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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Yankees are coming........

1861-65 The death of William H. Butler in first months of the war must have shocked everyone who knew him into the reality of the nightmare they were all living. How the loss of his father affected Patrick, we can only surmise from the way it affects people today. Suddenly he was the man of the house at age 9. He may have been responsible for too much too soon. His mother would depend on him to be strong and his siblings would need him to help them understand why Papa had to go away. At least Will made it home, and hopefully he died in his own bed with his loved ones around him. I wonder if his mother and father came to Walnut Grove to say goodbye.
I have not been able to find his grave. I have searched for deeds, but so far I have found no property that they owned. They could have been living on the Whitley farm or perhaps they rented. I know they buried people the same day they died back then. My guess is he is in a family cemetery and it probably is Mary's family. I am going to keep looking, because I want to find his grave and put a marker there.
The next year Will's brother Nathan would die in North Carolina from disease or wounds I don't know which. Two other brothers would survive the war. In the end, Georgia would be where one of the final acts of cruelty would be played out with the arrival of William T. Sherman. Burning their way, the Yankees plundered wherever they went. Railroad tracks and bridges along with barns and livestock were destroyed. Churches became stables, and private homes were ransacked and burned to the ground. The civilian population was terrorized as the invaders swept through like a plague.

" The story is that one of the slaves led the mules into the woods to hide them from the Yankees, the sun reflected off his bald head as he disappeared behind the pines. That's the only story I heard about the war." (As told to David Butler by his grandmother)

What was left of home after Sherman was finished with Georgia was a desolate defeated land. Crops and animals were gone, homes were damaged or destroyed and people were hungry and tired. They must have resolved to take what was left and go on, because that's what they did.....

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