Healing the Wounds of War

WHEN I WAS a boy growing up in Fredericksburg in the late 1920s to mid-1930s, we would all gather around an old upright piano and, as Mrs. Smith peered through her glasses and picked out the accompaniment, we would sing “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” with its stirring lines recalling “a band of brothers fighting for our liberty with treasure, blood and toil” and declaring, “Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.”

In January of every year, a joint celebration of the birthdays of Gens. Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson was held in the basement of the Presbyterian Church. Southern anthems were sung and perfervid poems were declaimed (“Forth from its scabbard pure and bright/Flashed the sword of Lee!” was a town favorite). Then a feisty little lady and unreconstructed Rebel named Miss Sallie Lacy would hold forth on the saintly virtues of Gens. Lee and Jackson.

There were half a dozen Confederate veterans living in the town. My great-uncle, whom we called “Uncle Johnny” (Judge John Tackett Goolrick Sr.), was one of them, a spry old fellow who had been wounded at Fort Harrison, near Richmond, and had been with Gen. Lee’s army at Appomattox. He took great delight in saying that he was one of the few surviving veterans who had been a private in the Confederate Army. All the rest, he said, seemed to have been generals, colonels, majors or captains.

Read more at The Free Lance-Star