Emily Dickinson's Confederate Uncle:
"Clad in Victory" by Virginia Dickinson Reynolds

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   By the time I had heard this story, we were not taking the
consequences of this rather unfriendly advertisement seriously,
of course, as the war was long over, and my father was very
much alive, although he fought through three years of that
bitter conflict.
   The passionate strain in the Dickinsons which produced the
white heat of Puritanical virtues in New England, made of my
father an enthusiastic and unreconstructed "rebel" in the
Confederate States.
   The only member of the Amherst family who consistently
communicated with our own particular branch was Katherine
Dickinson, sister of Edward and my grandfather, wife of Mr.
Daniel Sweetser, and the mother of Mrs. Edward Winslow of
New York.  "Aunt Katie" was an opulent myth during my
childhood, for she always sent me lovely and mysterious Christ-
mas boxes each year.  When my father was a small boy, he
often expressed an ardent wish to "marry Aunt Katie", so there
was, at least, this slender thread of love between the political
antagonists in our family.  This slight personal background is
necessary in order to explain my first meeting with my dis-
tinguished cousin, Martha Bianchi.
   A little more than twenty years ago, while motoring from
Canada to Connecticut, I happened to land in Amherst, quite
casually, and I was anxious to see the house in which my
grandfather was born--the same one in which Emily lived.  I
entered one of the local banks to enquire the way to the Dick-
inson house.
   In the friendly, helpful, New England manner, an elderly
gentleman, with a magnificent white beard, asked me a few
questions, and gradually, between the two of us, we established
the fact that I was born a Dickinson, but had never been in
Amherst before, and that I had a desire to view, from the out-
side, a building which had exercised a vital influence on my
being to say the least.  The venerable gentleman was more
than kind.  He was interested in my story and insisted upon
telephoning Madame Bianchi, and explaining who I was.  I
was shy of that introduction, because I had the idea that the


from Guests in Eden (New York: Zeta Chapter, Phi Delta Gamma, 1946)

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Transcription and commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Last updated on February 22, 2008
Maintained by Lara Vetter