What's wrong with this sentence? "The Blalocks moved into a cabin on Grandfather Mountain and lived happily ever after, cheerfully skirmishing with pro-South neighbors and helping Union soldiers to safety until war's end." This quotation came from a book entitled North Carolina by Sheila Turnage, a guide book published in 2009.
First of all, the Blalocks weren't living in a cabin. As the story goes, after Keith and Malinda Blalock got back from their very brief stint in the 26th North Carolina Troops, they were forced to leave their home when confront by Confederate sympathizers and forced "still further up Grandfather and lived in a rail pen. But they were followed even there, and on one occasion, Keith was so hotly pursued that he was shot in the left arm, and had to take refuge with some hogs which had 'bedded up' under the rocks." (Arthur, A History of Watauga County, 161) That certainly does not sound like living "happily ever after..." Even if Turnage was making an attempt at humor or satire, it falls flat and misleads.
And hence the problem with these glimpses of history. For three years, the Blalocks lived on the run, never knowing what the breaking of a twig on the forest floor might be. It could be one of those escaped prisoners, looking for a friend and guide over the mountains and into Union lines, or it could be members of the home guard, diligently trying to stem the tide of men passing through the area. Turnage's account, with words like "happily ever after" and "cheerfully skirmishing" make it sound, for lack of a better phrase, that the couple were simply out on holiday. For the Blalocks, the men they guided, the family they skirmished with, and the men who hunted them, it was anything but happy and cheerful.
As my friend Sharyn McCrumb puts it so eloquently in The Ballad of Frankie Silver: "Happy stories mostly ain't true."