This is the day that my great-grand-daddy surrendered
I honor Sgt. Wyllis Jackson Bone – Cobb’s Legion, Army of Northern Virginia . . . and an avid supporter of Roosevelt’s New Deal!
On April 10, 1864, after going through living hell for four years, my Creek ancestors headed back home to the soft green hills of Northeast Georgia, after fighting somebody else’s war. I refuse to let thieves in the night . . . from the left and the right . . . either erase their memory, demonize them into racist monsters or remold them into heroes of those who want to make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. They were yeoman farmers, caught up in a storm created by others. They did not own slaves. Under the laws of Georgia that stayed on the books until Jimmy Carter was elected governor . . . The Creek veterans of the American Revolution, Cherokee Wars and War of 1812, who were originally given state citizenship and veteran’s reserves in Georgia, soon could not vote, hire a white man, own slaves, attend public school, own commercial real estate, work in a licensed profession, serve on jury, be a law enforcement officer or even testify in their own behalf in a courtroom.
My ancestors primary motivation for joining Cobb’s Legion was that, early on in the war, the Confederate Congress gave full citizenship to the Creeks, Seminoles, Cherokees, Choctaws and Seminoles. Politically correct newscasters and ignorant politicians never tell you this. My ancestors were in the most horrific battles ever fought by American soldiers. In fact, their regiment . . . Cobb’s Legion . . . is considered by many historians to be the bravest military unit of either the South or the North. The regimental flag of Cobb’s Legion is now the Georgia State Flag. A few years ago when the state flag was changed to remove the Confederate Battle Flag, Jimmy Carter and I seemed to be the only people, who knew that. Talking heads from the leftwing and rightwing perspective apparently did such a good job of erasing history that they had forgotten the facts themselves.
I didn’t intend to write this article until late this afternoon. While taking a break from fixing up my fixer upper house, I chanced upon an article about the formal surrender of Lee’s army on April 10, 1864. In describing the decimation of the Army of Northern Virginia by the spring of 1865, it mentioned that the famous Confederate unit, Cobb’s Legion, has ceased to exist after the horrors of the actions at the Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den and Little Round Top at Gettysburg. I knew that a leg of my Great Grandfather Jack had been ripped off by a cannon shell’s shrapnel at the Devil’s Den.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the Wikipedia article on Cobb’s Legion and was absolutely astounded that Great-Grandpa Jack had fought in every major battle, involving the Army of Northern Virginia. A large portion of Cobb’s Legion was made up of Irish immigrants and mixed-blood Creeks. Very few, if any men below officer rank, had anything to gain out of the continuance of slavery. They were victims of slavery because that evil institution depressed the wages of working folks. I never really understood, why the Irish composed such a disproportionate part of the Southern armies. Guess they wanted to be respected by their neighbors.
Do you remember the dramatic scene in the movie, “Gods and Generals,” when Union forces concentrated on a salient in the low stone wall at Marye’s Heights in the Battle of Gettysburg. That’s the flag of Cobb’s Legion in the background as Great-Grandpa Jack was one of the men stopping the attack. Earlier in the war, Great-Grandpa Jack was one of the 550 men in Cobb’s Legion that stopped over 25,000 attacking Yanks at Burnside Bridge during the Battle of Antietam . . . saving Lee’s army from annihilation. That was the stuff that Great-Grandpa Jack was made of. After Cobb’s Legion was dissolved, he played in Longstreet’s Corps band and served on the staff of Major General John P. Gordon. With a wooden leg, he couldn’t be in the thick of battle after Gettysburg, but continued to have bullets and cannon shells whiz past him.
There is one mystery that Great-Grandpa Jack never explained fully. We had the rifle that he carried in the Civil War. He was supposed to throw it in a large stack of rifles during the surrender ceremony. He obviously didn’t. All he would say to people was that Yankee officers were even dumber than their Southern counterparts.
My other maternal great and gg-grandfathers were reassigned to units that formerly had been under the command of Stonewall Jackson, later commanded by generals Jubal Early and John P. Gordon. They fought in all those horrific 1864 battles in the Shenandoah Valley . . . marching past my future farm on Toms Brook several times. In fact, one of my gg-grandfathers was captured, while on picket duty, at the driveway entrance to our future farm on November 4, 1864. It is statistically improbable, but none of my Creek ancestors were killed during the Civil War, despite being in most of the major battles. After the war, though, all of them despised the Bourbons . . . the tiny minority of arrogant slave-owning mega-planters, who dragged Georgia into the horrors of the Civil War, over the opposition of the majority of white, male voters. You see . . .
Georgians voted AGAINST seceding from the Union!
The planter elite in Georgia used their economic power to bribe legislators into overriding the statewide vote of the people. The Civil War and continued machinations of the Bourbons after the war, caused the South to essentially be a Third World country until the 1960s. Both the Hollywood moguls, who repeatedly churn out South-bashing movies and the cynical party operatives of the Nixon Administration, who created the “Southern Strategy” have no clue how long and deeply the descendants of non-slave-owning families suffered after the Civil War.
For the first 16 years of her life, my mother rarely saw any money. Her family thought themselves better off than many families because they owned their land and had plenty of food. My mother saw her first significant amount of greenbacks when my grandfather went to work for the WPA and then they received reparations from the Federal government because of land that was stolen from them in the 1870s! because they were Indians. My grandfather parlayed the WPA checks into enough money to rent an abandoned bank building and convert it into a general store. At age 17, my mother became the first person in her family to graduate from high school . . . as the valedictorian . . . then was awarded a full college scholarship. My grandfather carried her to the University of Georgia in a mule wagon. After leaving the farm when I was about 5 years old, my grandparents worked hard, but lived comfortably from the general store and fried pie sales.
I never knew Great-Grandpa Jack, even though he lived to 102. In some photographs, he was wearing a “Seminole” outfit . . . at least that is what it looked like to little boy. Other photographs showed most of the people at a family reunion wearing “Seminole” clothing. Apparently, he was a mikko (chief), but we could never get any details. When we cousins asked about our Creek heritage, my grandmother would get angry and say, “I don’t want to talk about it. They treated us worse than the Coloreds.” More about that later. The last picture that my grandmother had of her father was when he was past 100. He was wearing his old Confederate uniform and sitting in a rocking chair. He had a long beard and flowing white hair. Those piercing eyes of his seemed to cut right through the camera lens.
I knew Great Grandpa Jack by reputation, though, as a smart, hard-working man, who didn’t hesitate to speak up against evil . . . whatever its form. Whenever he became angry at some injustice, he would slam his walking cane repeatedly against the floor . . . sometimes making neighbors think that a rifle had been fired. Being a Creek Indian, he believed that women should be equal in all things and strongly supported the right of women to vote and the right of all working folks to have a decent living. My grandmother had her own checking account and was treated as an equal by my Grandpa Obie. She had eight years of education from a school taught by the Methodist minister in the basement of their church in Ruckers Bottom. She could not attend public school. She decided that making Injun pottery and baskets wouldn’t pay the bills after the Boll Weevil struck and so started making fried pies and selling them in my Papa Obie’s general store. The fried pies eventually grew to sales, equivalent today of $40,000 a year.
What really pushed Great-Grandpa Jack into being somewhat of a political activist were some horrific events in the first three decades of the 20th century. Until then, the Northeast Georgia Creeks had been “heroes.” They were Patriots during the American Revolution. In the War of 1812, they refused to get in involved with the Redstick War, but served in a regular army unit (called appropriately, the Creek Regiment) on the Georgia Coast, where they protected coastal communities from raids by British Marines and Rangers. Almost all the young men served with honor in the Confederate Army. However, around 1895 things changed. The Bourbons whipped up racial hatred among the working class whites in much the same way that they have manipulated Southern working class whites in recent decades to first hate gay/lesbian citizens, then Latin American immigrants and now, “Librul Marxists.”
Suddenly, it was dangerous for my grandmother and her siblings to even go into the county seat of Elberton. White trash kids would throw mud and manure at them. The Bone Family’s Revolutionary War Veteran Reserves often included prime bottomland on the Savannah and Broad Rivers. Some Bourbons in Elberton decided that they wanted the farm land in Ruckers Bottom, which was primarily inhabited by mixed blood Native American families. As an act of terror, the Bourbons hired some thugs to rape and lynch my grandmother’s older 16 year old sister. Her body was left hanging from a tree at the edge of the Creek community.
Great Grandpa Jack soon got involved in Populist activities, but also participated in some raids on Bourbon-sponsored rallies . . . also burning of barns belonging to racists . . . . eventually driving the murderers of my great-aunt out of the county. It is somewhat surprising that a Civil War veteran would become such a strong supporter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but he felt that despite Roosevelt being from an aristocratic family, his heart was fully empathetic to the “Average Joe.”
My grandparents had no time for racial hatred. Cousin Ray, a POOF subscriber can verify that Papa Obie’s general store was not segregated . . . that goes for the bathrooms and the coal-burning pot belly stove. On a cold winter’s day, Papa Obie’s “colored” friends sat in the circle around the stove along with his other friends. We are not allowed to say the N word, even its polite form of Negro. There was even a young, mentally-retarded man, who everyone called “Good Friend,” who was welcome around the stove circle.
Oh, there was something else you should know about Great Grandpa Jack, he might have been a librul Populist terrorist and one of them thar Progressives, who refused to take Adolf Hitler as his Lard and Safeyer . . . but he was definitely no wuss. At age 78, he married a very pretty 28 year old widow of Irish and Creek Indian descent. They stayed very happily married until his death at age 102. What a man!
Great Grandpa Jack returns in the summer of 2001
During the summer of 2001, the new Creek-Southeast message board was abuzz with inquiries from Creek women in Alabama and northern Florida. Many of them were having the same dream over and over again. They were trying to find a Creek line of mikkos named Bone in Alabama and northern Florida. Then some Cherokee medicine women in North Carolina had the same dream and thangs got really kornfuzing.
The dream always began with an elderly Creek mikko, dressed in a tattered Confederate uniform, rising out of a white mound. He had a wooden leg. He would first say, “Bone is my name. Hard times are coming.” He then warned them of the looming terrorist attack, which would be followed by the rise of fascism in the United States. Most didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, when he prophesied the 9/11 attack. He castigated them for being descended from Master Farmers, yet not even having a garden. He urged them to teach Creek farming techniques to their white neighbors because a starving time was eventually going to come, in which no chemicals would be available. He urged them to teach their knowledge of non-chemical farming and medicinal herbs to their neighbors. In closing, he told them that it was very important that they find the “Black Book” . . . which had been hidden from them . . . whatever that was. He then climbed a golden stairway into heaven.
Until the 1970s, the Creek Bone Family descendants were concentrated in North Georgia, the Plant City, FL area, the Broken Arrow-Tulsa, OK area and the Henrietta-Muskogee, OK area . . . but now they are scattered all over the nation. Nevertheless . . . now you know who BONE was. You go figure!
Appendix : Civil War battles fought in by my Great-Grandfather
- Yorktown (April 1862)
- Lee’s Mill (April 16, 1862)
- Seven Days Battles (June 25 – July 1, 1862)
- Malvern Hill (July 1, 1862)
- South Mountain (Crampton’s Gap) (September 14, 1862)
- Sharpsburg (September 17, 1862)
- Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862)
- Chancellorsville (May 1 – May 4, 1863)
- Gettysburg (July 1 – July 3, 1863) [Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den, Little Round Top]
- Chickamauga (September 19 – September 20, 1863)
- Chattanooga (September – November 1863)
- Siege of Knoxville (November–December 1863)
- Siege of Fort Sanders near Knoxville
- The Wilderness (May 5 – May 6, 1864)
- Spotsylvania Court House (May 8 – May 21, 1864)
- North Anna (May 23 – May 26, 1864)
- Cold Harbor (June 1 – June 3, 1864)
- Petersburg (June 1864 – April 1865)
- Front Royal (August 16, 1864)
- Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864)
- Sayler’s Creek (April 6, 1865)
- Battle of Appomattox Court House (April 9, 1865)
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