson Tennessee when we lost our way. The good Colonel then escorted us about the encampment, introducing us to his staff as well as many of the troops. Each seemed to have a brief comment to make: every one of which pointed to home and family!

Soon things became much lighter in spirit as the campfire singing began and what little food was available was brought forward. Several lucky hunters added some game, which makes a pleasant Christmas Meal, howbeit very meager. We knew the troops in this camp were in hard straights, but didn't dare turn down the hospitality, so we just munch very slowly, giving polite thanks. Everyone soon got into the spirit of the singing and smiles. An officer who was obviously a Chaplain came forward in the middle of the merry making and read from the Holy Scriptures: The O so familiar story of the Birth of our Lord Jesus in a Manger so long ago. We mingled among the troops, and both seemed to loose ourselves in the middle of all that was going on. Soon we began to feel comfortable, as if we belonged here!

Indeed, I would have loved to have staying, joined these troops and fought along side them, but I felt time was calling us back across the years. The colonel was even then approaching us for one last time, and I believe he sense also, the time had come for our departure. The Colonel approached my wife, and saying in the tone of a Christian Gentleman of that period. "May I extend my warmest thanks, for the privilege of sharing the company of such a fine and beautiful lady? Taking her hand gently, then bowing down and place a kiss upon it, all in the form of the gentleman he had proven himself to be! He then said to her: "Your presence has brought a moment of pleasant joy into this camp!"

Afterward he turned to me and said: "My good sir, may you find your way and let that way be pleasant; of good health and a long life to you both!" We shook hands and soon found ourselves being escorted by another private, out of the encampment. Looking back at the Colonel, I had a feeling he knew, we had come from a lot further away then Florida, an entire world away! As we walked along the pathway out of the encampment, the private paused with us at the outer edge of his patrol area, very briefly said his good byes, and disappeared into the woods. What seemed like a hundred yards further we passed back through the same fog bank where we had first entered, and spotted our automobile just up ahead.

It was parked by the edge and down the road from the Moulton Confederate College Park. As we approached our automobile we both looked down at ourselves: we were once more wearing modern attire. Had we truly went through some kind of fog bank and a doorway into the world of yesteryear, or had we allowed our imagination to get the best of us? All I know is that upon getting into our automobile, we found only 30 minutes had passed, while we had been in that encampment all evening. What must have been several hours!
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God save the Confederacy
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HAPPY NEW YEAR

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"If there is any piece of wisdom to be gleaned from history it is this: There are those who simply follow the trend, and then there are those who shape the course of history. It is not always the scholarly, the great and the mighty which step forward when others procrastinate in complacency and compromise. Often it is the humble and the common man who sees the need, accepts the responsibility and takes firm action" --- Alexander Trimble
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