The Grits Eaters is an emotion-packed saga of a young Florida man, Arch Morrison, who at the age of nineteen enlisted in the Confederate Army to defend his home from the invading Union Army. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and at the end of the war, was finally discharged after serving six additional months after The Armistice in a federal army prison, since he refused to pledge allegiance to the United States Government. He had witnessed too many atrocities at the hands of the Union Army and was shamefully abused and mistreated while in prison, to consider such an oath and his oath to the Confederacy prevented him from another oath of allegiance.
After his final release, he and two companion soldiers began their perilous journey back to Florida afoot and hundreds of miles from home, with no money, weapons or transportation assistance from their captors. During their difficult journey home they encountered countless problems almost daily beginning with an attempt to kill them by a Union sergeant, who hated them, and daily scavenging for food through regions often hostile to them. Driven by their determination to return home, they arrived in Atlanta, Georgia where they stole three mules from armed Union Army soldiers in order to outrun those in pursuit. After they crossed into Florida, they spilt up with Arch proceeding to his father’s home only to learn of his father’s death when he was away on duty and that he now had the responsibility of providing for his only surviving sister, a stepmother and two small half-brothers that were born during his tour of duty. Trials of daily life were difficult with so many now counting on him as sole provider, but with frontier skills, determination, faith, and hard work, he provided for them all, later marrying and raising a family of his own.
His notorious temper resulted in his arrest and trial for killing a neighbor’s bull. In the trial he was convicted and fined and was later accused of burning the Court House in retribution. In a second trial, he was found “not guilty,” though the mysteries surrounding the event would be rumored for many years, contributing to a legend of a larger-than-life hero who lived by his convictions.