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Two Grandmothers

Two Grandmothers

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Published by TheLivingChurchdocs
If God granted the prayers of one side and denied the others, did he consider the North right and moral and the South wrong and evil? Abraham Lincoln, for one, refused to believe this.
If God granted the prayers of one side and denied the others, did he consider the North right and moral and the South wrong and evil? Abraham Lincoln, for one, refused to believe this.

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Published by: TheLivingChurchdocs on Jan 20, 2012
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01/20/2012

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By Boyd Wright
O
n April 12, 1861, guns that rimmed Charleston Harbor hurled shells uponFort Sumter, beginning the bitterest brother-against-brother war theUnited States has endured. During a designatedfour years of nationalremembrance we might do well to ponder the feelings of those who, a cen-tury and a half ago, had to live through that fratricidal hell.I look back at my own family and remember my mother’s mother, whogrew up in New York City at that desperate time. I was 10 when she died,and my clearest picture is of a sweet, calming smile, irresistible to a childclimbing onto her lap. She seems always to have dressed in black, andshe clutched her prayer book on her way to our Episcopal church. I knowmy grandmother was devout because my mother often spoke of the faithshe had inherited.
 A Tale of TwoGrandmothers
Pontoon bridge across the James River at Richmond, Va., 1865.
GUESTCOLUMN
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THE LIVING CHURCH • January 29, 2012
 
I remember my father’s mother bet-ter because I was 14 when she died.She spent her childhood during thewar years in Richmond, Virginia,capital of the Confederacy. Aftermarryingshe moved to Augusta,Georgia. Almost every year duringspring vacation in the 1930s myfather would take our family fromNew York to his boyhood home fora week’s visit with Mamo, as all hergrandchildren called her.Mamo loved us but showed it lessthan my other grandmother. Long awidow, she too dressed always inblack. An old-style Southern belle,she lived in her gently decaying mini-mansion, fronted by white pillars andsurrounded by magnolia trees weliked to climb. Mostly she sat in herdarkened parlor-library amid Con-federate memorabilia, devotionalbooks, crosses,and relics. She cher-ished her Methodist church and herfaith.Look back with me at the time these grandmotherslived. See the home of my mother’s mother, her fathera well-to-do merchant in bustling New York City. Worryand grief spared no household during those war years.Family prayers must have implored God to save theUnion and the brave men fighting for it.Now look at the family of my father’s mother. Herfather, a doctor, treated patients as Richmond changedin four years from the proud capital of a brand-newnation to a city so sick and starved that mobs lootedstores and rioted for bread. Here too, amid the hard-ships, prayers must have mounted, first for the newfresh hope of the Confederacy, then for all the lives lostas the terrible tolls kept climbing.On May 15, 1864, tragedy hit my grandmother’shome. Her oldest brother, William, died charging withthe rebels at the Battle of New Market in the Shenan-doah Valley. A Yankee bullet gravely wounded anotherbrother, Robert, in the same battle.New, fervent prayers must have come from Mamo’shome: prayers for the soul of a brother and for therecovery of another (he survived). And the prayersmust have grown more desperate for the great lostcause of their beloved Confederacy, with only monthsto live.We know now that some of those Southern prayerswere granted and some were not. Meanwhile, upNorth, my other grandmother and her family foundtheir prayers answered: they prayed for the Unionand they won.It’s easy to say God willed the North to win, torebuild a divided nation,and to guide us on to for-giveness and prosperity. But if so, didthe prayers of 
Fort Sumter, S.C., viewed from a sandbar in Charleston Harbor, 1865.Photographed by George N. Barnard. Ambulance drill of the 57th New York Infantry, 1864.(Continued on next page)
January 29, 2012 • THE LIVING CHURCH
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