The Aftermath

Southerners were devoted to The Cause during the War years, for the most part. The aftermath was a different story, albeit the South was faithful to that Cause long after it was dead. The Union tried in futile effort to manage a country diametrically opposed to its political orientation, a country as stubborn and proud as its hanging moss that clings and blows in the winds of time. Gray in the gloom, caught up in pink shafts of the sun on a day not so gloomy. The South, ripped to shreds by the War, faced an ideology that challenged its principles and wherewithal, mocked its gentility, and found great pleasure in attempting to clean the carcass of the southern dog.
            In the era of Isaac’s House, the South was still outside the Union, still trying to pick up the pieces to recover from four long years of death and destruction. Hope in 1866 and 1867 was that the North would soon tire of stirring in the ashes of the Old South, abandon the travesty of Reconstruction, and return to its own country.
            It was dead of winter 2007 when I visited Isaac's house in Slate Springs, Mississippi, for the first time. I returned in July 2009 on a warm summer day. Standing on the old front porch, I ran my hand over the same pieces of clapboard into which Isaac had pounded nails some one hundred and forty years before. Moving cautiously to avoid the missing pieces of wood that left the ground beneath my feet exposed, I began to wonder just what took place in those post-War years. My heart burned to tell this man’s story. The story of Isaac Beauford Clark, my great-granduncle, a young Confederate who fought and survived the Civil War and the misery of Reconstruction under the Radical Republican Regime.

Isaac’s house sits on a beautiful piece of the Old South
smothered by sweet gums and pines that tower and obscure, and lofty magnolias that tell their own story. The old bungalow, with chipped paint and moss-ridden green roof and closed-up dogtrot is collapsing now, reminiscent of how the Confederacy fell apart piece by piece, yet this place still whispered to me a tale of carpetbaggers and scalawags and southern patriots. 

 Road to Isaac's House

Sarepta School House

The Paynes are my fictional family, cast with all the reality I can conjure to align with my real family, the Clarks of Sarepta and Slate Springs, Mississippi. In my waking moments and sometimes in the late night hours, I see Isaac’s house, breathe in the faint fragrance of wisteria, hear laughter, and know that he and Jennie and their nine children are finally free from the bondage of the War and its aftermath. I close my eyes, set my imagination free, and shine my fictional light directly on the history of my family, even now evoking emotions of sorrow and joy, kindling a promise of redemption and restoration. And I dream and write of how it might have been.

                        Jane Bennett Gaddy, Ph.D.

The little one-room school house is where my grandmother, Vallie, attended school probably for twelve years. My sister, Grace, took the picture of the school several years ago. It has since been taken down, but we know the exact spot where it once stood.

Vallie Georgia Clark Smith

 Jane BG


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