Rebecca Moffatt finds a wounded Union officer on her family’s farm and nurses him back to health—not too remarkable, except that her husband is a Confederate officer away at war! Little does she know that her actions will set into motion a series of events that will see her making a journey of over 250 miles from Obion County, Tennessee, to St. Louis, Missouri.
She travels mostly on foot with an older couple who were former slaves on the farm, an old horse, and a two-wheeled dogcart. Her mission is to get her wounded husband out of prison camp there and bring him home. But at what cost?
Though there are many volumes of well-documented facts about the Civil War, there are untold thousands of stories of individual struggles and courage of that time. Most are lost to history, but this one has survived, the story being told orally from generation to generation.
This true story of grim determination, courage, and the strength of the bonds of love is so compelling that it has survived to be told 150 years later.
18 July 1864
My Darling Augustus,
I awoke again this morning a little after two and with my coverlet slipped out onto the porch and sat in my rocker next to yours. If I rest my hand on the arm of yours it rocks with mine. I close my eyes and listen to them rocking together and I imagine you there with me, talking like you used to of the day's events, or plans and dreams; or reading to me the beautiful poems and stories.
I remember the time we danced in the moonlight while you sang to me, soft and clear. With your arms around me I rested my head on your chest and it felt so precious. It was as if those few moments were predestined for us, and we stepped into them and lived them perfectly. Nothing else existed for that short time. When you took me to bed that night you loved me as you never had before, and I felt the intensity as I never had before. That is the memory burned into my heart more brightly than any other. Did we sense then what was coming? You've been gone so long now, Augustus, and I don't know where you are or what has happened to you. Will you come back to me? And if you do, will we have been changed too much, gone too far past those moments to feel the same way? Questions for which I have no answers. Sometimes I despair ever feeling such joy again and if that is true, so be it. At least we had those moments, that love, and we knew it. We lived it. If we do someday find that moment again, or another, then we will be the fortunate ones.
I rock and I doze, ever aware of the night sounds around me, knowing they portend no danger. As the sky begins to lighten I look down toward the river and see the mist. It is as if the river sleeps, and in her dreams rises ghostlike from her banks and wanders freely to those places she cannot go in waking. As daylight finally overtakes the night I go back up to my room, seat myself at my desk, take up my pen and write to you again.
There is still the farm, my dear Augustus, your life and your blood, to carry me through. I know that we have fared better here than many. Since last week the only slaves left with us are Joseph and Belle, Samson and Lizbeth, and the brothers Jonas and Joshua and their families. The others have left in ones or twos or families, seeking peace and freedom. Those who have stayed have done so by choice as well. We do what we can, Darling, but the fields lie fallow now, except the west field where we had planted yams and corn. The Yankees took most of the crop. They burned our landing on the river. The fences have been torn down, the barns are in need of paint and repair and the house as well, but they still stand. Only yesterday a Yankee patrol was here and took our last hog and what few guineas they could catch. They must have all been city boys; they made quite a picture trying to chase them down. They had to work for that supper. Samson keeps Daisy hidden in the swamp or the Yankees would have her. So we have milk for the children. We still have old Rusty to plow the garden and pull the dogcart. I suppose even the Yankees could tell that neither would be of much use to them.
Roberta Nee Adams grew up In Tullahoma, Tennessee, and graduated from Motlow State Community College. She owns and operates a clinical research company. Her hobbies include reading, writing, needlework, and gardening. Roberta currently lives in Shelbyville, Tennessee with husband Randy, two poodles, and a parrot. This is her first book.
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