In “A Confederate Odyssey” by Charles Hemming (December 1984), the young Confederate lands near the St. Mark’s Lighthouse. The lighthouse is still there, and the Battle of Natural Bridge, which decided that Tallahassee would be the only state capital not taken by Union forces, is still reenacted each year in the swamps of Wakulla County. Only fifteen years ago ammunition stored by the cadets in Tallahassee was unearthed on the Campus of the Florida State University, having been left when they marched off to battle.
In the same issue, the moving story by Everett Wood on the effect of Stephen Vincent Benêt on an Alabama ensign reminded me of my own introduction to that poet and storyteller. At that time I was stationed at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, with the 87th Infantry Division in the spring of 1943. Since passes into town were infrequent, I was fortunate to discover that the post library was close to our company street.
In browsing I discovered John Brown’s Body and, like Lieutenant Wood, I was enchanted, fascinated, and drawn into involuntarily memorizing. In the same library I found The Devil and Daniel Webster and Other Stories . Later, while in an Army hospital in England, I was fortunate to come across the Pocket Book of Americans by Rosemary and Stephen Benét.
Benét’s next book in the Western Star sequence was to have begun:
The gift, as Wood and I have found, greatly exceeded the worth placed on it by the giver.