Mary had heard tell that these grounds had once between beautiful beyond description…more than her small town Pennsylvania mind could imagine. She heard tell that the land had been taken in retaliation for a decision that the owner had made. Leaders said he should pay for turning his back on the country that he loved and served…his decision had been to be loyal to his state of Virginia. Therefore, leaders decided his home and grounds would be changed so that he could never return and enjoy this place again. Now here she stood on his property. She and husband David were not here to enjoy the gardens and admire the views. They were here for another type of visitation.
A year earlier (1863), her family had been intact in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. She and her husband parented nine children: eight sons and one daughter. The War Between The States had taken a toll on the nation. Their home was close to Sharpsburg, Maryland, where the Battle of Antietam took many lives in September, 1862. Gettysburg was situated in the next county over where three days of battle claimed more lives in July, 1863. In fact, General Lee had retreated through their town and stopped in the town square to get a drink from the pump for himself and his horse Traveler. In that year, her boys were safe at home and far from battle. Six of her sons were eligible to join the army. In the autumn of that year, five would enlist.
Now here in Arlington, Virginia, she and her husband came to visit the resting place of their son Calvin. As a member of the 126th and 149th Pennsylvania Regiments, 22 year old Calvin had been wounded at Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia. Because of the extent of his wounds, he was transferred to Armory Square Hospital in the District of Columbia. Calvin passed away on 18 May 1864. The army had run out of burial spaces so it was decided that the grounds of the Lee-Custis Mansion across the Potomac River would be converted to a cemetery. Calvin was one of the first to be buried there. It had taken a great deal of planning for the family to visit Calvin’s grave. They were here now…paying respects to their beloved son…thinking of the day they would be reunited in the Kingdom of God.
Mary and David Bowman are my husband’s third great grandparents. Calvin is his third great uncle. Today, they are all reunited in the Kingdom of God where no wars rage and where grief grips no one. At peace…