John Harwood Pierce: Ranger of
the Plains

  Biography:     Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6    
  Genealogy:     1st     2nd     3rd     4th     5th     6th     7th     8th    

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.


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 vaudeville headliner.

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 baby.

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Send all inquiries to the author, Barbara Case, at:  ~  Last Updated March 6, 2003