Passers in the Night

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                         Passers in the Night 
                                     Tuesday 6 December 2011

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"It is the people, to whom all authority belongs." -- Thomas Jefferson

While the paranormal in my view is by and large a belief, either in things that do not exist, or else an imagination having run amuck!  As such I do not believe people return after their death in the form of a ghost or spirit, save in those rare biblical examples.  Nonetheless, there are cases where strange and unusual sighting have taken place, most of which either can or one day will be explained through a better understanding, of the world about us.
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However, I believe people do on occasion see strange phenomena, and I often wonder if perhaps the sighting of an individual having died long ages ago might be and event caused by nature itself, which we do not as yet fully understand.  Perhaps images of certain events are trapped in a type of wormhole, or time displacement of some type!

Thus we today might see an event, which took place in past ages, much like seeing a delayed television broadcast!  One might point to the time delay in broadcasting from the other side of the world!  This type of situation first came to public conciseness’ when journalist were seen pausing while speaking, thus allowing for the natural time delay.
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"Do you want to know who you are?  Don't ask!   Action will delineate and define you!"  --- Thomas Jefferson
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By George McCullum

It was getting close to Christmas and with the Children having grown, married and moved away from our home in Florida, my wife Alice and I had discussed as early as Thanksgiving, the possibility of visiting our daughter Brenda and her family in Virginia.  We had decorated the house, set up a Christmas tree and went through all the usual motions during those years since our daughter moved away, but somehow the whole process seemed empty and a waste of time.  On Tuesday nearly three weeks before Christmas we made our final decision so we called Brenda, indicating that we would accept their invitation, and pay them a visit in Virginia for Christmas.
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While our journey was joyful as far as Christmas was concerned, still, there would be times when certain events proved to be unusual and strange to say the least.  Our journey would take us to Luray Virginia, a small town in northern Virginia, just south of Front Royal, near where West Virginia, the Potomac River and Maryland come together.  Snow is not entirely unknown to this part of the South and this year was no exception, we knew in order to make the journey, we’d need to be ready to switch to snow tires or chains, so we made the necessary preparations.
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Even though it was winter and northern Virginia had plenty of snow on the ground, I thought that just maybe I’d get a chance to visit the area where the Battle of Front Royal took place.  The battle was fought on 23 May 1862 between Colonel John Kenly’s and his 1063 Union troops, verses Stonewall Jackson and his 3000 Confederates.  The results were 50 Confederate casualties, and 904 on the Union side.  Colonel Kenly served as the flank of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks’ army, who had just the previous day fought against Confederate Colonel Turner Ashby, near the town of Strasburg Virginia.
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General Stonewall and his army went on to fight the three-day, First Battle of Winchester, beginning that very day, but now it was General Thomas J. Jackson verses General Nathaniel P. Banks. The casualties in that battle were: 400 Confederate, 2769 Union!  This was the thought running through my head as we passed into Virginia, and knowing our destination would find us in the middle of what was, the
Battle of Front Royal.  True I was 149 years to late, and all I had was a bad taste in my mouth, as a result of a long ago war the Confederacy should have won.  They say ‘forget it’ that was someone else’s war, well; my answer is never, not until the results of that war has been reversed!
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Our son-in-law Brian and our daughter Brenda’s home is a somewhat large three-bedroom one-story house, but make no mistake about it, it is modest by any standard.  Still the two of them made me feel at home, and after all we always enjoy our two granddaughters, who are both as different from each other as two girls can be.  Upon arrival we spent three days together doing what most families would do, talking, going shopping, as well as a trip to their favorite restaurant.  Even though the two of them knew my favorite subject was ‘THE WAR’ as most Southerners describe it, naturally no one brought up the subject, since Brian was not all that interested in the topic.
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Brian’s job was working with heavy construction equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes and the like, but on his off time he loved the open spaces the local woods provided.   So one evening while the ladies did whatever ladies do when a holiday is approaching, Brian and I slipped out of the house.  The ‘Battle of Front Royal’ battlefield was not far away so we got into Brian’s older model pickup truck, which he loved very much, and headed toward the Front Royal Battlefield Park.  Brian had a little trick he liked to pull, that being to enter the park through the back door.
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There was a open wooded field located on the back side of the park, which was completely unattended and had grown over with trees, bushes and weeds, but there was somewhat of a narrow, overgrown pathway through the thickets.   Brian pulled off the road and parked the pickup truck in his favorite place, a small opening between the trees, where few if anyone would notice it sitting there.  My son-in-law Brian, being a safety conscious individual, never entered an area such as this, without some type of protection.  So we got out of the truck, walked to one side where he had a toolbox that had been built into the sides.
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He pulled out two sheathed bowie knives and a couple of the older model Army 44 Caliber pistols with a full clip!   He glanced at me while handing me one of each, the Bowie and the Pistol; ‘there are critters in those woods and I promised Brenda I’d get you back safe.’  I smiled at him as I replied, ‘I recon this aught to do the job very nicely, I am experienced with the 44, from my military years’.   He already knew as much, but I just wanted to remind him that neither of these weapons was new to me!   We both strapped the Bowie knives onto our belt along with a canteen, locked the truck and moved into the woods.
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Crossing the Line

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As we walked down the overgrown pathway through the woods, Brian leading the way, we began to compare notes!  ‘Grandpa, did I ever tell you who owns these woods?’  I thought for a minute then replied, ‘No, as I recall the subject never seemed to came up, but now that you brought it up, who does own all this?’  Brian cleared his throat then gave a kind of low toned laugh, ‘Old Man Crinzley, those who know him well as well as his friends affectionately call him Mr. Bill, out of respect.  He never allows anyone in here, but he and my father were old friends from way back, so he allows me to come and go pretty much as I like.
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I was already aware that Brian’s father had passed away not long after he and Brenda were married, I figure Old Man Crinzley’s kindness toward Brian was his way of thanking an old friend, now deceased.  Besides Brian did resemble is father in many ways and there’s no doubt Mr. Bill could see this in him!  Be that as it may here I am, finding myself walking down an overgrown narrow pathway, and only God knows what lurks hidden in the thick brush.  Still, my mind turned to the battle that was waged on the field just ahead, and couldn’t but I think of Stonewall Jackson, surely the most Godly General ever to walk the earth.
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And I thought also of a bible verse he surely would have read, and it is said even he quoted, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” II {Corinthians 5:1}.  Inasmuch as the South had such Godly men as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, how many times have I ask myself, why did the Confederacy have to loose that war to those who aggressively invaded and destroyed our homes, cities and nation.  What manner of people, who in their evil, march though our homeland in a rampage of murder, rape, pillaging and burning.
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Suddenly I came to myself as my attention was drawn to something that had crossed our path!  The sky was clear and a bit of moonlight was shinning as bright as any full moon and it light up the night, at least bright enough to where we could see the third member of our party.  Brian, whispered firmly, wait a minute grandpa, it’s a skunk, let him pass; we both simultaneously froze in place, not wanting to be sprayed by this unwelcome visitor.  The skunk having dashed into the woods on the opposite side of the path, Brian ask and question;  ‘What’s he doing roaming about this time of year?’
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I couldn’t help but laugh, and out loud too; ‘If a giant stepped all over your house, what would you do?’  Old Mr. Bill’s properly amounted to 150 acres and roughly as wide as it was long, save that the end facing the park was somewhat narrower.  As it was we were in effect crossing from corner to corner, which made the trip through the wood a wee bit longer the it otherwise would be.  Nonetheless we soon broke out of the wood into the clearing of the battlefield park.  We both had medium size flashlights strung on our belts, though they were not needed, given the brightness of the night sky.

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Somewhere back in the woods there was likely a sign marking the boundary of the park, but given it was night time, and even with the moon in the sky, the shading of the trees no doubt hide it from our view.  As we broke out of the woods into the open, the newly fallen snow lay across the battlefield like a white blanket.  The wind was calm as I walked toward the middle of the field I moved forward, remembering all that I had heard or else had read about this battle.  Brian was not far behind as he called out to me, ‘this really means a lot to you doesn’t it Grandpa?’  I answered in a mild tone, ‘yes, yes, it really does!
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Facing the Reality of History
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Brian had never openly and fully supported the Confederate Cause, but seemed to sympathize without vocalizing!  But somehow I felt we were lead out here, by what I didn’t know, otherwise what on earth were we doing creeping through the woods after dark, when the park was closed?  I tried to picture the battlefield as well as the armies, as small as they were, that were gathered here on this field.  When suddenly the wind picked up, and the snow began to churn, causing a foggy, blizzard like, blinding situation.  Both of us partially covered our eyes so as not to be blinded by the blowing snow!

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Where did this wind come from I ask, without openly calling out Brian by name?  His reply sounded like someone trying to shout against the wind, ‘I don’t know, the weather reports were for calm to five mile winds at the outside.’  Suddenly we both saw something or someone approaching, and it or they drew closer and closer, Brian spoke first.  ‘This can’t be happening, Confederate Cavalrymen!’  Through my confusion I responded, ‘yes, it appears to be something between a regiment and a brigade of about 3000 troops.  But surely they must be re-enactors!’  We both focused as best we could as three mounted officers, riding ahead of the others, rapidly approached toward us!
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Brian spoke in a startled voice, ‘the one in front looks like Robert E. Lee!’  I hesitated and held off until I could tell for sure; finally I replied ‘I think so too!’  Suddenly the rider in front of the other two approached close enough that we found ourselves standing beside his horse, looking up at him, and it was none other then General Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.   The blowing wind had somehow made his slouch cap and uniform appear different in the fog of the blowing snow.  Brian was completely frozen in place, unable to speak, as General Jackson paused beside us and looked down, directly at me.   Stonewall broke the silence, which existed as Brian and I stood staring up at him!
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‘By the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you must continue until the job is done!’  While Stonewall was finishing his statement, I had to reach out and touch him, so as to see if he was real or just a figment of my imagination.  I trembled as I withdrew my hand, I had touched Stonewall Jackson, and the person I touched was a real as Brian standing beside me.  Meantime Brian had placed his left hand on Stonewalls horse ‘Little Sorrel’, thereby confirming for him self, that what he had experienced was the real thing.  Stonewall and his horse turn and rode away, disappearing into a cloud of snow, while Brian and I stood questioning as to whether our eyes and our minds was playing tricks on us.
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Brian and I said nothing as we walked back through the woods, got into the pick up truck and backed out of our parking space between the trees.  When we did speak, I had to remind Brian, who had never kept track of such things, that the ‘Battle of Front Royal’ took place in May of 1862, why then was Stonewall in this area during the month of December?  I could not answer; save in considering anew my theory that somehow Stonewall experienced a time displacement, mush like that, which a number of people have reported in the Bermuda Triangle.  Brian glanced over at me with a look on his face that told me he had a question on his mind!

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Where was Stonewall Jackson during this month and date in 1862, he asked?  I looked out the window, pausing for a moment then I answered from my limited recollection of history.  ‘It was a foggy December morning on this day in 1862, Burnside’s Federals had constructed five pontoons, in order to bridge the Rappahannock so as to cross over and occupy Fredericksburg.  William Barksdale’s Confederates drove the Federals away time after time!  General Jackson was only a few miles away at Guiney’s Station, his army itself not far away from him at Yerby’s, positioned on the lower crossing of the river. Stonewall was prepared to aide General James Longstreet’s Corps, in defense of the city!
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Brian, glanced quickly at me with a kind of low key moaning sound’, then followed up by added his own thoughts as to how Stonewall could have showed up at Front Royal in December 2011.  ‘Grandpa, I can’t say I understand all this, and if you had mentioned it just a few hours ago, I would have thought you were headed for the rubber room.  But this time displacement idea you describe, it does fit the situation.  And it is obvious, Stonewall went back from wherever he came, otherwise history as we know it, would have been altered.’  Brian paused, allowing me to inject an answer, ‘I have never read where he mentioned such an event, but given the times, I doubt that he would have.
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The Conclusion of the Matter

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Brian and I returned to the house, but never mention the event in the presence of the ladies, however, I did notice him giving me a passing glance from time to time, and it didn’t take a mind reader to know what he was thinking.  Then the topic did manage to come up again a few days later, when the ladies headed out to do some shopping and had taken the two girls with them.  Brian and I decided to what television, and he like the 1950’s monster movies, and his favorite movie was showing, so we settled in and began to watch.  Neither of us said anything at first, and I knew Brian well enough to know it was best to leave him with his thoughts.
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It was during the first commercial break that he brought up the subject again!  ‘What did he mean by “until the job is done’?  Brian did not look over at me, but continued to stare at the television, and I knew his mind was not on the commercial now playing.  So I responded, knowing he was focused on what I had to say, ‘Stonewall Jackson was a complete and total believer in the independence of the Confederacy.  Jackson was known to have stated, that he did not wish to outlive the independence of his country.  Also Brian, Stonewall was the greatest military strategist, since Alexander the Great!
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Had he lived, rather then having been killed two months before the Battle of Gettysburg, all that we know as history since that time, would have been different.  Brian finally turns his head toward me and asks, ‘Different in what way’?  I paused so as to gather my thoughts, ‘Brian, had Stonewall Jackson lived and had marched into Gettysburg at the head of his army, the Confederacy would have won that battle, and they did so anyway well into two of the three days.

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Afterward he would have been alongside General Lee, as they crossed the Potomac, and moved against Lincoln’s Capital City.  Lee would have then commanded the surrender of all Federal Forces located in the Confederacy, and would have mandated President Lincoln’s recognition of the Confederacy as a free and independent nation.  Lee’s only goal was never the conquest of the Union, but rather peace with independence, and his terms to Lincoln would have reflected those principles.
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‘What Stonewall said to us a few day ago, what did he mean’, responded Brian?  Well, my guess is that the Stonewall we saw then, is not the Stonewall of Fredericksburg, but a much later Stonewall, who perceived within himself the Confederacy just might loose the war.  He was obviously telling us similarly as Jefferson Davis would have said in his place, ''The contest is not over, the strife is not ended.  It has only entered upon a new and enlarged arena.''
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General Jackson was telling us to stay the course, finish the struggle and win the victory, which is now in the hands of our generation!  The movie we were watching returned and Brian seemed to finally relax, however, both of us were changed forever, knowing that was expected of us, just as General Stonewall Jackson knew in his time.   My wife Alice and our Daughter Brenda returned from their shopping a few hours later, but Brian and I kept these things hidden in our hearts, deciding rather to follow Stonewall’s guidance, and advance the Confederate Cause.
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God save the Confederacy
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"Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." In a small outbuilding on the Chandler plantation near Guiney's Station, just south of Fredericksburg Virginia, our beloved General Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson died. Pneumonia had set in after the amputation of his arm from the wounds he received on May 2nd in the Battle of Chancellorsville.
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