Family Friday, Genaolgy

Military Men in May…Osburn W. Gray

osburn was part of war that tore our nation apart, and rebuilt it to become a stronger one. The civil war, caused much strife. Osburn’s father didn’t believe in ownership of another human being.

His brother, Osburn’s uncle believed if he could buy slaves at the auction, he would save them. His uncle wanted to buy slaves, and have teach the slaves how to read and write. After each slave “worked off their value” they would be set free. Osburn’s father believed his brother was part of the supply and demand chain. Even though we have pity for the human beings being auctioned, we can not give into the “chain” we will be no better than the plantation owners.

Osburn and his brothers didn’t want to go to war. Everyone in Graysville was subscribed to fight for the South. Some of the meanest men in the county were guardians, constantly watching for anyone coming home that did not carry papers. Traitors would be met with severe and swift action. Osburn and his brothers were not looked upon kindly since his uncle educated black people, built a schoolhouse to teach the black people that lived on their farm. The town knew the black people at his uncles farm were not even called slaves.

Osburn and his family helped a woman named Mary to escape from an unkind slave owner. Osburn and his family owned a mill, and an inn. The house was near a state road going west. There was an inn, and stables at the inn for the horses.

One night Osburn and his brother were taking food to the horses, and came across Mary hiding in the stables. Mary wax breathing hard, her clothes were torn and bloody, the soles of her feet were raw from running so far. Mary was pregnant. Osburn and her brother went in the house to get their mom. She went out to talk to Mary. Mary told her of the place she ran from, and she promised Mary she would be part of the family.

Mary did become part of the family, and her baby was a girl, she named her Hazel. Hazel grew up with all the other children in the house. It was hard for Osburn to leave and fight for a side that he didn’t believe in, and to top it off the large plantation owners with the slaves, that believed in going to war, didn’t have to fight if the owned more than 20 slaves.

Osburn and his brothers went to fight on the side of the confederates. He and his brothers had the plan to get captured as soon as possible. Unbenouced to them was being a prisoner of war, even for those that believed in the cause, was no picnic. They were kept prisoner on a boat, and men were sick and injured all around them. A man died beside the brothers, yet the body was not removed. The brothers describe the flys as being worse than allowing the stalls to build up with excrement for a week. They were mistreated, and given little food and little water.

Life was not an easier at home. The county guardians were often going into any home and taking what they wanted. Women that had husbands at war were raped often, and left with no food for themselves. At Osburn’s house not only did the guardians take what they wanted, but the Yankees did too. There was food hid under the hay. Holes were dug in the barn, and staples were hid in the hole…hay over the food. Food was hid under the beds, in the closets, in the fireplace behind logs, strapped on the underside of the bed. Every room was searched.

The horses that came back home were confiscated. People were starving, the men coming to town were very destructive of lives…women being gang raped for days on end. Some of them would commit suicide. Bee hives were destroyed for no good reason. Some families would place rattle snakes in nooks and crannies where the men would be bitten. The only problem with this was, there were many men…the family would then be punished for setting this trap. Fires were set to homes that had nothing for the men.

When some men were in makeshift hospitals their loved ones were given the task to take care of them. Osburn and his brothers wrote often to their families. The families would not devulge how bad it was back home, since they were going through their own hell.

Once Osburn was released back to the confederates in a trade, he ran to West Virginia to live in the woods. He would climb trees, and even watch soldiers from both sides March right under him. He would have to hide everything, make sure his fires were out at night, eat anything he could find, or even go without food. Going to creeks and rivers for water was the riskiest, since people always needed water…there were people everywhere.

Osburn and Rebecca

Osburn made it back home after the war. He went through three marriages, had a total of 12 children. Moved from place to place for the rest of his life. He and his family struggled as laborers, taking any job, even having all the children work along side of him.

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