W. H Younce.

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tive schools tliat existed in that country, I had
. been more fortunate than man}^ otlicr 3'oung men
who had grown up with me. From early child-
hood I had been a close student and an earnest
seeker after knowledge. I believed it was por-
sible in tiiis great country of ours for a man of
ambition to reach a higher and nobler life tlian
those who were eontcrit to grow up and fall like
the leaves.

I hud completed the common grades and was
ready to enter upon higher branches when the
call to arms came. In politics J had been
trained in the old "Whig school, and although, on
account of my youth, I had taken but little in-
terest in alTairs of Government, living in the
midst of slavery, and daily observing the evils
of the whole system, I had become thoroughly
imbued with the anti-slavery doctrine, and ev-
ery day was more and more convinced in my
own mind thai it was wrong.

"When, in 1800, IMr. Lincoln was elected Prts-
ident, I then heard the mutterings of secession,
and the boast that one Southern man v.-as equal
to ten "Yankees." In a short tim^e one State
after another followed in rapid succession, sev-
ering the ties that held tliem together.


k.u;lti;k days of tiik war.
• ThroiigliOiit the wliole Soutli we heard niartlul
music, tlic fervent appCcils of the orator, the
tramp of th.c young soldier, the plaudits of the
multitude as they marched away to the struggle
under the new ilag. To see so many of ]ny as-
sociates proudly marching to the war in a blaze
of glory was a great temptation to me, and often
I implored Divine Providence that, if I was
wrong in my political conviction, to give me un-
derstanding, and place me riglit. I was ready
and willing to fight for my country under the
old Hag, but could never consent tliat my weapon
should be drawn in what I believed to be an un-
worthy cause.

The summer of ISCl dragged slowly on. I
had become intensely iriterested, and was watch-
ing every, movement of the two armies. Ivly
faith was unshakeii in the superiority and strat-
egy of Northern arms, when suddenly, on the
2Ist of July, the news flashed throughout the
country of the defeat of the Union army at Bull
Ivun. The whole South was electrified, and we
heard nothing but the triumphant shout of the
victors and the boast of Southern chivalry.


By this time, beardless boy though I was, I
had been marked and spotted as a "Lincolnite,'*
**a Yankee sympathizer," and a "traitor.'*
The Fall and Winter of 'Gl to '62 passed slowly
on, and I began to realize that I must suppress
my convictions on the issues of the war, though
my faith grew stronger on the side of the North.

With the opening of Spring renewed energy
was put forth to strengthen the cause and in-
crease the army, and by June about all the
available volunteers had. been mustered into ser-
vice, and as I looked at the situation at this
time, in my soul there was rejoicing. Fort
Donelson hud fallen, and the Union army had
more than held its own at Shiloh. New ho])es
shone blaziiig befctre my vision. General I\Ic-
Clcllan was marching on to Richmond with that
grand army of 100,000 men. I fully believed
that R'ichniond woi'.ld fall; that no power tiiere
could impede the progress of that great army.
Again the friends of the Union were doomed to
disappointment, for iSIcClellan was defeated, and
forced to retire.

The climax was now reached. 'J'ho^o in sym-
pathy with the Southern cause grew slill more
arrogant, and no one's life and property were


safe if it was known he was in 'synipathy with
the Union.

co>;fi:dekate consckipt law.

About this time the Confederate Congress
passed the wholesale conscript law, including
every one between the ages of eighteen and for-
ty-five, and as I had just reached my tvrentieth
year, it was t.hen nny real trouble began. It was
then I began casilng about to find some way of
escape. About tne 1st cf August myself and
three other companions, under the leadership of
a good old Baptist preacher, started on horse-
back through Ea,^:t Tennessee \\lui tlie purpose
of reaching Kentucky and the- Union army.
After several weeks' scouting and nuineuvering
we found we could not make our escape by that
mode of travel, and in September returned to
our home. The Governor of my State had is-
sued a proclamation ordering all conscripted men
to report on a certain day at L..eir respective
Countyseats for duty, and failing lo do so they
were to be arrested as deserters. The militia
between the ages of thirty-five and lorty-five
were ordered into camp in their respective Coun-
ties to enforce the conscript k.vr. On the 5th


day of October they were in car.ip about a mile
from my father'b home.

The scenes of which I am now about to de-
scribe will never be forgotten v.'liilc life lasts.
The militia was regularly organized, and under
the command of Colonel Gentry. My father's
family consisted of father and mother and my-
self and one brother three years my senior. On
that day he and I and two other companions
mounted our horses and started for Tennessee,
the State line being but six miles west. The
people of that part of Tennessee being extremely
loyal to the Union, and there being no soldiers
in that country, we felt comparatively safe
among oar friends there. We crossed the State
line late in the evening just as the shadov/s of
the tall peaks around us were climbing the sides
■of the mountains over in the east. A short dis-
tance beyond the State line, in the edge of Ten-
nessee, lived a family whom I will call Carroll,
.consisting of father, mother, and three daugh-
ters. They were the only family for miles
around, save one or two, whose sympathies were
with the Southern cause. I will not attempt to
■describe the personnel of the Carroll girls, but
will only say they were noted for their beauty
ior miles around.


I had been a frequent visitor at tlieir home for
some luontlis previous to this, paying inj atten-
tions to Edith, the youngt^st of the three
sisters. She and I had often talked of the is-
sues of tlie war. vShc was extremely loyal to the
South, and believed, as did tiiousands of other
Southern people, the Yankees would not fight ;
that they were an inferior and cov.-ardly race,
and that one Southern man was more than equal
to five of them. She used all the persuasive
powers at her comn\and to influence me to volun-
teer in the Confederate army, but I always met
her argumei.ts v/ith niy side of the question, and
her in flue co proved of no avail."


On tlic evening above referred to, as tiie road
passed near the door of her home, it occurred to
me to stop and remain over night. I so stated
my intentions to my compai;ion5. Each of them
vigorously entered his protest against it, and
■used all tlie arguments he could command to have
i^ie go on with them about four miles farther
down the country, among friends, where we
would be safe. It was of no use, however. I
designated the place I would meet them next


morning at eight o'clock. I dismounted, entered
tliG house, and my coinpajiioiib went on. r»Iy
horse, as usual, was taken to the barn.

Miss Edith expressed some surprise at my
visit just at that time, but I carelessly turned it
off, saying I was going down in the country to
be gone a few days, and it was quite convenient
for mc to come this far on my journey this ev-
ening. She knew nothing of the real cause of
iny unexpected appearance, and it was a ques-
tion in my. mind as to whether 1 ought to tell her
or not. After sui)pcr she invited me to the par-
lor, and she at once began to talk of the war,
saying slic Imd understood that over in my Stale
all conscriplcd men were being arrested as de-
serters ; that tile militia was in camp and scour
ing the country for conscripts.

'*Your information is correct," said I.

*'Then, sir, perhaps I can surmise the cause
of your unexpected visit tliis evening," she re-
torted, "liut, oh, no; it can't be possible that
you are ileeing for refuge! You can not only be
turning your back upon your own country in the
darkest hoi.r of its peril, but by this act blast-
ing every hope for an honorable and useful life
in the future, to which you have always aspired!


0, if I wore only a man, how I would Leach you
a lesson iri ;jati'iotisni by shouldering my musket
and marching to the front !^'

'.'Miss Edith," said I, "you talk very prettily,
and grow quite eloquent, but you represent a
wicked and unjust cause. Your surmise is cor-
rect. I am fleeing for refuge, and know not
where I will find safety. The Government to
which you refer so eloquently is not my country.
I owe my allegiance to that country only that is
reprcserited by tliat beautiful emblem o: tlie free,
the Stars and Stripes. It is true this is my na-
tive land, and I love its mountains, bui j. cannot
and will not fight for a Governnu^ni thar seeks
to enslave me, and whose cornorsione is .vinvcry."

"Yes," said she; "but whai will yuu do?
You cannot csciipe. liesides, you are risking
your life in the at:empt."

"1 kaow," said 1, "the last statemeni is true.
There are men in my country who would be
cowardly and mean enough to lake my life; but
my purpose is to try to escape, and got to th.e
Uniori army, and I have faith that, if tiiC God in
whom J trust notices even th.e fall of a ^^parrow.
He will deliver me from the hands of my ca-
emies. And, now, IMiss Kditii, I liave made a


clean breast of it to you as to my purpose for the
future. In the niorniug 1 will bid you good-by,
having perfect eonfidencc tliat you will not bc-
tra}' mc ur.til I am beyond the reach of all those
who would do me harm."

'*It grieves n\c," said she, "that you have de-
termined Oil this course, but I assure you' that,
come what may, no word or deed of mine shall
ever do you harm. I will shield and protect you
80 far as it is in my pov/er to do," und laying her
hand on m}^ arm, and the tears welling up in
her eyes, she said : "As you are determined on
this course, I pray that God will guide you, and
that you may safely reach your destination be-
yond the reach of your enemies."


.. -It was now between nine and ten o'clock, and
time to retire for the night. I went to my room,
find had just got comfvrtably settled in bed and
began to wonder what another day would bring,
when suddenly I heard the rattling of horses'
hoofs on the ston}'' higliway. My heart leaped
to my throat. My first impulse v.-an to spring
from my bed and try to make my escape from
the house, and then, not knowing whether or

Tiiio Ai)Vj':.\'j^UKJ':.s ov a coxscjtiPT n

not there vas real danger, I thought that would
be co\va;-djy. Nearer and nearer they up-
proached, when suddenly the}' halted in front of
the house. I knew then that it was tc)0 late,
and I nt once began to try to nerve myself for
whatever might happen. In less time than it
takes to toll it they had surrounded the house
and were making an alarm at the front door.

They were admitted b}' Mr. Carroll. I heard
the question asked if I was there, whici:i was
answered in the afiirmativc. J then arose and
began to dress myself, and wlien I was dressed
walked into the room.

IMajor Long (for that was his name) laid his
hand on my shoulder and said:

'*Sir, you are my prisoner.'"

"I acknowledge your authority, Major, and
realize that I am," I replied.

At this moment Miss Edith came dashing
down the stairway, her long, dark hair hanging
looselj'-over her slioulders, and in a fit of excite-
ment began to plead with Major Long to tell her
what lie was going- to do with me.

"Young lady, you seem to be ver}^ much in-
terested in tliis young man," he replied, "and I
say to you that he is unworthy of your recogni-


tion, much less of your confidence and friend-
ship. He is a traitor to his country, and de-
serves no mercy at our hands."

At tiiis remark the hot blood mounted to my
forehead, and straightening myself to my full
height I said :

*'Sir, that is an insult. I stand here helpless,
your prisoner, and no one but a coward would
insult a prisoner. The future will tell which of
us is the traitor, you or I; and as to mercy, I
do not ask it. All I ask is that treatment due
me as your prisoner."

At this he seized me roughly by the shoulder.

*'Sir," said he, "I would advise you to be
careful how you talk. You are insane, or per-
haps worse, in love" (pointing his finger at IMiss
Edith), •'! know not which ; but I do know you
are not in love with your country. We will nov,*
changt^ your occupation, and put you at sorac-
tliing else besides riding over the country and
shouting for Lincoln."

"Yes, sir," said I, "I am in love with — Lib-

By this time my horse was ready. I bade
i\Hss Edith good-by, and we hurried from the
house, r^rountin;^: our iiorsos we started back



toward No7-th Carolina. After going perhaps a
laile ^ve came to where the road passed througli
a long gap in the mountain, and Major Long or-
dered' the men to stop, Sciying th>ey would remain
there and guard the road through, the niglit, and
capture any others who might try to escape by
this route. We dismounted, and 1 w.;s care-
fully guarded till daylight, rvlajor Long had
seven men -with him. Some one, tliough I never
knew who it was, had paijsed tl^iC CarroU home
and seen me stop there, and going over iiuo
Korth Carolina had met M;-jor Long and his
men, and reported nie, and tiicy at oncc started
for their game.

With the dawn of the morning we started for
camp, six or seven miles to the cast, ^\'e passed
near my home, but the ^Major refused to allow
me to stop. ^Vilen wc arrived i;C cjnip a guard
was detailed to lake charge ()!' ir.o. A oroMier
of Colonel Gentry, whom I h;.vo boA>rc nieu-
tioned, was Captain of Compan . L in th.e 5Sth
Xorth Carolina. He was at hoi^iC on recruiting
service, and was with the militia. Tiic-y had
proposed to all conscripts who v.\.uld voluntarily
surrender themselves tlie privilege oi v.-:ui;teer-
ing in Captain Geiitry's company. Ab^-ut fifty,


through intinn'datioii aiu"; :'o<'ir, had reported aiul
voluntcorod. I sent word to my father that I
had been captured, and to come for ir.y horse.
I fully expected to go to our couuty seat and be
incarcerated in jail until they were ready to send
me to the front at Kichmond.

The time passed slowly on. It was a sa<l day
for me. Many of my rebel friends came and
took me by the hr.nd, and expressed great sym-
pathy for mc, saying they were very sorry I had
taken such an unwise step. They saitl I had
missed the opportunity of niy life; that my as-
pirations ought to have led mc to hiive entered
the army; that I could have had a commission.

The-'e were the stories that were poured into
my ears by those who pretended to be my
frierids. During the day father aad mother had
come and had been permitted to i-ce iwe and say
good-b}^ and returned to their home heart-
broken with grief. Late in the afternoon Col-
onel Gentry, Captain Gentry, and another friend
of mine came to me and proposed tliat if I would
take the oath of allegiance to the Southern
cause, volunteer in Captain Gentry's compaify,
take charge of fifty recruits, and condtict thcni
to the regiment, they would allow me to do so,


and would iiot send juc away as a con.script or

After talking tiic matter over for bome time,
I agreed to do so, thinking as they already had
me, that was tiie best tiling I eould do. The
oath was administered by Colonel Gentry, and
my name was enrolled on the con-ipany's books.
All this occurred wliile I. Wiis a prisoner, but im-
mediately afterward I was released, with per-
mission to go to my home to remain over night,
and with orders to report next morning at eight
o'clock for duty, to start to the regiment.

There was sui'prise at my home that evening
when I arrived. I told them i!ie turn things had
taken, and we discussed the question as to
whether or not the oath I had taken under the
circumstances was binding. I ^vas of ihe opin-
ion that it v.'as not, but I finally decided there
was nothing left for me to do at tiiat time but to
go, and wait my opp(n-tunity to make my escape
at some future time. It was a night o: agony
for me, and I slept but little, and next morning
I again said good-by, and reported for duty.

There were just fifty recruits, including my-
self, and all were ready to stare. The people
from the country around were tiiere to say good-


b}" to the boys. I was the hero of the occasion,
and tlic crowd became so enthusia<^lic that I was
carried on the shoulders of some of the younger
men to a platform and forced to make a short
talk. The people thought that 1 had repented,
and, "there was more rejoicing over one sinner
that repented than over ninety and nine that
went not astray." They could not read iny
thoughts. My purposes were the same, and I
believed that I would find refuge under the flag
of my country some day.

It was now time to start, and after the good-
byes luid all been said to the weeping mothers,
wives, sisters and children,! lined the men up in
double hie and gave the order to march. It was
forty miles to the railroad, but nothing unusual
happened during our journey, and in one week
from the day wu started we joined the regiment,
then at Tazewell, Tenn. We were immediate-
ly mustered into the service. Then, as we set-
tled down to the ordinary camp life, after the
exciting scenes of the last ten days, I had plenty

f time for reflection.
At timc.'j I grew mclanclioly and despondent.
There was a great burden on my soul. I had
' registered an oath in Heaven that I would never


fight for ihe Southern, and boiu* arms
against my country, and in the bitterness of my
remorse] cried out: "'.''■'. iy did not cy longue
cleave to the roof of my mouth l>cfore t.-iking
the oath of allegiance to the JelT Davis Govern-
ment? ^Yhy did I not let then; take my life?"
1 talked to three of my companions whom I
could trust, and began to devise some means by
which ^ve might yet make our escape, ar^d after
several days' planning and consultir;g, \vc de-
cided to desert, go back to the mountains at our
home, and v/ait for the nearer approach of the
Union army, and then make a last desperate at-
tempt to get inside tiie Union lines.


So, after having been in camp about two
weeks, about th.c first of Xoven^bcr, on Thurs-
da}' afternoon, we flanked the guards and soon
found ourselves in the country amono; ihc Irills.
The names of the three men witl\ me wore Eob-
inson, Ivoark, and Keed}', all several years my
senior. That evening when nigh: came, we left
the woods and took the road. We traveled all
night, and wiicu morning came went into the


We contiiuiod our journey during the day, but
made slow progress through tlic rough moun-
tains, and when niglitcauie we were so worn out
for want of rest and sleep that wc lay down on
the cold ground on the mountainside among the
pines, with no covering save the canopy of
Heaven, and slept soundly until morning. l>c-
fore leaving camp we had taken the precaution
to prepare food to last us a day or two, which
we smuggled out when we left, and on the morn-
ing referred to we had enough for a scanty

This was on Saturday, and we started on our
journey feeling much refreshed. We made good
progress that day, traveling along the mountain
paths and by-roads, and felt reasonably secure,
but as night began to come on we grew tired
and hungry, having had nothing to eat since
morning, and but little then. Still, we traveled
on until darkness had settled down upon us.
We then left the woods, and sought the road.

We were dragging our wf ar}'- limbs along, won-
dering how much further we could go that night,
when we saw a light in a farm bouse some dis-
tance from the road. ^Ve were so tired and
hungry we thought there could be no harm in

Tiii^ ADVK^"n;]lK.s.ol'^ a coNSCiurT lo

going to tiic lioiKSc, askiiig for supper, and re-
liiaining over night, jicsides, we knew there
were many Union people tlirough lliis jjurt of tlie
country, find we would simply take our ehanees.
It was a desperate c]ianee,as will be seen further

Leaving the main road we walked over to the
house. It was a larg*^ frame residence with a
j)Orch running tlic entire length of the front,
having the appearance of a place vrhose ovrner
might be in good circumstances. "We v/ere cor-
dially received, and told that supper would be
prepared for us, and that we v/ere welcome to
remain over night. After a short time supper
was announced. Vie v.'erc- conducted to the
dining-room, and as we were all unusually hun-
gry we enjoyed the meal very mucli. The gen-
tleman told us his name v/as V.'ood, and that he
never turned any one from his l.oii^e hungry.
Ke asked us to what command we belonged. We
told him the oSth N. C. a^id that wc vra-c going
home on a thirty days' leave of absence. He,
observing that we were tired and sleepy, sug-
gested that we had better retire, to which we
readily agreed. We were conducted to a large
bed-roora adjoining the sitting-room, containing


two beds, and when left alone were soon in bed
and asleep. Wo were so tired aiid exhausted
we slept soundly till morning, when we were
aroused by an alarm at our room door, saying it
was time to get up for breakfast.


^Yc arose, dressed ourselves, and when we
were all ready to go out found llie door loeked.
When we were heard,! t was immediately opened^
however, and to our horror we looked into the
muzzels of half a dozen muskets in tlie hands of
as many Confederate soldiers. Our genial hoot
stepped toward us andjsaid: "Gentlemen, you
are my prisoners."

My heart almost stood still. It seemed that
my very breath was gone. I stood for some time
speeelil.ess, and my muscles refused to move,
Llr. Wood broke the silence.

•*I am the Enrolling Onicer, " said he, "of tliis
distriet. I believe you have deserted from the
army, and you have or not, that makes
no diiTerence. You are either deserters or con-
scripts, and as such it becomes my duty, as
a patriot and one who is loyal to his country, to
arrest you and turn you over to the proper au-



thoritic'S. You told inc last ;ii^;ht you liad a
leave of absence ; if so, produce it."

"Mr. Wood," said I, "we have riothing to
produce. You have simply taken advaniage of
fatigue and hunger and we have'fallen your

''When you came to my house last night," he
said, "I felt sure tliat you were deserters. You
were securely locked in, but you did Vini know it.
Then I immediately dispatched messengers for
these brave boys," pointing to the soldiers,
"whom I knew would get here in time to capture
you, and now, gentlemen, whiit havc you to

"Sir," said I, "we have nothing ii; suy."
"Come, then," said he. "out on the porcli,
\vash,arjd prepare for breakfast, I have ordered
a good bre^ikfast prepared for you, for you will

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Online LibraryW. H YounceThe adventures of a conscript → online text (page 1 of 6)