No Greater Love
On The Blue Side of the Gray

    William Freemont III sat in front of the flickering computer screen, doing his best to finish his US history report on the Siege of Vicksburg. He loved history; when most 17 year olds were out skateboarding or playing baseball or video games, he was in the library digging through the dusty racks of books, looking for something new to read on the Civil War. Most of his friends didn't really know what to say about this love of history, he wasn't what one would call a geek nor could you classify him a stud or jock. He was two inches short of six foot even when he stood barefoot, his raven black hair was short and straight and he kept it parted to one side, when not at home he always wore his cap, it was one of those never-leave-home-without-it items. But now as he sat pecking at the keyboard, looking over his final draft for his final research paper of the year, he was dressed, or you could say underdressed, the way he liked it, his black hair was freshly washed and neatly combed, his pale skin clean and fresh as he sat at the computer in his chair in just his boxer shorts and socks. He let his dark blue eyes roam freely over the dark walls of his third floor bedroom. William's parents still couldn't understand his reasoning behind choosing this room over one on the lower two floors of the great rambling house on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland.

    The house was built in the 1760's, by the first Freemont to set foot on North American soil, James Wellington Freemont, soon after leaving England for the colonies. James used what money was left from the selling of the family estate, paid all debts owed by his late father, and packed his bags and headed for the coast, where he boarded the merchant ship North Star riding at anchor in the port of White Haven. The Atlantic crossing was rough in the heavy stormy seas with high winds and gales which beset the ship and crew two days out from port. Six weeks passed before the ship spotted land. He used his money wisely and invested in textile mills and the fur trade and soon the little money he had grew into a small fortune and he built the house and named it Escape. During the War of 1812 the British used the house as headquarters for a while, which spared it from the torch. James kept a journal his entire life and so...

    Last year on William's 17th birthday which fell on May 16th, the anniversary of the battle of Big Black River Bridge in the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, he was given the journal of the family patriarch, James Wellington Freemont. Each of the family branches  had a hard copy of the journal which was typeset and printed in 1866 by William the first. Twenty of the originals still existed and three were in this very house, including the original leather-bound journal. The journal was kept in a chestnut box lined with silk. The box was only inches bigger than the leather bound volume it held. The leather was worn and old but well taken care of. The chestnut box was kept cleaned and oiled and carefully carved in the top was, 'The Journal of James Wellington Freemont; The Beginning of Our Heritage'.

   It was an honor for him to accept the small worn brass key to the chestnut box in the great house's library located just off the formal dining hall. The great house seemed so empty at times with just him and his parents still at home. His four siblings were all older than him. His two sisters were both married and his two older brothers were at West Point.

  The Journal fell to him, he showed the promise of becoming the historian of the present generation. His two brothers never really cared about the writings of their forefather, but in their own way they too were carrying on tradition - almost every generation of Freemonts had a male heir to graduate from West Point since its founding, so his two brothers, Ryan and Ben, were there.

   He continued to reread his paper, looking for any little flaw that might have crept in unnoticed as he typed and listened to the soft music playing on his stereo, which was quite proper for his mood and train of thought, Bobby Horton's 'Homespun Songs of the CSA'. He often sang the words to 'Maryland, My Maryland' as he typed or read or just lay there in bed thinking. He had known for about three years that he was not like most boys, girls did nothing for him and most he thought were stupid. William at first did not know how to handle this difference, it was a weird foreign feeling until he discovered it also had its happy and pleasing reasons. He could enjoy all the boyish flesh he wanted as he watched the swim team shower after practice. Yes, being gay had its ups and downs, like the teasing some of his classmates threw on others who were out in the open, but he could take care of any bully that tried to mess with a Freemont and most of his classmates had heard of the reputation of his two older brothers. He cast his blue eyes upon the large oil painting that hung in front of his computer desk. The boys' eyes all were cast down as if they were looking back. The brass plaque at the bottom of the frame listed the three boys all in uniform, two in gray and the one in the center in blue. The center boy who looked to be no more than 20 was his great-great-great-uncle William but he learned everyone called him Billy just like most called him. The red haired boy on his right was Adam Ross and he thought the boy was handsome as well as the brownish-blonde on the left, Johnny Kingston. The location was Holloman Plantation in Yazoo County, Mississippi. He had looked up the county and state but the location of the house was not listed on any map he could find. His father knew the family held large tracts of land in Mississippi still and he often daydreamed that this place still existed today, from Billy's letters home it must have been a grand house. What he did not know was that after Billy had asked his father about Holloman House, his father had done some research on his own and learned that the house was on one of their tracts of prime timberland in southern Yazoo County and that it still stood. He also learned that the Kingston family still lived in the area. So with his secretary's help he located the phone numbers to John Kingston Sr. and dialed his office at the Sellers Building in Jackson, MS, and made arrangements for a visit once the school year was out for Billy. He also learned that John's son and his friend were also big Civil War nuts, as John referred to the boys'  hobby. William II smiled, maybe this trip would help Billy make friends who could understand his passion for history better than he or his wife and Billy's local friends. He knew not much happened in Baltimore except for the firing on the Union troops by citizens and the riots that followed and that the Frigate USS CONSTITUTION was moved from Annapolis to Boston to prevent her capture by Southern forces.

    William II knew Mississippi was full of history and a lot of people referred to it as that backasswards state in the South that still thought the War was still going on. He learned a lot about the Magnolia State from John in the long phone conversations and letters swapped back and forth between the two men. They were becoming good friends.

    Billy continued to work on his paper as he typed, then erased, then typed some more, he didn't know why he was being so finicky on this report but something drove him to perfection. He ran his right hand through his raven hair as he looked once more at the painting. The three smiling faces, all so handsome, standing tall erect in their uniforms, the great house in the background and the green lawn and gravel drive. He let his mind wander, the flickering screen forgotten as the candles burned low in their holders, his blue eyes dancing as he looked at the painting, his long slender fingers of his left hand rubbing his smooth stomach as he drifted from the present to the past in his mind, the research paper forgotten as he dreamed.

    William II was sitting back in his leather chair, his pipe stuck between his lips as he wrote the letter to John. In the great library three walls were covered in shelves packed with books, a ladder was mounted to the shelves so you could reach the very top shelves that reached almost to the fifteen foot ceilings of the main floor. The fourth wall was filled with large leaded glass windows so you could look out at the rolling green lawn and the woods that surrounded the house and property. Billy was the only boy at school who could boast a two mile long driveway and it often got laughs from his co workers and partners as well when one of the foremen from the mills came to visit him at home. The Freemont holdings contained everything from Boston Bookbinders to textile mills and timberland, stretching from the New England towns to the deep South and the Pacific Northwest. He stayed busy but one thing he promised was he would never be too busy for his family, just as his father before him. The great granite fireplace was unlit on this warm night, its mantel filled with reminders of the past, you could trace the Freemont history along its six feet of cool surface. A green bottle held tea leaves from the Boston Tea Party, then there was the splinter of wood from the USS CONSTITUTION when she was in her fight with the British frigate that earned her her nickname, "Old Ironsides". There was Billy's musket from the Civil War hanging above all the rest and pieces of granite from the roadbed of the Union Pacific at Promontory Point, Utah, where the Golden Spike was driven in the last link of the first Transcontinal Railroad. Each generation added a piece to this place, where paintings of their forefathers and mothers looked out upon the present who sat in the room carrying on their daily lives. William finished his letter and neatly folded it and placed it in the envelope and sealed it, then reached over for the ink stamp with the family crest on it. He placed the stamp and pressed down to leave the mark that sealed every letter he or anyone in the house wrote, once more it was a tradition. He stood and yawned and took the final puff from his pipe before laying it in the ashtray and he headed for the double folding doors after turning off the hurricane lamp on the large mahogany desk.

    The grandfather clock struck midnight as he walked past, his boots echoing on the hardwood floors that were polished to a shine. He climbed the staircase to the second floor, passing the bedrooms of his children that now were empty except for when they had time to come home and visit. He entered his bedroom that he shared with his wife Mary and kissed her before whispering he was going to go check on their special one before returning to turn in. He walked down the hall, then to the master staircase and climbed to the third floor of the great house and down to the corner bedroom that his youngest son called his, the only room that had a round turret tower and custom cut curved glass. He in ways understood why Billy, when he grew old enough to choose a room,, chose he one he did. He softly knocked on the door and there was no answer so he turned the brass knob and entered to find the candles burning low and the screen saver dancing on his son's computer and his handsome son, a product of his and Mary's love, sound asleep in his chair, the final draft of the research paper printed and stacked in the folder. He quietly took a glance at it and read what his son wrote as a smile formed on his face, causing his mustache to curl against his upper lip. 'My great historian, my proud son.'  He gently placed the paper back down and lifted his son in his arms and carried him to bed like so many times in the past and laid him down. He pulled the spreads up and over Billy and leaned over to place a kiss on his son's forehead. "Sweet dreams, my proud son," as he blew out the candles and only the rays of the full moon shone through the windows, bathing the sleeping lad in their pale silver rays. William walked out and shut the door as he headed once more to his waiting wife.

    The young William that everyone called Billy dreamed, while in the still of the April night spirits of the past entered the room on the gentle breeze that flowed outside the windows. They settled down upon the floor without a sound and stood arm in arm looking at the great oil painting of themselves smiling.

    "You know, Johnny, this painting belongs back at Holloman House." The spirit of Billy spoke in hollowed words, his angelic lips not moving.

    "Yes, it does, my dear friend, but we can not move it or even will one of the present to move it back, besides it looks quite nicely where it is above your old desk. even tho' I haven't the slightest idea what this contraption is that replaced your inkwell. It flickers like a candle but produces no heat"

    "Something of the future, my dear love, Johnny," Adam spoke as his gold tipped wings fluttered against the gray wool of his uniform. "I do know one thing, dear Billy, your future is safe and your great-great-great-nephew is very handsome just like you are."

    "That we all can agree on, sweet Adam. The hour draws late and we must soon go to check on our future, my love." They turned to look at Billy who had moved to the bed and was looking down on the sleeping form of William III and watched him lean over and place a feather soft kiss on the boy who dreamed of Dixie. Johnny and Adam joined him and each left one of their own as a blessing to protect him, before taking flight once more through the clouds, soaring above the world to Holloman House where two more boys slept arm in arm under the Starry Cross.

    "So, Brett, what we going to do?" Matt asked, looking over at his twin brother who was working on his own history paper. Brett hated history with a passion, there was nothing more boring than dried up facts about some war that took place over stupid matters like slavery.

    "Fuck, I don't know, bro. I know one thing tho', Billy is a fucking faggot and we don't need faggots ruining the good name of Saint Mark's Academy, on top of that look how he just breezes through the classes like they ain't nothing to them and always got the answers to the questions before anyone else can even try." Matt looked over at his brother who was lying on the bed, thumbing through a magazine, both boys were 17 with blue eyes and light straw blonde hair, cut short in Navy flat top pattern. "Fuck, who won Vicksburg anyway?"

    "I think we did after some failed charge or whatever you call one of those running attacks where everyone is cut to shreds by artillery fire," Brett replied, never taking his eyes off the blonde biker woman in the magazine.

    "I wouldn't mind running a certain fairy on the swim team into a bloody rout with my fists just to see if he would sprout wings," Matt said as he hit the print button on the computer to print out his research paper, it was the minimum length the professor allowed, three double spaced pages.

    "Yeah, Matt, that would be cool to see, just think, two hot sisters, two brothers at West Point, and Billy turns into a fucking faggot, I bet he even likes to cook,"  Brett said as he and his brother broke into fits of laughter.

    So, Dear Readers, here we are once more at the close of a very short chapter by my standards. Well, June was a busy month - I was in Texas the first two weeks and met my first named tropical storm, 'Allison'; we didn't get along too well as it tried to blow me off the bow of the USS TEXAS while I was taking photographs and as I watched the streets of Galveston flood before my very eyes. Well, the two week vacation was a nice one spent with a wonderful friend and his wonderful family. I also got to see San Antonio and the Alamo along with the other Spanish missions. I was very impressed. I could not leave out one of my favorite places in Texas, the Texas State Railroad; it is always nice to ride behind steam and listen to the chuff of the stack and the clank of wheels on rails. Even tho' I do it for a living I like to take a train not to get somewhere, I like it just for the ride. Railroad life has been busy as well since I have been home, combined with other things common to life. Well,. until next time, dear readers and friends.

Stephen W.

I must thank Ed for his wonderful work with all my chapters.

I must thank Peter for shining a little light on my darkest nights when nothing seems to go right.

I have completed my history of the Ironclad Cairo, which the USS BENTON in this story is partially based on. I would like to thank my friend Julio for editing my  Civil War Pages, thanks, my friend.

As always, I love to hear your comments at: and if you wish to chat you can reach me on AIM at Swarri1350 most nights.            click on the Civil War painting to go to my Civil War pages. I hope you enjoy them.