Confederate Joseph Jay’s land patent signed by Abraham Lincoln.

One of the most famous ironies of the Civil War is the story of Wilmer McLean. The first major battle of the Civil War at Bull Run raged across his property near Manassas, Virginia.

So McLean moved his family to a quiet part of central Virginia called Appomattox Court House. It was there almost 4 years later in McLean’s front parlor that Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

As you research your family’s Civil War history, be on the lookout for such twists in their stories. My own family’s history has at least one.

My great, great grandfather Joseph Jay bought his Jasper County, Mississippi, farmland from the U.S. government in 1861, the year the Civil War started. The federal land patent bore the signature of Abraham Lincoln.

Joseph, who owned no slaves, fought for the Confederacy as a member Co. G, 8th Mississippi Infantry. A year after Lincoln signed Joseph’s land patent, Joseph died of disease in December 1862 fighting against Lincoln’s soldiers around Chattanooga, Tennessee.

After the war, in 1870, Joseph’s daughter Emily married William B. Poore, who fought in the 16th Mississippi Infantry.

Have you found any ironies in your family’s Civil War history?

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