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Although the death angel severely afflicted the Alfords of Daviess County in southwestern Indiana during the Civil War, it could not have chosen a family as well-grounded in their religious beliefs or as confident in their future reunion beyond the grave. In the mid-1840s, Franklin Alford had helped found the Christian Church in the town of Alfordsville, and he and his wife Mary devotedly reared their seven children in the faith. They also instilled an intense patriotism in their sons, and the oldest, twenty-two year-old Warren, enlisted with the 14th Indiana in the spring of 1861. In his letters, Franklin frequently emphasized God's protective care for his son, and Warren responded by acknowledging his submissiveness to the sovereignty of God over his life. "We have reason to believe that our life and our health is peceous [precious] in the sight of our heavely Father," Warren professed from Cheat Mountain in western Virginia, "and we do not dout for one moment but he will bring us back home safe if it is for the best." However, if God saw fit for him to perish, he expected to meet his family in heaven. "Let us live so that if we neaver meat on eart[h,] ... we may be prepared to live togethe[r] aroun[d] the throne of God where parting and crying will be no more." (1) As the spring of 1862 approached, Franklin remained hopeful that his separated family, which now included the absence of twenty year-old Wayne and eighteen year-old Lafayette serving with the 6th Indiana, would someday be reunited at home. "I feel asshured that if it is the Lords will," he related to Warren, "we... [will]all meet again in the family circle with the propper use of our bodys and minds." If parental pride happened to well up in his heart it could be forgiven, for his sons not only conducted themselves as courageous soldiers but consciously strived to live as Christians in the army. The past winter, Wayne and Lafayette, while affirming their intent to maintain a godly testimony, also expressed a readiness to the if necessary. "Our desire is that we may be soldiers and Christians while it is ours to live," Wayne wrote for the two of them on January 30th, "and if we never meat on earth let us live so that we may meat in heaven." Their days were numbered indeed, for that spring Lafayette contracted a campdisease and died at home in May. Still fighting in the Shenandoah Valley, Warren took the news in stride, insisting to Wayne on June 13th that "we sorrow not as those that have no hope." Wayne, however, never received the letter, for he died of typhoid fever the next day. Unbeknownst to Warren, he had been confined to a field hospital at Corinth, Mississippi, since the beginning of June, too ill to be transported back to Evansville where his parents might have visited him. Warren tried to remain optimistic and consoled his parents with the thought that God had permitted the deaths of his brothers. "We are brought to see the powerful hand of god upon our family," he maintained, "but I hope we will bair the trials as best we can." The promise of an eternal home, he reminded them, gave consolation and hope that their family would be reunited again. "If this earthly house of our tabernacle is desolved ... [and] we have done our heavenly fathers will," a stipulation they knew Lafayette and Wayne had attempted to fulfill, "we [have a] house high up in the Heavens not made with hands their to dwell for eaver and ever." (2)

22 juin
Journal of Social History

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