Vol. 10


The Union Visit

1861; Lebanon, Missouri, USA

It was a normal day on the Atchley homestead. Martha “Patsy” Atchley (my five-times-great-grandmother) had been living with her twenty-year-old grandson William A. Vernon. Colonel (and Senator) Miles Vernon, Patsy’s husband, had gone away, fighting in the Civil War.* “Shame on you, Miles. I do not support your cause, and I won’t leave with you. My home is here,” she had said. He had left with his slaves to fight in the war with General Price. The colonel was a Confederate officer, while Patsy’s sympathies remained with the North. She remained in her home in Goodwin Hollow with her grandson William.

William had been sitting on the porch with Patsy, who was taking a rest and smoking her clay pipe with a live coal in it, when a group of Union soldiers approached the house on horseback. They had been patrolling the area recently, and knowing that Colonel Miles was a Confederate, they took the assumption that Patsy agreed with him. The Union soldiers decided to hold Patsy at gunpoint. They approached her door, claiming that they knew she was a Confederate.

“You aren’t welcome here. Leave my property now!” Patsy shot back with determination. She then yelled to William, “Get my rifle!”

“Go inside, little grandma!” the lead soldier shouted back. They then began laying a circular trail of gunpowder around the outside of her house.

William jumped in front of his tiny grandmother to protect her. When a match was put to the gunpowder, the explosion made them leap into the air. The coal from Patsy’s pipe flew down William’s overalls, sending a pain with it. William panicked and then ran out of the house and all the way to the neighbors’ place, assuming Patsy had died in the explosion. After running to the house, he frantically told the neighbors that the soldiers had blown up Patsy and almost shot him in the back.

William and the neighbors ran back to the house, shocked to find Patsy fully okay. She was sitting in her rocking chair smoking her pipe. “Lovely evening we’re having!” observed Patsy.

Jackson DiBlasi; Missouri, USA


* This civil war was fought between the United States (the Union) and the Confederacy, a group of Southern states that had formed a new country.


This copyrighted story may be copied for limited classroom use or reprinted in an article about The Grannie Annie.


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