The oldest of the Creighton kids still hanging around the farm, John is besties with Bill. Being only a year apart, they have a close bond despite John being "more impatient, quicker to anger than Bill" (1.92). However there is some major trouble in paradise when the two brothers have different opinions on the war.
And by different, we mean very different. Being the more outspoken of the two, it's John's certainty of opinion that causes Bill to doubt his own instincts, telling Jethro, "I mistrust my way of thinkin' when I see how sure they be" (3.32). (Hey Bill, you might want to listen to the mistrust a little bit. Just sayin'.) John's beliefs on the war take center stage during the suppertime debate when cousin Wilse visits, and John does not back down from his Southern-siding cousin.
Eventually a fight erupts between John and Bill, and while Bill leaves to join the Confederates, John heads off to fight for the Union. As far as John is concerned, Bill might as well be dead. In a letter to Jethro, John refers to the youngest Creighton as, "the one brother Ive got left" (11.19). Ouch.
But don't break out the tissues just yet, because John and Bill have a small reunion when Bill is a Confederate prisoner of war. So when push comes to shove, John is able to put aside his and Bill's differing politics and once again talk "like brothers ought to talk" (11.63). Emphasis on talk. Insofar as John and Bill represent the war in miniature—a family divided into north and south instead of a nation—it is key to Hunt's anti-war message that the way they ultimately come back together is through conversation.