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The Sweet Smell Of History

May 2024
1min read

Philip Myers, whose memories of the Gettysburg reunion of 1913 con- tributed greatly to Bruce Catton’s “The Day the Civil War Ended” in the June/July, 1978, issue, has sent along an addendum to the story: “There was a Confederate veteran shoemaker in Westminster, Maryland, where I attended college. He had been to the reunion, so we had much in common, despite the disparity of our ages.

” ‘You saw [the re-creation of] Pickett’s charge,’ he told me one day. ‘You saw the Stars and Bars waving. You heard the Rebel Yell. But you can’t claim to be a Yankee veteran if you have never smelled Confederate powder. I’ll fix that.’

“In his tiny shop that winter day in 1914 a small egg stove glowed redly. He opened a chest, pulled out an envelope from which he shook some black flakes into his open hand. He drew me closer to the stove, held me tightly, and commanded: ‘ Smell! ’ A small cloud of white smoke filled the air as the gunpowder fell on the hot metal. I sniffed deeply.”

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