Finding someone with a direct link to the Civil War is rare but still possible. In East Tennessee we have met two "Civil War Sons" as a part of our Service & Sacrifice series. They tell us there are only a couple dozen "real sons" still alive.
James "Jim" Brown is 98 years old. Family records say his father was a rifleman during the Civil War. He was with General Robert E. Lee during the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse nearly one hundred forty-five years ago. If that number seems extraordinary consider America has seen 28 presidents since the end of the Civil War.
Mr. Brown was born in 1912 to a father who was 71 and a mother who was 43. He says his dad, James H.H. Brown, was a good father who survived the Civil War despite suffering two wounds in battle. He served all four years of the campaign in the Eighth Georgia Volunteer Infantry. His son recalls the tales of hardship that included going without shoes and food for long stretches during the fight. The junior Brown also explained his father held no ill will toward Union troops.
"He had no resentment that I ever heard against the Northerners...no one. It was just a job that he had to do. And he did for four years," said the junior Brown. He was just 11 years old when his father died. Mr. Brown, himself a veteran of the Navy, showed us some of the old photos he still has of his father but those are among only a handful of keepsakes he still has from his childhood. One vivid memory remains of his final bedside chat with his father.
"I remember kneeling right down by his bedside when he was dying and he said, now be good to your mother, I said I would," recalled Mr. Brown.
At age 98 Mr. Brown is still active. He played golf up to age 96. And back in October he attended the military funeral for the recently discovered remains of a Civil War soldier. He called it a fitting tribute to a soldier who might have fought with or against his own father.