Thursday, May 09, 2013


Many a tale is woven on the theme of the good versus the evil brother. Solomon and Adonijah, Nephi and Laman, carry on a theme begun by Cain and Abel.

A variation on theme produces the story of the good, virtuous, and enterprising hero and his mediocre, lazy, cowardly and useless brother.    

Such is the tale of Timothy and David James who lived long ago and far away, in a strange and alien land. David James was the older of the two by a year, sturdier and favored by his father; Timothy lived in the shadow of the older boy as they grew up on their parents' farm.

When the brothers were in their early twenties, a war came to their land, and all the men thereabouts were called to the fight. The brothers volunteered for service together, and were put into the same infantry company.

But systemic weaknesses made Tim an easy victim of the malarial dysentery that ran through the camp, and he was soon so ill that he became too weak to stand. David James, on the other hand, thrived on the camp food, the vigorous exercise, and even the malarial climate of the place. After 90 days of training, he went north to join Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Timothy was sent to hospital above the fall line, outside the fever zone.

Several months later, he was released and discharged from service, and wandered for a few months before returning home to the news that death had found David James in the form of a Yankee   Minié ball, on the second day of the Battle of the Wilderness, 149 years and three days ago.

After the war ended Timothy married. He remained on his father's farm and had 13 children, ten of whom lived. But for the remainder of his life, his relations with others in his family were chilly, for his father couldn't look at him without being reminded of his more beloved son, whom he was forced to sacrifice to the god of war, while the less illustrious son lived and thrived.

Timothy was my direct ancestor, my great-grandfather. David James, my great-great-uncle was no one's direct ancestor, for he died unmarried and childless at 24, fighting in the service of the Confederate States of America.


Joe said...

Dave a lot about bravery depends on how much they believed in the 70 virgins type of thing.

Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer said...

I'm not so sure of that, Joe, although there's a song from the Civil War, "The Dying Soldier," that supports your thoughts.

Joe said...

It could have a lot to do with my age, but before knowledge about religion, especially its origin became more freely available, I was braver.

Joe said...

Maybe a better way to put it is that I thought that I was braver. Is it real if it's based on something that isn't?

Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer said...

Sure. If you think you're braver, you probably will be.