The National Order of the Blue and Gray was founded in 1989 by Sunni Bond and reorganized in 2007. Ms. Bond conveys the Order’s history in the context of her own ancestors having provided the catalyst for its conception, as follows:
For several years, the following story was told about my ancestors, the McCr(e)ary Family of Tennessee, until finally Hardy Johnson (GA) suggested “an organization” based on their Civil War service. This was accomplished with the able assistance of Col. Stewart Boone McCarty, Jr. and Thomas J. Bond, Jr. (now deceased).
Five brothers, sons of James A. and Rebecca McCreary of Smith County, TN, joined the CSA in September 1861. William and John died very shortly thereafter, one from the ague and the other from gunshot wounds. Aaron was given the rank of 1st Lt., Robert was a Pvt., and James was a Sgt.
Why the difference in ranks is not known.
In February 1863 after being told he would be relieved of his rank of 1st Lt., apparently for lack of dedication to the Southern cause, Aaron B. McCreary resigned his commission and returned to the family farm in Tennessee. Several weeks later, the pay muster of the unit indicates that Robert is “absent without leave.” He went home too. James continued to serve in the Confederate Army.
In December 1863, Aaron, Robert, and younger brother Andrew enlisted in the Army of the United States of America. Aaron was given the rank of 1st Lt., Robert was appointed a “horse farrier” and rank of Pvt., and Andrew, likewise a Pvt., was a “musician.”
Family legend has it that James eventually surrendered to his own brother (Aaron) at Greensboro, NC, but that legend can be neither proven nor disproven. Robert and Andrew, along with Aaron, survived the War and returned to Tennessee where they raised their respective families.
Another story about the family:
James who had stayed with the Confederate Army also returned to Tennessee and his family. However, through the years there was a great deal of contention between him and his wife, Martha Maggart Powell. There were stories in the area that perhaps she had poisoned her first husband who died under mysterious circumstances. When Martha applied for a widow’s pension in November 1914, James having passed away in late December 1899, there were some interesting facts that came to light: The Special Examiner sent Martha a letter asking her to explain why she said she was living with her husband at the time of his death when the Board had been informed that she had “driven him from home two years before his death and was not living with him at the time of his death. We were also informed that you would not go to his funeral, and that the children that did go to his funeral were driven from home…” Two local women signed an affidavit stating that James and Martha were indeed living together at the time of his death, that the rumor of any separation was due to the fact that he was a stone mason and was away from home a great deal working at his trade. Aaron B. McCreary also sent a letter in his mother’s behalf. However, apparently the Board had strong enough evidence that they did not feel she was entitled to a widow’s pension and the law did state that the husband and wife had to be living together at the time of death in order for a widow’s pension to be granted. A year after the initial claim was submitted, Martha still had not provided sufficient evidence to change the opinion of the Board.