In the Winter 1994 Alabama Heritage Magazine, my attention was caught by an article titled “When Shall Our Cup Be Full – The Correspondence of Confederate Soldiers James T. and Reuben M. Searcy” by Maxwell Elebash.
The story of the Searcy brothers, like many other young men during the War Between the States, is revealed in their wartime correspondence with each other and to family members in their hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Author Elebash, the great-great nephew of these men, was the great-grandson of their younger brother George Alexander Searcy. Elebash writes: “more than 150 letters from James and 33 from Reuben survive. From this correspondence, a moving tale unfolds, one similar to countless others in the South, but unique in that the Searcy brothers were literate individuals as well as astute observers of the people and events around them.”
Shortly before the December 28, 1862 battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, James Searcy wrote: “We are on the eve of a big battle…Orders have already come – I go into battle with a full hope and trust and confidence in God – both as regards my own welfare – and that of my country. I feel more for Reuben than for myself – God go with us.”
James survived the battle but his younger brother Reuben was mortally wounded. On January 7, Reuben died. His brother James was with him when he passed from this world to the next. James wrote “He (Reuben) died for his country. He died not fearing – but welcoming death, as a Christian, and was attended in his sufferings a great deal better than most soldiers are, receiving a decent burial.”
After the war, James became a doctor and in 1867 succeeded his father as president of the Alabama Insane Hospital. He named his eldest son Reuben.