I like Kinston but I don't like General Pickett

The weather warmed up, and we are really enjoying our stay in Kinston. Randy has been fishing a couple of times and we are getting out to see the area. Yesterday we went to Pizza Villa for lunch. Pizza Villa has the most unusual restaurant building I've seen; inside it is full of balconies, gingerbread trim, and stuff on every wall that looks like it came from American Pickers. It's a surprising small space to have so much stuff, but it certainly gives you something to see, while waiting for lunch.
Today we went somewhere else for lunch and Randy ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. He wasn't expecting what he got...
We rode our bikes downtown today to look around. When a trail whistle announced a train was running through the town, we realized that Kinston retains a several small town attributes.
Kinston apparently used to be a thriving town but now a shocking number of stores are buildings are empty. The most lively stores open now seem to be unique shops. One is Parrotts, which is basically farm-related, with a lot of cute stuff added in. They sell Snake Oil, Two Old Goat tonic (we bought some), Cornhuskers lotion (I haven't seen that for years), doggy diapers, old-fashioned candy, seeds, planting potatoes - a ton of things, including live chicks. I'm pretty sure these are farm stock, not "Easter" chicks. They are Rhode Island Red pullets, which explains their pretty brown color, and reputed to be good egg-layers.
One of the things I enjoy the most about traveling is learning something new. In Kinston I learned something new, but not nice, about Civil War General George Pickett. He, of course, is famous for the disastrous "Pickett's Charge" at Gettysburg. After the war he headed for Canada and assumed the name of Edwards, but I never heard why he did that. My assumption was that it was just because he had been a general of the CSA, but it turns out that he had a much better reason to run. 
In 1864 he got b*tchy and started hanging captured Union soldiers who were assumed to be deserters from the Confederate States of America (CSA). In total he ordered the hanging of 37 men, and 22 of them were hung at Kinston. The charge was "taking up arms for the enemy"; that was bitter irony since Pickett's first commands were in the US Infantry, which meant that he, himself, was "taking up arms for the enemy". Some of the hung men were defectors from the CSA, some were never in the CSA, and some were in the CSA because they felt they had no choice, but remained loyal to US and made it to that side when possible.

Union General Peck tried to stop the hangings but the only means he had were letters, first formal and polite, then angry. After the first set of hanging he wrote Pickett that he was holding eight CSA officers hostage for the safety of the remaining North Carolina captives. Pickett wrote back that if Peck could prove the CSA officers had deserted from the Union army he would be justified executing them but otherwise "you will simply be guilty of murder." Pickett wasn't thinking clearly; if desertion from an oath of loyalty is justification for execution, Pickett was as guilty as anyone. 

I am not picking on Pickett or the CSA. I know both sides executed deserters, and I think it was horrible, no matter who did it. Since this was a Civil War, families and loyalties were torn apart enough; it did not help anyone to execute people for desertion. Pickett thought that the hangings would decrease desertions in his army. Instead desertions increased, as soldiers realized their commander was becoming unreliable and unstable.

At the end of the war Pickett unhappily learned that he was excluded from President Johnson's pardon on May 29th. Secretary of War Stanton specifically wanted to investigate Pickett for unlawfully hanging North Carolina citizens. Fortunately for Pickett, in his West Point days he became friends with Ulysses Grant. He petitioned Grant for help and Grant stalled the investigation until it died away. Another reason why Grant was a poor choice for President - good decisions on the battlefield, poor decisions everywhere else.

One year ago: Weird Teeth
Four years ago: The great Sequoias

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