This chapter focuses on prosecessionist “Fire-Eater” Edmund Ruffin, who was 67 years old when Virginia joined the Confederate States of America. Ruffin served briefly, but the hardships of military service compelled him to leave the army. John T. Bivins of Milledgeville also enlisted and was forced to leave. Bivins had run off to war at age 14. His father secured his army release from the commander in chief, Jefferson Davis, imploring the president to allow young Bivins to grow up before he performed honorable service for his country. Most soldiers, though, resembled Private James D. Gilliam of the Lynchburg Artillery. A 22-year-old unskilled laborer, Gilliam lived with his widowed mother and six siblings when he enthusiastically answered the initial call to arms in April 1861.
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