Chapter 7 Notes from Across Five Aprils

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Across Five Aprils Chapter 7

That spring, many friends and neighbors help the Creighton family. Farming equipments are brought for the family. The well is cleaned, and the fieldwork is divided among neighbors to do. To give the family some protection, Ed Turner's son brings a big dog that stands watch in front of the house every night.

There are stories circulating about the battles at Shiloh, and young Dan Lawrence who has been wounded in the war comes back home. George, his father, brings him to the Creightons to tell them that Tom has died. Tom and Dan had both been in the same fight, and after the first day of the battle, reinforcements had started coming in from the Tennessee River. The two of them had been waving at the boats when Tom was suddenly killed, not knowing anything.

Topic Tracking: Death/War 11

Soon, Ross Milton prints a letter in the town newspaper, condemning the men who terrorized the Creighton home. He tells them that Tom, a Creighton boy, has died for the Union cause while they have done nothing in their "patriotic zeal." After Tom's death, his name is written inside the cover of the family bible where dates of birth, marriage, and death are all recorded. The deaths of the three boys who died during the summer Jethro survived as well as the death of Mary are recorded. John and Bill's names are written, and above theirs are two twin girls, Lydia and Lucinda, who have married and gone to Ohio. At the top of the list is Benjamin, the firstborn of the family, who has long since left for California. Jethro teases Jenny that her marriage date will soon be written by her name, but she tells him that recently, she is too scared to make any future plans because of the war.

It is not only the Creighton household that is empty and forlorn. Laughter and recreation are rare in Jasper County, but one day, there is an episode that "[appeals] to the rough humor of the times." After the terrorizing of the Creighton home, Sam Gardiner, the owner of the general store in Newton, speaks out against the men responsible for the act. Worried that they would attack his store, he stands watch at nights to protect his shop, but the ruffians are cautious because Sam is a persistent good marksman. Tired of waiting for the attack, Sam deliberately spreads false news that he will be out of town on business. When the men attack, Sam is ready with his gun, shooting Guy Wortman in the buttock. When Ross Milton publishes the story, the community gets a good laugh, and Wortman is humiliated.

Also included in the papers is the story of a battle. Grant is demoted to assistant commander, and General Halleck leads the group slowly toward Corinth where General Beauregard has withdrawn with his Confederate army. When they finally get there, however, the town is empty and the Confederate soldiers have all been evacuated. The Confederate general had tricked the Union general into thinking that his soldiers were still there. It is an empty victory for the Union army.

Sitting by the kitchen porch, Jethro has many thoughts about the numerous generals whose names he has heard so much. All the Union generals like McClellan, Halleck, and Grant are ineffective and incompetent, each with his own weakness. He thinks to himself: "Ain't we in the right? And how does it happen, if we're in the right, that the Lord lets Jeff Davis get men like Lee and Jackson and gives us ones like McClellan and Halleck?" Chapter 7, pg. 118 This is what everyone including the President is thinking that summer.

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