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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Thomas Henderson, October 28, 1999. Interview K-0228. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Family heritage and memories of the Civil War

In this excerpt, Henderson talks about his family history, focusing specifically on his family's involvement in the Civil War. Here, he describes how his grandfather served the Confederacy, fighting at Bull Run and Appomattox. His comments here demonstrate one way in which memories about involvement in historical events had operated in one family.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Thomas Henderson, October 28, 1999. Interview K-0228. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

CHARLES THOMPSON:
Were your parents both from farms?
THOMAS HENDERSON:
[unclear] back around here. My daddy's daddy was very well to do. He owned after fifteen hundred acres of land. And now my mother's daddy, his father gave him a farm. He was a big-. He had twenty-five hundred acres of land and he gave each one of his boys-and he had six-a farm. And his grandpa's part was two hundred and seventy-three acres. By the way, in that respect grandpa was in the Civil War. And he was at the first Battle of Bull Run.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
He was.
THOMAS HENDERSON:
And he was a Gettyburg in Pickett's division. And he thought he was-he was the third in rank. And they were going up in rank, you know. And he was in the third and the two fell before him and so he was in front.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right.
THOMAS HENDERSON:
He thought he was the only man that looked over the federal [unclear] works, but he wasn't because [unclear] . And they completely decimated that division.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The North Carolina division was the worst hit.
THOMAS HENDERSON:
[unclear] Virginia.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Virginia, too.
THOMAS HENDERSON:
[unclear] Virginia. But my grandfather was a very modest man. He said he never-in the war-he never knew that he killed but one man. And he and a friend were walking on a battlefield and this Yankee was wounded and he picked a pistol and was fixing to shoot one of them. And grandpa had to turn around-he had his rifle and shot him and killed him right there. And he said, "That's the only man I knew I killed." He said, "I shot at a lot of people and they fell. But there may have been ten other people shooting at them."
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right.
THOMAS HENDERSON:
And mama said he loved to talk about the war. And he despised Abraham Lincoln. But after he got older he realized that Lincoln wasn't as bad a man as he thought. And he said if Lincoln could have lived, the South would have faired much better than they did under Lincoln-
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Under Grant.
THOMAS HENDERSON:
And under Grant-. Grant was not the caliber of man that this Abraham Lincoln was.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right. And you remember this grandfather talking about the Civil War?
THOMAS HENDERSON:
No, no. No. No.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
This was-. These stories are-
THOMAS HENDERSON:
My great-my grandfather-my daddy's father was sixteen or seventeen years old and he guarded bridges. Now my grandmother's father loved his horses. And he walked down in the pasture one day. And walked up to this mare and slapped her on the shoulder and she reared and kicked him in the abdomen. And it killed him. It was a ruptured-ruptured-. Wasn't anything they could do about it. He died in about three days. But mama said he loved to talk about the war. And he was captured just before Appomattox. There was thirty-nine men in a ditch. And they-the Yankees were coming and they caught them in this ditch. And they surrendered. And they told them, said, "The war's going to end shortly. But if you promise not to take up arms, you can go home." Well they were thirty-five miles from where he came from. And-but he was relieved when he surrendered. He was about to leave at Appomattox. And after that he came home. And lived until he was sixty-four. And he was a farmer.And now my mother's-my grandfather's wife 's people-. There were four brothers and they were all in the forces of the Confederacy. Three of them were killed. Only one got back home. And their names were Lawson.