Civil War Veterans Meet After 55 Years
Colonel John Harwood
Pierce meets Colonel Charles Morey
The following is a transcript of a brown, and brittle
newspaper clipping found among John Harwood Pierces papers. It is an
article published in the Oakland Daily Post. In the article it refers to
baby Stella Mae Pierce, being 17 months old, so the article must have
appeared around November 1919.
VETS MEET AFTER 55 YEARS
Colonel J. Harwood Pierce (left) and Colonel Charles Morey (right)
caught by The Post's camera man when they met for the first time after
55 years -- they're shown swapping yarns.
One a "Reb" the Other a "Yank"
Meet After Half a Century
It just happened in the local room of the Oakland Daily Post.
They had not seen each other for fifty-five years.
More than half a century ago they knew each other in a Civil War prison
at Camp Douglas Illinois. One was a captive drummer boy of a Virginia
regiment [Charles Morey], and the other, a few years older, but still a
stripling, was a Yankee corporal [John H. Pierce] acting as prison guard
while convalescing from a shell wound.
According to the rules of the grim game of fraticidal war, they were
enemies; but they were both mere boys and had much in common, so they
became close friends and pals. It was a friendship that struck deeper
than boys friendships usually go.
Events moved fast. The war ended; and after boyishly solemn vows to
meet again, the youthful veterans, already old in experience, parted.
Each went his separate way; new interests came crowding in; and to each,
it was given to live a life more complete and full than is vouchsafed to
most others. The old friendship was pushed into the background of
consciousness. Love came, and wealth and poverty and fame -- all the
adventures of life.
But through it all, in the inner chambers of their minds, the memory of
the old intimate comradeship persisted. Always, while the flying years
sped by, each planned that next year, or possibly the year after, he
would look the other ...[here two lines of text are missing due to the
crumbling and falling away of brittle, aged, newspaper where the
clipping had been folded and stored]...
Does it seem like this magazine synopsis of an O'Henry short story that
stops just short of the interesting point? Well, it's not; neither will
it be continued in our next.
And then they met, these boyhood pals of long ago, in the local room of
The Oakland Daily Post. It was purely accidental.
The Virginia drummer boy was Charles H. Morey, now a dashing 70
years-young movie actor from Los Angeles, and familiar to millions of
movie fans the world over as the man who played the part of Robert E.
Lee in the "Birth of a Nation."
And the wounded Yankee boy -- who do you suppose? None other than
"Col." John Harwood Pierce, Oakland's "marrying
parson" and checf deputy in this community of Daniel Q. Pyd; also
vereran newspaperman, Indian fighter, inventor, pioneer bird man, and
all around soldier of fortune.
After that half century of waiting, and although the meeting was
entirely unpremeditated, they knew each other in a flash. The
recognition was instinctive and simultaneous. Of course, from time to
time, each had seen pictures of the other.
In newspaper offices the unusual is the usual thing, and the unexpected
frorms the stock in trade; but this was an episode that brought
everybody up all standing. The sort of thing that puts, just for a
second, a hot lump in one's throat and a kind of glow of vicarious
friendliness all over one.
One reporter determined to be sophisticated and blase until the last,
was heard to mutter something about "press agent stuff." But
it was not decidedly worth seeing; and a little later, when the swapping
of yarns began, it was worth hearing, too. It was better than a
Incidently, before they left the office, a vaudevill sketch was outlined
for the pair of them. In those far-off day at Camp Douglas, they did
sog and dance and minstrel entertainments together as boys before the
prisoners and hospital patients.
And now, here, in Oakland, fifty-five years later, they may repeat their
entertainment again as boys -- in spirit, at least.
That stuff about truth being stranger than fiction is bromide but it's
true once in a while, isn't it?
And such an inexhaustible fund of yarns they had to tell. Neither could
outdo the other. So, at last Morey told the colonel of his charming
young bride of thirty-five; it was the last and biggest shot in his
locker, and he watched with boyish eagerness for its effect.
But the patriarchial old frontiersman did not bat an eye. Instead, he
pulled out his watch and showed his boyhood friend the picture of his
wife, still on the sunny side of forty, and his 17-months-old
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