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ers that were in the crowd. He dragged him-
self along for a day or two after he got sick.
We all tried to encourage him; told him ho
must not think of giving up, but he continued
to grow worse. His pulse became more rapid
and his face was flushed with fever. It was
■sometime in the forenoon, the rain was falling
in torrents. In spite of all we could do, he lay
"down on the cold, wet ground; said he could go
no further, and begged that we go on, and let
him die alone. He said if we undertook to take
-care of him, vre would all be captured, and for
us to leave him and save ourselves. We were
.at a loss to know what to do. We could not
think of leaving him alone. We counseled as to
what was the best to do. Of course his brother
^'ould not go and leave him to die alone. We
gathered a lot of dry leaves and made a bed for


him under the trunk of a fallen tree, and gath-
ered bark from trees and covered him to protcQt
him from .the rain, and placed him there as gen-
tly as we could, and as the tears coursed down
their faces we bade the boys good-bye and
started on our journey. The young man sat on
the log, beside his sick brother's bed, and waved
his hand to us as we disappeared around the side-
of the mountain.

And I have never knovrn vrhat became of these-
brothers — whether they were captured or died..
I have often wished T did knov,-, for I will jievcr
forget that sad parting. We iuid eaten nothing
during the day, and after we had left these two
comrades we began to look out for to
eat, but it seemed that fate was against us.
We found no house that we thougiit would be
safe. 2sight came on ; we crossed the valley east
of us, ascended the mountain again, and in the
after part of the night, lay dov/n on the ground
when we again resumed our jouriioy.

"We were aware that Ashby's Confederate.
cavalry was in camp in the valley east of us.
From our position on the mountain we could see
their camp.

Our purpose was to get around them. Ofi


course, their presence made us more cautious.
Wc followed the summit of the mountain until
About noon, when we sav/ a liousc at tlie liead of
a little valley on the east side of the mountain,
and after taking in the situation, decided v/e
would approach the house for something to eat.
We followed a ridge that ran down nearly to
the house, when the boys hid in the underbrush,
and Jones and I, as usual, went to the house.
We had not been there five minutes when I dis
covered that we were not among friends. , The
old lady and daughters were busy cooking diri-
nor over an old-fashioned fireplace, and just as
wo were shaping our conversation for an excuse
to start, two Confederate cavalrymen rode up.
They dismounted, threw the reins of their bridles
over the gate-posts, and came walking in the
house. One of tlic soldiers was the son of the
man who lived there, and the other a comrade of
his. They belonged to Ashby's Cavalry, was
■camped dowii ia the valley a fev.' miles below, as
I have before stated, and the young man had
brought- his comrade up to his home for dinner.
They v.'cre armed with the ordinary cavalry side-
arms, and while v/e did not intend chat they
•should arrest us, had they attempted to do so.


our policy was not to get into tro\iljle, but l>y
sonic sliurp praclice of diploiiiucy or'Oj)rc-
scntation, throw thera oiU their guard so they
would not suspect us.

As I usually did the talking, I at once engaged
them in conversation. Said I: *'We are glad to
oonie up again with our command; have been to
our homes over in Kentucky, and just by acci-
dent learned our command was down here in the

*'Wiiat command do you mean?" asked one
of them.

**Gen. Marshall's," said I. ''We belong to
Marshall's Brigade."

"Well," said he, "3'ou are jnisLakcn. Our
■command — Ashby's Cavalry — itf do\v:i Iicre, but
I know Marshall's Brigade is not, and I do not
know wlicre it is." "

I expressed great surprise at the iriformatiou
he had given us. By this time dinner was
ready, and wc were cordially invited to cat din-
ner with them — and, by the w;iy, it vras a very
appetizing dinner, especiall}' for or.c who had
not eaten anything for thirty-six h.ours, — and
we very readily accepted tlie invitation. We
continued our conversation. They asked me a


great many questions which I answered by guess,
presuming tiicy were as ignorant of the mak,c-up
of Marshall's r>rigade as I was. I knew it had
some Ivcntucky regiments in it, and in answer
to their questions I said we belonged to the 12th
Kentucky. Our Colonel's name was Campbell;
that we were from M^hite County; had left our
command up in south-west Virginia ; had been
home on a furlough, and were now returning.

1 watched them carefully to see whether or
not I could detect anything from their counte-
nances, but the story seemed answering our pur-
pose, and tliey were apparently taking it all in.

In due time dinner was over. We arose from
the table, and walked out in the yard. One of
the young men beckoned to his comrade. They
walked some distance from us. and engaged in
a low conversation, after which one of them
mounted his horse and rode off down the road.
This aroused my suspicion, thinking perhaps he
had gone to report us, and would return with
more soldiers ui\d attempt to capture us. The
other young man said, if we desired, he would go
with us, and put us on the direct road leading to
Rogersville, some six or eight miles down the-


I had been to Kogcrsvillc before, and that^vas
one of the last places I wanted to go just at this
time. I tliankcd hira for his secmiug kindness,
but said if our conimand was not doy.-n there it
would be a trip for notliing, and I could see no
need of our going. I suggested to Jones that
we turn north and follow the main road into
Virginia, where we left our brigade, and we
would certainly find it some place up there. I
stepped inside the door and asked the old lady
our bill, to which she replied:

"Not a. cent; not a cent, sir. It shall never
be said of me when I am dead and gone that I
charged a poor soldier that was fighting for his
country for a meal's victuals."

I thanked her for her kindness, and we bade
them good-by and started up the road. Soon
as we passed out of sight of the house we turned
into the woods and joined our companions. "A
guilt}" conscience needs no accuser," and we
were very doubtful as to whether or not our en-
tertainers had accepted our story. As the coun-
try was full of soldiers, we thought it best to at
once conceal ourselves.

We ascended the mountain as rapidly as pos-
sible. We came to a rugged clill on the side of


the mountain covered witli laurel and shrubber}'"
peculiar to that country, — so dense a person
could scarcely get thro.ugh it — and in that
thicket we sat down to wait for night, with the
intention of then making our escape from that
part of the country. But as evening approached,
however, the clouds began to gather, and just
as darkness began to'envelop the mountain, the
rain commenced to fall in torrents.

It grew darker and darker until not a ray of
light penetrated that dismal gloom.

"VYe started to make our way from this hiding-
place, but found it impossible to make any head-
way on account of the darkness; besides, we
knew we were surrc^undcd by yawning precipices
over whicii we were liable to plunge.

The only thing theii left 'for us to do was to
remain there till morning.


• I will never forget the agonies and sulfering
of that night. We sat on the cold rocks, hud-
dled together, trying to keep warm. It rained
incessantly until the after part of the night
when the wind began to blow and turn cold.
We had no way of telling the time, and could


only guess as to how the night was passing.
Wq eagerly watched for the first streaks of light
over the summit of the mount.air,s in the east.
Jones and I were more fortunate than the bal-
ance of the men. We had had dinner the day
before, while the others had had nothing to eat
for nearl}'' two days, and we were all sulferlng
terribly with cold and hunger.

At last the morning dawned, and just as soon
as it was light enough to see we started. After
a short time we got in the open woods. We
■counseled as to the best tiring to do, and we de-
termined to stop at the first house we came to;
that we would all go together, and, K-t them be
friend or foe, we would get something to eat,
and that every man would die before he would
be captured. "With this understanding we be-
gan to look for a house. Finally we eanie to a
place a short distance from the main road in a
grove of forest trees. We all went together.
We told them we were cold and hungry, and
asked them to allow us to warm and dry ourselves
and give us something to eat. They received
us kindly and invited us in the house.

We had been in the house but a fevr mo-
ments when we found they were good Union


people. We told tliem our story — that \vc were
trying to make our escape from the rebel army.
The good woman ut once went to work and pre-
pared a splendid breakfast for us, while a good-
sized boy stood guard some distance fronj the
house, in order to give an alarm sliould any
soldiers approach, After we had eaten our
breakfast aiid warmed and dried ourselves, we
felt very much refreshed. We insisted on pay-
ing these good people for their kindness, but
they refused to take anything, and when we
were ready to start the old man taking each one
by the hand, asked God to bless and protect us.
The boy went with us five or six miles to pilot us
by the safest paths and out of the way of
the soldiers that were prowling through the

This was on Friday, and we had been out just
two weeks. Our purpose was to get to the ITol-
ston River that day, and cross it at night. It was
a dark, foggy day, and about noon we thought
we v\'ere in the vicinity of the river. We went
down into a dark, deep wood between the hills,
built a nre and sat by it all afternoon, waiting
for night to come to crosr, the river.

When night came we started, but found we


"N^'cre yet about four miles from the river, and
\vc found, furtlier, that it was impossible to
■cross it at night. So we had to wait again for
morning. The recent lu-avy rains }iad so swollen
+lic river that it was just inside its banks, — a
muddy, ugly, turbulent stream — and the only
way to cross was to find a canoe or flatboat of
which there were many, if we could be fortunate
•enough to find one anchored on our side. As
soon as it was light enough to see we crossed
the open bottoms that lay along the river, and
started up the stream with the hope of finding
•a canoe or something on which wc could cross.
We had traveled tv/o or three miles up the
west bank, when, some distance further up, we
saw two or three men in a canoe crossing over
to the east bank. ^Ye hallooed at them, and
■endeavored to attract their attention, but failed
to make them hear. ^Ye watched them land on
the oi^posite bank and enter a two-story frame
residence that stood near by. We walked on
as rapidly as we could, and about the time we
got to the landing the colored man who had
-gone over with the canoe returned.



We asked him if he would take us over, to
which he replied that he would. All tlie boys
got in the canoe except Jones and I. It would
not carry us all and the old negro would have to
return for us.

While we vrere waiting for him to rctum three
Confederate cavalrymen rode up, dismounted,
and hitched their horses. They said they would
go over with us.

We all got aboard, the old -darky shoved us
from the shore, and we started over. The sol-
diers said they belonged to Gen. Marsliall's
Brigade, and that their Colonel and ]\Ir. Lyons^
who lived on tlie bank of the river, had just
gone over before them, and that Lyons was an
enrolling oflicer.

; We ha*d found Marshall's Brigade when we
were not looking for it, and the next thing for
"US to do was to get away fr(»m it. Had we
made ourselves heard or attracted attention of
that Colonel and Lyons, there is no doubt but
we would have been captured and killed. The
soldiers who crossed with Jones and me treated
us quite unsuspectingly, asked if we were going


home en furloufjh ; to which \vc answered in tlie
afhrmative. When wc landed we were not more
than fifty yards from the house which, tlie s(<l-
diers entered. Fortunately no one in the house,
apparently, saw us.

We startec^ east on the main road, run-
ninf^ perhaps a mile before it entered a
wood along the base of a mountain. We soon
reached these woods, when we at once left the
road and sought refuge in the mountains. After
traveling for some distance, until we fell per-
fectly safe, we sat down to rest and recount tiie
scenes and dangers of the morning. We fully
.realized ti):U we had run a ^reat risk, and had a
very narrow escape.

This was on Saturday, February 2o, and it
began to rain in the afternoon. We iiad noth-
ing to eat during the da}^, and wore very hungry,
as well as tired, but we traveled on till about
night, when we came to a log cabin beside the
• little road we were following.

We believed it would be safe to' remain
over niglU if the family w-lio lived there were
Union people, ai^d we felt sure they were. We
enter the house all together, told theni we were
^vet and hungry, wanted sonjethirig to eat, and


to remain \vilh them over night. They very
kindly took us in, prepared supper for us, and
the old gentleman built a fire out of logs in an
old-fashioned fireplace. We found them, as wc
had expected, good Union people. After wc had
eaten our supper, the old man assured us \vc
were perfectly safe, and they spread a lot of
quilts and comforts on the floor in front of the
fire for us to lie on. I am sure I never slept
sounder or rested better in all my life than I did
that night.

We arose next morning quite early, in order
to have breakfast prepared by daylight. Our
clothes had dried, and we felt very much re-
freshed. After breakfast the old gentleman
instructed us as to the best and safest route?
and we again resumed our journey.

Turning east we left the regular range of
mountains, and had twenty or twenty-five miles
of open country to travel over. Taking advan-
tage of the by-paths, and keeping in the woods
as much as possible, wo traveled all day and
iuade good progress. About dark we had
reached Jonesboro, which we passed on the north,
keeping at a distance of a half a mile or more
from the town. After we reached the railroad,


iiortli of ihc to\vii, ^vc st;iftcd up llic track, and
had gone but a short distance, wheii \vc entered
A deep cut. Just tlicn we lieard a train cojiiing
toward us. Fortunately the bank was not so
steep but we could climb it, wliicii we did on
double-quick time, and were just on the top of the
bank when the train sped by.

Wc traveled on till, perhaps, ten o'clock at
night, when we reached a wood. "We were tired
and almost worn out, and decided to lie down
iind sleep. It was quite cold, and the ground
was freezing, but wc lay as close together as
yvc could and slept till morning.

When daylight came, and we were ready
again to start, for the second time during our trip
we had lost the points of the compass. It wa.s
cloudy and foggy, and we could not see any dis-
tance. After considerable arcrumcnt, for we did
not agree, we started and traveled two or tiirec
miles, when wc all agreed thai wc were wrong;
we turned and retraced our steps, and some time
in the forenoon the sun broke through the clouds
and we found that we were right.

We made but little progress that day. The
country was full of Confederate cavalry, and we
had to play hide and seek with them all day


arouiul the hills and knobs. At ono time wo-
were close enough to a squad of them to 'huvc-
tossed a stone down among tliem from our posi-
tion on the hillside above the road where we
were concealed. We were scarcely out of sight
of them during the larger part of the day, but I
am sure not a single one of them saw us. Late^
in the evening, about sunset, we reached the
base of the mountain, and we welcomed it as a
place of safety.

We stopped at a cabin and found tliem to be
Union people. They gave us' our supper, wiiich
we appreciatf-d very much, for we had had
nothing to eat during the day. We also rested
and slept there till the after part of the night,
when one of the men who lived there, and was-
also a conscript and scouting, went with us some
distance to pilot us around danger that was just
ahead of us.

We crossed the mountain in the morning about
daylight, and by eight o'clock we were in Doe
River Cove, in Carter County, Tenn., a section
of country noted for all living there being Union
people. AVe thv^n felt safe, for we knew wc were
then among frierids. We traveled the main road
and by noon came to the neighborhood where 1


luid been tlic Augustbcforc witli the olu Iiu])
prcaciier before referred to in this ntory.

At the earnest solicitation of these good peo-
ple, with whom we stopped, we reniiiined till the
following morning.

On ^Yednesday mOrning we again resumed our
journey, and by noon we had readied Doe moun-
tain, starting nortiieast atAVataug.'i River, which
runs eighteen 'or twenty miles, when it termi-
nates abruptly at Mountain City, in Johnson

We at once ascended the mountain, followed
itssunimit, and as we had done before, when
night settled down upon us we made beds of
leaves, and lay down and slept till morning. We
reached the terminus of the mountain at Moun-
tain City that evening about dark. Tiie rain
was again falling in torrents.


Our purpose was to try to reach my father's
home that night, but about the middle of the
night we had given out with fatigue and hunger,-
and could, go jio further. V^e stopped at a cabin
with people whom I knevr, and lay down on the
tloor and slept till nearly daylight, and then


started for home. "\Vc arrived at my father's
home about eight o'clock in the morning, on Fri-
da}^, the third day of IMarch, having been on the
road just three \vceks to a day.

The boys who were with me went to their
homes in another x^art of the County, and thus
ended my second desertion.

I will not attempt to describe the condition
of things that existed there at tliat time. ]My
vocabulary is too limited to attempt a portrayal
of the horrors and the sufferings of tho,se poor
Union people. Civil law and courts of justice
had been abolished; monarchy and ruin reigned
supreme; men and neighbors, who had always
passed for good men, and who had turned to be
rebels, were transformed into demons, murderers
and savages. Conscripts were hunted like wild
animals, and often shot and murdered. Their
homes were often destroyed by the torch, and if
•spared were robbed of everything they had, and
their families left without a crust of bread.

The fact that I had deserted the second time
was known by tlie authorities at home before I
Arrived. 'My Captain had instructed the Colonel
■of the Home Guard, as they called themselves,
not to return me again to his company; in fact,


not to arresi; me, but shoot inc on sight, and they
were on the lookout for me before I arrived. I
was informed of these facts as soon as I got
home. I then doubled my vigilance, for I well
knew with mc then it was simply a matter of
life or death. I decided to find a hiding-place
and allow no one to see mc, and at night I would
slip in and get something to cat. Every two or
three nights five or six of them would come and
search the house from cellar to garret. But I
was very careful not to be there. This was a
hard life, and I soon began to grow tired, and at
night, as I would lie in my hiding-place in the
gloomy forest, I would wonder if there were not
some way out of this kind of existence, wlien
just at this time a circumstance occurred in the
neighborhood that changed the whole course of
things, and opened again new fields for adven-

There lived not far away an old man by the
name of Price. He had four or five sons who
were conscripts, but up to this time had never
been captured. The old man had also gained the
enmity of these bandits or Home Guards, and
they were seeking to capture him. They had
camped on his place during a part of the Winter^


and robbed liiiii of everything ho had. His fam-
ily had left their home and sought refuge''else-
where. He had an old mill on a mountain stream
near his house, and he and his sons would slip
in from the mountains and grind corn for bread,
and take it back with th'^m to their hiding-place


The Home Guards learning they were making
frequent visits to the mill, concealed themselves
near by, and waited for their coming. Price,
thinking the way was clear, with, two of his sons
and a nephew, caine to themill. They were sur-
rounded, taken by surprise, and all of them cap-
tured and taken at once to the County-seal and
locked up. The next morning a mob, led by
Major Long{tlic same Major Long wlio captured
me, befoi-e referred to) went to the jail, took
these prisoners to a wood near the town, and
banged every one of them. They would tie one
of the poor feliov.-s' hands behind him, put a rope
around his neck, place him on a horse behind
■one of the mob, who would ride under the limb
of the tree, throw the end of the rope to a man
•on the limb, wiio would tie it, and the man on
the horse would ride out from under him, leav-
ing him dangling in mid-air.


■ The three boys were hung first, one ut a time,
as I have described. In the crowd thai went
out to witness tlie< han^^in^ was Dr. ^'v'a<^(^, a
prominent physician, and also a Methodist
preacher, a man well and favoriibly known
throughout all that country, and, be it to his
•credit, was trying to quell the mob and save tiie
lives of these men. After the three young men
had been hanged, Dr. Wagg approached the old
man, whom he had known for many years, and
told him he could do nothing for him; that he
had no influence with these men, and they vrere
•going to hang him. "And now," he said "you
are unprepared, and in a few minutes more your
•soul will be ushered into eternity. I am iiere to
try to do you good. Shall I not stay tlie liand of
•death, while I pray with you?''

The old man replied:

"Doctor, I have done nothing to be hung for.
I am old — not even subject to military duty. I
have committed no crime. I have only been
loyal to my country, and if it is for tiiis you in-
tend to murder me, I will go eternity as I
am. I want no rebel, such as you are to pray
for me."

In a moment his hands were ^'pinioned, and
iie was swinging beside the three boys.


AVlicu they were taken down Dr. AVagg dis-
covered that one of the young men was not yet
dead, and after some time spcntin working with
him, lie was resuscitated. He was taken back
to jail, and as soon as he was fully recovered was
sent to the front at Kichmond.

He at once made his escape, got to the Union
army, and enlisted in the Federal service, and
fought throughout the war.


This happened about two weeks after my ar-
rival home, and convinced, me that it was ex-
ceedingly hazardous for me to remain in that
part of the country. After due consideration
we decided that 1 uhould go to Tennessee. I
had many friends and acquaintances over there
among the Union people, and would be much
'safer; besides, if I should be so unfortunate as
to be captured I perlians would not be assassinat-
ed, but have a chance for my life. With this
understanding I completed my arrangements to
go, and on a beautiful starlit night, when all na-
ture was hushed in silence, I cautiously crept

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Online LibraryW. H YounceThe adventures of a conscript → online text (page 3 of 6)