Civil War Transcendence: Part 39


I walked a few blocks toward the Potomac River east of German Street, the main thoroughfare of Shepherdstown. The streets were lined with houses and not Shepherd University, which occupies this area in the 21st Century.

I couldn’t find a town park that had benches, so I meandered back to German Street and roamed almost to the main intersection at the top of the hill, on the west side of town, until I found a small café.

I entered the establishment, sat at a small table, and ordered a cup of coffee and some bread and cheese.  Once I received the order, I began to read the newspaper.

Confederate President Jeff Davis had called a meeting of his Generals.

The article said this was supposed to be a secret conference, but somehow the newspaper, which was a Richmond paper, found out about it.  It listed the Generals who had been seen going into the meeting: General Joe Johnston, General Thomas Jackson, and General Albert Sidney Johnston.

Gen Albert Sidney Johnston

Gen Albert Sidney Johnston

The last name made me utter a gasp and almost drop the cup of coffee I was raising to my mouth.  I sat the cup down with a bang and spilled coffee on the table.

The lady behind the counter looked up with a start and asked if anything was wrong. I made an apology and said my clumsiness had caused the spill. She came over, cleaned up the puddle of coffee, gave me a chastising look, and went back behind the counter.

I sat there, almost reeling. I had vertigo so bad that I had to grip the table with both hands to keep my equilibrium. Albert Sidney Johnston was killed at Shiloh on April 6, 1862 and here it was September 2, 1862.  Johnston had been reported alive when this paper was printed a week ago.

Also, the Confederate Capital was in Atlanta.

Surprisingly, there was no mention of Robert E. Lee. He was supposed to have taken over the Confederate Army in Virginia in June of 1862, named it the Army of Northern Virginia, run Union General McClellan off the Virginia Peninsula, and defeated the Union Army at Second Manassas.

Lee should be moving toward Frederick, MD at this very moment, but apparently, it hadn’t happened that way.

What was going on?

I was sweating profusely in my new clothes. My heart was pounding. I had to get out of this enclosed space and get some air.  I hurriedly asked what I owed, which was 20 cents. I left the money on the table, picked up my bread and cheese, and hurried out the door.



About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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