Angel in Gray

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Angel in Gray
 ”The soldier from beyond!”

It was just prior to his ascension into heaven that Jesus, in speaking to his disciples regarding the great commission said, among other things, “… lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” {Matthew 24:20}.  We do not always appreciate the literal meaning of those words, until trouble comes, whether in the form of a hurricane, tornado, flood or else a destructive storm.  Sometimes trouble comes our way in the form of a terrible accident, decease, or else an illness like cancer, which makes the words of Jesus crystal clear, when he said “…lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

Have you ever escaped a deadly accident by seconds or even inches, an accident that should have killed you?  Perhaps you have been caught in a helpless situation, held down under a fallen tree, trapped in a crushed automobile or some other like situation.  Then out of nowhere you found yourself being rescued by some unknown stranger!  The below story is told of a boy known to his friends as ‘Bobby’ who finds himself caught up in the middle of a miracle; consider these words of Scripture as you read the below story.

”But beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” {II Peter 3:8}

“Miracle of Petersburg Battlefield”
Wednesday 2 April 2003

Do Angels always come with wings and a white hallo of light over their heads, or dothey
sometimes arrive among us unawares, in the form of someone we know or have known.

The two of us boys, William “Bobby” Allison and Matthew “Matt” Masterson had grown up together, and were home schooled from the first grade threw high school.  Their parents James and Alicia Allison along with Walter and Eloise Masterson were ‘Civil War Reinactors’ so Bobby and Matt were accustomed to seeing their fathers dressed in Confederate Uniforms, and their mothers in Southern Belle dresses.  Bobby and Matt enjoyed a little showing off of their own every now and again, even as little boys they’d dress up in their Confederate Uniforms, and charge across imaginary fields of battle.  Riding a much smaller horse at the time, more suitable to their size!

The fathers of the two boys who preferred to be called by their friends, as Jim and Walt, took part in the 125th reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg, as younger men.  The Gettysburg reenactment included the reassembling of a sizeable portion of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, and repeating a goodly portion of the long march from Virginia into Gettysburg Pennsylvania.  All this included a Blue Gray Cannon Salute, upon arrival at the Battlefield Park!  However on this coming occasion, a reenactment of the Battle of Petersburg and the collapse of the Richmond front were to take place, a battle which lead to the evacuation of the Confederate States Government from the city.
It was on the occasion of the Petersburg Battle that General A.P. Hill was killed near Richmond!  The reenactment team, after the Petersburg reenactment, would move on to Appomattox Courthouse, then three months later on 1,2 and 3 July, the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg!  Bobby and Matt both looked forward to the coming reenactments with eager anticipation!  The Battle of Petersburg reenactment was special to both of us boys, inasmuch as, since they were now 13 years of age, being only a few months apart in age, and rapidly approaching manly size.  On this occasion however, their fathers were allowing the boys to ride with the grown men, as Cavalrymen.
Horses and the care of horses was nothing new to Bobby and Matt, since their families lived on ranches adjacent to each other, which were located at the foothills of western Virginia, where the Shenandoah meets the mountains.  The two ranches together covered a space of nearly 1100 acres, of the finest land to be found anywhere!  In the time before the northern barbarians invaded our nation and homeland, this region was so beautiful, it was believed that God himself had walked this land, and touched it with his glory.  Beyond our two ranches, toward the mountains was open range for miles, so Bobby and Matt, as young as five years of age, during their spare time, often rode the high country.

Horses and the care of horses came natural to both boys; sometimes while still quite small, they’d put on their boyhood Confederate Uniforms, take with them their toy swords and mount their stallions.  Then looking down and across the valley below, the two boys would draw their swords, give the command, and charge down those hills at an imagined approaching Yankees Army.  But now they were both older and wore real Confederate Uniforms, carried real swords, and the mission at hand was the Battle of Petersburg!  At Petersburg, they would renew old acquaintances and meet friends they’d known since the days they crawled on their hands and knees while wearing diapers.

On the ranch the boys were accustomed to rising early, doing an hour or two of chores, before having a hardy breakfast then getting on with their schoolwork, though on this day they’d be excused from hitting the books.  The day had finally arrived, the day of departure for Petersburg, which was the day before the reenactment!  After their usual morning chores the boys on their separate ranches, along with their fathers and mothers, made preparations to travel to the Petersburg Battlefield Park.  Among other items, the men and boys pack up their Uniforms, swords, leatherwork, saddles and other accoutrements, and finally the horses along with several days of feed.

While the ladies prepared to take with them, their Southern belles Dresses and other such things as ladies require, and after what seemed like an eternity, the two families managed to make contact with each other, just before departure.  They all joined together and hit the road, looking much like a convoy, traveling in two pickup trucks with double horse trailers, and the ladies in a separate SUV type van and pulling a camper.  All heading east toward Petersburg!  They arrived about two and a half hours before dark and chose a campground not far from the Battlefield Park, a park that was accustomed to dealing with reinactors and their unique needs, such the stabling of horses.
The Reenactment of the Battle of Petersburg

The reenactment was to take place at 10:00 in the morning, so everyone agreed to meet at the Battlefield Park at 9 O’clock, allowing for a little socializing while setting up for the big performance.  While everyone was mingling and chattering back and forth, Bobby couldn’t just stand and wait, but saddled his horse, placed his sword in its sheath and rode out across the field.  His horse, now a two and a half year old, was of a golden brown, in color and like his former stallion, which he named Sorrel, after Stonewall Jackson’s horse.  The two of them had already spent much time together, and were well acquainted!

As he rode across the field, the breeze blowing in his face, Bobby smiled openly, almost to the point of laughter; it was a good day he thought to himself.  Bobby hardly notice as the Blue Bellies moved across the field and began to form their battle lines, about as close as possible, allowing for modern realities, to the way it was back then.  That is until his old friend Matt came riding across the field, hollering, “Bobby, Bobby, its time to get in position for the reenactment.”  Bobby finally came to himself, turned and waved his sword in the air, “all right Matt, I am coming,” smiling and laughing all the way, while giving that ole historic Rebel Yell.

Bobby’s father James was among a group of mounted Confederate Cavalrymen gathering at the point where the battle line was even then taking shape, Matt’s father Walter was to his left.  Looking at his son, he remarked, not to anyone in particular, but merely as a man proud of his son, that boy is becoming a man, all to soon.  Walt looking at the father of his own boy Matt’s friend remarked almost in jest, “Yes Walt, and it appears that taming him would be like catching the wind and putting it in a bottle.”  The two men simply smiled at the thought, and continued their preparation for the reenactment, which was soon to begin.
Bobby rode up close to Matt, bent his head toward his lifelong friend, positioned on his right, and said in a somewhat low voice, “Today, we win the Battle of Petersburg … today we take down those Yankee Blue Bellies.”  Matt couldn’t help but notice the look on Bobby’s face, he was reminded of a fox that just raided the henhouse and caught him the fattest chicken in of the ranch, the way he was wearing that mischievous grin.  “No Bobby, we can’t win today, it is a reenactment and we got to play it the way it happened back then, you can’t change history Bobby.”  Bobby gave no reply but turn his mount and rode of toward his own gray battle line, now taking shape, laughing openly as he rode.

“Today we get those Yankees Matt, today will be a gray victory day!”  Matt watched his friend riding off and just shook his head, “I love these reenactments he thought, but as for Bobby, he was just born in the wrong century.”  Matt knew that his friend Bobby in so many ways was mature beyond his years, and a romantic about the Ole South, believing it was a time of splendor.  A time of Christian Warriors and their fair ladies, so it was inevitable that he would drift off from time to time, thinking, if only for a moment, that he was really there.  And in his mind he was indeed reliving he past, finding himself in the midst of battle, defending family and homeland, against the barbarian invader from the north.

It took another 30 minutes but all in due course the two armies, blue and gray, were lined up in opposition, the two boys were approximately in the middle of the right flank, toward a stand of trees.  Matt looked at his ole friend positioned just to his right, and he was a wee bit worried, the two had prepared for this moment for most of their lives, but just maybe Bobby was a wee bit too prepared.  His face bore the expression of a real soldier, and Matt feared to guess what his buddy was thinking.  Matt glanced at Bobby one more time, then turned forward so as to concentrate on what was taking place, waiting for the command to charge.  “Maybe I am just a worry wart”, Matt thought to himself!
There was no longer a grin on Bobby’s face, but the series look of a soldier who had turned to a battle mode!  As Bobby looked across  the battlefield, then at Matt, his mind drifted back across four generations of time, in his minds eye it was no longer 2 April 2013, but 1865, and he was a real Confederate Cavalryman, facing  off against Union Soldiers just across the field.  He could see that Yankee Army was out there alright, no doubt they had hungry eyes looking to ransack, burn our Capital City of Richmond, slaughter it citizens, and  rap its women.  Matt looked at his friend Bobby, ”be careful Bobby, I am concerned, you got that look in your eyes!
Bobby remember, this is not a real battle, but a reenactment!”  Matt thought to himself, ‘as the old saying goes, Bobby has blood in his eyes!’  But in his own mind, Bobby positioned next to his own forefather in the battle line.  Those blue clad reenactors out there across the field were real Union Soldiers, soldiers whom he considered barbarians.  Matt knew within himself, he wasn’t getting through, Bobby’s mind had reverted backward in time!  It was as if the spirit of his great-great grandfather moved across the spance of time from the past to the present, and was posseing Bobby.  Matt thought for a moment, maybe he should tell Bobby’s father, then he reconsidered, ‘well, he’ll be alright I am sure!’

Matt’s attention was soon drawn to the center of their line, the buggle was sounding, their commander was pointing his sword forward, gaving the command to charge, the battle reenactment was on, and Matt quickly lost track of Bobby.  The middle of the Confederate line moved forward, and soon the clash was on, musket fire, cavalry and infantry all clashing, sword to sword.  The Confederate left moved to outflank the Union right, while the right was to take on the Yankee left!  But  Bobby, after the initial contact with the enemy, move much further out to the edge of a stand of trees then was the planned, hoping to outflank his Yankee oposition, so he suddenly disappeared from sight.

Miracle in the Woods
Matt suddenly catching sight of Bobby some distance to his right, and seeing him move toward a stand of trees, he turned back to get a better look.  He ducked his head low as he passed through and under the low hanging limbs!  The knee high cavalry boots protected his legs, as his horse moved forward through the thick bushes and shrubs.  Matt brought his horse to a halt at the edge of a clearing, which was about 100 yards across, and there about 70 yards away he saw a disaster, Bobby’s horse had obviously stepped into a goffer hole.  There lay Bobby on the ground, no doubt unconsciese, the horse lying atop his legs, given the fall and the horse’s weight, Matt figureed the worst.

Matt looked at the scene and decided to approach, so as to see what he could do, if anything!  Suddenly a Cavalryman moved out of the trees from the opposite side of the clearing.  He was dressed in gray alright, but he was dirty and grimmy, having what appeared to be blood stains on his uniform; this soldier was ragged, he was unshaven, having several days growth of beard, and he appeared as if he had actually been in combat.  His horse was most unusual in a way, a stallion like his own, but gray in color, with a black tail and maine, having black spotches on his sides, which appeared much like smears of his gray coloring.

Matt slowly rode closer to this stranger, the soldier was now looking down upon his friend Bobby with his horse atop him, and taking notice that Bobby’s horse showed no signs of life.  Before Matt could even dismount, the stranger in gray bent over slightly, petted Bobby’s horse on the neck and spoke to him, “its time to rise up now boy, get up and let the boy go.”  The horse suddenly stirred to life, wrestled about finally regaining his bearing, then arose and stood errect looking down at the man in gray, as if seeing an old friend.  Then the man in gray turned again to Bobby, who was still laying unconsciese on the ground, the man in gray reached down and touched him on the shoulder.

Then after a moment he spoke to bobby, who himself showed no signs of life, “rise up young soldier of the Confederacy, rise up, your fiends await you.”  The man in gray stood upright, as if waiting for something to happen, then suddenly Bobbly began to stirr, rolled over on his back and looked up at those now standing round about.  Bobby uttered a few words, which were barely varly auditable, “What’s going on here, what happened to me?”  Matt was about to speak, when the man in gray reached down and took Bobbly by his right hand, “come now son, its time to stand to your feet.”  Bobby seemed groggy but otherwise alright, he stirred a bit, turned to one side, then arose to his feet slowly!

Matt was so awe struck by what was going on before him, that as he looked at Bobby he turned to thank the man in gray for his help, he was startled to find that somehow he had simply disappeared.  Where had he gone so suddenly, Matt and now Bobby looked about to see if maybe he was standing nearby, maybe he had moved to a position behind them.  But after searching in every direction they realized he was nowhere to be found, so the two boys look about at the scene, and the goffer hole that caused so much trouble.  Then they both walked their horses out of the stand of trees toward the scene of the reenactment, whatever state of mind had previously possed Bobby, he was clear headed now.

Explaining a Mystery and the Man in Gray
Just as the two boys broke though into the clearing, the fathers of the two boys rode up on their own horses, paused and step down from their mounts.  Looking at the boys, Jim, Bobby’s father spoke first, “Where have you boys been, what happened to you?”  Walter looking at his own son Matt, began asking a few questions of his own, “Indeed Matt, what has happened here, you two boys look as though you’ve been involved in your own private war.”  Bobby looked first at Matt’s father Walter Masterson, then at his own dad Mr. James Alison, then in a low voice he said, dad what I have to tell you is so strange and unusual, I’d rather wait until we are all relaxed over supper.

Seeing the two boys were alright, both Jim and Walt looked at each other in agreement, as they nodded there heads, Jim speaking for both of them, “alright boys, we’ll hear your story later.  The four men walked their horses across the field, neither Bobby nor Matt ask anything about the reenactment, which was obviously over or the missing time which had elapsed.  However, it did appear to both boys, that more time had passed back in that clearing then they had inticipated, and the position of the sun on the horrizon told them, the day was wearing on.  The four of them never did remount their horses but walked them all the way across the field to where the women were standing next to the horse trailers.

The six of them returned to the camp grounds, stabled their horses, refreshed themselves and decided to eat at the local resturaunt for their eveing meal, which was just after dark by the time they had settled into a booth and order their meals.  It was the custom of both families to say  grace before eating, but after grace and a little polite conversation, both sets of parents wanted a little more information as to what had happened back at the Battlefield Park.  First Bobby told his side of the story, then Matt followed with his own side, but Bobby’s father Jim got real interested when Bobby began to describe the Man in Gray, who came seemingly out of nowhere.
Jim was wearing a lite weight sports jacket with a breast pocket inside on to his left!  He reached inside and pulled out a vary old picture, sealed in a well fitted transparent celefane envelope.  He handed the picture across the table to his son Bobby and in a low tone asked, “Is this your man in gray Bobby?”  Bobby was known to have a sharp eye, and as he looked carefully at the picture his facal expression turned to one of astonishment, “Dad, this is the man, as old as this picture is, still it is the man Matt and I saw back in that clearing.  Jim and Walt looked at each other, then at the ladies!
“Son, everytime I go to a reenactment, I carry that picture, it is your great-great grandfather Private Timothy Masterson, he rode with General A.P. Hill and both men died at the Battle of Petersburg.  I have no idea as to how you to boys could have seen Private Timothy Masterson 150 years after his death, back there in that clearing in the woods, but this is the man in gray, as you both have describe him, and have born witness by viewing his picture.  Walt looked at the two boys, “Jim, this is a strange story, but one things we do know, these are honest boys, they have never been known to lye,and while we may never have a clear explanaton, we do know the story they have told us, is the truth.

We can only judge, that in some way, known only to the Almighty God himself, the man in your picture and the man they described, are both the same man.  Alicia Allison, Bobby’s mother was deep in thought as to what had happened to her son, and she finally come to a decision on the matter, “How about we take Bobby to our family doctor when we return home, and see what he has to say?”  They all agreed that was a good idea, even Bobby reluctantly decided, he would not protest a trip to the doctors office.  The day had ended all to soon, and as they turned in for the night, each of the six had something to think about, was it a strange mystery or merely a miracle from God Almighty?
It was several days before they all settled down to their normal routine, deciding to skip the trip to Appomattox Courthouse until the book was close on the entire situation.  Three days later Bobby found himself sitting in Doctor Colon Jenkins office, their family doctor!  After hearing a kind of general rendition of the same explanation Matt and Bobby had told their parents, the doctor made a few tests and X-rays.  Finally he called Bobby’s parents into his private office, where he showed them the X-rays and the test results.  Jim and Alicia looked at the doctor and listened carefully, “Is there anything wrong” asked Alicia?
Doctor Jenkins arose and smiled, “no, not at all, quite the contrary, Bobby is as healthy as any young man his age, any that has ever entered my care.”  Jim was somewhat puzzled, “what is it then doctor, was his ancles broken or not?”  The doctor pointed to the X-rays, concentrating on Bobby’s ancles, “see that hairline on the image?  It isn’t a defect in the image itself, it is mark on the bone where somehow both of Bobby’s ancles were broken, crushed is a better word.  But then, somehow these bones were reset and fused back together, as if nothing had  ever happened to them.”  Jim looked at the X-ray image, then at the doctor, how doc, what happened to my son?”

Doctor Jenkins looked first at the boys mother, Alicia, then at the boys father James, “What I am about to say isn’t in any medical book, and I’ve set more then my share of broken bones, and I’ve patched up more human flesh then I can remember.  The field of medican has been my life long profession, and I can only tell both of you, this boy’s ancles were crushed, the bones and flesh were somehow miraculously put back together as if none of this had ever taken place.  I can only say, this situation has all the earmarks of an intervention by a physician with powers much higher then my own.  I believe that if you want a more definitive answer, you might wish to consult this boys creator!”

The next morning Bobby was back at his chores, among them was tending to his trusty horse Sorrel, and Bobby started by giving him a little oats and a brushing, then before letting him out to paster for the day, he brushed a few more strokes on his neck.  As he was finishing brushing, the horse looked at him and winnied!  Bobby looked back at him and smiled, “what are you looking at Sorrel, if you hadn’t stepped in that goffer hole, that angel would not have had to come all the way from heaven’s glory, just to save your next, as well as mine own.  Don’t look at me that way, you were party to this miracle just as well as I was, and you know just as well as I, we were both either dead or dying.”
Sorrel nudge at Bobby’s chest with his snout and winnied once more, as if to indicate he understood!  As Bobby lead his horse Sorrel out of the barn, he patted him again on the neck a wee bit, the two looked at each other, as Bobby said, “that grass out there looks pretty tasty, and the water in the creek today is crystal clear, have a good day my friend, have a good day.”  Bobby decided he wanted to turn all these things over in his mind a little more, there was much he didn’t know, but one thing was clear to him, a messenger from God had visited him in his hour of desperate need, and saved both him as well as his beloved horse.  And that he felt like that was more then miracle enough!

God save the Confederacy




"Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history, and denies them their symbols, has sewn the seed of its own destruction." --- Sir William Wallace 1281 A.D.