Bombs, Bullets, and Bennetts
As you know, I’m in New England. In fact, we just got to the Boston-area. But, I also promised I would try to keep the Durham story in motion. So, here’s the next episode. This one involves our friend Vincent, and …the Bennetts!
Okay, picking up where I left off. You’ll recall we had just gotten to Durham, N.C. We had a pleasant night at the AirB&B and then headed off for Vincent’s place. We found he now has a really nice house, medium-sized, in a lovely neighborhood near a set of parks and hiking trails.
I say it was “medium-sized” but it felt huge. That’s because for most of the time I’ve known him, he’s had a condo on Beacon Hill in Boston. This is a beautiful and historic neighborhood right downtown.
It has also become very expensive over the years, and the condos and apartments have become ever smaller. When we knew him in Massachusetts, he lived in four tiny rooms on a fourth floor walk-up building. The man became, by necessity, a master of fitting anything and everything into a space that seemed microscopic.
The good news is that Beacon Hill property is now worth its weight in gold, and when he retired and sold his condo, he pocketed a pretty penny. Certainly, it made his purchase of a house in Durham (itself a booming market) very easy, indeed.
Anyway, we toured his home, met his cat, and had a quick breakfast. Then we were off to Bennett Place State Historical Site.
He explained what we were about to see (and I’m going to pretty much just reproduce his comments with some additional data gleaned from Wikipedia, plus a bit more from the remarks of the guide we had when we arrived). Basically, though, the Bennetts were a family who lived along what was then the road from Greensboro to Raleigh. They were small-time farmers who also sold supplies and other items to travelers along the road. This would have been in the late 1850s.
Then the Civil War breaks out. Like a lot of people, the Bennetts are caught in the middle...and suffer. Several of the menfolk in the family are killed in various battles.
By 1865, the War is coming to a close. In April of that year, Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. In the popular myth...and a myth I believed until my visit to the Bennett place...that’s the end of the conflict.
Except it isn’t. The Confederate government has fallen apart. Jefferson Davis was busily trying to escape the country. The plan, apparently, was that he and his cabinet would flee to Havana, regroup, and then return to continue the war from territories still controlled by the Confederates west of the Mississippi. None of this happened, of course, and Davis was captured by Federal forces in Georgia. (Interesting counterfactual. What would have history been like if he’d gotten away and started his government-in-exile in the Caribbean?)
But, without a central administration, surrender was left to the generals in the field, who had to work out the best deals they could with their Union counterparts. Thus, there were separate surrenders in Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and...Durham.
In fact, Durham would be the site of the biggest, and probably most important surrender of the war...
And it would all happen thanks to...
More to come.
About the photo: sort of deals with the story. This was a selfie we took on the trip. As always, Martha looks great. And I look...passable. Rare thing for me :-)
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