Appomattox and Bataan
152 years ago today, after 4 years of valiant and desperate fighting, General Robert E. Lee surrendered arms, on behalf of the South, to General U.S. Grant. Included in this surrender was our great-great-great Grandfather, John A. Ramsay, Captain of the 10th North Carolina Artillery, his brother Robert Ramsay, and future brother-in-laws Robert, Thomas, and James Beall. Each one of the Ramsays and Bealls distinguished themselves during the war, rising in the ranks and bravely leading their men. Each of them were wounded several times, but recovered to fight another day. John Ramsay, years later would happily recount the stories of his conversations with General Lee, a man he admired greatly.
But rather than just returning home to a quiet life, John Ramsay recognized the need to help rebuild the South from the tragedies of war, so he dedicated his life to the City of Salisbury (his home-town), following his surveying and engineering interests -including in the construction of one of the town's first sewers. Later he ran for and become Mayor of Salisbury. I think it says something that he was both respected by the old Southerners as well as the new Northerners.
77 years later to the day, on April 9, 1942, our great-great Uncle Private Israel Goldberg, son of Jewish Russian immigrants, surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army and took part in one of the most tragic events in our history, the Bataan Death March. Barely surviving the death march, he died a few months later in Camp Cabanatuan.
It is amazing to realize that both of our relatives, though on separate sides of the family, and from completely different backgrounds, each took part in such a historical and monumental event as the two greatest surrenders in American history: Appomattox and Bataan. They both had their ideals, they were both fighting for what they believed in. And we are quite proud to be their descendants.