The following article was published by the Tennessean in today’s (Oct 4th) Sunday paper. Kevin Walters did a good job with the interview and gave me much more print space than I deserved or expected.
Source (full article)
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Civil War sons will gather graveside
Franklin blogger locates elderly sons of former soldiers
FRANKLIN — Harold Becker and James F. Brown Sr. will meet for the first time when they shake hands Saturday at the grave of an unknown Civil War soldier.
But the men, who are in their 90s, share a common thread as members of a select and fast-disappearing fraternity: They’re first-generation sons of men who fought and lived through the Civil War.
They’ll serve as honorary pallbearers during Saturday’s reburial of the remains of a man accidentally unearthed at a construction site along Columbia Avenue back in May.
Becker’s father was Charles Conrad Becker, who fought for the Union in the 128th Indiana Infantry at the Battle of Franklin on Nov. 30, 1864. Harold Becker lives in Rockford, Mich.
Brown’s father was James H.H. Brown, who served in the 8th Georgia Infantry in the Confederacy and fought at Gettysburg. James F. Brown lives outside Knoxville.
Both men, each of whom were born when their respective fathers were in their 70s, say they can remember the stories their fathers told about the war — recounting grisly and horrific scenes they lived through. There are just a small group of direct descendants known as “real sons” or “real daughters” still living.
While the fighting marked their fathers, Becker, 91, and Brown, 97, say neither man held a grudge.
“He was not bitter. He did not have the least bit of bitterness toward the Yankees,” Brown said about his father, who was wounded twice in fighting.
Becker remembered his father smoking a cigar and talking about the scenes of over-matched Confederate troops meeting the Union army.
“He saw those Confederates coming at him and in his estimation they were brave souls,” Becker said.
Internet brings them together
When the two men meet Saturday, local historians and re-enactors can thank the behind-the-scenes work of Civil War blogger and Franklin resident Kraig McNutt for helping bring the two to Franklin.
McNutt, 46, who is a vice president overseeing e-Business for radio host Dave Ramsey, also runs a blog devoted to the Battle of Franklin.
Since the news of the re-burial, McNutt has seen visitor numbers to his blog dramatically increase. He expects the numbers will continue to grow as Saturday gets closer.
“I think it’s going to a whole new level of excitement and interest because of the attendance of these two living sons of soldiers that are going to be there,” McNutt said.
When McNutt and his family first moved to Franklin, they did not know they had any relatives who fought in the Civil War.
Since then they’ve learned that McNutt’s wife, Lori, had three relatives who fought at the Battle of Franklin. That’s added a new connection to the war and the city to McNutt’s life.
“Once it became personal, that whole story became powerful,” McNutt said.