‘This is my brother, and I have been shooting at him.’

About the American Civil War, you often hear that ‘brother fought against brother.’ Maybe it wasn’t really an everyday occurrence, but here is one interesting experience from the life of Samuel Newitt Wood, Kansas politician and infantry and militia officer in Kansas and Missouri during the war:

Col. Wood’s battalion of the Sixth Missouri Cavalry was composed of Missourians whose homes were in the southwestern part of the State. They knew the enemy, and were familiar with the country through which they were riding as scouts, and often one or two of these men, disguised as citizens, received valuable information. Some of them had relatives in the Southern army.

One day when his command was fiercely pursuing a band of fleeing rebels, Col. Wood found one of his men upon his knees, with his arms around a wounded rebel and shedding bitter tears over him.

He looked up and said : ‘O, Colonel, I never expected to come to this.’

‘What is the trouble?’ asked Col. Wood.

’This is my brother, and I have been shooting at him.’

’Well, put him in the wagon and take care of him,’ said Col. Wood.

The poor fellow recovered from his wounds, to the great relief of his brother, and also of Col. Wood.

(Wood, Margaret Lyon. The Memorial of Samuel N. Wood (1891). pp 91-92)
Winslow Homer drawing of a soldier giving water to a wounded man
Not a ‘brother-against-brother’ picture, just added for effect! Winslow Homer, Soldier Giving Water to a Wounded Companion, 1864. Cooper Hewitt collection, Smithsonian Design Museum.

ARB — 9 Sept 2020

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