Writing Prompt – Family Torn Apart

This prompt is interesting to me in that it is literally based off events that happened in my family back in the 19th century. One of my ancestors was in a large family. At the time of the American Civil War more than half of the siblings sided with the South. The remaining four sided with the North. Three of these four fought in the war, one of them my ancestor. I’m sure there are hundreds and thousands of stories like this of families being torn apart by the war. This one is my family’s.

To keep the following story from being more confusing than it needs to be, I will give you the names of the four brothers who sided with the North. The oldest of the four was James. Next was Levi, who was my ancestor. Levi and Andrew, the second from youngest of all the siblings, were the two who died in the war. The youngest was George. I usually don’t use names of real people, but all of the people in this post have been dead for more than one hundred years and this could get confusing without names.

During the war two of the brothers, Levi and Andrew as mentioned above, died. I think Andrew died in battle or from an injury received in battle. Levi was a prisoner of war. Levi’s pension went to his widow to care for her and their five small children. Andrew, however, was single, so his money, which might have been back pay or a pension, was supposed to be split between his surviving siblings who did not side with the South. I know this because of the lawsuit mentioned in the prompt. A fellow descendant of these siblings found a lawsuit between James and George which had tons of valuable information for us as descendants researching our family trees.

From the lawsuit I learned that James raised Andrew and George, who were the youngest two of the family, after the deaths of their parents in the early 1850s. He believed that having been the de facto father to his two brothers made the money Andrew left behind his as I don’t believe there was a will and got George to sign away his part when, if I recall correctly from the transcript, he was drunk. There is a lot more that occurred before the lawsuit and I think George was actually the one suing, trying to get his inheritance.

I’d love to go on and on about this, because I love learning about my ancestors, but this is about the prompt. This is the story from my family’s past, but that doesn’t have to be how you use the prompt. You can use it however you choose and if I ever use it, I will probably change the real story to fit whatever fiction story I am doing. Does this prompt inspire you to use in your war story or as a backstory for your character in peace time? How would you use it?

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