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Dear President Harding:

General Edward R.S. Canby was in command 
of the Federal Army when the Confederates' last stand 
in the War Between the States resulted in surrender.

My father's plantation was destroyed, the discomfiture 
is beyond, almost, my ability to write.

On the 11 th day of April about 12:00 midnight, 
some thirty Federal soldiers trooped to Papa's house 
some nine miles from Fort Blakely and did roust him, 
sleeping, from his very bed, beat him roundly 
on the head and with rifles kicked him sore about.

Mother and children started to cry and shout 
as a scowling soldier deigned to take a candle 
from Mama's hand. It was too much for her frail frame 
to handle, and she fell upon the floor with the babies 
in a heap and asked only that the soldier let her keep 
her young ones safe from harm whereupon 
our dwelling house was set on fire, 
making a funeral pyre of it and the cottages nearby.
Our treasures, all are gone, except the apparel 
we had on. There was nothing left to wear.

The next day, broken-hearted, his world burned
and with everything destroyed, Papa went straightway 
to the fort to scout thereabout, find General Canby 
and address him face to face, with dignity 
and relay the misfortune that had come to pass.

The general listened, somewhat aghast, 
and said he would give our family food to eat, 
a wagon load of fruit and meat.

It is time to move beyond fear and hate,
and with resolve, I demonstrate 
note that what was done cannot be undone. 
I was not then in my sixty-ninth year; 
I was only ten and seven months, 
but time has passed, and to show 
how we should forgive, I stoop 
and place a wreath on Canby's grave.

Note: The town was spelled Blakeley after the founder's name. The fort, however, is often misspelled in records from the Civil War as “Blakely” without the last “e.” The town was captured a few hours after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia on April I, 1865.

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