Through Eyes of Faith

Excerpts from Prologue, The Mississippi Boys, published 2008

... I spent fourteen years with my journals and memories from the old plantation to get House Not Made With Hands, and letting it go was like saying good-bye to an old friend. I dared believe this was my meaningful contribution and kindred spirits out there would take the journey with me. After all was said and done, I couldn't bid farewell to certain characters in my story, so I opened a new one from a chapter so deep-rooted in my history that I had to peer through a glass darkly to get images of those about whom I wanted to write. Their heroic story consumed me, and I wrote, realizing my page was not yet full.

And this is it. Though historical fiction, I hope its dynamic will touch you in a way you never thought possible, for we each have an investment here. Our forefathers—yours, mine, Blue and Gray—left DNA on battlefields all over the South. Their blood was sprinkled—yea, freely poured out—from Shiloh to Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville to Antietam to Gettysburg.

It was fall 1984, and in sacred privilege, I stood looking out over the Wheatfield. A mist of rain fell across my face and the Pennsylvania Battlefield. This was hallowed ground for reasons you will know all too soon. My great great-grandfather, Thomas Goode (T.G.) Clark, and his sons, Jonathan and Albert Henry spent invaluable time here. Just three days. Invaluable, nevertheless.

My grandmother, Vallie Georgia Clark Smith, told me parts of the story some years ago. She knew far more than she revealed to me but there would come a day when I would learn more, for those Mississippi Boys wrote letters home to my great great-grandmother, Margery Brown Rogers Clark (Rachel Payne in the book). The originals are archived in the Mississippi Room at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Appropriately so, for they were Rebels of the most splendid sort. Confederate soldiers who gave it all—for the South.

They sat by lonely campfires in the mountains of Virginia, chilled to hurting, feet propped on fire logs for a measure of warmth, so tired and cold they could scarcely hold pen in hand, words emanating from a rare place, one where few have dared to go, one from which many nevermore returned. I read those letters some one hundred and forty-four years after the War, and I was inexorably attached to these men. My forefathers. I reckoned for myself why T.G. went to war at the age of forty-six when the maximum requirement age was forty-one. Jonathan, nineteen, and Albert Henry, seventeen, would have to go, and he could not let them go alone. The way I see it, he gave three times. Once for himself, once for the Confederacy, and once for his sons. He was a real hero, this Mississippian.

For the space of five years, Mississippi and ten other southern states were a country with a flag, a president, and with fearless men who, as Jefferson Davis said, just wanted to be left alone, but who, when pressed to the breach, became willing to fight defensively for their Confederate States, for their flag, and for their homes.

I've read the letters over and again, and I see these men through eyes of faith, but I've thought about how it will be when I see them face to face for the first time, and if it be in clouds of glory or by way of the grave, I will know them. They will know me. And, any way you view it, that's a wonderful declaration of truth.

Jane B. Gaddy, Ph.D.

I Corinthians 13:12. "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."


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