Facebook has come in for a lot of criticism over the past
few weeks, and I admit that I don’t like some of their practices. However, there
are times when I realize that the friendships I have made on Facebook have also
enriched my life. One such incident occurred this week.
To set the scene. I write historical fiction and creative
biographies based on the lives of historical figures. Two of my early books
were based on the letters of my great uncle James McCaskey, who enlisted with
the 100 Pennsylvania Regiment (known as the “Roundheads”) during
the Civil War. After several months of training and marching, the regiment
ended up in South Carolina’s Sea Islands. There, my Uncle James died, along
with his friend Jacob Leary, in their first battle. The letter sent to my great
grandparents described their horrific deaths—hit by a cannon ball that blew off
their legs. They bled out and died on the battlefield and were buried with some
500 others in a mass grave at the site. Their company lost four men, with
several others gravely wounded.
Now, some 156 years later, the Little Beaver Historical
Society in Darlington, Pennsylvania, is planning a Roundheads Reunion for
descendants of that regiment. They have made arrangements with me to sell
copies of my first book, A Scratch with
the Rebels, and to give away two copies of the second book, Beyond All Price, which is coming out in
a new edition just in time for the reunion. The first book is already on offer
on their Facebook page.
This week, an order came in from someone who had just joined
the “Society of the Roundheads.” His posting stated that he wanted the book
because it might tell him something about his uncle, Jacob Leary, who had been in
the Roundhead Regiment. Yes. His uncle and my uncle were friends, and they died
together on that fateful day, June 16, 1862, at Secessionville, South Carolina.
I immediately posted a comment, telling him what I knew of Jacob’s life in the
regiment. We have begun a friendship based on a bond of shared grief at the
meaningless deaths of our uncles and the ties that kept them together into
their shared grave. We will both be the richer for it.