Blood and Bones

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perryville

Blood and Bones

Our Sunday drive took my wife and me to Perryville, Kentucky to travel over the hills and valleys where an early Civil War battle was fought, where thousands of young people lost their lives fighting for some idea of where they wished their country to be…you all know enough about the Civil War, so I won’t embellish on its causes, its generals, and the aftermath which still lingers with some of us to this day. In fact, there are some people who refer to our fractured political process, those and them, and feel as though we’re approaching another such battle, one that is currently being waged with acrimonious insults, pushing, shoving, with a hatred hard to believe, the blessing of some of those in elements of our political power elites… I won’t talk about that either!

It was a most gorgeous Sunday afternoon as we left our home (pictured above) where in 1862 an older relic of this one stood amid tobacco fields, where confederate soldiers more than likely marched up the road on which our home sits. We believe the rebel troops came up from Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee through Lebanon, KY and on down Lebanon Road (where our house sets). Of course, the original house still stands and was added onto a number of times, most recently in 2008. My wife is a history buff and will add her section after my finish here, but our place is beautiful and built like a fortress – and, we believe those rebel troops likely passed by or certainly were close to our home at that moment in history.

But, back to the Perryville battle site, some fifteen plus or minus miles from us, our visit to the civil war site was at just about the time the battle was waged in 1862. The day, filled with sunshine and silence, a somberness that gave us pause to look out across the valleys where beneath its earth lies the long rusted weaponry and the blood and bones of those who died. This land we passed over seemed, nay, was, sacred and, if tender of heart, one could almost hear ‘taps’ playing softly over the verdant dips and rises. My wife and I were quiet for most of the moments we travelled over that land, each of us thinking thoughts of then and now.

We eventually passed by the canon (pictured above) and left the hallowed ground, still silent, still in some remote part of our minds thinking our thoughts…

Mine spoke to me of humankind, the sometime gaping abysses we must navigate to get to a place of mutual understanding – if we ever do. Mine spoke to me of life and death, how some few men and women can be so power hungry to lead their fellows to chaos. In that Sunday solitude my heart bled for all who must come to save us from ourselves from time to time…and, finally, there were my tears. 

Now, I turn to my good wife, Julie Anne, to perhaps leave the philosophical depths and render a more ethereal synopsis of that lovely Sunday… [BRC]

[Julie Anne]
Today we ventured out to the Battle of Perryville. Drove around rather than walked. Basically had almost all of the battlefield to ourselves. Didn’t run into any of its ghosts. In between re-enactments but could visualize. Guessing about as warm today (high 80s) as it was in 1862 – but no drought to contend with. Remembered when Craig led Cindy (our kids were visiting) had us all over the fields and longing for water – how terrible it had to be for those fighting – after long marches and no water and the sun beating down on them. Some of the Rebs would have marched up the old Lebanon Road, right by here. I wonder if some got off the road hoping to find well water and possible shade. Did some sit under our old Sugar Maple for a bit before rejoining the march north and then east? Did Finley (freshly married) bring them cool well water, not caring which side, just that they were boys who were tired, thirsty and scared? And where did she hide the family silver? The big house wasn’t built yet but they were living here, growing tobacco. If I crawled around the old, low hanging, dirt part of the basement could I find something? Or was the old house in a completely different area at that point? The big house was built in 1871.
All the homes in the whole area took in wounded. Robert and Finley in 1862, the owners of our property, would have as well I’m sure (they were from some of the founding families and predominant in the area). Are there bodies buried here from the battle – where they didn’t survive their wounds?
My mind drifts back to what it was like those early October days in 1862. Our Sugar Maple probably remembers.
Billy Ray and Julie Anne Chitwood – Oct. – 2018
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6 comments on “Blood and Bones”

  1. Powerful, beautiful writing. Thank you both. Like you, I often travel back to times earlier, to young men and women who gave of themselves – for ideals, for hopes, for expectations. I am silenced by their selflessness, by their acts of courage. Too often, we take for granted the lives offered for us. Thank you for reminding us of the costliness of freedom. Blessings to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I very much enjoyed reading your shared experience at Perryville Battlefield. Growing up in area, I’m more than familiar with the battlefield. It’s where every grade schooler had a field trip, families had reunions, and history students could rack up extra credit points for attending the re-enactments. I, like almost everyone I knew, had an ancestor who was involved in the war. And many of them died right where we flew kites and ate fried chicken in the shade. It’s a part of our lives that might be hard to understand if you’re not from here.
    The older I get, the deeper my love and appreciation grows for this place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Steph, for your lovely response. You’re a dear lady… I might have told you, I was born and raised south of Corbin in outside of Jellico in a sawmill camp called Wooldridge, TN. At the turn of last century we were part of Kentucky, and our county was then put into Tennessee. Perryville is a site Julie takes the kids when they come to visit… It is a wonderful place for reflection of ‘then and now’! Thanks, sweet lady… ♥

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