Papa Report #1


Papa Was A Boy in Gray Book Tour

with Prize-Winning author Mary w. Schaller


Report #1 from Robert E.: May 23, 2001

Greetings From Burke, Virginia

Robert E., Ulysses, and Abe's New Home:
Robert E.: Ulysses and I have settled nicely into our new home in Burke, Virginia. Abe is still getting used to the time change (after being wedged in a box with five of my brothers and flown across the country from California), so he's napping as I write this.

Burke Station Raid and J.E.B. Stuart:

Did you know we are living literally on top of a real Civil War site? I kid you not! Our new home is in the middle of a plot of ground that was a Federal Campsite in December, 1862.

The story, as we were told by our new friend, Mary, is that a famous Confederate general named J.E.B. Stuart [photo right] rode into the Yankee camp that late December afternoon…

Ulysses: You mean those Rebs snuck into our camp just as my boys were trying to cook their supper.

John Singleton Mosby:

Robert E.: Hush! It's my story! Anyway, General Stuart was accompanied by a regiment of Confederate cavalry that was led by his right-hand man, Col. John Singleton Mosby, otherwise known as the "Gray Ghost" [photo left]. They fired their guns -- in the air, so as not to hurt anyone.

Ulysses: It scared the dickens out of all those poor Union soldiers.

Robert E.: Hush up! Nobody was so much as scratched. General Stuart said, "Evening, boys" to the Yankees, then, polite as you please, he requisitioned their supply train to get food and blankets for the Confederate soldiers down near Fredericksburg, Virginia, who were freezing and starving in their miserable winter quarters. After all, the Yanks were always better supplied than the Confederates.

Ulysses: That might be one of the reasons why the North won the War.

Mosby's Rangers:

Robert E.: Never you mind, just let me finish. Once the cavalry got the mule train started down the road toward Fredericksburg, General Stuart ordered Mosby's Rangers [photo right] to tear up the nearby railroad tracks, so they wouldn't be followed any time soon thereafter. Then the general went into the telegraph office here in Burke, and he sent a telegram to the Federal Quartermaster General in nearby Washington, D.C., complaining about the poor quality of the Federal mules he was borrowing…

Ulysses: Stealing, you mean. We never saw hide nor hair of those mules again.

Robert E.: Well, there was a war going on at the time, you know. General Stuart always said that mule train made a mighty fine Christmas present for his boys. Anyway, once he finished his message to Washington, he had the telegraph wires cut so the Federal Quartermaster General couldn't send back a persnickety reply. Then they rode away to the South, wishing all the Yankees a Happy New Year. History calls this engagement the Burke Station Raid. You can find out more about it in the history books.

Ulysses: In the footnotes, you mean, because it certainly wasn't much of an engagement.

Robert E.: Now 138 years later, we three are living in a nice house on the old Federal campground, sharing lots of good food like honey cakes and salmon treats -- just for us bears.

Ulysses: And I know this story is true because Mary showed us the Civil War bullet she found in her backyard.

Robert E.'s First Book Signing:

Robert E.: This is the first picture of me! It was taken at a B. Dalton Bookstore at the Centre at Salisbury Mall, Salisbury, Maryland.

She took me along on one of her fiction book signings so I could get used to being with lots of people and having my picture taken. I was very warmly received by Suzanne Coleburn, who is holding me, and by novelist Linda Windsor as well. Everyone said I was the best-behaved bear they ever met.

Ulysses: Humph! That's only because they haven't met Abe or me yet.

Robert E.: Salisbury, Maryland, is thirty miles west of the Atlantic Ocean seacoast, and it is best known as the home of Purdue Chicken. And I do so love fried chicken! Sigh!