Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah in Egypt. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have done what you said you would do when you promised, ‘We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.’
“Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows! But hear the word of the Lord, all you Jews living in Egypt: ‘I swear by my great name,’ says the Lord, ‘that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, “As surely as the Sovereign Lord lives.” For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand—mine or theirs.
- Jeremiah 44:24-28
Note: This is my 1711th post. The third of July may mark the battle of Gettysburg, but this year, it marked the fourth anniversary of this blog site. Thank you all for dropping by.
Jeremiah prophesied that since the governor had gone against the will of God, few would escape Egypt. In Pickett’s charge, less than half avoided being killed, wounded, or captured.
In 1913, they had the first reenactment of Pickett’s charge. They invited veterans from the North and South to participate. These were not people pretending to be soldiers as is done regularly on 3 July in Gettysburg, but these were people who had fought in the war. They billed the reunion as being people who had been on that battlefield in 1863, shooting at one another, but the truth was that they invited any veterans. To still be alive 50 years after the battle, most of the old soldiers had to be nearly 70 years old if not a lot older. The life expectancy in 1913 was 50-years-old for men.
Pickett’s charge had one unit of Mississippians, from the University of Mississippi. The student body of the university enlisted as a group and fought as a military unit, with what was left charging across the field in Pickett’s charge. It is said that only 3 or 4 of the college students survived the war without injury.
The photo above has been copied and recopied in various articles. This version came from Pinterest. And the photo is entitled, the survivors of the first charge were reenacting the charge.
But, if that is the case, there is at least one imposter amidst the group, but a Mississippian and a veteran nonetheless. Notice the man in the gray suit, second from the right, bald with a white beard. That is my great-grandfather. I had seen this image and the associated filmed documentary of these old soldiers stumbling across the field and I thought that looked like him, but he was never at Gettysburg in 1863. Then I read my great-grandfather’s memoires.
After the war, he spent the rest of his life, when he went somewhere new, in looking for the man he called his brother. His father owned one family of slaves, and the boy from that family was about his age. My great grandfather and his brother had grown up together. My great grandfather’s family was poor, working in the fields side-by-side, family members and black family members alike. And there was an emptiness that a family member was missing. My great-grandfather never said what his motivation was or what he would have done if he ever found his brother, other than his brother had escaped capture by Northern raiders, at least it was hoped, and had never been seen since. My great-grandfather wanted a reunion with him. Being invited to the Gettysburg reunion afforded him a lot of people that he could talk to.
But, while my great-grandfather fought in the war, he had not been at Gettysburg and had not been part of the initial Pickett’s charge. He had made so many friends at the reunion, and the group making the charge was rather sparse, they needed more for the film and photos to make it impressive. He was honored to be asked.
In truth, he was a veteran. He had fought across Kentucky and Tennessee, retreating toward Atlanta, where in September 1863, two months after Gettysburg, he was wounded at Chickamauga, in present day Chattanooga, TN, and he was sent to the rear. While healing, they had no hospital for him, so on his own, he boarded a Northern train, against orders, and went home to Mississippi. He married his sweetheart and then returned to the war at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, eventually stacking arms in Columbia, South Carolina.
He became a schoolteacher during the week and a circuit rider preacher on the weekends, looking for his brother along the way.
I have learned two things about that 1913 reenactment of Pickett’s charge, other than what I learned from his memoires. Before they started stumbling across the field, they gave out a Rebel Yell, and some of the Northern soldiers said that the sound made them horribly afraid, memories of the first charge 50 years before, although the only weapons that the old soldiers had were umbrellas and walking sticks. My great grandfather waved his hat. The other thing that I learned was as it became obvious that these old soldiers were stretched to their physical limits in trying to run across a field, the Union soldiers left their hiding places in the rocks, met them halfway, and they all embraced. Many of them wept. After all, the reunion was in its third and last day, and they would never see these old soldiers again.
Now here I am, roughly the age of my great-grandfather in the photo. He seems to be more spry than I am today, although I have more hair and it is a lot darker. But who cares about appearance when it is the character within the heart that matters.
But my prayer is that everyone who is building a wall around themselves to protect their own view of how we should interpret this or that and blocking out all other offending views, I pray that God will infuse into our souls the desire that was within my great-grandfather – to find our brother, whoever that may be, to see that those combatants from either side of a war are brothers. May we embrace one another and put down our weapons and pick up our hats and canes and meet each other in the middle of a field.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.