It’s been a week of tantalizing research leads. One of the more interesting leads walked in the door on Thursday morning. Mr. Johns from Tennessee came for a visit at the Museum and told us that during the Civil War, General Wallace was in Lavergne, Tennessee near Murphfreesboro when he was slightly injured. Mr. Johns’ great grandmother, Mary Neal King, doctored him in their home. It probably wasn’t a serious wound, but the care he received must have touched his heart. Shortly after Wallace was bandaged and left the area, Union troops came through and burned the King home to the ground, dismantled the barns, destroyed the crops and took the livestock. The family left Lavergne and moved to nearby Smyrna where they purchased the home in which Mr. Johns was born.
And now, as they say, for the rest of the story. I remembered a poem that Wallace wrote that may corroborate the Johns family story. No names are mentioned, but the parallel is intriguing.
LINES ADDRESSED TO THE LADY WHO BANDAGED
MY CUT FINGER – AN AFTERTHOUGHT
By Lew Wallace
‘ Twas a little thing, a simple kindness,
Yet I cannot pass it by;
The blood drop from the wound you answered
With a tear-drop in your eye.
O lady dear! “Twas worth a world of thanks –
Not the thanks which wait on words,
The blund’ring syllables that too often
Fly amiss like blinded birds.
No; but those best told in ling’ring kisses;
And so I would have spoken,
But that another’s wedding seal upon
Your lips remains unbroken.
Ah! The pang of the lazy after-thought,
Laggard of the next day’s calm!
What if I had snatched your hand, and left
A kiss in the pearl-red palm;
Then clasped the fingers close the while the kiss,
Warm as fire and pure as dew,
Thrilled your heart and all its restful heaven?
Say if he had cared – would you?
(Published by Harper’s Monthly, January 1888)