Continued from 5-17-17…
It had been so long since the war ended, the family began to wonder if William was dead or not. He was one of the last ones to get out of prison, and he had such a long walk, it took him a long time to get home.
He often told of the hardships endured on his long and weary trek home, how hard it was to get food, because the Northern people were bitter and would not give him a bite. He told of crossing the state of Pennsylvania without a mouthful except raw turnips that he pulled from patches along the way.
When he got on down in the South, the people were glad to hand out food to him and would also give him a ride if they happened along with means of transportation.
At last he reached Effingham County, but it began to get dark and he was too weary to go home, so he stopped at the home of Capt. James Bird and spent the night. The next day Capt. Bird carried him home to his family.
The morning of his arrival, his mother was sitting on the porch and when she looked up and saw him coming, she said, “My God, it’s Willie,” and then fainted away. When his family came out to meet him he said, “Don’t get close to me for I am full of lice, and am not fit to touch.”
He asked his wife if there were any clothes or shoes he could put on. She told him that she had saved them for him and quickly got them out for him. A wash tub of hot water was placed in the smokehouse where he took a hot bath and put on the clean clothes. Then, he burned the rags that he had pulled off before going in the house with his family, which included the child he had not seen.
It was not easy for a soldier to come back home and adjust to civilian life, and he was no exception. It was said that for a while after his return home, he did not know where to start or what to do, there was so much to be done, and not being strong enough for hard work, he would go out in the yard and look around, and just stand gazing into space.
However, he soon set out to get food for his family. He went fishing and caught lots of them, for the streams were full of fish. He would salt and smoke them to be able to save them, so they would not spoil before they could use them.
After he was home one night, he dreamed that a goose had laid a big white egg in his horse’s drinking trough, and the very next day he got word that a friend of his had his horse up around Augusta and was sending it home if he could come to meet it. So he started out on the Augusta Stage Coach Road that ran from Savannah to Augusta, following close to the Savannah River. Somewhere along the way he met them and rode the horse home. This was a lifesaver to him, for now he could begin to live and work for his family again.
Down through the years there were more children, making a total of nine, seven girls and two boys. His wife Marion died Feb. 20, 1898, leaving him with children still at home. He lived with them until they all married.
His last years were spent with his youngest son, Walter Metzger. He lived to be 78 years old and was in fairly good health until he was stricken with Spanish Influenza, which proved fatal. He died on Jan. 30, 1919.
Because the influenza had reached an epidemic stage, they were not allowed to carry his body in the church for services, so a burial service was held at the graveside (Laurel Hill Church Cemetery). He was laid to rest beside his wife who had been a true and faithful companion to him, one who had shared all of his sorrows, as well as his joys.
This sketch was taken from the files of Historic Effingham Society. It was written by Mrs. Guy (Thelma Wilson) Exley for the Effingham County Hussars Chapter of the UDC in May 1964. William Washington Metzger was her husband’s maternal grandfather.