Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bible Stories

Wartime euphemisms are nothing new. During the Atlanta battles in 1864, one of Sherman's soldiers took a fancy engraved Bible from a home in Decatur, Georgia. The Good Book eventually ended up in a Yankee home, with the inscription "Captured in Decatur, Georgia. July 20th 1864."

Sort of reminds of the old Indian chief's quip about the Union troops in "Outlaw Josie Wales": "I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender. They have him pulling a wagon up in Kansas I bet."

In writing about the Bible, the Journal-Constitution doesn't claim the book surrendered. But they use verbs like "taken," "stolen," or "snatched." The probable correct term, "looted," doesn't make it into the AP or the AJC copy.

But the Bible -- captured or stolen -- turned into an American story as two families opened its cover to tell their stories.

Wood and Spencer probably never actually met, but their families were bound by the purloined Bible for decades. On pages reserved for weddings, births and deaths, the histories of both families — the Woods and the Spencers — are meticulously documented.

Confederate on the left.

Union on the right.