The Mockingbird's Ballad (Chapter 4, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 4

It was strange, most strange. He had not thought of his mother in a long time -years. Yet his awake dream was of his mother, her light blue eyes, soft hands, lavender scent and sad face. She'd been dead over twenty years. His short life of 28 years had been full of upheavals and travels. His mother was gone when he was six. He was sent to live with Aunts, Mary and Augusta Hull, in Connecticut, a thousand miles away from his Augusta, Georgia home and his father, older two sisters and brother, William. On his 18th birthday, September 10, 1854, he was in West Point, New York and had been a plebe at the U. S. Military Academy for three months. He'd been in New York City that spring. His uncle Sterling Smith, his mother's brother-in-law, had wanted him to enter business with him, but the undersized Georgia teenager had other ideas. Through his persistence, his family relented and he got a five-year appointment, just extended from a four-year program, to the United States Military Academy at West Point. A distant relative, Congressman John Wheeler of New York, secured his place. Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee was in his first year as superintendent of the military academy in 1854 when Wheeler entered. West Point did become a home of sorts where the small cadet was known as polite, aloof and very serious. His sense of self would not allow him to be a little jester. He aspired to a dignified place in the scheme of things, short or not. That passage of training ended and he was posted to the strange barren scenery of New Mexico. There he was christened by fire as a professional soldier and officer. The Apaches were very effective teachers.

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