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from my hiding-place, approached the old home,
following the little path that led down by the


burn and through thu back yard up to tlie house,
Fatlier and mother iiad not yet retired, fortliey
knew I would be there to say good-by. They
said they had almost despaired of me ever es-
caping, and saw no way that 1 could prevent
being friurdored by these mid-night murderers.
Further, they had just learned that day that
there had been a reward ofiered for ine, dead or
alive. I tried to encourage them and comfort
them all I could.

Said I: *'You look upon the dark side only.
You must remember there is another side to this
question. I know it looks dark for me now,
but I believe 1 will some day get away from
these accurcied rebels, and again breathe the air
of freedom; and in order that I may reach my
destination as soon as possible to-morrow, and
get beyond the limit of my own State before
morning, I will pay good-by."

Turning, I hurried down the patli, and was
soon in the woods, lost in the shadow of tije hills.
I followed the path through the woods along the
summit of the hills that I had now become fa-
miliar with. I sped along quite rapidly, and
crossed the State line about dayliglu. When I
began to descend the west side of the Alleghany


Mountains I traveled more leisurely, occasion-
ally sitting clown to rest.

It was sometime in the afternoon when I
reached the home of my friends where I ex-
• pected to stop. There were many young men
who were conscripted and scouting, and I was
welcomed among them. None of them had ever
been captured, and they would sit for hours and
eagerly listen to the story of my experience, of
my capture, desertion, imprisonment and suffer-
ing in my final escape from my regiment.

I tried to content myself with these boys, for
I felt comparatively secure, but in a few days X
grew restless, and discontented. Life in tiie dis-
mal gloom of tlicse old mountains gruw more
and more monotonous. I so expressed myself to
my companions. They said: "We will try to
stand it this Summer, and by Fall the Union
army v»:ill be in reach of us, and we will then
make a break for freedom."

I said: "I cannot stand this till Fall. lam
actually forced to seek a different life. If I
should try to sta}^ here I would expose myself in
6ome way, so that I would be captured, and that
means more to me than to either of you. Be-
sides, I cannot live secluded from the world, as



we are now doing. To continue this \vould
•drive inc instme.'"


Just at this time we learned that there had
arrived in the neignborhood a young Confeder-
ate officer from Virginia, who was recruiting for
the artillery service. The idea at once struck
me that I would see him, state my case, — sim-
ply tell him the whole story, — and if he could,
under those circumstances, accept me in his
company, take me from that country, and pro-
tect me from my old regiment, I would enlist
and go with him, and as soon as we would got
in rcacli of the Union army, ] would make my
escape into the lines. I expressed my purpose
to my companions. They vigorously protested
against it, did all they could to induce mo tore-
main; but my mind was made up to get cut of
those mountains, and away from the dangers
that surrounded mo there. I at once addressed
a DOte to this you]ig officer, whose name was
Oliver, and sent it by a friend, stating that on
the next day at a certain hour I would be glad
to meet him at a certain place, provided he
would come under a truce, unarmed and alone.


He answered by n messenger, saying he had
heard of ine; would meet me, and would comply
with all. the conditions nienlioncd, and would
expect me to do the same. As he^was a total
stranger, and stated he had heard of me, I felt
a little^ nervous, for fear he might take advan-
tage of his opportunity and capture me; and
then, again, I thought that if he v/as a Captain
of artillery, he would not violate his word under
a truce. So on the next day, when the hour
came, we met in the woods at the place agreed
upon, and I got myself into more trouble.

'We arrived almost at the same time. He
greeted me cordially and expressed himself as
pleased to meet me. He was a young man of
fine address, about four or five years my senior.
He wore an artillery unif(>rm with the rank of
Captain. We sat down on a log and began to
talk of the war and tiic condition of the country.
Said his battery was doing garrison duty, and
was not at the front ; that he had eight or ten
recruits, and in a day or tvro would start to his
command. "And, by the way," said he, "I
understand you arc a deserter; have deserted
twice, and the authorites over in your State
have offered a reward for your capture ; and,.


further that if they get you, they will not send
^^ou back to your regiment, hut will make an
example of you, as a warning to others "

**Captain," said I, "your information is cor-
rect. I have deserted twice from the CSth 2sorth
Carolina, and I have understood the local author-
ities over in my State intend to kill me if they
■can get sight of me. Do you know v/hether or
not this is actually their intention?"

'*Yes," said he, "I know of my ov/n knowl-
edge it is a fact, and there is but one way of
safety for you, and tliat is to get out of this
•country. Your regiment docs not want you, and
will never look for you, and I will make this
suggestion: that you enlist and go with me, I
will accept you as a conscript, muster you into
the service again, and I will guarantee that you
will never be disturbed."

"Captain," said I, "that is just what I am
thinking of doing, provided that you will guar-
•antec to protect me from punishment for any-
thing that has happened in the past."

Clasping my hand he said: "I pledge you my
honor that I will use every means in my power
to protect you, and I assure you, you shall never
he disturbed while in my company; and, fur-


ther, there is a vacancy in my company, and I
will appoint you Second Sergeant, and put you
in line for promotion. The reason I do tliis is
that a man who has sull'ered for his own errors,
as you have, I believe will yet make a good sol-

Well, to make a long story short, we fixed the
matter up, and we were to start the next day
with the recruits he had. I returned to my
companions, told them what 1 had done, but did.
not advise a single one to go with me. I re-
mained over night with them, and next morning
said good- by.

J found tlie Captain and recruits at the place
designated, ready to start, and in two d;iys we
were with the company at New River ]3ridgc,
Va., on the line of railroad which is now the
Norfolk & Western, where the town of Radford
has since been built. We were camped on a bluff
overlooking the railroad bridge that spanned the
river. We were in a fort, with six pieces of ar-
tillery, guarding the bridge.

This was the first of April, 1S03. We had but
little to do, and life again began to grow monot-
onous; but fortunately in a short time we were
ordered to Dublin, a short distance west, and

THE ADVENTURP:S of a conscript C9

our Captain was appointed Provost ^larshall,
and the company did provost guard duty. I
was detailed to duty on the railroad, making al-
ternately a 2-i-hour run. We were allowed two
men as guards with us on the train. We were
under martial law, and it was my duty to see
that every passenger had a proper pass. I
would go on duty at eight o'clock in the morn-
ing, and it was supposed that the train was
turned over to me properly worked by the Ser-
geant whom I relieved, and that I would turn it
back to him the. same way next morning.

I liked this work very well, for the reason that
it was a change from the ordinary arniy life;
and reason, it was a good Lr:un for de-
serters when I had it, and many a poor fellow I
helped along. I vras expected to arrest every
deserter, or any one else wlio did not have the
right kind of a pass; but there was no danger
of me arresting any one, when I had been a de-
serter tvv^ice myself.

During all the time I did duty on the road I
never made a single arrest.


There was one circumstance that happened one
day that is worth reading. I had gone on duty


in tlie moriu'ng at the usual time, liad luade the
run east, and met the train coming out from
Lyncliburg. As soon as I changed cars with the
guard and got aboard the west-bound train the
conductor said to me that a deserter was on the
train, and the officer I liad relieved had failed to
arrest him. Ke said he would show him to nic.
I started through the train with himj and when
we stepped into the car where he was, he pointed
him out to me. He wore the uniform of a cav-
alry IMajor, and I knew I would have to do
something to satisfy the conductor, or he might
report me and spoil my job. I said to the con-
ductor that I would examine his pass, and ascer-
tain whether or not he was all right; but the
conductor was onto him and said : "I know he is
a deserter, and it is your duty to order him un-
der arrest at once."
. Knowing that he had no auihority over me,
and that I ranked him even in the management
of the train, 1 said: "Sir, I understand my duty,
without any instructions from you, and \yill do
it as I see fit."

Leaving him I walked down the aisle of the
car, approached the oflicer, and pleasantly asked
him for his pass. He looked at me a moment


and said: "^\'ha^ autliority, sir, have you to
ask a coiiiniissioiied oriicer for his pass?"

I replied, "I have tlie aulhoriLy of General
-Jones, comiiumdiiig tliis de])artiiient, " and at
the same time took from my pocket my commis-
sion and handed it to him. After examining it
he said: ''Your authority is good, and handed
me his pass."

"Plow is it," said I, "that you are traveling
on a citizen's pass?"

Said he : "I belong to the 10th Texas cavalry ;
am a prisoner on parol, and am a citizen until I
am exchanged."

"You wear the insignia of your rank," said I.

"If that star ofTends any o]ie," said he, "I
■will take it off," and taking oil' his hat pulled
off the star that held up one side of the brim.

All this time the conductor was standing in
tbe front of the car watching me. I knew the
a\Iajor was a deserter, but I did not intend to ar-
rest him, even at the risk of being reported by
the conductor.

I walked back to where the conductor was
standing, and said to him 1 was not sure he was
a deserter, and that I would remain in the car
and watch him ; which I did, and when the en-


gineer signaled for the next station he began to
gather up his baggage, and soon as the train
stopped lie got oil. 1 watched him go down the
steps and on the phitform of the depot, and was
much afraid the conductor would e.ce him ; but
he did not. The train started. I let it get un-
der fairly good headway, when I signaled the
engineer to stop, and at the same time started
hurriedly through the train. I met the conduc-
tor hurrying back, and as soon as he saw mc^
asked: — "What is the trouble?" I answered him
by asking: "Vv'hat is the matter with the engi-
neer? He has failed to obey orders, and refused
to stop the train when signaled to do so, and
the INIajor jumped from the train just as we left
the station, and is gone.'*

He was quite angry, or pretended to be; said
he would report me when v»*e got in from our
run. I defied him to do it, and told him when
it came to that I would have some tilings to re-
port mytelf. I was running a blulf on him, for
J was really afraid he would report me; but he
never did, and I never heard of this circum-
stance again.

By this time 1 had hecomc partially reconciled
and must say was enjoying my •■-■..' :.


I was clothed v/ith a great deal of autliority for
one so young, and had gained the perfect confi-
dence of my superiors ; and while I was not do-
ing the work assigned me, they did not know it.
I was the only one on the train witii authority
to m;ike an arrest, and if I found a poor fellov,'
whose papers were not right, I simply passed
him, just the same, and no one knev.* aPiything-
about it. ^iy Captain, who was a perfect gen-
tleman, always treated me with kindness and
consideration, and wheii I was not on duty much
of our time was spent together, and I had al-
most made up m}^ mind that if I was allowed to
remain in this work I would stay, for I knew I
was of service to some poor fellow ahiiOSt every
da}' by passing him and giving him a chance to
get away. But while 1 was thus eorigratulating
m^^self on my good fortune, a circumstance
again occurred tliat changed tlic whole course of


On the morning of the ISth o: July I went on
duty as usual, made the run east, meeting the
train from Lynchburg, and returning. A\'he]i
we arrived at Dublin, where our. company was»


at noon, I found everybody wild witli excitc-
ment. Our Captain had received a telegram to
the effect tliat tlie ' 'Yankees" "were advancing
on Wythville, about forty nules west of us, and
also orders to sidetrack the passenger train, at-
tach flat cars suflicient for our battery and com-
pany, and run out to Wythvillc as quickly as
possible. You can imagine the excitenieijit an
order of that kind would create, especially
among women, and nearly all our passen;^crs
were women, with a few children and old men.
We did as ordered — switched the passenger cars,
And told the passengers they would have to re-
main there until an engine could reach them
from the other end of the road.

We coupled on two fiat cars, loaded two six-
pound guns and two caissons, and hitched on a
paf senger car behind for the company, and when
we were all aboard ordered the engineer to pull
the throttle wide open, and we thought he did,
judging from the speed he attained, ^ye were
all in good spirits, and felt that we were just
going out on a pleasant trip. We believed it
was a false alarm. We were then perhaps one
hundred miles from the Federal lines, and I be-
lieved it impossible for an army of Union soldiers

THE ADVJi^'TUJlKS Oi*^ A CO^^SCia^T 75

to be in that part of the country. Our conduct
on the train that evening was more like that of
a crowd of young people going to a picnic than
to a battle. We were aU enjoying ourselves,
and fully expected to return to camp that night.

The train pulled up to the station at Wyth-
ville two hours before sunset, and wc were then
convinced that we v.'cre mistaken in our opinion.
The Union soldiers were reported within four
miles of town, and advancing. There v/ere
perhaps 2,000 Confederate soldiers there, but
no regular command. I saw and realized tliat I
was again in a trap; for, as I have said before,
I had registered a vow in heaven that I would
never fire a gLwi against my country's llag, and
here I v/as ready to go into a fight, and I saw
no way of escape.

There was a detail made from tlie company to
man the two pieces of artillery. ^Ve had to be
commanded by the Captain and Second Lieuten-
ant, and the balance of the company was given
muskets and assigned to the infantry, com-
manded by the First Lieutenant. I being the
ranking Sergeant with the irifantry, my place
was at the head of the company, and it can
readily be seen that placed me in a very respon-


sible position. I will not attempt here to de-
scribe the scenes that vrcrc now taking place.
Only those who have witnessed the excitement
on the eve of battle are able to fully appreciate
the awfulness of the situation. Couriers, whose
horses are white with foam, dashing in every
direction, the shrill and exciting command of
officers, the rattling of sabers, the blanched
-cheek of the soldier, make a scene that will
never be forgotten by those who have witnessed it.
Our orders were to march double-quick north
through the town, and attack the Federal cav-
alry as they advanced. As we passed through
tiie town women v/ere running in all directions,
some of them with children, trying to seek some
place of safety. All the business houses vrere
locked and deserted. Going north from the
town there was a slight elevation extending
perhaps a half mile or more to the summit, and
when our advance reached there the Federal
cavalry v/as in line but a short distance beyond
quietly waiting for the attack. Quickly the or-
der came dov/n the line to fall back to the town,
and at the same time a regular stampede com-
menced in front. Our company double-quicked
back to town, and at the same time the Federals


ordered a cavulry charge. As soon as they reached
the summit they opened fire and poured a con-
tinuous volley into our men. The Confederates
were novr in utter rout and confusion. Lieuten-
ant Humes rallied our company, and vre formed
on a corner of a street, on the sidewalk, but not a
man nred a gun, though our Lieutenant marched
up and dow.n in front of the company with
drawn sword, ordering the men to load and fire.


The cavalry was coming as fast as tlicir liorscs
could run, and I knew we could stay tlicre but
a moment until they would be upon us. I was
getting extremely anxious for the boys to break
ranks and run, when our Lieutenant gave the
command to break ranks and save ourselves.
You can be assured this order v/as quickly
obeyed. The cavalry was less than two squares
from us. V/e started up the street and came to
a stairway leading up into a throe-story block,
Taut closed and locked by folding doors. A big-
fellow just in front of me struck the lock with
the breech of his gun and the door ilew open.
About fifteen of our company got up that stair-
way and more would have got in had not the


cavalry been so close to them. Vie followed the
stairway until we reached the third floor, and
stopped in a picture gallery, but found no one
in, and I hardly think anyone wanted his pic-
ture taken, even if the photographer had been
there. The first thing we did^vas to stack arms
and get ready to surrender, thinking there was
no way of escape, and that they would be sure
to get us. From our elevated position wc could
see everything that was going on in and around
the town. The Confederates never rallied, and
were chased in every direction like rubbits. It
really looked like sport for the Federal soldiers.
They would gallop across the fields towaid a
clump of woods or tl\icket, and as they would
-approach them tlic Confederates would junii) out
and take to their heels. They would fire a few
shots after them and turn and ride b;ick. While
we were interested in these scenes we heard
footsteps ascending the stairway. We bunched
ourselves together, ready to surrender. We
could hear the footsteps approaching nearer
and nearer, when suddenly the door was thrown
open by an ofilccr with pistol in his hand, and
two or three of tiic boys exclaimed: "We sur-
render!'* — '


They bad been too hasty, fgr the officer was
none oilier than our own Major. lie replied
*'You cowardly lascals, wljat are you doing up
here. Get your guns and come down ; we liave
them nearly whipped." The question occurred
to me what he was doing up there. No one
paid any attention to his order; but he left, and
I presume hid in some other part of the building.
I must not forget to speak of the part our
two pieces of artillery played in tliis fight.
They followed immediately in rear oi ihc infan-
try, and just as the Union cavalry reached the
main street of the town in tlieir vrild charge,
one piece commanded by the Second Lieutenant
had unlimbered and fired one shot, v.'licn it v/as'
captured, and just at tliis time Captain Oliver
and the Orderly-Sergeant came dashing up the
streets seated on their gun, the drivers having
jumped ^rom their horses and turned them loose.
They came dasliing around the corner at a fear-
ful speed, and plunged right through the first lino
of Union cavalry and had got a square or more
further on, when two of the horses v/ere shot
down, and as the soldiers gathered around, Cap-
tain Oliver, mounting to his feet on the gun and
swinging his sword above his head, said he


would surrender to no man but his equal, mean-
ing- a coniiiiissioncd oHlcf^r. Finally an ofllcer,
seeing tlie confusion, spurred bis horse through
the crowd, and when in reach the Captain
handed him the hik of his sword. They then
started to the rear with him and the Sergeant,
and when they had walked about a square, Cap-
tain Oliver was struck near the heart by a minie
ball and fell to the ground dead, lie exclaimed,
*'I am killed," and addressing the Orderly-Ser-
geant said : "Take this ring from my finger and
send it to my sister and my watch send it to my
mother," and those were his last words. The
guard allowed the Sergeant to stop and take the
ring and watch, and then left him dead on the
sidewalk. His body was next day taken up
from the street, the Orderly-vSergeant was pa-
roled, and he look the body home to his friends,
near Richmond, for burial, and delivered the
ring and watch as his dying words directed. I
was shocked at the nev/s of his death, for tliough
differing with him on the issue of the war, I ad-
mired him for his manliness, integrit}^ courage
and loyalty, even though in a bad cause. 1 felt
that a you-ng man with bright and promising
life for future usefulness was gone, and that I
'had lost a gootl and faithful friend.


I will now return to the story of liiysclf and
tliosc witli mc in the tliird floor of the brick
block on the main street of the town. We re-
mained up there until bct\s'een sunset and darlc,
when some women in the block, who knew we
were up there, came up a back stairwa}' and
said the town had been set on fire on the oppo-
site side of the street, and it was not safe for us
to remain as the block v,-e were in was
likely to be set on fire from tlie burning build- ^
ings. Every street in the town was a surging
mass of Union soldiers, and everything was sim-
ply at their mercy. So, following the directions
of these women, we hastily slipped our shoes
froni our feet, so. as to make no noise. We then
followed them, as tliey led the way down a back
stairway, landing us in the alley, and when we
had reached the ground th.ey direeied us some
distance further back to a lot that had been
planted with corn, and perhaps a hundred and
fifty feet square. The corri vras taller than
our heads, makiiig a good hiding place.

We lay flat down on th.c ground between the
rov.-s of corn, and althougli tlic Union soldiers
passed in great crowds along the street within


an hundred feet of us, I felt comparjitively safe.

I got a little nervous at one time. A stable

stood on the corner of .the lot, and abo\it ten

o'clock a crowd of them came and broke do^Yn

the door and <2;ot a horse that had been locked in.

It took them a long time to break the door, or at

least we thouglit eo, and the blaze'of the burii-

ing buildings made it as light as day. I was

afraid they would have some occasion to pass

through the .lot, and I 'knew if they did they

would fall over some of us. They thoroughly

sacked and burned a part of the town, and about

eleven o'clock we heard the bugle signal to fall

in line, and in a short time they had started on

their march back over the same road they had

come, and by midnight the town was as still as

the grave, not a sound broke the dead silence,

save now and then the rattling of the horses'

feet, of some straggler who had failed to join his

command, or the raufllcd footsteps of citizens or

soldiers as they slipped from their hiding places

to view the fearful ruin that had been wrought.

About this time we slipped from our hiding

place and started for the country. We had

enough of that kind of tov.'n life. "When we

started we very naturally scattered. Myself and

three others remained tOi]:cther.


The reader vrill ask why I did not go to. tlio
Union ariuy. I will ansvrer, for two reasons :

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