Reminiscences of Hugh W Barclay
Instead of confining myself to my services
as a soldier of the Confederacy, I will give also somewhat that may be worth while of my career as a citizen.
You must know that while thousands of brave
or braver than myself suffered and fell in defence of the "Lost Cause" their brothers who survived with the old men and women
of the South encountered trials, troubles and indignities for a number of years beyond enumeration.
It is the recollection of these last embittered
me and from which as yet I have not entirely recovered. I was born in the town of Clarksville, Georgia, on the 21st day of
May 1840 and it is said that I was a very cross baby – that I cried enough for several ordinary families. My father
moved from Clarksville across the Blue Ridge Mountains to Blairsville in Union County when I was five years old and my recollection
of happenings that may have occurred in Clarksville during my stay are very indistinct.
When we were moving and about to ascend the
mountain, some one put me astride old Charley, a horse we had, and I rode him to the top. This, I have never forgotten and
never will. The memory of this ride up the mountain has never faded, is as new and bright as if yesterday, about all I recollect
of the moving, and this I attribute to the other children talking about it afterwards.
I have no recollection of our arrival in Blairsville,
how we were received, where we went or anything about it, and it seems to me for a long time thereafter. Gradually, I seem
to have awakened and took notice, when there was the old log house, the trees in front, the negro kitchen, the well, the old
field, the tanyard and the hills and mountains close in, and just as they first appeared, time with its changes whatever it
may have brought in all the years since the old home and the scenery thereabouts is the same to me. I believe I could locate
the place where the old house stood, the little meadow behind, where the ditch ran under the kitchen, the garden, the orchard,
in fact everything connected. We had a shoe shop close by, where old man Teague made shoes and where I used to annoy him by
driving up his tacks in the wall, and here I became acquainted with my first playmates who gathered around to watch the shoemaker.
As I grew older, I came to know all the boys of the village, and with these I went to school, went in swimming, went hunting,
went fishing and occasionally fighting, and I was no better or worse then any of them. Our schools were of the old field kind
about three or four months in the year and in which were taught reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic, enforced by a bunch
of switches, always handy to the master. I never learned very much at these nor did I try, my mind generally on an expedition
of some kind for Saturday or other amusement in meantime. When I was about sixteen years of age my father sent me to Hiawasse
for ten months, where I learned about about all I know of text books. This was a school for poor boys and they came there
with knapsacks on their backs from east Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia and many of them went into camps.
Some of these bent on an education and under
very unfavorable circumstances arrived at places of distinction in civil or military life, among them, D.M. Key, Mr. Clevelands,
post Master General, and A.S. Clay, late Senator from Georgia. I have understood that the boys with whom I went to school
there in the great war, were about equally divided, but I don't know how true it is. You will notice that thus far in my account
of myself I have never done any manual labor, never anything for myself useful nor any one else, which was an oversight upon
the part of my parents. A few negroes proved a calamity in this respect to many families and it is a good thing they are free,
but I don't like the way in which it was done. We once thought to emancipation we never would become reconciled, but I have.
A great many Southerners were living lives of indolence of uselessness, and raising their families in the same way which would
gradually have brought about degeneration, while the freedom of the slaves threw them upon their own resources and brought
to the surface their dormant faculties while now we have scientists, historians, writers, poets, machinists, inventors, everything
with a general diffision of education. That war was a terrible affair, but I guess it was in the order of Providence.
Returning from school, I clerked for my brother
Sandy in Clarksville one year. Going back to Blairsville, I resumed my life of do nothing and only listened to the war mutterings
away off in Kansas, which became hotter and hotter and nearer and nearer and at their approach I confess I really felt relief.
For the war or what was my knowledge of it, I was personally ready as were thousands of others, both North and South whose
remains are beneath the sod in unknown graves all over the land. The war of words with our leaders on both sides was bitter,
the people were greatly excited. One not living at the time can appreciate the situation, the war was inevitable and last
First South Carolina and in rapid succession
followed the other cotton states, Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri held back at last were divided more or less in sentiment.
When Georgia seceded James H. Huggins recently a returned Californian and myself proceeded to raise a company. The country
was a unit for war and soon we had a company of 100 men rank and file. They were a fine body of men, few of whom over 21 years
of age, the very pictures of health and dressed in their brown jeans pants and round abouts, drawn up in line they presented
a splendid appearance.
This Company was called the Blue Ridge Volunteers,
the first to leave the county and was officered as follows, J.H. Huggins, Capt., John Reece 1st Lt., H.W. Barclay 2nd Lt.
and Jesse P. King, 3rd Lt. Now these were farmer boys, many of them had never seen a railroad, some of them never out of the
County, but they were brave. The outside world was a revelation to them, and when well drilled and half starved, as many times
they were, in after years they were fighters of the first quality. The travelled experience of our Captain was a great help
towards securing his election, for as globe trotters, none of us were distinguished. The whole county, it seemed to me were
in Blairsville the day appointed for our assembling and departure. We had a big dinner, speeches were made, flag presented,
a general mingling and commingling of the crowd and the whole scene presented the appearance of a grand jollification. There
was laughter and joking and pranks, some tears perhaps, but nothing to mar our pleasure, or indicative of the hard times before
Mother was not present and just before we were
to leave, I went to tell her goodbye and found her in tears. She of all the people seemed to have a presentiment of the seriousness
of our undertaking, so I left somewhat saddened to join the company, and soon we were on the march to Big Shanty.
The farmers proposed to haul us, but we were
too patriotic for that and accepting one wagon to carry our baggage, we footed it all the way, ninety miles.
Along the road we were cheered, flags and handkerchiefs
waved, and we lived on the fat of the land. It seemed to me that the people were crazy and we were wild crazy.
The two states Ohio and Illinois right then
had more that was necessary to prosecute a war then did the whole of the Southern States. Bread and meat, but we did right
to fight them with the world against us for four long years with sometimes something to eat and finally nothing at all. It
would have required a man with a strong imagination to have seen in the future this particular section then so patriotic,
full of deserters and bushwhackers, but unfortunately such was the case.
During the latter years of the war when our
prospects became gloomy one who perhaps had been a good soldier would get to his home and family in those mountains on furlough,
their poverty stricken condition would appeal to him and was more than he could bear. While I think their conduct was far
from right, my views in regard to these have mellowed somewhat as the years go by. There was another crowd, thieves and murderers
who knew no country and for these I have contempt. The most of these soon after the war imigtated, I am told, to Kansas and
I guess are voting the prohibition ticket and drinking whiskey on the sly.
Arriving at Big Shanty we found quite a number
of companies from other counties, and nine of these with the Blue Ridge Volunteers formed the 23rd Georgia regiment. Hutchinson
was elected Colonel, W.P. Barclay Lt. Col. and E.M. Best Major. Here for some weeks we drilled and became accustomed to the
duties of camp life. Here we had the Old United States ration, which was good enough for anybody, besides pies, cakes, fruits
and so on, brought in by the ladies and other visitors.
We wasted enough at Big Shanty in one week
to have lasted us very well two weeks the latter part of the war. We were anxious to get to the seat of war and soon orders
came to report to Richmond. Soldiers are ever restless when still, and especially was this the case with the most of us who
had never been anywhere.
We left on different trains, myself with the
first section and we thought with provisions enough to last us through, but upon arriving at Raleigh, N. Carolina, we found
ourselves out of bread. It became necessary for the Quater Master to go out in town to get some and soon he returned with
a wagon load of bakers bread, when you never heard such a fussing or cursing. They called it dammed old hornet nest bread
and swore they would not eat it. Many times before the war closed, we laughed about the revolt of the biscuit and batter cake
Reaching Richmond, we were marched out to the
old fair grounds and here we went into camps, and here details were made from the regiment daily for quite a while to guard
the Yankee prisoners at the old Libby captured at the first Manassas. This was the first service rendered the Confederacy
by our regiment.
I had the pleasure of seeing one congressman,
Ely, behind the bars who came out from Washington with many others to see the secesh run. This man was soon released and after
getting home wrote a letter in which he said the South was terribly in earnest.
After a little while we were ordered to Yorktown,
and boarding the North Hampton, went down the river to Highland, where Cleveland subsequently killed ducks, and where we disembarked.
From here to Yorktown it was twelve miles, which we made by twelve o' clock and on this day died Lee Morris, the first death
in our Company.
At Yorktown the Companies were posted at different
points about the place and never were together again until the retreat began. Our Company was sent to Fort MaGruder, where
we were in charge of some light artillery. Gen. Johnston came down with his great army from Northern Virginia and taking in
the situation did not like it and the retreat began, McClellan close behind.
At Williamsburg the rear of our army had quite
a battle. This retreat lasted several days, and its sufferings are indescribable. The country is low between the great rivers,
there was no mud, but water and slush from shoe mouth to knee deep, no place in or out of the road to spread a blanket and
much of the time raining. It was said there were 16,000 thousand soldiers who died in Richmond as a result of this retreat.
Coming within six or eight miles of Richmond
our line of battle was formed and it must have been several miles in length. The division to which I belonged, D.H. Hills,
was next to the right of our army and over near the James. Here we lay for several days and in the meantime McClellan coming
up there was more or less skirmishing along the line every day. Both armies were mostly in a timbered country and these skirmishes
were called feeling of the enemy and for the purposes of locating his position.
Sometimes in these, two or three hundred would
be killed and wounded, but these never counted in the news of the battle.
One day, I don't remember dates, our division
was moved from its position towards the left of our army and went into camp near the York river railroad. That night there
was the heaviest rain, the loudest peals of thunder, and the most vivid lightning I ever saw and every one was wet. Next morning
we dried out as well as possible, saw that our guns and ammunition were in good condition and took up line of march down the
railroad. We marched, it seemed to me, a couple of miles, when we turned off to the right into an old field and were brought
to a halt fronting some woods, after going perhaps a half mile. Here an orderly rode up with a bolt of domestic which was
torn into strips and tied to our caps. This began to look like something was going to happen, but I felt no uneasiness. With
the strips upon our caps, we moved in the direction we had started, about one fourth mile, when we were halted and in line
of battle fronted where we supposed was the enemy. The order was given, forward guide center march, which we did to an old
unused road where we were again halted and stood in battle line. While in this position an officer rode up and told our Colonel
a cannon would fire somewhere along the line and at the report of the third gun to move forward, and "You won't go far before
you strike the enemy".
As the noise of the last gun died away, we
moved to the front as one man. We had not gone far before we found a swamp with water knee deep to waist deep and with bushes
and briars almost impenetrable. Through this swamp we could not go in battle line when every Captain preserving his distance
forced his way through, the Yankees in the meantime shooting at us. We came across almost under their breastworks, and the
order "Company into line" again put us into battle shape, when with a whoop and a rebel yell we mounted their works and put
them on the run. We drove them about one half mile, killing and wounding many. We lost in this engagement; 18 killed and 52
I recollect all the particulars of this battle
(Seven Pines) so far as the conduct of our regiment was concerned, as if yesterday. I was not excited, cooler and more sensible
than afterwards. In battle, I was always scared ever afterwards until under fire, when a kind of reckless, "don't care" kind
of feeling came over me, and I was really not myself.
Strange as it may seem, I have been where shot
and shell were falling all around, yet when it was over, I have been surprised at the shortness of the time. When the battle
is over, and you have escaped, again normal and at yourself, how thankful one is.
The first men I saw killed in battle was here,
and it shocked me, yet before the war was over, I could calmly sleep with the dead all about. The Bible says "we are fearfully
and wonderfully made", and I guess it is the truth in many ways. We can accommodate ourselves to most any kind of situation.
As we mounted the breastworks, and started the Yankees to running in this battle, I passed a quartermaster's tent who had
left it in a hurray and there were great sheets of greenbacks scattered all about, enough to have made us all rich, but we
tramped it in the mud, never picking up a dollar. Were we not loyal to our Confederate dollar, and patriotic to the cause?
We returned to our camps after the battle when
the division was reviewed, and General Hill highly complimented the 23rd regiment. Here we drilled some and did pickett duty
when the division was moved to the neighborhood of Mechanicsville, when commenced the seven days battles. And, there the night
of our arrival, I saw a magnificent and imposing sight, our cannons on the hill, the enemy's on another, while we were in
the valley between. The bloodiest of these seven days, and there were several, was that of Cold Harbor. Here we turned the
enemy's right after a bloody fight; the retreat began and there was severe fighting on all the roads to Malvern Hill where
was fought the last battle.
McClellan had a splendid army, superior in
numbers to ours, but not altogether the kind of material as our own, which up to that time knew of no such word as defeat.
Had McClellan not been a good general, he never could have gotten his army under the cover of his gun boats at Malvern Hill.
Upon the road I was, whole companies would
come out before us, raise the white flag and surrender. They were terribly demoralized after their lines were broken.
I recollect at one place, Savage Station, while
they behind breastworks were looking for us to coime one way, our men came up behind them and shot them in their tracks.
I never saw so many dead on so small a piece
of ground. Singly and in squads they surrendered, and in a swampy, unknown and heavily timbered country, disserved and dismembered
as they were it is no wonder.
After a trying time, McClellan from all the
roads and battle fields succeeded in reaching the river where we attacked him and it would have been better for us had we
not done so. With his gun boats behind him, his position almost impregnable upon the hill, it was an unnecessary and hazardous
undertaking. We had already put him back where he started and there was nothing to gain, comparable to the probable loss of
In all these battles, our loss was pretty heavy,
but nothing to compare to the loss of life, the number of wounded, captured and the destruction of the property of the enemy.
We captured many of their teams, wagons, hospital
stores, camp equipage, provisions and guns, better then we had.
I was in charge of the litter corps of our
regiment in all this, but the regiment fortunately was never seriously engaged except at Malvern Hill. This defeat of the
Yankees gave us great prestige all over the world. The Federal army by water goes back to Washington where McClellan was superseded
by Pope whose "headquarters were in the saddle and who had seen only the backs of his enemy".
General Lee met Pope at Cedar Mountain and
put him out in short order. Pope managed to get his army back to Manassas where General Lee overtook him and that is the last
we hear of Pope as commander in Chief of the Grand Army.
Our division was the last to leave Richmond
and was in none of this, but we passed over the Manassas battle field while many of the dead were yet unburied. Our march
from Richmond to Maryland was a long one and we were all footsore and weary. We waded the Potomac at Leesburg and became the
rear of Lee's army, McClellan, who had again been put in command being on the same side of the river following close behind.
We rested one day at Frederick and continued
our march to Hagerstown where went into camp. This was Saturday the 13th of September 1862, and that evening the cavalry reported
the enemy not far away. Next morning, Sunday the 14th, we marched back a few miles to South Mountain, formed line of battle
and waited the coming of McClellan's advance. About 3 o' clock in the evening the pickets began firing, the position of the
23rd Geo. Was about half way down the mountain to the left of the road, seven companies of which were behind a rock fence
and the other three companies D.E. & B, exposed, my company B. one of them. The Yankees advanced in great force, and seemingly
with much assurance. For a while we three companies made it as warm as possible for them, but soon we were shot out. In fifteen
minutes with 32 men in my company, 23 were killed and wounded, five dead on the field. The other companies, D & E, suffered
in about the same ratio. I have never been able to account for my escape.
We were lying flat on the ground and upon our
knees to shoot. Sergent Price by whose side I was lying, and who is now, if living, a Baptist preacher, in North Georgia,
received several wounds, and a man on my right was shot in the forehead, fell dead across me. When my company was shot out,
I got behind a big rock which was in line with the regiment behind the rock fence and there I found Lt. Steel of Company D.
We were lying side by side looking at the blaze of fire from the men behind the rick fence and listening to the hurrahs of
the Yankees who made charge after charge when an occasional bullet came up the line our way. Lt. Steel remarked, "They have
flanked the regiment on their right and we will be captured". I told him I thought not or hoped not, when just then I heard
the dull thud of the bullet that hit him, and he said "I am killed". He never moved, and the bullet that hit him, must have
entered his heart. It must have gone over me or under me for I was nearest the direction from whence it came. This battle,
much of it, was at night, as late as 9 o' clock it must have lasted. The regiment behind the rock fence were about out of
ammunition, and fortunately about this time the Yankees ceased firing. Our troops away to the right were giving away and word
was passed up the line to quietly slip away which the men did, and the regiment escaped capture. The loss here to the regiment
was confined principally to the three companies. Away to our right we suffered considerably, losing many men and officers,
and among the latter, my brother, E.S. Barclay, Lt. Col. Phillips, Geo. Legion who was seriously wounded, and though he lived
a year or so thereafter, never recovered.
The enemy, some of our men said who were wounded
and captured said the Yankees loss in front of the rock wall was about 300 killed, including the Federal General Reneau. Gen.
Hill rode up to Gen. Colquitt during the fight and asked what regiment that was down there and said they would be captured.
Brother William was proud of the conduct of
his regiment that night. In his report of that battle, General Hill called Brother the hero of South Mountain. This battle
was made necessary to the assembling of the army for the great battle of Sharpsburg which followed the next Tuesday and Wednesday.
All that Sunday night we marched, passing through the village of Sharpsburg and went into camps on the banks of the Potomac.
After the close calls I had in this battle, it would seem I never should have been scared thereafter, but such was not the
case. We remained in this camp until Tuesday morning when we went back towards Sharpsburg and took up our position in line
of battle. All day long the armies were gathering in position and there we stood until about 4 o' clock in the evening, when
there was a little skirmishing all along the line at places, but no serious fighting. As night came on, our regiment fell
back a 100 yards from the brow of the hill upon which we had stood and lay down in an old road. We all knew and felt there
was bloody work for tomorrow.
Brother William passed about among the men
and I heard him say "The man who survives tomorrow, will never forget the day", and with me it has been true, for never since
has the 17th of September come and gone, and I have forgotten it or the memory of the great battle of that day. Both armies
ready just at the break of day the battle commenced.
Our regiment was hurried a little way to our
left, passing a burning barn and in the yard were dead men, hogs, turkeys, and so on, killed in a skirmish in the evening
before; the sight was awful. In a hurry, double quick, a little farther on we fronted towards the enemy and were ordered to
charge. With our faces to the enemy and the rebel yell we went for them, three columns deep to our one.
At every discharge of our guns I could see
great gaps in their lines, but they would close up. It was terrible fighting. When in about thirty steps of their lines, our
men began to waver. It was more then mortal man could stand and they were at least three to one. It was just then that Sergeant
Roberts of Floyd County cried out the Colonel was killed. It seems to me now I was so near that I just turned around, and
there he lay dead. By this time our men were falling back, turning occasionally and shooting. Sergeant Roberts caught hold
of his shoulders and I of his feet to bring him out, when Lt. Prichett came to our relief and caught hold with Roberts when
a bullet went through his dead body and wounded Prichett. Roberts and myself then carried him a short distance and laid him
down near a little clump of bushes, in an old about which was a little pile of rocks. The Yankees all about, we ran to keep
from being captured. I have wished many times since, I had lain down by his side and been captured, but we don't know what
we would do under such circumstances.
The enemy drove us back that day some distance,
and if he was buried, they or some citizens did it. Had one of our wings given way that day, the Potomac river, just in our
rear, Lee's army would have been in a bad fix, but it may be called a drawn battle.
Next day, Thursday, we stood all day in line
of battle, confronting each other, both armies seemingly having enough; Lee in the meantime, getting his trains across the
Our loss in this battle was very heavy, Captains
came out in command of regiments and Sergeants in command of companies. We had more straglers here then we had in all the
war before. It had been a constant march and fight since leaving Richmond, many were barefooted and ragged, while all were
worn out, dirty and lousy, yet we laughed.
Our miserable condition seemed to furnish a
source of amusement. I, myself contributed no little to the fun. I had a pair of shoes from which the soles had taken their
departure, and walking along, the uppers would climb up my legs and at this they would laugh and make remarks.
Anything out of the ordinary that would make
us laugh was a blessing, and there was always some fellow that had ready the appropriate word to show it up in the right way.
We crossed over into Virginia at Shepardstown about 2 o'clock Friday morning and the water of the Potomac was rather cool
to be pleasant. The Yankees followed in the morning, some of them crossing the river where A.P. Hill lying in wait, it is
said, about filled the river with their dead. Neither of our ventures across the Potomac resulted in any good, except it be
they gave those people a little taste of the horrors of war. Sharpsburg maybe considered a drawn battle, while at Gettysburg;
I guess we got a little the worst of it.
Our army, after Sharpsburg rested a while near
Winchester, cleaned up as much as we could, and supplied our numerous wants as much as possible. I got a pair of boots there
from a returned soldier, for which I paid $50.00, but many of the men were as good as shoeless. The Yankee army having also
rested were now on the road to Richmond by the way of Fredericksburg under command of Gen. Burnsides. Our army moved, and
travelling in almost parallel lines, it was a race who should get first to Fredericksburg.
The weather was cold, the ground frozen, the
men not too well clothed, and many of them barefoot. It was awful. One night on the march, Gen. Hill issued an order that
the sergeants of the various companies should go wether the beeves were being slaughtered, and get their compliment of the
hides, that the barefoot men should make their shoes and if any soldier was found out of his place next day and not in line,
the commanding officer would be put under arrest. It was late at night when we went into camp, and the men without eating,
fell upon the ground and were soon asleep. I managed, however, to arouse the sergeant who went for the hides and after his
return, proceeded to awake the boys which I found a difficult matter. I told the consequences as it affected myself but they
would turn over, grunt and say, "Lt. we will keep up", and again fall asleep. One or two got up and worked all night at the
job. Strips for strings were cut from the hide, when enough of the hides was cut out to cover the foot, the hairy side inside,
and then sewed up. Next morning standing by the fire, the hide would commence to draw up, and there was more fun. The new
kind of shoe was a signal failure, when in contact with water or fire. The next day when one of these wet would fall from
the foot, the soldiers bowing their heads, would pass it around and bawl like you have seen cattle when one of their number
was slain. It was lots of fun and while the shoes were of no account, it was really a benefit.
Gen. Hill had his aids at different points
along the road, and when a man was found not in his place, his name, company and regiment was demanded. That night I was ordered
to report to Gen. Hills headquarters, going there I found about 60 officers, Captains and Lts., who were told to march in
rear of their companies until further orders. In a few days we were at Fredericksburg, the Yankees about the same time, but
who went into camps among the hills across the river from the city.
Our division went into camp near Hamiltons
Crossing and there was a general order releasing us from arrest before the battle of the 13th of December when Burnsides right
wing was almost annihilated. We were on the right of our army, and of course was not much in this fight.
On the fourteenth, the next day after the battle,
all day long we confronted Franklins corps who stood in line, but not a gun was fired, and next morning, there was not a Yankee
this side of the Rappahannock. This was the last of Burnsides who was followed by Hooker as commander in Chief, whom we will
leave in his camps on the hills beyond the river, until spring, while we go into winter quarters.
We made ourselves as comfortable as we could
for the winter, drilled some, stood camp guard, made details to watch the Yankees and played snowball patiently awaiting the
coming of warm weather, and the drying up of the roads. When idle, soldiers became restless and something must always be doing.
Where the enemy would try to cross the river, whether above or below the city was always the question and all that winter
we had pickets up and down the river for miles.
One bright moonshine night I was out with a
squad of pickets overlooking the river, snow on the ground, the wind blowing a gale and bitter cold. We had gone into a kind
of depression in the ground to protect ourselves from the wind, when along came General Jackson, who seeing our view of the
other side of the river was all right, rode away. I can shut my eyes and see him yet. Here we were until May, when Hooker
concluding that U.S. Ford about 15 miles above the city was the place to cross, put his army in motion, and it was a magnificent
one, with all things necessary to hand.
Gen. Lee left some troops at Fredericksburg
under Gen. McClaws, where also Hooker had left some on the opposite side of the river to make a demonstration to deceive,
and accomplish something if they could. With the rest of his army, Gen. Lee moved up the river a few miles where Longstreet
corps went into position and here Jackson with his corps cut loose and started on that celebrated flank movement for the enemy's
right wing leaving the country in front open to Hooker on his way to Richmond.
Our regiment was with Jackson until we arrived
at a certain point on the march when we were left and ordered to deploy as skirmishers, the wagons in the meantime following
the movement, deploying as skirmishers some eight feet apart we moved through the woods some half mile or more when we struck
Seigls corps. We fell back before the enemy's advance to a place called Catherine's Furnace, where were stacks of pig iron
and here we fought quite a while and here Maj. Ballinger and fifty men were captured.
The rest of us were captured soon thereafter;
the Yankees in front and on either side, our wagons had passed safely on. The number captured about 250.
The Yankees were very proud and thought Lee
was retreating and that we were the rear guard. They took us to Hookers headquarters, the Chancellor House, and proceeded
to count us out preparatory to sending us across the river. When about half done, away to their right was heard a continuos
roar of musketry and shells, from Jackson on their right and Longstreet on their left were bursting all about us. I never
saw such consternation and confusion. They were not looking for anything of the kind, and troops for some distance were brought
up to stop the stampede and restore order. The cavalry put us across the river as quick as possible and from the river hills
we could see where the fighting was on.
At Fredericksburg, down the river, fighting
was going on at the same time, and there a number of Mississippians were captured.
Gen Lee sent men from Longstreets corps to
help McLaws out at that place. But it was the day after we were captured that the big battle came off at Chancellorsville,
and I know only what I have read about it.
At Aquia Creek, the night after our capture,
we were put upon the steamer Maple Leaf and arrived in Washington about daylight, where we were confined in a large brick
building. Soon we were given some bread and a tin cup full of genuine coffee which was very acceptable.
There was with our regiment and the Mississippians
captured at Fredericksburg, about five or six hundred in all. About 10 o'clock Todd, Mrs. Lincoln's brother who was Provo
Marshall, came down at the head of a battalion of soldiers and we moved over to the Baltimore and Ohio Depot, put in an enclosure,
when they came around to see who would take the oath of allegiance, there was one man, a North Carolinian who agreed to take
it, when the men rushed toward him calling coward and traitor, and the Yanks took him out.
The privates were sent from here to Ft. Delaware,
and the officers were kept here and imprisoned in the old capitol. We captured at Chancellorsville about 15000 prisoners,
more of their officers than they did of our men, altogether, and they were very anxious to make the exchange.
They kept us only about thirty days when we
went down the Potomac and met our men at Fortress Monroe, who had come on another steamer and together we came into our lines
at City point.
We were the last to be exchanged during the
remainder of the war. We officers did very well in Washington and from the men, I heard of no serious complaints. Marching
up Pennsylvania Ave., it seemed to us a land of plenty; there were apples, oranges, bananas, everything to eat and in front
of the stores, great piles of goods. There was no evidence of rejoicing at the wounding of Gen. Jackson, which was known there
almost as soon as in Richmond.
While in Washington the Baltimore Relief Association
came to see us and gave us underclothing and tobacco which we very much needed. We had plenty of friends beyond the Potomac
who wished us well, but they did not come with guns in their hands to help us when we went over to see them.
Returning to Dixie we joined the other regiments
of our brigade down about Newbern, N.C., where we stayed some time, but had no fighting. Newbern was captured by the enemy
early in the war, and never retaken. We were also down below Wilmington with a detachment of men.
Below Wilmington I was guarding a number of
boats brought to this particular place by the planters along the sound to keep their negroes from going to the Yankees, whose
gun boats were generally in sight.
One evening we saw a sail ship off some two
or three miles acting like it must be hunting for something which it was. Directly we saw a shot from a gun boat to bring
it to a halt, when it was by the boat taken away out to sea, its papers examined and put upon its way to Beaufort, S.C., which
was in possession of the Yankees and for which place its papers called.
Next morning the ship was again back, found
the inlet, and came right up to our post. She was a blockade runner from Baltimore and had aboard a quantity of things scarce
in the South. They were hauled to Wilmington, the most successful town in this respect along all our coast. And, by the way
the N.C. soldiers were the best clothed of the Southern army.
We were about Wilmington for sometime, when
we were ordered to Florida or to hold ourselves in readiness to go there. We went down as far as Charleston on our way when
we disembarked and went into camps on James Island.
We were a little ahead of the time as our mission
to Florida was to meet Gen. Seymore who was leaving New York with a large army to invade that state. Here we remained three
or four weeks and details were made from our regiment to Fort Sumpter and with one of these I went.
To get there we went to Charleston where the
sailors in long row boats would take us within one fourth a mile of the fort when they would stop and the boats would rock
on the water. The Yankees at that time were firing every five minutes with the regularity of the clock 300 pound shells at
an angle of the Fort from Morris Island. As soon as the gun fired, the sailors, with all their might, would pull for the landing
and it was in a great hurry we got inside. A number of men were killed first and last right there, being too slow, Inside
the fort we went into the casements on the side next to Charleston and where it was about twilight all the time.
About 150 men well armed men were kept in the
fort all the time and their principal duty was to put out at night something like ladders with long rounds on the side, next
the enemy if so attacked by boats running into these the alarm would be given. We kept our picket but on that side also, while
its walls were knocked down, not a gun left, only a huge pile of brick, the enemy never could have taken it with the arms
then in use. I was in there one week without any trouble, but the next detail had quite a fight. The enemy attacked in small
boats ran against our ladders and the alarm was given, our men rushed out of the casements and the fight began.
118 of the Yankees were captured and our batteries
from Fort Moultrie and James Island having the range the next morning little boats were bobbing up and down all over the water
and it was not known how many were killed. It was here all of us had a gill of whiskey every morning, and it was the only
whiskey regularly issued I know of during the war. Here, I got a furlough to go home for 20 days, the first since the war
I took the train for Walhalla the nearest point
by rail, and walked in three days the 90 miles to Blairsville. The country round about was in a bad fix, no one felt entirely
safe in person or property, and my visit was not an enjoyable one. I could see there was uneasiness and on going to bed my
people insisted that I sleep in my clothes. My father then was staying about at different places at night. A few days before
they had gone to his lot and with butcher knives, had literally cut a yoke of oxen to pieces. There was no telling what this
kind of cattle might not do.
Sherman said war was hell, and I can say it
is not all at the front where the same is supposed to be carried on according to civilized rules which is bad enough. There
is no telling the suffering, the anxiety, the uncertainty, the sleepless nights of the old men and women who were truth loyal
to the South in certain sections of the states of Ga., Tenn. and N.C.
I left Blairsville after a stay of 2 or 3 days
feeling very blue and on my way to Dalton distance 100 miles, there I found Bro. Julius, stayed all night with him. Next morning
he came to the depot with me, full of life, the very picture of health, cheerful and hopeful.I bade him farewell, boarded
the train, and that was the last time I ever saw him. He was a noble boy. I reached Charleston just about the time my furlough
expired and just in time to take the train for our looked for expedition to Florida.
We went to Savannah and from there to the terminus
of what was then called the Gulf Railroad. I have forgotten the name of the place. From there we walked 30 miles to Madison,
Fla. That first night, camping in the pine woods, as yet almost undisturbed by the hand of man, the reflection from the lights
from the camp fires of the whole brigade upon the trees and tree tops were very beautiful.
We boarded a train of flat cars at Madison
and went down to Lake City, where a regular old confederate soldier was somewhat of a sight. While yet on the cars, looking
up the main street we saw a dandy looking fellow, dressed to kill, riding a fine horse, which was prancing along first on
one side of the street and then the other; the rider evidently enjoying himself and just as he stopped to take a survey of
the soldiers, as one man, 1000 soldiers gave the rebel yell, when you never saw such running in your life. The look of surprise
as we got a glance of his face and the rapidity with which his horse put out, would have made a very sick man laugh.
With our brigade, Finnegan's and the First
Ga. regulars there were about 3500 soldiers in Lake City altogether Seymore landing at Jacksonville, at the head of 10,000
men, had thus far almost uninterrupted marched into the interior on his way to Tallahasse.
Near Lake City is a great lake called Ocean
Pond, and around one side of this passed the railroad. We marched out prepared for battle, our left wing reaching the lake,
the right extending across the railroad and awaited the coming of the Yankees.
About three o'clock our pickets began firing
and soon it was general along the whole line. The Yankees never advanced a foot from their first formation. We charged, broke
their lines, captured a battery of six guns and their route began. We followed until dark, capturing and killing many. There
were a couple of negro regiments with them and they suffered severely. I don't know I killed a man during the war, and I am
glad of it, but I know I saved the life of a negro that night. We were moving through the pines in pursuit when we had almost
passed a negro whose leg was broken and who was leaning against a tree for support, when a man with me with bayonet fixed
was going to pin him to the tree.
Just out from New York these were the cleanest
and best equipped soldiers I had ever seen. They even had brushes for their clothes, and their knapsacks were full of good
raiment. We captured a whole lot of small arms, any number of good blankets and splendid overcoats, but what they wanted with
overcoats I don't know for it was hot enough for me in shirt sleeves.
Next day a train of cars came down, ran out
on the battle field, and the wounded, especially the negroes I fear, were handled with little ceremony. Our loss in this fight
was light in the way of killed and wounded, compared with the enemy. Gen. Colquitt was afterwards called the hero of Ocean
Seymore never stopped in his flight until under
cover of his gun boats at Jacksonville. We stayed about Jacksonville quite a while and enjoyed our rest very much.
On several occasions at night we would divide
into regiments and with those large pine cones oceans would fight battles, and it was a pretty sight. At night a time or two
we went to headquarters and listened to patriotic speeches. The orators were confident of success in the end and so were their
hearers, while at the same time, the Mississippi was open, Vicksburg had fallen, Memphis and New Orleans in possession of
the enemy and the legions of the North closing in all about us. With Lee in the last ditch at Petersburg and a handful of
men contending with Grants thousands, I was still hopeful. With Atlanta, Richmond and Petersburg gone there was still fight
in the remnant of the army as the last bloody battle of Bentonville will verify.
There never was a better army than that of
the Southern States, but as Napoleon said, "Victory is with the biggest guns and the most men", and I say frequently, "regardless
of right". War is a bad thing and should be the last resort of the oppressed.
I do not think I would like to live in Florida,
out among the pines and by yourself, the continual moaning of the wind through the tree tops produces a melancholy feeling
which is not pleasant. I think it is a good place to repent for your sins, for the mournful sound among the trees and nothing
at all to see would certainly invite to self inspection.
We were ordered to Virginia in haste and arrived
just in time to prevent Beast Butler, who had landed at the head of a considerable army, from cutting the railroad between
Petersburg and Richmond, our only connection from the South with the latter city. We skirmished around a few days with the
troops of Butler, and finally getting in between him and the river, turned his right wing and started him on the run. We never
let him stop until cooped up between the James and Appomattox rivers under cover of his gunboats. Grant said that we had bottled
him up and for this remark it is said, Butler never forgave him.
In this battle, Drewerys Bluff, we lost quite
a number of men. The Yankees at one place had wire stretched in front of their works, and charging, a number of our men fell
there and quite a number were killed.
We lay around Petersburg a long time, watching
the enemy and occasionally having a little scrap with "those people" as Gen. Lee called them. In the meantime the armies of
Lee and Grant through the bloody battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, were daily testing their strength and metal,
and gradually approaching us.
It was a fight today and a move tonight with
Grant, but Lee always met him. Somewhere there was fighting more or less every day. At last Grant within a few miles of Richmond
at Cold Harbor could see the spires of the city, concluded he would go in and here he tried it, which was the second bloody
battle of this name and pretty much on the same ground. Six columns deep they charged our men who were behind breastworks,
and charge after charge they made. At last it is said, his men refused to go. The slaughter was terrible, you could walk on
the dead and the stench was intolerable.
Our men sent in a flag of truce that the dead
might be buried, and I don't know but what they helped to do the job. Grant was finding his proposed route to Richmond impracticable
and near the James crossed over and the siege began. With varying success it continued for months and thousands were killed
until at last superior numbers and plenty of meat and bread prevailed.
When his lines were broken, General Lee surrendered
a few days thereafter at Appomattox, and a depressing effect it had upon all friends of the South. At the North it was considered
an end of war, and there was great rejoicing, but yet there was considerable fighting in Georgia, and the Carolinas. So impressed
were scores of our soldiers with the justice of our cause that nothing less than being knocked down and hog-tied by the Yankees
could convince them that in some way and some how the right as they saw it would prevail and so for a little while the useless
struggle went on.
In the latter part of 1864, and while the siege
of Petersburg was on, I was promoted and made Major of a batallion, raised and operating in the counties of N.E. Ga. on Shermans
left, under command of Andrew Young, a brother in law, and he under command of Gen. Howell Cobb, whose headquarters were at
Macon. These companies were scattered about in different county seats in the Mountain Country. I went to Athens where was
Young's headquarters and directly to Blairsville, my home.
Just after crossing the Chattahoche at Miss
Clark's Ferry, I met a man in the road with whom O got to conversing. Learning my name, he said that Major Harelson had a
letter from one of the Logan boys and that Capt. Barclay had been killed on the 22nd of July. I rode along all that day feeling
bad, and reached Harrisons home about dark, where I found it was to true. Noe to carry this sad news home was bad. It was
only 20 miles from Haralsons to Blairsville and I was slow getting there. At night I rode down the street passing through
the public square, not a light to be seen, passing home and on to Col. Youngs. I awoke sister Ad, together we went home where
the sad news was told and I think I can hear my mother's screams still yet. Jule was the youngest. It was indeed a great pity
for one so young, so bright, with such prospects, to be cut down, but he was only one of hundreds all over the land.
After this, I don't think anything ever troubled
mother, always content and reconciled to any situation or condition, she awaited her time, and I know is in a land where there
are no wars. My visit was only for a day or two and returning to Athens, the rolls of the different companies were handed
me. With these I went to Macon, where General Cobb gave me a pass to Richmond where I was to remain my business was finished.
It was anything but fun to be on those cars
those days, the sick, the wounded, their crowded condition, the poor accommodations and the worn out condition of the rails
made it dangerous. After a time I reached the city, and was introduced to the secretary of war by our congressman, H.P. Bell.
At that time, Sherman's raid had just occurred and the farmers and others from that section of Va. were making demands upon
him. I was sorry for him, and then too, for he could only promise to do the best he could, which was not much, wanting both
men and provisions. While this appeal was listened to, the secretary looked like a used up man, and I retired to an adjoining
room. As soon as those men left, I presented to the secretary the rolls of my regiment, which he causally examined and handed
them to another officer, telling me to call in the morning.
I went out on the street and the city looked
like it was deserted. You might stand on Main Street, and looking up or down, you would hardly see half a dozen people. You
could stand on Capitol Square, and hear the small arms. Walking out further towards the outskirts, I saw old men with stove
pipe hats on and a crowd of boys making their way to the inside trenches. You could hardly get anything to eat and the city
in every way was in a bad fix indeed. I stayed all night with a very old man who was a Catholic and who counted his beads
all night. I think he was praying for the South, and have no doubt he was for they were certainly loyal, and for them I have
always had respect.
In the morning I called at the secretary's
office when the rolls were found to the all right, and we were denominated to the 11th Ga. regiment of Cavalry officered as
follows, Andrew Young, Colonel, H.W. Barclay, Lt. Col. And M.R. Bell, Major. Now ready to return to Ga. I went to the Provost
Marshals office and showing him my authority for visiting the city, he asked me if I had finished my business; when I told
him I had, he gave me a pass. On the same train coming out with me was Lt. Forrester of the 23rd, who had been to the city
from Petersburg on some business, and whom I liked very much. The Lt. was a splendid soldier but he was very despondent that
day, seeming to have within his view the whole situation and seeing nothing good for us. I was sorry for him. He wanted to
live to get home again, the war end as it might. A few days later I saw his name among the dead who fell in the charge upon
Returning to Athens I found the regiment still
there, or rather the officers and representatives of all the companies for their men did not all report. There were the names
of the men on the rolls of this regiment who had been good soldiers, who could not make up thier minds to again face the music,
but who still claimed to be loyal.
The condition of the section in which they
lived, the strife and enmity endangered, the crimes committed, and being committed was the excuse of many. They were afraid
to leave home.
Col. Young had some men in his command, some
of whom he had never seen, and over whom it was impossible to exercise control, scattered as they were in a number of countries,
and in a region almost in a state of insurrection. There were outrageous crimes committed, I fear, on both sides and he was
held responsible for it all. Col. Young was a brave man, fearless and merciful, and always on the side of the under dog. He
would never desert a friend who he thought was in the right, and in this respect he perhaps may have gone too far.
Sherman was now in Atlanta, and we left Athens
with about 400 men to report to Gen. Iverson, whose brigade of Cavalry was near Atlanta, and the only troops I know of in
the neighborhood of the city. Soon afterwards Hannons, Ala., brigade of cavalry camped close by, numbering 4 or 5 hundred,
and these with some Ga. Militia were all with whom Gen. Sherman would have to contend to go further.
We afterwards reported to Gen. Harmon and made
a part of his brigade, and was with him to the end.
The service was new to men and with Capt. Sam
Keating of an Ala. Regiment and a few men, we scouted about the city, occasionally picking up a few prisoners, and keeping
the Yankees inside a little better rounded up. Soon I became a pretty good cavalryman.
One day when I was absent, Col. Young asked
permission to drive Sherman out of Atlanta, and with the regiments order took the job. He drove those on the outskirts and
in front of him some distance, even taking outside line, but a regiment of Cavalry sent around in his rear came near cutting
him off and capturing the whole outfit.
Fortunately he made his escape without serious
damage, but it was the talk of the camp for quite a while, and the occasion of much amusement. That Sherman would move south
was the question for sometime, but move somewhere assured we felt.
All day for sometime the smoke was ascending
and at night the heavens were made light with burning buildings.
We had pickets out on all the roads, leading
south and east from the city. One night his cavalry drove our pickets into our very camp. Gen. Iverson sent me with about
50 men to re-establish our line and about midnight, I was on my way.
I placed a few men here and there along the
line and with about 20 of the men, was ordered to go to the central railroad, where there was a dirt road running parallel
with the railroad into the city, and from which place I could see a long ways. I had orders to stay there until I knew something
of Mr. Sherman's intentions.
There was a little breastwork there about 40
feet long, and having hitched our horses in our rear, we got behind this pile of dirt and awaited subsequent preceedings.
Just as the sun came up, I mounted the dirt pile and looking up the dirt road, I saw cavalry, Infantry, Artillery and wagons
as far as the road was visible. I wrote a dispatch to Iverson, and I expect it was the first telling him of the advance of
Sherman, and there was no doubt about it. I then prepared for action.
There were about 400 Cavalry in front, 4 abreast,
and waiting until they were about 60 yards distant, we fired and ran for our horses. I don't know that we killed any of them.
The cavalry breaking to the right and left of our dirt pile, were at our horses as soon as we were, cutting and slashing,
and where they captured several of my men.
It was then a race and every man for himself
for some distance. I was bareheaded all that day, having lost my cap in the scuffle, and to tell you the truth it bothered
us considerably just to keep out of Sherman's way. This march of his to the sea made him famous, but comparatively, there
was none to oppose. The conception of the march was the biggest thing about it.
That evening we reached our Command at Love
Joys Station, and found it behind an line of Hood's breastworks awaiting the approach of the enemy. About 4 o'clock they came
in sight, deployed their skirmishers who were supported by a column of infantry and with these we contended for a very short
time. Their cavalry had made their way around to our rear and this found out, orders were given to retreat and there never
was such fast time as we made to Brier Creek four mile distant. There was no jockey business in that race. Here we lost a
couple pieces of artillery, and I don't know what else.
Gen. Wheeler had come up and was here in person,
for I saw him flying down the railroad track, regardless of cross ties, and everything else to get away. We stopped at Brier's
Creek that night, and the cavalry went their different ways to the different roads of Sherman's probable march.
Wheeler with a portion of his command, had
several tilts with the enemy's cavalry and we hurried along, but the brigade to which I belonged had no trouble for several
Sherman's men had their own way taking a strip
about 30 miles in width. Down in Ga. there were large goober fields in which there were fat hogs and these were shot down,
a ham cut off and tied to their saddles, and of every manner of meanness they were guilty.
Every night the heavens were lighted up with
burning Gins and dwelling houses and the appeals of women and old men for protection were of no effect. I have thought that
Sherman, knowing his men, had picked such out for this particular kind of business before he left Atlanta.
For several days we only took our horses saddles
off to cool their backs. Now and then there was a volley fired at the advance when oppertunity afforded, but nothing like
a fight. When opposite Augusta, where there was a large amount of cotton, the cavalry went to the defence of that city, but
not being on Sherman's route, he passed on when he fell in behind him. Now we annoyed him considerably, picking up stragglers,
killing one now and then, and keeping them rounded up. After this manner we followed them three or four days, and had become
One night the Yankees went into camp on the
railroad just south of Waynesboro, and our regiment, being in front, went into camp, not exceeding half a mile from the rear
of the enemy, thinking Sherman would get up in the morning and move on as before. We had the precaution however, to put out
pickets before lying down. Just as the sun rose our pickets began firing, when our horses were sent to the rear, and with
great haste we began tearing down an old fence and with the rails to make ourselves some protection, which we did, extending
out from the woods in which we were camped about 100 yards into an old field.
Behind these rails, we awaited the coming of
the enemy and soon they planted a battery upon a little hill and with this knocked our rails in every direction and a man
or two head over heals at the same time, then a regiment of infantry and last a regiment of cavalry, who ran over our rails
and us. All this time we were shooting until the cavalry jumped over us and I think we killed and wounded a good many. Here
the Yankees killed dead 15 of our men, and all of our men who ran back in the field were captured, fifty-two in number.
I had my presence of mind, and with some others,
crawled down the rail pile, what was left of it, until in the timber, where by dodging from tree to tree, and running like
the mischief, we managed to make our escape.
About 4 o'clock that evening, and after wading
through the swamps and briers, we reached our horses, somewhat demoralized. We had in this fight about 250 men, all good material,
but they had no chance.
Capt. Bedell of Company B, who had said he
never would surrender, here complied with his word. With the Yankees begging him to surrender, he emtied his six shooter among
them, when they shot him full of holes.
Capt. Bedell was a brave man, recklessly brave,
for all soldiers are liable to capture.
After this we were not so familiar with Gen.
Sherman, any way we did not go into camp with him. I thought that night, when I could see his men walking around by the light
of the camp fires, we were getting too close without some kind of an understanding, but I said nothing. The effect of this
encounter made us very cautious and all the way to Savannah we did him little harm, following along at a respectable distance.
Arriving at Savannah, Sherman within a few
days was in possession of the city and made a Christmas present of the same, as you will recollect, to Abraham Lincoln.
We were about Savannah only a short time, after
this when we were ordered back up the river and went into camp about 25 miles below Augusta. Sherman in the meantime, having
made ready to pay South Carolina a visit, leaving Gen, Grovesnor in charge of affairs in Savannah.
While in this camp, Gen. Hannon sent me with
some papers down the river where I should meet a Yankee boat, the papers about somekind of an understanding in regard to people
who wished to get into or out of the city. Crossing the river with several men, I went down it several miles to the place
where a boat was sent over and I went aboard.
They seemed very glad to see me, and were as
friendly as they could be. I delivered the papers to the proper officer, and then the eating and talking commenced.
They were loud in praise of our generals, and
especially of Stonewall Jackson. They asked me who I thought was their best general. I told them Gen. Thomas. Now Gen. Thomas
was a Virginian, and a traitor to his state, and I had no use for him, but the impression I wished to make, was that the North
could not grow a great general. Thomas was about the best fighter they had, but I knew nothing of his generalship.
Those fellows had everything that was good
to eat and drink, and not a bit stingy. I felt a little embarrassed in my old gray coat, when put on the boat in the presence
of those finely dressed gentlemen, but before I left, I was feeling very comfortable.
We were soon ordered from this camp into Carolina,
and was in Columbia a day or two after Sherman had burned much of the town, and had passed on his destructive way. Sherman
having passed in the rear of Charleston made the abandonment of Fort Sumpter, which they never could have taken by water,
and the evacuation of the city, a necessity.
We, upon our arrival in Columbia, under command
of Gen. Young, at the head of not exceeding 800 men in all, were sent to meet a column of 10,000 Yankees, who were marching
up the country from Charleston. This looked like foolishness, which it was.
Not far from Camden, where was fought a revolutionary
battle, we met the advance of the enemy at a place called Boykin Mills. Skirmishing with them a little while, Gen. Young,
seeing no good to come to us, ordered Gen. Hannon to go back toward Columbia to a place called Statesboro, where was a church
upon the top of a hill around which was a rock wall, and for him to prepare to fight them there in the morning, while he,
Gen. Young, would get out of the way, let them pass, and we would fight them in the morning at both ends. This looked very
About 4 o'clock we started back, the men as
we rode along, getting fodder and other feed stuff for their horses where they could, and by the time we arrived in Statesboro,
we looked like a load of hay.
About a half mile from the church was a creek
at the foot of the hill, and there we left a picket. Arriving at the Church, some of us were dismounted and behind the wall
some of their horses, and some not yet in the enclosure, when here comes our pickets, and about 300 well mounted cavalry right
at their heels. Dashing in among us, they went to slashing with their sabers, and using their navy sixs. We had only guns,
and these in many instances, were tied to the saddles. It was no place to fight as we could readily to see, and so on my horse
I jumped the fence, and it was a race for about two miles. The Yankees were so close behind we could turn neither to the right
There was a great swamp on the right of the
road, and dr. Harris, our surgeon, and a man named Baldwin, from Ala. Who were with me, and leading in the race, seeing an
opening, gradually inclined their horses that way, and into the swamp we went.
We came out of the swamp next morning, and
found we had been surrendered by Gen. Johnston, two days before and neither we nor the Yankees knew it. We lost 2 men killed,
and all who did not escape to the woods were captured.
After Lee's surrender the men killed were a
useless sacrifice and there was quite a number in the various skirmishes in one place and another. Getting together, we left
for Augusta, where we were paroled, and there ended my career as a Confederate soldier, and during the time, I lived several
I had a good horse that I captured from the
Yankees, and upon him I rode home, where I found father in a rented house and his worldly possessions consisting of two cows
and a pony. The hog backs were in the majority, and while not jubilant, were enjoying themselves.
The Yankees soon came and at their head was
a very sensible man, when we felt comparatively easy. One day a very prominent man who had sharpened his sword at the commencement
of the war to do them bloody execution, was telling this Captain that their were only two original secessionists in the county,
Dr. Young and Major Barclay, and other things currying favor. I happened to be in the hall outside and heard him, and stepping
in, I told the Captain in his presence, there would have been another had I been old enough.
The man looked very cheap. After the man went
out, the captain told me he very well understood this sort, and soon he gave this element to understand that they did not
own the United States, flag and all. This Yankee had been in the war, and all men on either side, who did their duty in the
field, were disposed to do what was right to the fellow down and out.
Our troubles after the war were not at the
suggestion of this kind, but politicians. A boy with whom I very near grew up, came along at the head of about 100 hogbacks
a few days I gat home, and before the arrival of the Yankees, and took every soldiers horse and everything else they wanted.
I heard they were coming and hid my horse down
on the creek in some bushes, but they found him. I went to Capt. Green, who listened to my tale of woe said after while, "considering
our old acquaintance, and the further fact that were not in this part of the country during the war, I will make them give
him back"' which he did.
All of the negroes of the town and the country
around went to Knoxville, except Uncle Peter and one or two others.
I was anxious to be doing something, and the
citizens of Wolf Creek employed me as instructor at an institution of learning, situated on its banks. Here I taught for three
months, and receiving for my services the munificent sum of fifteen dollars and a few bushels of wheat and apples. There half
grown boys and girls who began at Baker, and some little children who learned their A.B.C.' s, were reading very well before
the school was out.
Wolf Creek same roaring and tumbling down from
the side of the Blue Ridge, and the settlers along it were not of the truest to the South. They had during the war , a regular
trail through the mountains to Cleveland, Tennessee, and at noon, entirely devoid of shame, they would tell me their narrow
escapes from capture by Youngs men. For such men, while they treated me well, I had only contempt.
One day at dinner time, I lay down on a bench
under the shade of the trees, which almost covered the institution of learning, and went to sleep, when some of the boys got
into a fight, about which I was unaware. I called books at the usual time, knowing nothing of this, and not missing a boy
who was absent.
About 4 o'clock in the evening, a woman (The
boy having put out across the mountain home sfter the fight with his tale of woe) appeared at the institution, placed her
foot on the step, stuck her head in the door, and gave me such a blessing as I never had before of since. She said I was not
fit to be in charge of this institution, that I was no instructor, and that I made the boys fight at recess for my amusement,
and that she could prove it, besides many other things she said.
During all this time, I had been getting ready
to move to South West Georgia, Randolph County, and everything in shape, my services as instructor at an end, we started about
the last of the year. Uncle Peter driving a yoke of oxen, with my cavalry steed in the lead, and sister Jennie with our household
effects in the wagon, Pa and Ma in a buggy behind. We had given away most everything we had, and among them some valuable
We stopped after an uneventful journey, about
one mile west of Cuthbert, in a rent house on a plantation, which belonged to Nicholas Weaver. Here I spent two years, about
the happiest of my life, and I worked like a negro from daylight till dark. I was then tough and active, and industrious.
That community then was composed of about the best people I have ever met. I rented some land from Weaver, paid $2.50 a bushel
for corn and 33 cents for bacon, and this, through crop time, I paid for every Saturday by hauling wood that I hired a negro
to cut for me. I had only a short distance to haul, and I made eight loads a day, receiving $1.00 a load, and it was paid
when the work was done.
Mike Atkins, who married Gov. Melton's daughter,
(of Florida) was a good friend of mine, and let me have all the dry goods and groceries I wanted without any assurance he
would ever be paid. If living, he is a very old man, and I hope no hard times ever befallen him.
That year I made five bales of cotton, 100
bushels of potatoes, about 75 bushels of corn, and we had hogs for meat, and chickens for eggs.
I sold my cotton for 33 cents per pound, paid
my debts and had about $400.00 left. A Mr. Tomlin of Cuthbert, who was doing a good business, offered me good wages to go
into his store. He said my rent would be nominal, that in the way of something to eat, I already had a living and insisted,
but the high prices of cotton was too tempting, and I refused.
The next year I rented more land, hired me
a negro, made 9 bales of cotton, for which I received 9 cents per pound and went broke. Father and Mother in the meantime,
I had sent to Calhoun. Sister Jennie remained with me until our croip was gathered, when we disposed of our effects and left,
she was going to Calhoun and I to Monroe in Walton Co. to make ready for an ever more memorable pilgrimage to texas. Col.
Young, had been arrested in Athens and cleared of the particular charge, but thinking it best for him, concluded to leave
the state, and so came down to see me at Cuthbert, about following him with his family, which I agreed to do, and from this
place he left to find another home.
After quite a while we were ready and on the
fourth day of May, we left Monroe, myself driving a yoke of oxen, that were drawing an old tobacco wagon, and for which team
and wagon I paid $300.00. Behind me was Robert 13 years old driving a mule team loaded with family and a lot of fixtures.
Both teams were heavily loaded, and my wagon being high up behind and before, almost covered my little oxen from view.
The prospect for a speedy and pleasant journey
was not very inviting, but it was the best we could do.
Together we had about $375.00 with which to
reach our destination. We made on an average about 12 miles a day and paid high for everything.
We traveled through a country much of the way,
that the armies had over-ran, and the people had not yet recovered. The roads were awful, water in many places scarce and
it summer time.
At many places I had to drive both wagons,
mine first and go back for Robert. When we got to Holly Springs, the oldest oxen had given out. I drove up on the square,
and began the inquire for another, but there was none in the country to be had. At last an old fellow came up and said he
had an old stag that had never had a yoke on him, and if I could drive him he wanted $20.00 to boot between him and my broke
down ox. It was a trade right away for it was the only chance. Putting him under the yoke with mine, we started and west from
where we were was a long down hill to a creek at the foot.
Down this long hill we went in great haste,
the new ox nearly killing my old one, and on coming to the creek, instead of crossing, they took up it, my wagon between the
banks, their noses just sticking out of the water. They were hot and I was hot. I waded in and unyoked them, and securing
a log chain from a house close by, hitched them to the rear end of the wagon and pulled the same back in the road. Time and
again I had to unload and reload my wagon, and there is no telling the trouble I had.
When in a short distance from Memphis, we passed
a big saw mill, where was a Texas soldier who had never been home, and who was at work there. He came down to the road and
told us we would never reach Texas, but to go to Memphis, sell out and take a boat to Shreveport. Sister Ad who was afraid
of water would not agree to this, and so we journeyed on. We came to the river opposite Helena, and liked to have never crossed
to the other bank, the wind was so high. Over the river, through the town we travelled till dark, and never got out of a lane,
and finally we came to one side of the road where I believe I spent the most miserable night of my life.
Helena was full of negroes and toughs of every
description and all that night they were passing in every condition of inebrity. I never slept a wink. That night there was
a fire in the city, and we could see the heavens lighted and hear the shingles popping, and our heated imaginations easily
made it a riot.
A few days thereafter, Hindman, a Confederate
General was assassinated in his home. From this on until we crossed Red River, we were in the bottoms of the Mississippi,
Arkansas and other smaller streams. Instead of taking the road that ran north of this, (the old Military Road) which was in
the hills north, we were in the bottoms until we crossed Red River, and then some. My yoke of oxen gave out at a little place
called Tulip in Arkansas, and I gave a man $35.00 to boot for another yoke of young oxen, and these died at Boston, in Bowie
Co., Texas, 300 miles from Cleburne.
Leaving my wagon with the mule team, we journeyned
on until passing Clarksville in Red River county, about five miles, all sick and out of money, we gave it up. I stopped at
a house with a long porch in front, near and unhitched my mules, took some blankets from the wagon, threw them on the floor
and told the children to take possession. A woman who was the only person about the house, was in the kitchen and knew nothing
of all this, coming in after awhile, of course, she was surprised, but she took in the situation, and having a heart within,
went to work to make us as comfortable as possible.
At noon her husband came from the field, took
my mules out, hitched them up and went for the Doctor. These were only poor tenants, and from these kind, the poor all along
the way, we were never denied a favor, or was one rendered us grudgingly. The doctor paid us several visits, and at the expiration
of one week, pronounced us able to continue our journey.
Dr. ________ was aMason and sister having her
husbands demit from the lodge, he gave us money, and with this help we reached Cleburne, on the fourth day of August, exactly
three months on the road. For two years I coiuld smell the mud of the swamps, and for that time we were all troubled more
or less, with chills and fever. I went back to Bowie as soon as I could and gave the doctor his money and brought our goods
We found Doctor Young, living in a double log
house, entry between, one room covered, and him sick in bed. It never rained to disturb us and for a long time, we turned
our attention to chilling, taking medicine and eating. I have never had such an appetite since nor such good corn bread and
Cleburne then had three or four saloons, 2
dry good stores, blacksmith shop, ten pin alleys and the people having had somewhat the same experiences as ourselves, were
sympathetic, they were kind. The cow boys, ful,l of whiskey sometimes, were rough, but they were not mean, and would always
help one in distress. And we were all Southern, the rapid settlement of the country and town the result of the war. There
are lots of good people in this world. Passing us every day on the road to Texas were people with good teams, making good
time, and these while they could not help us, we felt some of their sympathy.
One family from Tennessee well equipped for
the journey, going to an adjoining county in Texas, loitered along with us for two or three days, I think just from pure good
heartedness, but one day a long ways ahead I got a glimpse of his wagon top at a bend in the road, and that was the last of
him. I did not blame them. Sister Ad, all the way was nervous, excitable afraid, and I was afraid of a collapse but she stood
it very well, and was better off then any of us on our arrival. But enough of this miserable journey, for every time I think
of it, I begin to speculate as to how much of hardship a human can endur and survive, when I am lost.
Soon we had the home covered, chimneys at each
end, and began to live. We had cows free to milk. The stock man would frequently throw great chunks of the finest beef you
ever saw into the yard, and corn bread and coffee, easily obtained, were no object. The country was beautiful, covered with
green as God made it, as yet not torn up and disfigured by man,
The first work I did was in the Sheriff's office,
who was also tax collector. While with him, the Yankees, who were in charge of the state, levied a tax of five cents on the
100 dollars to pay the expense of their legislature, which we collected, and with it the sheriff started to Austin, and a
few miles from home was robbed.
No one seemed to regret it, but I did on the
sheriff's account. A democrat legislature afterwards relieved the sheriff of its payment. When we came to Texas, the democrats
were in power. J.W. Throckmorton, Governor, but soon afterwards came the military, when all officials before the war had taken
the oath to support the constitution of the United States, had to step down and out.
The five justices of the piece, Judge Hiner
being one of the, and the presiding Judge could not take the oath, having been an officer before the war, insisted on my running
for the place, which I did and was elected. The court called the Commissioners Court, had charge of all the affairs of the
country road bridges, levying and collecting of taxes, jurisdiction in civil cases to a certain amount, and the probating
of wills, in fact all the business of the county. Living in precinct No. 1 I was presiding Justice of this court foe five
or six years, and gave satisfaction, at the same time making money. During this time the Democrats came into power, adopted
a new constitution, creating the office of County Judge, and to this I was elected. In this office I was required to appoint
all the school trustees, and there were about sixty schools, issue warrants, and keep an account of every teacher, besides
my jurisdiction in the trial of cases, was much greater then before, and I was a very busy man. A term of two years of this
kind of business satisfied me and I retired.
About this time, some young men, who have since
become prominent and now considered among the best lawyers in the state, M.M. Crane, Wm. Poindexter, W.F. Ramsey and S.C.
Paddleford, began the practice. With these and some of the other lawyers, I did not always agree. I have thought if in every
community, the people would select a man because of his well known honesty and good common sense, to settle their little differences,
it would do a great good. While there would be no statue to enforce this decisions, public opinion would answer about the
same purpose, and it would be equally as satisfactory, and much less expensive. But I expect as long as the world stands,
built as we are, there will be lawyers and litigation.
My health was not good, and so that summer,
to recuperate, I rented ten acres of land to give me some excercise. I paid $50.00 cash for the rent of the land, when a dry
year struck me and I made 18 bushels of corn.
Following this, I tried merchandising twice,
once on a pretty big scale, and managed by hard work to come out even in both instances. I never left my venture outside interfere
with my accumulation of property, which by this time I had considerable, and which, had I taken care of, I would have been
in a good fix today.
During Cleveland's administration, I sold property
to pay debts, that today would bring $50,000,00, lands were down to the bottom, A good horse could be bought for $5.00, everything
cheap, money was not to be had, and interest was eating me up. I sold out to be free, but had I put it off, as did some others,
it might have been better, and it might not have been. When becomes careless and indifferent, and perhaps I was too much so,
riches can and will, take unto themselves wings and fly away. I never was good at saving money, and while some of it was spent
foolishly, and perhaps injurously, I have the satisfaction of knowing I helped others some, and some instances not appreciated.
It was always a hard matter for me to refuse my signature to a note, and in this way I have helped some who were not overly
honorable. If to only the good the honorable, we render assistance, as we pass along, of what we have to boast? The worst
of sinners would do that, and life is too short to discriminate.
Soon after getting here I bought a lot, built
a log house and prepared foe Pa, Ma and Jennie who followed me the next year. The number for flooring and doors cost me $8.00
per hundred, there was no ceiling and lying in bed, we could study astronomy, through the roof of post oak boards.
We got along first rate and just about as happy
as the man in the palace. Pa stayed about the house all the time, except when he and Ma went to Church, and never formed many
acquaintances. We lived on a slight elevation, and the wind was always blowing, and undisturbed for a thousand miles North
or South from one of the directions, today from the North, he would say, they drove us back, tomorrow from the South, he would
say, we drove them back today, his mind on the war. He walked about on the prairie every day, and when he died we buried him
in a little grave yard, near the house, on a little spot about which he had often walked, and from where he had a good view.
He died without seeming to suffer, like going to sleep. I never heard him complain of any pain, just tired and went to sleep.
Mother lived with sister Jennie, who had married
Major Jack Davis, and I boarded around. Always Mother had been subject to severe spells of the nervous headache, and with
one of these she went to her death. She was not sick long, never conscious, and seemingly died trusting and believing in the
life and happiness in the land beyond, where I am satisfied she is.
We took up father's remains and together they
lie in the new grave yard in East Cleburne. Sister Ad, her husband and three of her children are buried there also. Sister
Jennie at Cushing in Nacodoches County, Brother Sandy at Darien, Georgia, Brother William and Brother Jule far apart in unknown
graves. Your Ma and myself are only left. Verily that four years of war scattered us about, and our burials in unexpected
places. I am nao in the Texas Confederate Home, and as well content as one could be under the circumstances. We have good
clean beds upon which to sleep, plenty to eat, books and newspapers to read, the location of the Home beautiful, overlooking
the Colorado, plenty of nice dry walks, and we come and go as we please.
The great thing that renders one unhappy here,
is lost opportunities, which might have been, and this affects all, more or less but these we should strive to forget, seeing
they are beyond recall.