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Title: Reminiscences of the Civil War, 1861-1865

Author: Preston Lafayette Ledford

Release date: June 24, 2022 [eBook #68392]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: News Printing House, 1909

Credits: David E. Brown and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)





JULY 1909

News Printing House
Thomasville, N. C.

Copyright 1909



Although many histories have been written and tradition has furnished its part toward the perpetuation of the memory of the exciting times of the civil war, very much occurred that has never been recorded. Monuments may be erected and histories written, but unless the veterans now living get busy and refresh their memories, and the memories of their comrades very much that happened, and ought to be preserved in durable form will with the passing of the main actors pass into oblivion. The Confederate Soldiers now living are all old men, and each one could, and ought to contribute items of information that would be interesting to the children and adults of future generations. These scenes, anecdotes, incidents and historical facts ought to be written by the soldiers themselves, for by no other means can a correct history of the war period be handed down to posterity.

I undertake my part of the task well knowing the information that I shall try to give will not be pictured in a graphic style to please the overeducated critic, but I feel assured that though written in a plain style the facts narrated will be read and appreciated by many who will not depreciate the information given, on account of the lack of embellishment or absence of the style so pleasing to the[4] lovers of eloquence, poetry, song and graphic story.

The following pages written by a plain confederate soldier who spent three years in the war instead of at college are submitted to the public upon the merits of the information given, without claiming any literary merit. Feeling that I am performing an imperative duty that I owe to the cause and my country, I respectfully dedicate the reminiscences to the soldiers of the late war who were my comrades while passing through the trying ordeal.

In another decade by the sweep of time,
Many of the Veterans will fall out of line;
After a score of years very few there will be
For people then living to entertain or see.
The few that are left will be old and alone,
And quietly waiting for the summons to come;
Not until the last one shall have passed away
Will justice be done to the heroes of that day
Monuments will be erected on the ground where they sleep
And generations to come will their memory keep,
Patriots will pause with trembling and fear
And reverently on their graves drop a tear.
A responsibility now rests on veterans passing away
To rescue from oblivion the doings of that day.
We may not with a facile pen
Give a glowing description of scenes and men.
We can in a plain and plausible way
Give a rough sketch of the doings of that day.
After we have gone to our final home,
These sketches will be read by generations to come.
Let us be up and doing and work with might
And though late in the day commemorate the right.



Causes Leading up to the Civil War.
Origin of the War 9
Party Lines 10
States Secede 11
Beginning of Hostilities.
The War Begins 11
Young Men Volunteer 12
Parting Scenes 13
Recusant Conscripts and Deserters 14
Loss of Loved Ones 15
Roll Call of the Dead 15
Condition of People Left at Home.
Affairs at Home 17
Civil Officers at Home 18
Money in Circulation 18
Farming Interests 19
Women of the War 20
Cotton King 21
Soldiers on Furlough 21
Homespun Dresses 21
Peace Demonstration Among the People.
Peace Movement 22
Young Man Pilot 23
Soldiers Break Up Meeting 23
Leader of Movement 23
Old Men Released 24
Peace Sentiment not Suppressed 25
Bill of Fare in the Southern Army.
Soldiers Rations 25
Rations Supplemented 26
Extra Rations Found 26
Coons and Foxes 27
Unripe Persimmons 27
The Army not Starving 28[6]
Rations of Whiskey 28
Short Rations 29
Soldiers Forage 29
Questionable Methods 30
Detail to Cook 30
Reproof of Conscience 32
Mince Pie 32
Chaplain’s Lecture 33
Surroundings of Soldiers and Soldier Life.
Phases of Soldier Life 33
Southern Soldiers 34
Many Surprises 35
Appearances Deceptive 35
Soldiers in Camp 35
Congenial Companions 36
Disputes and Quarrels 37
Winter Quarters 37
Demoralizing Influences 38
Religious Worship 38
Characteristics of Soldiers.
Difference of Soldiers 39
The Homesick Soldier 40
Strenuous Soldiers 41
Conservative Soldiers 41
Citizens Visiting in Camp and the Sick Soldier.
The Sick Soldier 42
Surgeon’s Call 42
Simple Minded Sick Soldier 43
Despondent Sick Soldier 43
Visiting 45
Portly Gentleman 45
Lady Visitors 46
Incidents of Camp and Prison Life.
Soldiers in Prison 46
Exchange of Prisoners 47
Punishment 48
Rations 48
Camp Life 49[7]
Soldier on Inspection 50
Recruit on Guard 51
An Economical Soldier 53
A Soldier’s Retort 53
A Boisterous Soldier 54
Recruit Detailed 56
Picket Lines, Battles and Battlefields.
Picket Line 57
Picket or Scout 57
On the Picket Line 58
Exchange of Courtesies 59
Fearful Experience 60
Burned Bodies of the Dead 61
Test of Valor 61
Escape to the Enemy 62
Welcome Peace 62
On the War Path 62
Unreliable Soldiers 63
Music in Battle 63
Battles 64
Battlefields 65
After the Battle 67
Fourteenth Regiment N. C. Infantry and General
Officers of the Army of Northern Va.
Fourteenth N. C. Regiments 67
Officers 68
Unique Characters 69
A Brave Soldier 70
Color Bearer 70
Amusing Scenes 70
On the Campaign 71
Distressing Scenes 72
Battles Engaged in 73
Victory and Defeat 73
Decisive Battle 75
The Enemy Surprised 75
Battle of Chancellorsville 75
At Apomattox 76
General Officers 77
General Cox 77[8]
General Grimes 78
General Ramseur 78
General Rodes 79
General D. H. Hill 79
General A. P. Hill 80
General Ewell 80
General Early 81
General Stuart 81
General Longstreet 82
General Breckenridge 82
General Gordon 82
General Wheeler 82
General Jackson 83
General Robert E. Lee 84
Recapitulation 85
Reconstruction Period.
Surrender of Lee 86
Right to Secede 87
Sherman’s March to the Sea 87
Home Coming of Soldiers 88
Assassination of Lincoln 89
Federal Officers 90
Conduct of Yankee Soldiers 90
Looters Follow Yankee Army 91
Provisional Government 91
The Negro Enfranchised 91
Carpetbaggers 92
The Negro Politician 92
Election a Farce 93
Legislature 93
County Officers 94
Crimes Committed 96
Negroes Offensive 96
Ku Klux Klan 97
Holden and Kirk 97
Judiciary Exhausted 98
Judge Brooks 99
Negro Problem 99
The Oldtime Darkey 100
The Emancipated Negro 101
The Coming South 103


Reminiscences of the Civil War, 1861-1865.


Origin of the War.—At this time, more than forty years removed from the date of the exciting scenes enacted in the sixties, I desire for the benefit and edification of my relatives, soldier friends and other special friends, in a plain unvarnished style to record a few of the incidents and doings of the people, who were active participants in the drama of those strenuous times. I shall not confine myself to dates or specially comment on the personal history of anyone, but merely wish to rescue from oblivion such items of information as occur to me, quoting entirely from memory, not having any notes taken at the time to refer to. I propose to deal in facts, and any reference I may make will reflect my views from the stand point of a young man of that period. For a few years prior to the beginning of the war, I by reading the current literature or newspaper productions of the country, and listening to discussions of leading men of the times, had kept myself fairly well posted. The signs of the times were ominous and indications[10] pointed to a disruption. Dark, threatening clouds of war seemed to hover over our fair land that had so long enjoyed the blessings of peace and prosperity. Perhaps we did not appreciate or failed to realize it, we were really living in a land that flowed with milk and honey.

Party Lines.—Like every other great revolution the awful calamity was preceded by a political revolution. Party lines were broken and sectional issues caused an alignment of parties North and South. The burning questions of Slavery and State Rights were brought prominently to the front. Incendiary speeches were made and incendiary literature scattered broadcast over the land. The National Democratic Party assembled in convention, disagreed upon a platform, and the result was a division of the delegates and the placing of two candidates in the field for president viz.: Douglas and Breckenridge. The old Whig Party was defunct and its scattered forces rallied with Bell for its standard bearer, assuming the name of Knownothing, or American Party. North of Mason and Dixon’s line a strong sectional party had been organized known as the Republican Party, with Abraham Lincoln for its candidate for the presidency. The campaign was fierce and bitter to the extreme. The leaders advocating the claims of their respective candidates were aggressive and abusive, and the people wrought up to a high pitch of excitement.[11] The canvassing and comparing: the votes in the Electoral College gave Lincoln the requisite number, and he was declared elected. On the fourth day of March 1861 he became president of the United States. The fanatics of the North and fire eaters of the South at once got busy, and by their officious activity precipitated the war.

States Secede.—The Cotton States seceded and set up a government of their own. Jefferson Davis was elected president of the Southern Confederacy. North Carolina with other border States waited for some overt act of Lincoln before passing the Ordinance of Secession. A convention was called, delegates elected and assembled. The convention was composed of delegates, a majority of whom were elected as union delegates, and of course the delegates were backed by a constituency of the same sentiment. The people of the old North State clung to the Union as long as there was a vestige of hope of its preservation.


The War Begins.—Fort Sumpter was fired upon and surrendered. Lincoln called for troops from North Carolina to help to subjugate her Southern sister States. Governor Ellis promptly informed the president that no troops would be furnished from the State for such a purpose, and at once called for volunteers to assist the South in its struggle for independence.[12] The state followed the lead of Virginia, identified herself with the South, and the war was on.

The most loyal friends of the Union now plainly saw that war was inevitable, and that there was no neutral ground to occupy. This plain proposition presented itself that all must fight, and to fight for the perpetuation or restoration of the Union meant crossing the lines and taking up arms against our own homes and our own people. Very few were willing to take this step or assume such a responsibility. Past differences of opinion were to a great extent reconciled, the bulk of the people stood together, joined the Southern forces, fought under the same flag, and startled the civilized world with their wonderful achievements.

Young Men Volunteer.—Young men of my immediate neighborhood volunteered, some of them deceived by the spell-binders who in their harangues asserted that all of the blood lost in the war could be wiped up with a silk handkerchief. These impetuous uncompromising war men soon began to maneuver to screen themselves and their sons from serving as soldiers in the army, and were busy trying to secure bomb proof positions or hire substitutes. The conservative element composed largely of the honest yeomanry of the country, including many of its best citizens, although not ambitious for military honors, or overanxious to become soldiers, held[13] themselves in readiness to join the army when they considered it time for them to go or their country demanded their services. As time moved on the army was enlarged and the home force depleted. From time to time citizens left their homes to exchange the garb of the citizen for the uniform of the soldier.

Parting Scenes.—There were many pathetic scenes at the parting of loved ones. The mother reluctantly gave up her sons that she had fondly hoped would be to her a solace, comfort and support in her declining years. The boys in their vigorous young manhood went to the war, but many or them never crossed the threshold of home again. The faithful wife kissed her husband good-bye fondly hoping, wishing and praying that he would be spared to return home again, perhaps in a short time she was left a lonely widow with the double responsibility resting upon her of training the little family of more than orphan children that with her were left to mourn their irreparable loss. The affectionate sister who had grown up in the same home with a brother she was proud of, helped him to get ready to go to the war, feeling sure he would return home with honors in a short time, but the ravages of disease, the exposures of the camp or march, or a fatal shot from the enemy caused him to fill a soldier’s grave. The sweet young girl enjoying the ecstatic bliss of loves bright, young dream, cheered[14] her lover as he moved on to the war, and perhaps at parting they exchanged vows of undying affection, but cruel fate deprived the gallant young soldier of the privilege of returning to claim his bride. He too, had to give up his life on the fatal field of battle.

Ere the war was half over the most of the ablebodied men were required to join the army. Many of them promptly responded, while others not willing to risk the dangers to which soldiers were exposed refused to go and concealed themselves.

Recusant Conscripts and Deserters.—In some sections of the country there were recusant conscripts and deserters consisting of two classes. There were some substantial citizens at home that were doing well, quietly attending to their own home affairs, without paying much attention to the politics of the country. These citizens were uncompromising union men, opposed to the war, quietly concealed themselves and failed to report for duty when called upon. They were not outlaws in the full acceptation of the term, were supported by homefolks and friendly sympathizers, and did not interfere with the personal rights or property of anyone. There were others though who were vindictive and terrorized the people by pillaging, stealing, robbing, doing private injury and sometimes threatening the lives of people at home. In places infested by[15] such gangs a fearful state of affairs existed. These recusant conscripts and deserters were hunted by details of soldiers already in the service, assisted by militia officers at home. Some of the militia officers rendered themselves very unpopular by offensive methods used to capture men who were dodging, consequently a very bitter feeling was engendered between neighbors and sometimes between members of the same family. The power of the civil government and military was used to induce all to join the army, and the most of the men subject to military duty had to go, although some went under protest.

Loss of Loved Ones.—As the war advanced there was mourning in many homes, on account of the loss of loved ones. Within a radius of a very few miles of my home many stalwart young men were brought home dead, having sickened and died in camp, on the march, in the hospital, or having been slain in battle. Many a poor boy the idol of a good mother gave up his life on the gory battlefield, deprived of the tender care and affectionate ministrations of a mother, sister or wife to comfort him in his dying hour. Some were left with their bones to bleach on the gory field of battle, others were never accounted for and if buried at all were buried by strangers that did not know them and perhaps did not want to know them.

Roll Call of The Dead.—The following[16] principally young men are the names of some of my relations, playmates, schoolmates, acquaintances or soldier comrades that lost their lives during the war:


Henry Burough, Alsan Burough, Franklin Burough, David Bowers, Zadoc Burton, Basil Burton, Frank Britt, John Clinard, Henry Clinard, John Clinard, Francis Clinard, William Collett, Franklin Collett, Jacob Crouch, John Crouch, Hugh Clodfelter, David Clodfelter, Alfred Cecil, Nelson Cecil, William Craven, Ransom Edinger, George Edinger, Phillip Edinger, Jesse Edwards, William Fowler, Benjamin Faulkner, Nicholas Fouts, Henry Fritts, Jesse Green, Shepherd Green, Daniel Green, Harrison Green, John Gardner, John Gillem, Madison Harmon, Charles Harmon, Elwood Haines, Sanford Hammer, Jacob Hedgcock, John Hiatt, Fred Hiatt, Jesse Hilton, Evan Hilton, Jacob Hilton, Henry Hilton, Barnabas Hayworth, C. P. Jones, Purvis Jackson, Joseph Jackson, Joseph Jones, William Kanoy, John Kanoy, Henderson Kanoy, John Kanoy, Charles Kennedy, John L. Long, Henry F. Ledford, Charles Lines, Joseph Murphy, William Miller, Franklin Motsinger, John Meredith, Winborn Mendenhall, Robert McCutcheon, Mack Myers, Harrison Porter, Charles Payne, Thomas Payne, Shubel Payne, Sanford Payne, Solomon Roberts, John Stone, William Stone, Milton Sledge, Hiram Sowers,[17] Humphrey Sowers, Robert Small, Samuel Sink, John Sink, Adam Sink, Valentine Sink, Jesse Sink, Solomon Sink, George Sink, John Sink, Joseph Sink, David Shuler, William Traynham, McKindre Veach, John Wagner, Charlie Willie, William Wagner, John Welborn, Madison Welborn, William Whitehart, Willis Whitehart, and John Yokley.

Comparatively few of my acquaintances or young men with whom I associated prior to the beginning of hostilities, went to the war and returned to their homes at the close. Some of them returned on crutches, some with empty sleeves, and some with scars of wounds received in battle that they will carry to their graves.


Affairs at Home.—The women, children, old men and servants left at home passed through an ordeal sad indeed to contemplate. The servants or negroes deserved much credit for their loyalty to their then legal owners. Instead of being a menace as was feared and expected, they were a protection to the helpless white population, and did much for the support of the people at home, and for the support of the soldiers in the field. To the very old people the blow fell with a crushing force. In addition to the accumulated burdens that naturally fall to the lot of old people, the loss of their sons, grand sons, and neighbors so prostrated them[18] with grief that the gray hairs of many of them were brought down in sorrow to the grave. The little children for four years being deprived of the protection, support, counsel and assistance of fathers suffered an irreparable loss, a loss that no subsequent attention, education or opportunity could possibly restore.

Civil Officers at Home.—After the war had somewhat advanced, the civil officers, railroad and mail service and public places were to a great extent managed by old men. Young men at home were lonesome and did not stand as high in the estimation of the people as the young men who went to the war. They too had to submit to the taunts of the soldiers, on account of their maneuvering to keep out of danger. It was not considered patriotic for young men to screen themselves, because there seemed to be a necessity for all to enter the service, or at least as some had to go it was argued that all should fare alike. Schools and churches suffered in the general wreck and the morals and intelligence of the rising generation was at a low ebb. Teachers and preachers’ salaries and physicians’ fees were paid in kind. Corn, wheat, beans, peas, pork, bacon, lard, butter, homemade cloth, and anything that answered for clothing or provision was gladly received as a substitute for money.

Money in Circulation.—The only money in circulation was Confederate[19] money or State treasury notes which depreciated in value until worth scarcely the paper upon which it was printed. The gold and silver coin in the hands of the people was hidden or buried in the ground not to be resurrected unless in case of extreme necessity. Very little building or improvement of any kind was going on.

Farming Interests.—For the want of laborers farms were neglected and many fertile fields growed up with sprouts and briers. Fences gave out or fence rows growed up with weeds and briers. Gulleys washed in the roads and some places were almost impassable. Everything in the way of improvement was on the decline. But few new houses were built and homefolks were sometimes driven to the necessity of sheltering in houses not very comfortable. Farm implements gave out and it was a difficult matter to replace them. Old plows and hoes that had been thrown away were hunted up and repaired so as to answer the purpose, and many rude substitutes used for farming tools that had been formerly used. It was a turning back to usages of generations past. Rawhides were tanned in the country and coblers made shoes out of the homemade leather. In place of the New Orleans or Cuba molasses a syrup was manufactured from sugar cane grown on the farm. Some enterprising boys gathered persimmons and had them distilled into brandy which supplemented the supply made from the[20] surplus fruit. Corn and rye were not distilled into whiskey on account of the scarcity of breadstuff. A little of everything made on the farm was collected and placed in the hands of a commissary and was used to help support the soldiers in the army.

Women of the War.—The noble women took upon themselves a burden that was borne with fortitude or heroism that is without a parallel in the annals of the history of any country or any people. They achieved wonders in the homes by their ready inventive powers, which enabled them to substitute many useful articles from which they were cut off, on account of the blockade, rigidly enforced by the Federal authorities. Spicewood tea, Sassafras tea, a beverage made of parched corn, rye, chestnuts, dried slices of sweet potatoes and many other things were used as a substitute for coffee. Dried persimmons were used for puddings after the season for them had passed, and a very good bread was made with a mixture of potatoes with meal or flour. On many farms women and children cultivated the crops making a support for homefolks. Women would hoe corn, sometimes plow, make hay, bind and haul in wheat, sometimes help to thresh, gather, shuck and crib corn and do almost any kind of farm work. The little girls would put the bridles on old horses or mules and with grists of corn or wheat ride several miles to mill. The old man at the mill would[21] pleasantly speak to the little girls, addressing them as his smart little boys. The little girls proud of the distinction would saucily and laughingly answer him saying, “Yes we are Tomboys.”

Cotton King.—Cotton proved to be king indeed, and upon this staple the south depended largely for clothing, bed clothing, tent cloths and indeed everything for which cloth was used. The women took the lint or raw material and by carding, spinning, weaving, cutting and sewing converted it into clothing, bed clothing and many other articles. In place of dyestuffs usually purchased at the stores and brought from other countries, they used Walnut, Redoak, or Maple bark, Sumac and other things that they discovered they could substitute and utilize. From wheat straw they manufactured hats that answered the purpose and were worn by men, women and children.

Soldiers on Furlough.—The girls were proud of the boys who were in the army, always glad to see them come home and always gave them a cordial welcome when they came home on furlough. Several girls would get together and give the boys a reception which amounted to an ovation. The girls and soldier boys mutually enjoyed these gatherings and would together sing war songs or popular airs such as, Dixie, Southern Girl, Stars and Bars, Homespun dress etc.

Homespun Dresses.—The girls wore[22] homespun dresses and in the estimation of the boys were just as pretty, neat and sweet as if they had been arrayed in silk and purple.

Pretty girls vacated the parlor and sitting room
To operate the spinning wheel and old fashioned loom,
The lint of the cotton was carded to a shred,
Then carded into rolls and spun into thread.
Thread was placed on a reel which turned round again and again
Until the dial plate registered enough cuts for a skein.
The thread was then placed in homemade dye
And changed into any color that was desired.
On the warping bars the thread was handled again
And the piece laid off for so many yards of chain.
On the spindle of the little wheel was placed the reed quill,
And enough thread placed around it the reed to fill
The thread then around the beam was strung
And the quills in the shuttle nicely hung.
Two pretty girls were busy working all day
Placing the thread through a six hundred sley,
Then the battle with the baton begun
And erelong the bolt of cloth was done.
Then with the skill of an artists hand
The cutting of the garments by the girls began;
Very soon the little girls were dressed up neat
In homespun dresses looking pretty and sweet.


Peace Movement.—In 1862 a very decided sentiment in favor of a peace movement was inaugurated, and attained to some prominence in the state, especially among the original union men and parties dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs. Announcement of a meeting was made to be held at a place near Thomasville known as Kennedy’s School House. Publicity was given to the report that speakers would be present to address the meeting and discuss the proposed issue. A good crowd assembled, the most of them prompted by honorable motives, merely wishing to hear discussed or explained the plan proposed by the leaders of the[23] movement. With the exception of a very few of the leaders no one entertained any treasonable intentions. The authorities had been notified of the proposed meeting and a detail of soldiers was sent to break it up.

Young Man Pilot.—A young man who happened to be in the neighborhood was pressed into service by the soldiers to pilot them to the place. He did not relish the idea of going with them, but the unusual sight of bayonets and guns in the hands of the belligerent soldiers was a very persuasive argument to him to induce him to comply with their demands. He does not deny the fact that he was badly scared, and although he laughs about it now, says that it was a serious matter then, and that he distinctly remembers his hair stood up stiff and straight giving him trouble to keep his hat on his head.

Soldiers Break up Meeting.—Without any previous notice the soldiers charged upon the meeting and the crowd dispersed and retreated at the first intimation of their approach. The citizens hit the grit and ran with a speed that would put to shame the exploits of the Yankees and Rebels in the valley of Virginia.

Leader of Movement.—The leader who was mainly responsible for the meeting was the first one to absent himself upon the approach of the soldiers. He got away as fast as his legs could carry him, and that was about as fast as anyone[24] could go, for he had the reputation of being a champion runner. A tall young man made a break for the tall timber and was in the act of unhitching his horse, when a limb very close to him was cut off by a minnie ball. It was supposed that he was shot at through mistake, and that the soldiers shooting at him were under the impression that he was the leader, who had been represented to them as a tall man. A friend of the victim of this close call who was also near by unhitching his horse was treated to music made by the hissing of minnie balls, passing uncomfortably near him. Both of them left the place as fast as their horses could carry them. A good portion of the crowd was captured and taken to Camp Holmes, near Raleigh. The most of the young men captured volunteered and joined the Southern Army and the old men were finally released.

Old Men Released.—It was especially severe on the very old men who were without warning taken and compelled to endure the privations of prison and camp life. The poor old men innocently feeling that they had done no wrong were kept in suspense and in constant dread for many days fearing that they would be court-marshalled and perhaps executed. Among them was an eccentric old fellow not overly preposessing in appearance. After being in camp for many days without a change of clothing and his white beard stained with[25] tobacco juice, he presented a rather grotesque and by no means attractive appearance, but he took a philosophical view of the situation and looked on the sunny side. He amused the soldiers in camp with his wit and humor, and although perhaps eighty years old would sing gay songs and with a little encouragement from the boys dance a jig. At the close of the day he would seriously say to his old comrades that although they had passed through another day it would be their last, and that they would all be executed tomorrow. His comrades knew that he indulged in a great deal of levity, but being apprehensive themselves feared the old man was correct in his surmises, and retired not to sleep but to think of loved ones at home that they would perhaps never see again.

Peace Sentiment not Suppressed.—The incident did not entirely suppress the sentiment in the community in favor of peace, but did prevent any further public demonstration.

A blessed hope of peace permeated the throng,
To them it cooed like a dove with its siren song,
But it proved a delusion and a snare
To get them in trouble of which they were not aware.
They innocently cried peace when there was no peace,
Their unfortunate meeting was imprudent at least;
The meeting culminated in a tragic end
And made them wiser and perhaps better men.


Soldiers’ Rations.—Soldiers in the Southern army did not live on the fat of[26] the land fareing sumptuously every day. They often had to live on a stinted allowance, and articles of food placed before them that would not have been accepted with thanks at home. A day’s allowance to a soldier consisted of a small cake of wheat or corn bread, or six hard tacks, a small piece of beef or pickled pork, sometimes a little rice or small amount of beans or peas. A hearty man that gave way to his appetite often ate an entire day’s rations at one meal and then was hungry the balance of the day. The judicious soldier though divided his allowance into three parts and fared better by adhering strictly to the custom of eating three times a day.

Rations Supplemented.—Anything in sight was devoured with avidity to supplement rations issued. Parched corn on a march when the supply was scarce was not a poor substitute for bread. If a soldier found a persimmon tree loaded with fruit it was gathered with as much eagerness as a miner would pick up a gold nugget. Such a find was regarded as a bonanza. Walnuts, hickory nuts or even acorns were carefully saved to supplement rations issued.

Extra Rations Found.—A squad of men was detailed to tear down an old building and removing the rubbish captured and killed several big fat rats which were skinned, dressed, cooked and ate with a relish. Around the old building[27] was a luxurious growth of cresses and wild onions, which were carefully gathered by the soldiers and cooked and considered very palatable.

Coons and Foxes.—One evening after the army stopped to go in camp a tree was cut down for fire wood and the soldiers were surprised and pleased to find and catch two nice coons which were cooked for supper and made a very savory dish. At another time while going into camp a rush was made for a tree top and a red fox was jumped. The chase was very much enjoyed by the boys. The fox in its frantic efforts to escape sometimes jumped as high as the heads of the soldiers who surrounded it and was knocked back by them. Finally the fox was captured and the boys said it tasted much better than beef or pork they were accustomed to.

Unripe Persimmons.—On a march a soldier dropped out of line, climbed a tree and was helping himself to unripe persimmons. An officer coming along, reprimanded him, ordered him back in line and asked him why he was so greedily devouring such unwholesome food? The soldier innocently replied that he had discovered that green persimmons had a drawing effect and thought perhaps by using them he could shrink his stomach to the capacity of amount of rations issued. The officer seemed to comprehend the logic of his reasoning and left him to test the practical[28] value of his theory.

The Army Not Starving.—It is not the intention to try to make the impression that the Southern army was in a starving condition. Such an intimation would be misleading. The only wonder is that the soldiers were provided for as well as they really were. Perhaps all armies sometimes suffer the inconvenience of short rations. The kind reader must charitably in imagination take the place of the soldier to be fully competent to sympathize with him.

The overscrupulous reader with pious thought
May condemn the soldier for using thing’s not bought,
And may in his honest heart feel
That under no circumstances should anyone steal.
Better get down on repentance stool
And figure out the golden rule;
Go to bed hungry and fail to sleep
Then get up courage the eighth commandment to keep.

Rations of Whiskey.—Rations of whiskey were occasionally issued and the effects of the stimulant were very soon apparent, for soldiers had nothing to put the liquid in to save, and were obliged to use it to keep it from wasting and then for awhile there was plenty of fun in which officers and soldiers joined. If an officer happened to get enough to make him too hilarious he was placed in arrest until he sobered up. If a soldier in the ranks imbibed to freely and in consequence wanted to monopolize control of things and indulged in conversation boisterous or unbecoming he was quietly assigned to quarters in the guard house until he had time to cool off.

[29]Short Rations.—Sometimes rations were short and hungry soldiers are not apt to be in the best of humor. At such times grumbling was in order or at least freely indulged in, but grumbling did not bring the beef and corn bread. If adjacent to orchards, potato patches, corn fields or hen roosts, some of the boys would manage to supplement their rations, put on an innocent look and apparently become indignant if accused of crossing the guard line of the camps.

Soldiers Forage.—Soldiers would forage for something to eat. They would visit farm houses and put in a plausible plea, with money, cheek or chin music, get on the good side of the good women and prevail on them to furnish them with fruit, potatoes, butter, apple butter, bread, pies or anything that could be used and a soldier could use anything that anybody could eat. A shrewd forager failing to get anything at farm houses would take a mental survey of the different places and at night would by bribing the sentinel or slipping across the guard line go straight to potato patches, orchards or corn fields and borrow fruit, potatoes, roasting ears and sometimes induce a fat hen to go to camp. This process of borrowing was so skillfuly manipulated that the owner of the premises was kept in blissful ignorance of the way the articles were appropriated. There were company officers who would deal very gentle with a soldier that stole[30] out of camp to forage, provided the officer shared in the find whatever it might be.

Questionable Methods.—A big burly soldier went a short distance from camp and deliberately shot down a good sized fat pig, being caught in the act by some soldiers, he said he killed it in self defense and that no hog should bite him. He skinned the hog, carried it to camp, late in the night borrowed a camp kettle and cooked the pork. Some officers passing along reproved the soldier and threatened to put him in the guard house, but were persuaded to be lenient by promising them a good slice of the pork which tasted as good to an officer as a private. The good old citizen had a drove of fat hogs, missed one and reported to the colonel of the regiment. An order was at once issued to the captain of each company to search the tents. An officer passed round, peeped into the tents, saw no pork or even smelled any and reported nothing found in the company. The most of the boys of the company though had a good breakfast and pork was part of the bill of fare.

Detail to Cook.—On a march one evening the army halted to take up camp for the night; rations were issued and a detail made to do the cooking. Among the soldiers detailed was one who though very much fatigued worked faithfully until the two days rations were cooked and issued to the men. His partner immediately after going in camp had gone to a[31] farm house not far distant and had succeeded in getting two canteens full of good fresh milk. After the cooking was done the soldier who had been detailed being very hungry, took the canteen of milk, two day’s rations and ate it all for supper, not leaving a crumb for the next two days. He then took in the situation, jumped at a conclusion, struck a bee line across a piece of woods and accidentally met a comrade whose breath betrayed the fact that he had been drinking brandy. It suddenly occurred to the soldier that he needed a little for his stomach’s sake, although it was loaded with two day’s rations, and they together went a short distance across the country and was face to face with the maker and vender of the liquid. Making their wants known he took their canteens and a pitcher supposed to be full of water and started for the liquor house. The boys followed him going through a dining room. The quick eye of the soldier noticed a clean table cloth on the table covering something. Without stopping as he passed along he quietly raised the cloth and made a discovery. One of the boys canteens was filled and handed back to him. Upon sampling it they found it had been well watered. The citizen was politely informed that it was brandy not water the boys wanted. Without arguing the case he poured the grog out of the canteen and filled them up with the pure unadulterated article. After filling the[32] vessels he lead the way starting out and the boys followed, the boy who had been detailed to cook in the rear. Passing through the dining room by some unaccountable manipulation the rations moved from the table and bread, meat, pickles, pies and cakes found a resting place in the capacious haversack of the soldier and there was no more solicitude about rations for the next two days.

Reproof of Conscience.—Late one evening the army marched by a luxurious field of corn. A soldier who was hungry and whose haversack was empty thought it would be real nice to have roasting ears for supper. As soon as the army halted to go into camp, he with two comrades though quite a distance started for the field of corn. When they got to the field it seemed to be full of soldiers on the same mission as they were. The soldier though hungry and very much fatigued proposed to his companions to return to camp and trust to providence, declaring that his conscience would not allow him to join the crowd and take the corn. They returned to camp and were agreeably surprised to find in their tent a box from home full of good things to eat. The soldier was fully convinced by the circumstance that “Conscience is in all cases a correct moral guide.”

Mince Pie.—Two boys came into camp one day selling mince pies. Two soldiers bought one, ate, smacked their lips, pronouncing[33] it good and wished for more. Before the boys got out of hearing they got into a dispute about the division of the money. The smaller boy cried and said it was his puppy that was killed to furnish material for the pie and he was entitled to his part of the proceeds. The soldier boys would have been glad to have parted with the puppy dog, but it had come to stay.

Chaplain’s Lecture.—On one occasion on a march rations were scarce and the soldiers were hungry. Some of the boys invaded a corn field and were plucking ears of corn expecting at night to feast on roasting ears for supper. The chaplain of a regiment rode along and began to give the boys a moral lecture, telling them it was wrong to steal and that the corn did not belong to them. The soldiers paid no attention to his talk and quietly filled their sacks. The chaplain seeing that they were determined to take the corn said to them, if they were going to take the corn anyway to throw him over a few ears for his pony.


Phases of Soldier Life.—The many phases of soldier life furnish the inquiring mind food for thought and research. The mere fact that an army is an aggregation of discordant elements made up from different[34] parts of the country is a sufficient basis for an interesting subject for investigation. The soldiers representing the different sections of the country represent the manners, customs, habits and characteristics of the inhabitants of the communities from which they came. In addition to this if we take into consideration the personal habits, characteristics and eccentricities of the individual, analyzing the attitude, latitude, aptitude, and magnitude of the capabilities and wonderful scope of each one we find ourselves exploring a wonderful field that startles us.

Southern Soldiers.—The Southern army was not only made up of soldiers from different parts of the country, but from the different pursuits and conditions of life. Our army of which the South has cause to be proud contained the most of the ablebodied men of the South, and it is no reflection upon the fair name and fame of the gallant soldiers of the army that there were among them some enrolled that were failures. There were figureheads, deadbeats, skulkers, hospital rats and others who were drawbacks to the army. There were men enrolled who at home were successful and regarded as good citizens, but as soldiers were failures because they had no turn, taste, tact, inclination or adaptability for soldier life. It was unfortunate for our army, our country and for such soldiers that there was a necessity to enroll them.

[35]Many Surprises.—Very often the palest, thinnest, weakliest, scrawniest looking fellow stood the exposure and hardships of the camp, march and battlefield much better than a stalwart looking boy. Sometimes the most timid lad, who seemed to shrink from any duty likely to give him notoriety, developed into the most aggressive, daring soldier and astonished officers and comrades with his reckless ventures and achievements. There were officers and men who would for the sake of promotion unnecessarily expose to imminent danger themselves or men under them. The truly brave soldier will shelter or protect himself when he can do so without jeopardizing the cause he represents, but when necessary will expose himself and face danger like a man. The truly brave officer will lead and not undertake to drive his men in battle and screen himself.

Appearances Deceptive.—Appearances are often deceptive. Sometimes a man of fine physique, good looking, stalwart, having the appearance of being a brave soldier that would sacrifice his life rather than show the white feather collapses in the hour of danger, entirely unable to control his nervous system, proving himself to be constitutionally a coward. Such men ought to be pitied instead of being persecuted.

Soldiers in Camp.—The self-constituted bully of the camp who wants to engage in a fisticuff with anyone that dares to cross[36] his path will often tremble with fear when going into battle. The soldier that delights in giving exaggerated accounts of his exploits and hairbreadth escapes usually is an artful dodger and an expert in framing excuses to keep out of danger when the battle is on. In the army were soldiers who died of grief or homesickness. However much a soldier may be attached to his home surroundings it is a mistake to give up and brood over a separation that is inevitable. The soldier who takes a sensible view of the situation, keeps up his courage and as far as possible keeps in good heart by looking on the sunny side of life always fares the best. One who always seems lowspirited, out of heart, and cultivates such a feeling receives scant sympathy from his comrades, but one who is cheerful, apparently happy whether really feeling so or not does not have to hunt for kindred spirits to share his happiness with him. To a soldier in camp virtually performing the same round of duty every day, life is likely to become monotonous, and moodiness or gloom intrudes its unwelcome presence, then the thing to do is to seek a change and look for something to divert his attention and cause him for the time being to forget his real or imaginary trouble.

Congenial Companions.—In the Southern army a soldier could always find congenial company for there was variety to choose from. In the different tents or[37] around the camp fires were crowds making merry with music and dancing, crowds spinning yarns or telling anecdotes or stories, classes singing sacred songs or squads engaged in conversation on subjects to suit anyone. Nothing to do but to make a choice of the place and be entertained.

Disputes and Quarrels.—In camp everything was not always harmonious. Among the boys there were sometimes misunderstandings, which gave rise to disputes or quarrels, occasionally culminating in fisticuffs or fights which often landed the participants in the guard house.

Winter Quarters.—A soldier in the Southern army had no abiding place to stay or at least only temporary. In winter quarters in the dugout, rude cabin, tent, or bivouacing primitive life was fairly illustrated and it is surprising to people accustomed to the conveniences of life to realize how few of these conveniences soldiers are supplied with. Very often one little frying pan or kettle performs its round of service for an entire village of cabins or tents, and it is not unusual in camp to hear the owner of an implement or vessel cry out “come home frying pan” or “come home coffee pot.” The call was a peremptory order to the borrower to return the missing article which was perhaps by the careless soldier thrown aside. The reminder generally caused the occupants of the tents to institute a search, usually resulting[38] in the return of the missing article. Soldiers’ temporary homes exemplified their home training. Some of their places were comfortable, neat and attractive, while others were just to the reverse. Some of the occupants kept themselves and their clothing clean and neat, while others were contented to wrap themselves up in their filthy rags sometimes infested with vermin. There were though police and sanitary regulations that all were obliged to observe or pay the penalty, and there was an etiquette among soldiers that was generally observed. Many a soldier would forage for something to eat, but would suffer with hunger to the extreme limit rather than appropriate to himself the rations issued to another. A soldier who would steal the rations of another sacrificed his honor and self respect and was regarded by his comrades as a sneak thief at home.

Demoralizing Influences.—While an army always carries with it many demoralizing influences, a man can be a soldier and a gentleman too, but one who is not a gentleman at home, in the army is sure to show the cloven foot. In winter quarters more attention is paid to social features than at any other time. Hostilities to a great extent cease during the winter though sometimes the armies clash.

Religious Worship.—Sometimes while in winter quarters soldiers got together and built rude log houses for places of worship. Protected from the cold in these[39] houses soldiers gathered together usually for regular Sunday preaching and sometimes prayer meetings were held during the week. Perhaps as large a per cent. of soldiers attended preaching as people at home who had more convenient and comfortable places of worship. In summertime soldiers usually assembled in a grove to listen to sermons preached by their chaplain or visiting ministers.

In the Southern army occasionally very much religious interest was manifested and revivals were not unusual. Singing, prayer and sometimes shouting were heard in the camp.


Difference of Soldiers.—There is as much difference in the make up of the average soldier as in the average citizen at home. It is said that variety is the spice of life and in the army we get variety with a vengeance, and the spice is sometimes a little bit peppery. The home training and habits as well as the natural disposition of the men will show itself in the army, and no amount of diplomacy can relegate these acquired or inherent qualities to the back ground. It is not everyone that can join heartily in a course of life that is distasteful, and one who does will be very apt to adopt the requirements of the new life to the exclusion of long established habits and customs, and will[40] sometimes overdo himself in exercising uncalled for and unnecessary stunts.

The life of a soldier in a strenuous channel does run.
And the life is by no means a pleasant one;
The attractions that lure young men to the field
Are very seductive and to them many yield.
When they don the uniform and fall in line
They surrender their freedom and in servitude are confined.
It requires the decision of character and nerve of the brave
To imperil ones life his country to save.
This heroism throws aside all fear and dread,
But is never appreciated till the victim is dead,
We may eulogize the hero with eloquence, poetry and song,
But he quietly sleeps while the pageantry is going on,
The odor of the flowers that we place on the grave
Is lost to the hero who gave his life his country to save.

The Homesick Soldier.—The timid homesick soldier grieves himself to death, and if perchance he has to engage in a battle he welcomes the friendly missile that puts an end to his forlorn condition. He thinks of nothing but home and rather than drag out, to him, a miserable existence in the army surrenders his life freely and willingly. The following lines are intended to picture the end of one of this unfortunate class:

I am weary to-night and as lonely as can be,
I am far from my friends that I may never see,
I am hungry and cold; how can I my time employ?
I know my good christian mother is praying for her boy.
I on the cold ground must lie down to sleep,
If mother knew my condition how bitterly she would weep;
In camp I hear stories laughter and song,
I am longing for home and cannot join.
They tell me I am homesick perhaps it is true
I must shake off this despondency or I will never pull through
I am wishing for anything that can be arranged
Anything, just anything, anything for a change,
I hear the report of a signal gun,
Now we may listen for the sound of the old bass drum.
Fall in, fall in is the command to all,
And now we must answer at once to rollcall;
“Attention Company;” says the officer in time:
Forward double quick is the command that is passed down the line.
I hear the boom of cannon and rattle of smallarms,
The screams of the wounded show that the battle is on,
I am mortally wounded see how my blood flows,
I am sinking to rest, my troubles are o’er.
I am thirsty, feel chilly and cold and must sleep,
Farewell my dear mother, please do not weep.
I see you yes ’tis you, I knew you would come,
Now take me dear mother again to our home.
As the last word was spoken he drew the last breath,
And no mother there to sooth him in death,
The poor homesick boy in battle did fall,
He had listened and answered to the last rollcall.

Strenuous Soldiers.—Soldiers like citizens are sometime extremists, and are likely to say and do some very unreasonable things. They work themselves up to a high pitch of excitement, see but one side of a question and are intolerant. Soldiers of this class are usually not the most reliable and their rashness is liable to lead them to do things detrimental to the cause they represent. The following lines illustrate this objectionable element.

Sound the bugle and beat the drum,
Fall in line, let the enemy come,
Let us charge the Yankees and let them know
We can shoot them down and over their dead bodies go.
If they contest the ground we will make them feel
That there is some virtue in cold steel;
We will give up our lives our country to save,
We will be freemen or fill bloody graves.
Give them no quarter—we ask for none—
Shoot them down as fast as they come.

Conservative Soldiers.—The conservative soldier usually possesses nerve, pluck, humane feeling and a busy brain. He is cool and level headed and is not thrown off his guard by any sudden changes in his surrounding. He is generally a good citizen at home, has a sharp lookout for the betterment of his home and people and carries with him to the army the same[42] conservatism that distinguishes him as a good citizens at home.

A quiet industrious citizen enjoying the comforts of home
Has no disposition a soldier to become,
Unless called upon by his country’s needs and demands,
For the protection of his home and his liberties to stand,
He then takes his place in line in a deliberate way
And not like a fanatic panting for the fray.
He leaves at home property and loved ones to face an invading foe,
Because his country commands him and duty requires him to go;
The best element of an army does not fight for plunder or fame,
Because such soldiers possess courage, nerve, heart and brain.


The Sick Soldier.—Exposure, irregular and unwholesome diet, constant changing, uncomfortable lodgings and many other things caused soldiers to contract diseases which often terminated in death. Notwithstanding everything was done for the poor sick soldier that could be done under the circumstances, he missed the affectionate attentions of loved ones at home. On account of inadequate facilities to furnish the necessary means the unfortunate victim was often neglected.

Surgeon’s Call.—While in camp every morning at a certain hour Surgeon’s call was announced by the beating of the drum. Sick soldiers in camp who were able to walk were required to report to the doctor for treatment and to be excused from duty. Such as were not too sick remained in camp and were treated at their tents, and soldiers[43] who were very sick were sent to a hospital. Soldiers sick in camp generally received scant sympathy and poor attention. A soldier though who was known to be faithful in the discharge of duty if unfortunately became sick was cared for by his friends.

In every command there were soldiers who were experts in playing off sick, and of course such were not respected. There was always some one ready to ridicule the sick squad reporting. When the drums beat sometimes a wag would cry out. “Come up dead” or “Come up and get your Dovers powders or Camphor and Opium pills.” Soldiers really sick have been known to throw away medicine given them and take their chances.

Simple Minded Sick Soldier.—In a certain regiment a simple minded soldier who was really sick would slowly make his way to the doctor’s tent and when asked “what is your trouble?” he would invariably give the same answer, “The same old complaint, ‘Sumption.’” The doctor would excuse him and he would return to his tent, lie down and suffer as much with homesickness as with the disease itself.

Many a poor soldier lost his life in camp, in a hospital, on the march or on the battlefield, who would have rallied from a very slight indisposition that developed into a fatal disease could he have been transferred to his home.

Despondent, Sick Soldier.—After[44] serving in the army for about a year a soldier was stricken down with a severe spell of sickness and sent to a hospital to recuperate. Having a horror for hospital life he plead earnestly with the physician in charge to recommend the issuing of a furlough for him to return home. He was informed that he was too weak and must wait until he got able to travel. The next day he told the doctor that he was getting worse and weaker and plead with him to allow him to go before the board to meet in a few minutes in the hospital, but received no encouragement. A few minutes later a message came summonsing some other sick soldiers in the same room to appear before the board. He had about given up in despair when another message came ordering him to report to the board at once. He obeyed the order without delay, and had scarcely gotten inside of the door when the chairman said, “Give him fifty days.” He returned home one beautiful Sunday morning. A good mother saw him slowly approaching the house and seeing his uniform, it occurred to her that the stranger was a soldier and for the sake of her own boys in the field she would treat him as well as she could. Being pale, weak, emaciated, reduced almost to a skeleton and nearly exhausted, he with difficulty climbed up the steps that lead up to the door. As soon as he got inside of the door his mother and sister assisted him to a chair, thinking they were helping[45] some poor unfortunate soldier unknown to them. Finally they recognized him but did not know whether to rejoice or weep for it looked very much like his life was fast ebbing out. In a few weeks he was well again and returned to the army.

Visiting.—Soldiers very much enjoyed a visit from friends at home, and a visitor after getting in camp and located among the friends he was especially visiting was regarded as guest of the soldiers and treated with deference by all he chanced to meet. Soldiers were always ready for some fun and any incident outside of the common broke the monotony and gave them a change. Citizens with few exceptions after their first experience enjoyed a joke even at their expense. If a citizen passed through camp wearing a long tailed coat or plug hat, some one would tauntingly cry out, “Come down out of that coat or come out of that hat, I know you are in there I see your legs,” and the boys would repeat until the poor fellow got through and of course the citizen felt relieved when the boys quieted down. The boys meant no disrespect and the citizens generally took it all good naturedly.

Portly Gentleman.—At one time a portly gentleman passed through camp and as soon as he came in sight a soldier cried out, “Here he comes: and here he comes” was repeated along the line. Finally the old gentleman chagrined, stopped, pulled off his hat and politely asked the[46] boys what he had done, they promptly told him that he had stolen their big bass drum and swallowed it. The good natured old fellow caught on to the joke and told the boys that their drum should be returned and he was permitted to pass on enjoying the laugh as much as any of them.

Lady Visitors.—A lady visiting in the camp always had a refining influence upon the soldiers who were pleased to have an opportunity to treat such a visitor as an honored guest. The mere announcement that lady visitors were expected would cause soldiers to get busy and police the camp making everything around the tents look tidy and attractive. The conduct and conversation of the soldiers were always improved by visits of the ladies. Unfortunately though their visits were few and far between times. There was in the valley of Virginia a beautiful young lady who acted as a courier for some of the officers and was said to sometimes pass through the lines where a man would not be allowed to go, and to return bringing valuable information. She was a graceful horseback rider and created a sensation when she rode along the lines.


Soldiers in Prison.—A soldier belonging to an army in war times necessarily lives a strenuous life, and if unfortunately captured by the enemy and has to be[47] incarcerated in prison it makes life to the average soldier almost unendurable. A soldier obliged to obey strictly army rules and regulations enforced by officers fighting for the same cause he is contending for surrenders seemingly about all of his liberties, but when reduced to the humiliation of having a sentinel standing over him all of the time to see that he does not violate orders given by an enemy reduces him to the most abject slavery. Many Northern and Southern soldiers were captured and placed in prison, and a judicious and rapid system of exchange of prisoners would have alleviated much suffering among these poor fellows.

Exchange of Prisoners.—The Federal authorities perhaps were dilatory in effecting exchanges because their captured men could be replaced by others, and they had not only the Northern states but the world to draw from, and knew the soldiers taken out of line in the Southern army could not be replaced with others on account of the scarcity of men.

It is said that everything is fair in war, but the peremptory demands of war ought not to suppress every vestige of feeling of humanity. An experience in prison however humiliating that experience may be, cannot fail to convince anyone that implicit obedience to orders from the powers that be is the only safeguard as a shelter or protection from unreasonable punishment.

[48]Punishment.—Severe punishment such as bucking and gagging, hanging up by the thumbs, walking the beat carrying heavy loads, sometimes whipping and even shooting, to the death practiced in the army and prison almost invariably falls to the lot of a soldier who wilfully disobeys known rules and regulations, but these punishments are sometimes administered by tyrannical officers, puffed up with a little brief authority, to gratify their own personal spites and prejudices. Strict adherence to discipline will nearly always screen the victim from such suffering. In prison officers may be exacting, but from their arbitrary rulings there is really no appeal.

Rations.—Much complaint was made by soldiers in Southern prisons about the scarcity and quality of rations, perhaps these complaints in some instances were well founded, for the Southern soldier in camp or on the march did not have an abundant supply. The same complaint was made against the Northern prison and it was argued that the Federal authorities had the means to provide more and had no moral right to retaliate upon the South for a deficiency in prison that was unavoidable. Many Southern soldiers in Northern prisons went to bed of nights and could not sleep on account of being hungry. Prisoners captured a short time before the surrender of Lee, soon heard of the surrender, and of the assassination of Lincoln and were frightened by a report circulated[49] in the prison camp that Southern soldiers would be kept as hostages and perhaps executed in retaliations for the assassination of the president. The personal experience of soldiers incarcerated in the prisons of the late war would make interesting reading to coming generations but perhaps it is better to let this part of the history pass into oblivion. Contending armies engaged in battle would fight to the finish, damaging each other in every honorable way they could even to extermination, but when a soldier surrendered and became a prisoner he was treated courteously by his captors on either side. A soldier that would offer an insult or indignity to a prisoner was looked upon with contempt and his conduct regarded as cowardly by his own comrades.

Camp Life.—To undertake to portray the multiplicity of phases of soldier life as exhibited in the Southern army would be a herculean task from which the stoutest heart, best equipped mind and most experienced hand would shrink. It is enough for one to record the doings, transactions, incidents, and reflections drawn from historical facts connected with the section and army, the one undertaking the task was familiar with, on account of being present to witness much that occurred, and in a position to gather items of information from parties who were eye witnesses. Every day on the march, in camp, on the battlefield or in prison was replete[50] with thrilling, interesting, ludicrous or pathetic scenes which were worthy of notice and ought to be handed down to posterity in a more durable way than by tradition. Duty, patriotism and an earnest desire to rescue from oblivion much of the war history ought to appeal to the few old soldiers now living whose passing from the stage of action must necessarily cut out forever any chance of a correct history. The certainty that they will soon be gone ought to be an incentive to induce each one to contribute his part. An army like our Southern army presents to the mind of the curious an inviting field for study and investigation.

In camp the home life of the soldier is clearly delineated and by associating in the camp soldiers learn more about each other than anywhere else.

Soldier on Inspection.—There was in camp a little scrawny fellow that took the world easy when things went his way, but when he got wrong he was very much wrong and was at war with everybody and seemed to think that everybody’s hand was raised against him. He was a faithful, loyal soldier and would have died rather than play off to screen himself from a fight. He was always out of clothing, rations, money and everything that a soldier needed and was out with everyone who would not divide with him, but was liberal and honest and would pay his debts if it took his last dollar. At pay day it[51] usually took all he received to pay his debts and then he was borrowing again. He paid very little attention to cleanliness, consequently no one cared to tent or bunk with him and he was often by himself although socially inclined. At such times he would sing songs sometimes a little smutty and whistle popular airs. He would say some very harsh things about officers and some of them very much wished for a chance to get even with him. On one occasion on inspection, the inspecting officer complained that his gun was not properly cleaned and ordered him to his quarters, putting on him the punishment of thirty minutes work cleaning his gun. He returned to his quarters with the rest of the company, feeling resentful, and with an oath slammed the gun to the ground, consigning it with the inspector to a region supposed to be hot and heavily charged with the odor of sulphur. He gloomily sulked for thirty minutes and in sheer desperation picked up his gun and reported as ordered to the inspector, expecting to be sent to the guard house, but was surprised when told by the officer that his gun looked much better, admonishing him to hereafter do as the others did and he would not have to do extra work on his gun and pleasantly excused him.

Recruit on Guard.—On one occasion the officer of the guard around camp was a young lieutenant who had a very exalted opinion of himself and was glad of an[52] opportunity to show his authority. One of the guard was a recruit detailed for the first time to do guard duty. He had fallen on the third relief and had lain down to rest until his time came. Nothing unusual occurred the first two hours, but after the second relief was posted the lieutenant made his rounds and returned to the camp fire and had a big laugh with the old soldiers present. He had taken the gun from a timid recruit, had the poor fellow badly scared and boastingly said that he would take every recruits’ gun that belonged to the guard. The third relief was placed and the recruit stationed at his post, walked his beat and kept a sharp lookout, especially for the lieutenant. Finally he heard the rattle of his sword as he approached and when he got in challenging distance, said: “Halt who comes there?” The lieutenant answered: “Friend with the countersign.” The sentinel then said “Advance friend and give the countersign.” The officer corrected him saying “Advance friend with the countersign,” and was briskly walking right up to him. The recruit quickly brought his gun to the position of charge bayonets, and again demanded the countersign. He was then almost in bayonet reach, gave the countersign and expecting to throw the sentinel off his guard, made a movement as if to pass on but really intended to take his gun. The sentinel made him pass around him at a distance not in bayonet reach which[53] he did without further parley. After he had passed he said, “If you don’t mind you will get in the guard house.” The recruit replied saying, “I know my duty,” but was getting some thrilling experience while being initiated.

An Economical Soldier.—A quiet careful soldier for several days saved of his rations scraps of beef and scrapings of flour until he collected enough to make a beef pie which was regarded as a luxury in camp.

The pie was nicely made and spicely cooked,
And the boys at it greedily looked;
The soldier happy with a broad grin
Commenced taking the rich pie in.
Near by in the crowd was a hungry boy looking about
As if he could breed a famine and starve it out;
He stood the test for a little while
Then stepped up to the soldier on his face a smile
Saying, “If you please I would like your pie to taste;”
“Help Yourself” said the soldier with very good grace.
For a second invitation he did not wait
But commenced eating pie at a rapid rate,
At last he suddenly quit eating and said with a sigh,
I guess I have taken enough of your pie.
“Have some more” said the soldier polite as could be;
The boy said, “Thank you, if you insist I will—it tastes good to me,”
The hungry boy hung on while others stood by
And saw the two together finish eating the pie.

A Soldier’s Retort.—On the Maryland march on account of marching for many consecutive days, soldiers were ragged, dirty and some of them barefooted. An army in such a plight does not present a very attractive appearance. In the[54] column was a brave, faithful soldier always ready to fight to the finish. He had just passed through a series of battles and looked very much worsted, wearing old clothes and limping on account of old shoes making his feet sore. The army was marching through a town whose inhabitants were of very decided Union proclivities. A crowd of pretty, well dressed ladies were conspicuously standing on the sidewalk, indulging in cutting remarks, using such expressions as rebel and traitor very freely. One of them pointed out this uncouth looking soldier saying, “Look at that ragged, dirty rebel.” He coolly retorted looking her in the eye saying, “Madam, we always put on our old clothes when we go out to kill hogs.” His retort was not very courteous, but it put a quietus on the use of any further uncomplimentary remarks. The soldiers were usually treated very nicely by the ladies, even when invading the enemy’s territory, and were in turn as courteous as could be.

A Boisterous Soldier.—In camp there was a boisterous fellow whose early education and training had been very much neglected, and although illiterate he was fully convinced that he was a man of considerable importance. His quaint sayings and doings furnished no small amount of amusement for the officers and men. He did not mean to exaggerate but apparently looked at things through magnifying[55] glasses. He was a fearless, brave soldier and was never happier than when called upon by an officer to perform some task. He did not hesitate to go or try to go anywhere his commanders ordered or requested him to go. On one occasion he was detailed as a picket to reconnoiter and ascertain some points about the position and strength of the enemy’s forces. Under the direction of the officer in command of the picket line, he with others stealthily approached as near as possible to the enemy’s line to get the desired information. In their eagerness they crossed the danger line and were saluted with a volley of shot and shell and of course were obliged to hastily retreat. The soldier came rushing back to camp puffing and blowing, burdened with the weight of responsibility that had been entrusted to him and hurried up to the colonel’s headquarters to report the result of the investigation. The colonel listened to him attentively while he excitedly gave his report and seriously asked his opinion about the strength of the enemy’s force. With forceful gestures and placing strong emphasis on his answer he replied: “About two hundred thousand!” The colonel amused at his estimate of the enemy’s strength, and his earnestness in reporting, respectfully thanked him and excused him. The same soldier incensed at his brother, seventeen years old, joining the army wished with an oath that the boy would get[56] killed in the very first engagement he got in. In a few days the command got in a fight and the poor boy was killed. The wish was thoughtlessly made and the soldier felt sorry for the fate of his brother. One day glibly talking to the boys he pointed out a place on his arm and expressed the wish that a minnie ball would strike him there the next battle he got in and the bone would have to be resected so he could get on the retired list. In the very next fight a minnie ball struck the identical place pointed out and the bone had to be resected. He could have been placed on the retired list, but preferred to remain in service.

Recruit Detailed.—Early one morning a recruit who had just been enrolled, while he was at breakfast, was informed by the sergeant that he was on guard for the day and told to report at once to the colonel’s headquarters. Very much to the amusement of the old soldiers he replied: “All right, wait till I eat a bite” and leisurely finished his breakfast, prepared for duty and reported to headquarters without realizing that he had subjected himself to the danger of being disciplined for not at once reporting.

It was very embarrassing to recruits especially when joining a command already in the service. A recruit reporting for duty was dazed at the array of stripes, bars, stars and wreaths, being assigned to a certain regiment was asked if he had any[57] reason to give for being assigned to any special company, stammeringly replied that he had a second company in cousin I. The boys laughed at his mistake, but the officers kindly let him join the company of his choice.



A soldier placed on the picket line
Has a responsible duty to him assigned;
To perform this duty with judgment and skill
Requires nerve, pluck, brain and deliberate will.
He protects the main army back in the rear,
And watches each movement with trembling and fear;
If the enemy makes a hostile move he does not run
But warns his friends in the rear by firing his gun.
Then the pickets exchange some hasty shots,
Fall back in line and things get hot.

Picket or Scout.—Different phases of soldier life have been partially explained, but the elements that enter into the make up or the varied experience of the successful sharpshooter or scout are beyond description. Take the foremost soldier in the army whose energy, pluck and daring deeds of valor have aided him in forging his way to the front, then add all the nerve, fearlessness, disregard of danger, determination to surmount all obstacles and you get only a faint idea of the sturdy firm, intrepid picket or scout, looking not for trouble but for adventure. History often records raids made by such dashing leaders as Jackson, Stuart, Morgan or[58] leaders of that character with picked men. Such leaders select from different commands men who have passed through firey ordeals and have been weighed in the balance and found not wanting. With such soldiers wonderful victories have been achieved that would have been failures with a different class of men. The common soldier on the skirmish line however courageous he may be finds himself facing a problem that calls into play some traits of the soldier that he does not possess. The picket lines were often very close together, sometimes on friendly terms and sometimes hostile to each other.

On The Picket Line.—In the night time the lines have been near enough to hear pickets in the opposite line talking in a low tone, but usually the lines were further apart. A very slight demonstration on the picket line sometimes precipitated a fight. The sentinels on the lines of the two armies were at one time respectively walking their beats on opposite sides of the Rapahannock river in plain view of each other. A sentinel on post on one of the lines playfully pointed his gun at the sentinel on post opposite him on the other side and was at once shot at by the sentinel, who took the matter seriously. There was something doing along the line for a little while but the situation was soon understood, the excitement subsided and the sentinels resumed their places, walking their beats but refrained[59] from quite so much familiarity.

Exchange of Courtesies.—Sentinels on post on the picket lines representing the opposing armies often exchanged courtesies and greetings and on the sly met between the lines, exchanged daily papers, swapped tobacco for coffee, had a pleasant chat with each other and returned to their respective posts with the kindliest feelings. The following lines demonstrate or illustrate the friendly feeling that prevailed among the soldiers of the two opposing armies.

“Good morning: Johnnie. Good morning Pat,”
Come across and we will have a social chat
We can be friendly loyal and true,
Although I wear the grey and you the blue.
I feel somewhat lonely walking my beat,
And to visit you would be quite a treat.
I will pledge my word upon the honor of a man
That I will come half way and treat you well as I can.
Your proposal seems very fair to me
Let us meet in the shade of that old oak tree.
The sentinels moved forward not in battle array,
But approached each other in a friendly way.
In consequence of the vigorous exercise walking their beats
They were much fatigued suffering with heat
Johnnie’s canteen was full of water cool as could be
Which he shared with Pat in the shade of the tree.
Pat smiling said it tastes like water from the lake
Away up North in Michigan State.
Then said in my canteen is some of the elixir of life
That will make us forget our sorrows and strife.
Will you not a little bit of it take
As Paul would say for your stomach sake,
Johnnie said thank you holding out an empty tin cup,
Which they filled with Southern water Northern sugar and other stuff,
Then of the mixture each one took a sup
Drinking out of the same tin cup,
It tasted pleasant and they repeated the dose
’Till they both felt gay and very jocose.
Finally conversation in a confidential channel did run
They talked of their home life both anxious to return,
Pat said he had a wife and children at his home near the lake
That were anxiously looking for him wishing for the war to break.
Johnnie showed the picture of a sweet looking girl,
That he declared was the sweetest best girl in the world,
Saying she lives in a cottage among the hills in a North Carolina home.
And will be true to me until I return.
When this cruel war is over I will be by her side
And claim a fulfillment of her promise to be my bride,
They were talking confidentially in this beautiful strain,
Commenting on their loved ones again and again.
Suddenly they heard the report of a signal gun
And to their respective posts did quickly run.
After the signal gun fired in a very short time
There was brisk firing all along the picket line.
At these two posts firing was rapid and sharp,
But the aim was above or below the mark,
Finally the pickets were ordered to fall back,
The two waved hands saying, “Good-bye Johnnie, Good-bye Pat.”

Fearful Experience.—During the time of the engagements in the wilderness a soldier on the picket line one night had a fearful experience. The lines were very close and the sentinels on post had strict orders to walk their beats, keep a sharp lookout and let no one approach or cross the line without giving the countersign. It was very dark and the thick underbrush made the darkness more dense. The officers making their rounds were embarrassed not knowing how soon they might march into the enemy’s lines. The sentinel quietly walking his beat heard a soldier approaching and soon as he came near enough in as low a tone as possible challenged him and asked for the countersign. The soldier approaching apparently like the soldier on post was uncertain whether he was in the presence of a friend or an enemy. In an evasive way they made inquiries with a view of ascertaining each others identity. Each one was[61] afraid to fire on the other fearing he would be firing on a friend instead of an enemy, knowing too that the least disturbance would precipitate a movement of both armies and perhaps cause a battle which in the darkness would have been horrible to contemplate. Without understanding their true relationship to each other, they simultaneously turned and walked in opposite directions and to this day the soldier does not know whether he challenged a friend or a foe.

Burned Bodies of the Dead.—To augment the horrors of the Wilderness battles a fire broke out immediately following the retreat of the enemy in an engagement and swept over the battlefield before the dead could be moved. The picket line reconnoitering moving forward to discover the position taken by the retreating army was obliged to run over the crisp burned bodies of Yankee soldiers lying dead on the field. It was an awful sight illustrating the horrors of war. The soldiers on the picket line in consequence of the heat, smoke and stench were very nearly overcome and were driven to the extreme necessity of drinking the turbid waters of a ditch where dead bodies of Yankee soldiers were lying very close.

Test of Valor.—On the skirmish line was the place to test the real powers of the soldier. In the Southern army were plain unassuming men, without reward or the hope of reward, or even realizing that[62] they were doing anything extraordinary, that performed deeds of daring that stamped them as heroes of the highest type.

Escape of the Enemy.—Near the close of the war an inducement was offered by the Yankees to dissatisfied Southern soldiers to pass through the lines, and occasionally a sentinel would leave his post and with his gun and equipments make a dash for the lines on the other side. As he approached the picket post on the other side the Yankee sentinel would call out, “Come in Johnnie.” A few soldiers escaped sometimes under the fire of sentinels at contiguous posts. While a few citizens and soldiers crossed over the line but few joined the Northern army.

Welcome Peace.—Soldiers on both sides were tired of war and welcomed the treaty of peace, and were glad to return to their homes and again engage in the quiet peaceful pursuits of life.

Four years of exposure suffering and strife
Ruined many a home and many a life,
At the end of the war many soldiers brave
Were peacefully sleeping in heroes graves.

On the Warpath.—The campaigns of the civil war were generally vigorously prosecuted in warm weather. In the good old Summer time soldiers slept on blankets thrown on the ground with nothing but the canopy of heaven as a covering, and then if they received marching orders the boys had nothing to do but to take up their beds and walk at quick step or if[63] in case of urgent necessity at double quick time.

Often while sweetly sleeping not disturbed by the fear of Yankees or anything else, the drum would beat and soldiers would be aroused from sleep and then there would be something doing, and very soon the command would be moving.

Though densely dark with no moon or star light,
The Southern boys were always ready for fight;
Although the Yankees did their methods despise,
They pounced upon them and took them by surprise.

Unreliable Soldiers.—On the warpath the artful skulker did clever maneuvering worthy of a better cause to sustain his position that for plausible reasons he ought to be an immune and not required to join at the critical time when the battle was on.

Soldiers destitute of principle, morals or brain
Upon the fair name of an army cast a stain.
An army made up of figureheads, thugs and bums,
To an intelligent force is obliged to succumb,

Fortunately the Southern army did not have many of this class, and the few placed as they were among soldiers disposed to do their duty, were obliged to take their places in line.

Music in Battle.—Before the beginning of hostilities the average citizens were under the impression that soldiers marched into battle to the tune of martial music and to cheer them on the drums would beat and the bands play, but soldiers’ first experience convinced them that a very different kind of music prevailed.[64] It was the terrific sound of bursting shells, the hateful, hissing, singing of minnie balls, mingled with commands of officers occasionally heard above the din, and the screams and groans of wounded and dying soldiers crying for help and calling for water to quench their burning thirst.

Instead of selecting a certain soldier in the enemy’s line as a target to shoot at, a soldier merely leveled his gun and fired at the line of battle of the enemy, dimly seen through the smoke and dust, then loaded his gun with another cartridge and repeated. In a hotly contested fight soldiers often shot fifty rounds of cartridges and their guns got so hot that they could scarcely grasp them with their hands.

Battles.—A succession of battles is by no means a monotonous repetition. Each battle has its peculiar phases. A battle is often an exhibition of the artistic skill of officers in arranging and maneuvering, and of men carefully executing, and may be a trial of physical endurance and the well trained handling of the weapons of warfare used. In any event a battle is a spectacular scene imposing and grand.

Opposing armies, on the warpath, require but little provocation to induce them to get up a rumpus. Battles are by no means precipitated in a uniform cut and dried way, but are brought about in as many ways as there are battles fought. A single shot fired by a picket from his[65] post may cause the picket lines to exchange shots and fall back, and the commands represented by them to settle the disturbance by engaging in a battle. Cavalrymen sometimes make a raid and start a fight into which the entire armies are drawn. Cannonading is a very common way to start a fight. Sometimes a command is surprised by a detachment from the opposite army and a battle ensues, and sometimes the armies come together apparently without any preconcerted plan on either side, simultaneously line up and get busy, with their work of carnage.

On the battlefield soldier life is delineated in its most revolting phase. Two contending armies present a spectacle grand and awful to contemplate. The surging masses of human beings intent on each others destruction with the death dealing artillery with its terrific roar and the more destructive missiles of small armies with their hateful hissing sounds, together with the deafening cheers of the moving armies, and the heartrending screams and moans of the wounded and dying make the scene agonizing to the extreme. Two contending armies engaged in battle present to the eye of the beholder an indescribable panorama.

Two contending: armies aligned for a fight
Present to the eye an imposing-sight,
When the pickets begin to exchange their shots,
The battle is on and soon gets hot.
With terrific noise of destructive shells
And hissing minnie balls and soldiers’ yells,
Such noise and confusion make a stunning din,
And in the smoke of battle there is a contest to win
The lines firm and steady throughout their length,
With stubborn persistence measure their strength.
Officers and men artful tactics display
Until one of the lines is forced to give way,
Charge after charge, Greek meets Greek,
The two contending armies in deadly strife meet.
The powers of the soldier both sides feel
As they force their way with steel against steel,
Or perchance one line or the other overpowered gives way,
And the contest is ended, the victors win the day.
The vanquished sometimes eager to be freed
Run for their lives in a disgraceful stampede.

Battle Fields.—Nature in some places has provided spots of ground that answer the purpose of belligerent armies where one line has the advantage of protection or shelter from the onslaughts of the other. Where grounds have been selected not affording safe protection against the invading force, soldiers are subjected to hard work throwing up breastworks, digging intrenchments or placing abatis to entangle the advancing army so as to detain it and shoot down the soldiers while extricating themselves from the entanglement. Every device or subterfuge that the fertile brain or imagination of man can discover or invent is called into requisition to give an advantage considered honorable in war. Sometimes though contending armies meet in open field in plain view of each other and fight to the finish and retire from the field leaving there a harrowing scene of suffering and destruction. Sometimes soldiers engage in hand to hand encounters, display physical force, power of endurance, and their expertness in handling the weapons of warfare, sustained by indomitable courage and stubborn willpower.

[67]After the Battle.—The heat and excitement of the battle having subsided and the smoke cleared away, the battlefield presents a harrowing scene that beggars description. The grim monster death having done its terrible work leaves its impress on the faces of its unfortunate victims. Passion, determination and conflicting emotions plainly stamped on the faces of the victims now wrapt in the cold embrace of death.

After the battle is over a survey of the field
Will melt a heart as hard as steel;
The wounded with heartrending screams and moans
And pitiful calls for loved ones at home,
Appeal to the sympathies causing one to grieve,
On account of being powerless the victims to relieve,
A quiet look at the faces of the dead
Fills ones soul with horror and dread.


Fourteenth N. C. Regiment.

The beginning of the war was to some a surprise,
But the old Fourteenth at once organized;
The regiment marched to the front along with the first.
And was on the front line when shells began to burst.
It was composed of ten companies of stalwart men,
Who were determined with the enemy to contend;
At Seven Pines and battles below Richmond to Malvern Hill,
The regiment fought with a determined will,
Many of the men gallant and brave
On these battle fields filled bloody graves,
Receiving recruits the regiment again took a start,
Displaying courage and endurance on the Maryland march,
Near Sharpsburg the regiment was in an old road aligned,
And fought the Yankees advancing in three lines;
The boys were conspicuous at the Wilderness, Chancellorsville and Mine Run
And at Spotsylvania and Gettysburg handled their guns,
In the thickest of the fight the regiment would be,
Fought to the finish and surrendered with Lee,

While not pretending to write the history of any special command, the writer belonged to Co. B. 14th Regiment N. C. Infantry which accounts for a casual reference to the regiment in these sketches. The regiment was composed of the following companies—all North Carolinians:

Company A, Halifax County
B, Davidson
C, Anson
D, Cleveland
E, Wake
F, Buncombe
G, Rockingham
H, Stanley
I, Davidson
K, Wake

Company Officers.—Company B, of which I was a member was made up at Thomasville and the immediate surrounding country. The company was at first commanded by Capt. Miller, but when the company reorganized J. H. Lambeth was elected captain, S. Hepler first lieutenant, C. P. Jones second lieutenant and Alex Leach third lieutenant. Captain Lambeth was promoted to the position of major and served in that capacity, until the close of the war. Lieutenant Hepler was wounded at Sharpsburg, lost an arm[69] and was not with the company very much afterward. To fill a vacancy M. H. Cross was elected lieutenant. Lieutenant Jones was killed in battle, Lieutenant Leach’s health failed in consequence of which he was absent a great deal of the time and the command of the company devolved upon Lieutenant Cross. Neither of the lieutenants were promoted to the captaincy. The regiment was at first commanded by Colonel Daniel, Lieutenant Colonel Lovejoy, Major Faison and Adjutant Seaton Gales. When the regiment reorganized Roberts was elected colonel, Bennett lieutenant colonel, Dixon major, and Marshall adjutant. Roberts and Dixon died and Bennett became colonel. Johnson lieutenant colonel and J. H. Lambeth major. Rev. Powers was chaplain all the time. The 2nd, 4th, 14th, 30th and 1st and 3rd consolidated—all N. C. regiments composed a brigade commanded by Pemberton, Colston, Anderson, Ramseur and Cox consecutively. The brigade belonged to a Division, commanded by D. H. Hill, Rodes and Grimes consecutively. The regiment served through the war and was under the invincible Jackson until his death and was proud of the distinction of being in an army commanded by the immortal Lee.

Unique Characters.—In every command there are unique characters, and the Fourteenth was by no means an exception to the general rule, for in the regiment[70] were members noted for varied peculiarities or eccentricities. Surviving soldiers of the regiment will pleasantly remember Webb of Co. A and Crow of Co. K, Charlie Hall of Co. B and Lee of Co. G.

There were two great big fellows in the regiment that did not look hungry but a double daily ration had no charms for them. Their names were Sergeant Rawly of Co. G and Lieutenant Mitchell of Co. E.

A Brave Soldier.—At South Mountain the regiment was exposed to a shower of minnie balls, and was located at the foot of a hill in a thicket of sprouts, weeds and briers. A call was made for a volunteer to carry a message through the thick underbrush. In Co. B was an obscure soldier named Morgan considered a kind of a go easy good for nothing kind of a fellow, although barefooted he at once responded and stepped to the front to perform the task without considering it to be a perilous brave undertaking. He was sustained by nerve and pluck that stamped him as a brave man worthy of admiration.

Color Bearer.—Bennett Russell color bearer of the regiment, who carried the colors in many hard fought battles, though not a commissioned officer deserves honorable mention. Although illiterate, unassuming in manners, plain and not preposessing in appearance.

He was noble, generous and brave,
And imperiled his life his country to save.

Amusing Scenes.—The wit or humorist[71] was there to contribute his enlivening influence to vary the sometimes sombre or gloomy conditions existing in the camp. Sometimes ludicrous incidents would occur to excite laughter and amusement even when danger was threateningly near. Imagine soldiers running for life to keep from being captured and thinking themselves out of danger, swearing that they would not move another inch if the entire Yankee army pounced down upon them, and a few shells burst throwing dirt upon them and hissing singing minnie balls like swarms of bees humming uncomfortably near them, then think how soon they forget their decided resolution to discontinue running, start again and fairly burn the wind until again out of harms way. To one looking on, it is amusing to see the movements and afterwards to hear their quaint sayings. To the participants it is anything else but funny, but after it is all over they laugh about it and joke and jeer each other unmercifully.

In the campaign in the valley the Rebels ran the Yankees many a time, and occasionally their speed was very much accelerated by their being in front and the Yankees keeping up close in the rear, and treating them to volleys of shot and shell.

On the Campaign.—The regiment was conspicuous in the battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines, through the battles below Richmond to Malvern Hill. After coming out of this strenuous campaign the[72] regiment very much worsted by exposure, disease and loss of killed, wounded and missing in battle went into camp near Richmond and rested awhile. Many of its gallant officers and men had fallen to rise no more, and others were sick or wounded in the hospitals or at home on furlough. Recruits came to take the places of the absent ones, and very soon the regiment with the command started on the famous march to Maryland. The regiment passed through the battlefield of the second Manassas fight and a gruesome, sickening sight presented itself.

Distressing Scenes.—Dead bodies of Yankee soldiers were strewn thickly over the field, that in the hasty retreat of the Yankee army and pursuit of the Southern forces, were left unburied on the field. The boys endured exposures and hardships galore and many of them had to succumb. It was necessary to enforce rigid discipline which under the circumstances was a difficult matter. Many hardships had to be endured that were apparently unfair and uncalled for but the demands of war are imperative and must be submitted to. Soldiers in the ranks and officers in command were compelled to witness distressing scenes, and were powerless to render assistance to the suffering and dying. On the march soldiers exhausted fell out of ranks sometimes when there were no facilities to provide for them, were obliged to take their chances and often lost their lives for[73] want of attention. On the battlefield the surging masses intent on the destruction of each other had no time to give to personal friends however near and dear they might be. Distressing scenes were witnessed and assistance given when possible to do so. Sometimes near friends or even brothers were shot down in battle and the demands so urgent to move forward that the poor dying comrade had to die without being permitted to listen to the voice of a friend to comfort him while passing to the unknown land. On two occasions the Fourteenth was called out to witness the execution of some poor soldiers belonging to the army pay the penalty of desertion. It is heartrending to see a comrade shot down in the heat of battle, but it is a more distressing scene to see a soldier shot at the stake.

Battles Engaged In.—At Sharpsburg the regiment was aligned in an old road near the village and fought the Yankees advancing in three lines of battle. The regiment was cut to pieces and many were killed, wounded or missing. The regiment also figured conspicuously in the battles of Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Hatchers Run, Winchester, Mine Run, Cedar Creek and many other battles and skirmishes down to the surrender at Apomattox.

Victory and Defeat.—At Cedar Creek the Fourteenth in one day experienced the exultation of victory and the humiliation[74] of defeat. The following lines give a partial description of the exciting transactions of the day:

Just after dark an order came
To fall in line and answer to our names;
An order then came to move without delay,
And very soon we were marching on the way.
Around the hill our line was strung,
There was no blowing of the fife or beating of the drum,
An order in a whisper came down the line
That no one must talk even in a whisper at any time.
We marched all night with scarcely a stop
So still we could have heard a pencil drop;
We were marching on to a certain doom,
Destined to engage in a battle very soon.
Far to the right we heard the report of a signal gun
And to the left the report of another one,
In front we saw the flash and heard the report of a gun,
And was ordered to move forward in a run.
Forward double quick march was the cry,
And the surprised Yankees did swiftly fly;
They were in their tents their breakfasts cooking
And were by no means for the Rebels looking;
They left meat and vegetables cooking in the pot
And cans of coffee smoking hot.
When they heard the familiar Rebel Yell
There was not one left the tale to tell;
We captured wagon trains, ammunition and men,
Drove prisoners to the rear and put them in a pen,
It was fun to see the Yankees run,
And we hurried them on by firing our guns.
We emptied our cartridge boxes of fifty rounds;
The continued firing made the hills resound,
We ran the Yankees down and pulled them in,
And the way we captured prisoners was a sin,
It is said it is a long lane that has no turning,
And we finally got to the end of our journey,
The enemy was reenforced by another command,
Then we turned and run and raised the sand.
For five long miles under shot and shell
For real swift running we made it tell,
Finally the sun went down and darkness came
And the Yankees ceased their fiery flame.
The armies scattered, ran to and fro,
Not knowing how or where to go,
The enemy halted in the darkness of the night
And our scattered forces continued the flight.
In our hasty retreat we lost in our flight
All we had gained in the morning fight.
The surprise was successful and our victory complete,
If we had been able the prisoners guns and wagon trains to keep.
Fortunes are made and lost in a day,
And battles sometimes won and lost in the same time and way.
After the battle was over we had cause to weep,
And regretted meeting the enemy at Cedar Creek.

[75]Decisive Battle.—At Gettysburg perhaps a battle which was the turning point of the war, the elements seemed to be a lurid flame of fire, so desperate was the conflict and so hot and appalling the work of death and destruction. The machinery of warfare seemed to be turned loose and its operators proud of the distinction of handling it in such an effective manner, enabling it to do its deadly work.

The Enemy Surprised.—One sultry morning marching orders were received and the Fourteenth in column with other portions of the command, for hours marched at quicktime, and sometimes double-quicking. Men overcome with heat fainted by the wayside, but positive orders to continue the march were rigidly enforced. Late in the evening the enemy was surprised and attacked in the rear and a fight ensued beginning the Chancellorsville engagements.

Battle at Chancellorsville.—After dark Jackson and his staff rode through a piece of woods and was fired upon by his own men, obeying his own orders, receiving a wound which was the indirect cause of his death. The soldiers in the regiment distinctly heard the volley that caused the death of their loved commander. It is said that Lee seriously remarked upon the death of Jackson that it was a loss of his right arm. When the fatal shot was fired and Jackson received the death blow, the hopes of the Confederacy began to wane. General[76] Stewart was put in command in Jackson’s place and the next day a hotly contested battle was fought. After being engaged in the battle several hours we were relieved and orderly falling back. The general came along and thinking there was a stampede ordered the forces back to the front. Col. Bennett said to him, “Gen. Stewart we have been relieved by the Stonewall brigade” adding “I have the most gallant regiment in the field.” The general then said, “I beg ten thousand pardons” and moved on leaving the impression on the minds of the soldiers that he was a chivalrous brave commander. After we had gotten to the foot of the hill Gen. Ramseur undertook to congratulate the men but was so overcome with emotion that he said he could not talk. Col. Bennett came to the rescue saying “I can talk” and in a stentorian tone began to praise the men. He was cheered to the echo and the surrounding hills and valleys resounded with the Rebel Yell.

At Apomattox.—The gallant Fourteenth was a fighting regiment and fought to the finish. At Apomattox though it did not retain the appearance of its former glory. But few of the tried and true were left to see for the last time the immortal Lee and with tears in their eyes hear his farewell address. The regiment broke ranks and turned their faces southward glad to return to their homes and loved ones, but sad at the thought of the humiliation of defeat[77] and uncertain about how they would be treated by their conquerors.

General Officers.—The short sketch of the few officers of the army of Northern Virginia who were distinguished for their generalship, heroism and bravery could be continued by the addition of other names equally as brave and equally as famous. Scores of them who wore the stars or bars did many acts of daring and gained many victories by their good judgment, cool and deliberate maneuvering, but we must not forget the rank and file for upon the private soldiers the heavy burden fell, and they usually responded in a manner entirely satisfactory. Honor is due to the brave men in the ranks who were prompted by duty alone and who fought so gallantly without reward or the hope of reward.

General Cox was a young man and as an officer presented a fine appearance, dressed up to date and one not familiar with his ways would come to the conclusion that he was vain or selfconceited, but seeing him in the performance of duty in his every day soldier life would dispel any such illusion. He set an example of neatness, and his military bearing was not put on but natural. His nature and disposition were generous, and he looked after the welfare of the men under him and was not tyrannical in his discipline. When the time came for action he did not think of soiling his clothes but entered into the thickest of the fight and unwaveringly[78] stayed with his command and fought to the finish. He survived the war and has figured conspicuously in the management of affairs to perpetuate good government and the enforcement of the law as a just judge on the bench.

General Grimes by the casual observer, would not have been selected from a crowd of officers as a man of extraordinary ability or above the average as a military commander. Though plain and unassuming he was a soldier of fighting proclivities and his shrill, clear, fine voice heard above the din common in the beginning of an engagement was an inspiration to his men. He was the hero of many battles and lived to witness the closing scenes of the war and near his home was the victim of assassination from ambush by parties lying concealed waiting for him.

General Ramsuer was impetuous, impatient, aggressive and by some regarded as foolhardy. If fighting was going on he was not satisfied if he was not permitted to take a hand. He has been known to ride between our own and the enemy’s picket lines apparently insensible of danger, and at a time too when a fight was momentarily expected. He was known and acknowledged as a fighter and his men followed him without questioning the expediency of his movements. He was tender-hearted to the extreme and in the presence of his men has been seen to break down and weep like a child, verifying the[79] old adage that “The brave are tender-hearted.”

General Rodes was an officer having a commanding appearance. Decision of character was plainly depicted upon his countenance. It is often said that a man’s face is an index to his character. The casual observer looking into the face of the general could not fail to see stamped there a plain indication of a generous disposition. His cordial and lovable disposition drew men to him, and his deportment in battle stamped him as a fearless brave soldier. Cool and collected as he was in battle, in the engagement in which he was killed just before he was slain he seemed to be excited as if he had a premonition of his impending doom, but his sun set in a halo of glory and his name will go down in history as a hero.

General D. H. Hill, was a brave commander, had a tender regard for the welfare of his men and being of a humane disposition looked after minor details that the most of officers of his rank left entirely to subordinates. At one time on a march he discovered that many of the men were barefooted and their feet sore—some of them bleeding. He was powerless to furnish shoes and issued an order for the soldiers to make shoes out of rawhides. The order was given with a view of ameliorating the condition of the men and really did to some extent, but was not received by the men in the same spirit it was given[80] and they in ridicule named him “Rawhide.” He was held in high esteem by his men, and they admired his fighting qualities. In battle he was firm as an unshaken rock, and the boys said that not a muscle would quiver even when shells were bursting around him and bullets were cutting close.

General A. P. Hill was a peer of the bravest and most successful general officers of his rank who were co-workers with him in the army of Northern Virginia. He commanded with judgment; maneuvered and executed with skill and proved himself worthy of the position he occupied. In the hour of danger he did not waver and in the heat of battle stood firmly with his men.

General Ewell was a little, scrawny, weakly looking fellow but a fighter with a reputation. He succeeded Jackson in command and while he did not claim to be his equal. The mantle of the famous general fell upon a worthy one, who did not degrade but kept the command up to a respectable standard. In an engagement when perhaps many a commanding officer would have been far enough to the rear to have protected himself, he was wounded and in consequence of the wound had to submit to an operation and had his leg amputated, but did not make his misfortune an excuse to retire from service, but remained with his command and fought to the finish.

[81]General Early was regarded as rather eccentric, and acquired a reputation for gaining many battles and losing out in the end. After bagging his game he seemed not to have the ability to retain it. On one occasion after driving the Yankees unceremoniously from their position he passed along and familiarly said to the soldiers, “Boys you walloped it to ’em this time.” For many weeks he kept his command on the run either in hot pursuit of the Yankees or running in a stampede from them. He kept the Yankees in constant dread and did some very effective work as a commanding officer.

General Stuart was a dashy cavalry general and when he went on the warpath there was something doing. He with other cavalry officers, such as Hampton, Mosby, Imboden and others terrorized the Yankees and often made them hit the grit and burn the wind to get out of the way. The cavalry force under his leadership very materially assisted the main army in successfully carrying out its plans on the campaign. General Stuart took Jackson’s place at Chancellorsville, and successfully prosecuted the engagement that occurred the day after Jackson’s unfortunate adventure while riding along the lines, resulting in his serious wound that disabled him and finally caused his death. He was a fine looking man and a gallant commanding officer and lost his life in a cavalry engagement at the Yellow[82] Tavern.

General Longstreet held a high position among the officers of the army, and in its counsels his fine military mind exerted an influence towards shaping aggressive campaigns. His command did some hard and effective fighting. Wherever the tramp of the soldiers in his corps was heard, Southern soldiers were encouraged and the Federal troops terror stricken. The Yankees learned of his name and fame and feared him accordingly.

General Breckenridge was tall symmetrical and impressed one in his presence with his attractive personality. He belonged to a leading Kentucky family and was in the war prompted by a sense of duty and loyalty to his country. He was a leading factor in the counsels of the officers in shaping the character of the military movements.

General Gordon was a fair type of the Southern gentleman, and his very appearance indicated soldier qualities of a high order. He was an educated man and his literary attainments gave him prominence in the counsels of war held by the general officers. In prosecuting military movements he called into requisition his fine military talent, experience, good judgment and discretion. After the war he became distinguished for his eloquence and became a fine platform lecturer.

General Wheeler, better known as fighting Jo Wheeler, a good portion of the[83] time had his headquarters in his saddle, and his command was expert horseback riders. With his boys he was in his proper element when chastising the Yankees. It was said that he slipped upon their blind side and it seemed that all sides were blind for he was liable to attack them from any point of the compass, and his raids were a great help to the main army. His command returning home after the surrender was followed by a gang of looters that stole horses and committed other depredations claiming to be Wheeler’s men. General Wheeler figured conspicuously in the Spanish-Cuban war retaining in his old age his fire and courage as a soldier.

General Jackson was a military chieftain whose equal in his special line or plan of conducting a campaign could not be found in the army. He never tried to evade a battle when it was in the interest of the cause he represented to fight, but by his dashing movements often accomplished by strategy victories that could not have been achieved in battle. He was loved by officers and men in his command, and they placed implicit confidence in him. His name and presence cheered them on to deeds of valor, and the mere rumor in the camp of the enemy that Jackson was coming made officers and soldiers tremble in their boots. They feared him as a foe, but respected him for his clever management, and admired him for his heroism and wonderful achievements.


The name of the illustrious Jackson should have a place
In the history of heroes on the brightest page,
He was a born commander and leader of men,
A terror to his enemies—a beacon light to his friends.
On the march or in battle he moved without fear
Of the world’s greatest generals he was a peer;
His artful maneuvering and quick movements did save
The live of many a soldier brave.
Passing down the line soldiers always could tell
That Jackson was coming by the Rebel yell;
His name and heroism gave hope to the Nation,
And his presence among the soldiers caused an ovation,
When the fatal shot was fired that struck the hero down,
The cause of Southern independence waned and gloom did abound;
The sad news of his wound gave to Lee alarm,
And he mournfully said, I have lost my right arm.

General Robert E. Lee, commander of the army of Northern Virginia, was in many respects superior to any military chieftain the world has ever produced. He was a patriot, statesman, scholar, military hero and consecrated christian gentleman. On one occasion a portion of the Southern army was facing the enemy in full view of the line of battle. Dark threatening clouds were near and pelting hailstones and fleaks of snow were beginning to fall. The soldiers were shivering with cold, obeying orders issued not to move from their position or build any fires. The general in a soft tender voice so characteristic of the man ordered the officers to allow the soldiers to build temporary shelters with pine brush to shelter them from the hail and snow and to build fires. In a very short time they were protected from the storm and fairly comfortable by the blazing fire prepared. He lead the grand army to victory in battles, and when at last overpowered[85] by superior numbers he was obliged to surrender, he went down not in disgrace but glorious in defeat, and when history gives a true record comparing him with the greatest of military heroes his name will be emblazoned on the brightest page outshining them all.

In our country’s broad arena no generation ever will see
A military chieftain—an equal of the immortal Lee;
He could have commanded armies backed by wealth and display,
And have been recognized as the greatest general of the day.
While over that army the Stars and Stripes waved
He could have commanded soldiers gallant and brave,
But he sacrificed wealth, position and fame,
And to the rescue of his native home gallantly came.
In victory he was magnanimous heroic and great,
But his luster shined more brilliantly in defeat.
Among the world’s greatest generals he stands at the head,
The greatest military chieftain living or dead.
When his sun went down there was sorrow and gloom
Among the inmates of every Southern home;
He commanded an army of soldiers without a peer
And to every Southern soldier his memory is dear.

Recapitulation.—The short sketch of the general officers named closes the Reminiscences of the war period. There may be some discrepancies and possibly some errors as everything noticed is quoted from memory, and a lapse of more than forty years ought to be accepted as a valid excuse for any mistakes. The narrative is claimed to be true, and the object of the writer has been to deal fairly and impartially with all classes referred to.

These general officers leaders in their time,
With gallant subordinates all along the line,
Commanded an army that was complete,
Glorious in victory and defeat.
The world never saw and there never will be
An army to equal the one commanded by Jackson and Lee,
Soldiers in the ranks from the best families came,
And fought for their country and not for a name;
At home they left property, mothers, sisters, sweethearts and wives
To protect these treasures they imperiled their lives
The Union was preserved not alone by Union men,
But by Aliens that came across the cause to defend,
The Stars and Bars folded trailed in the dust,
And the Stars and Stripes waved as it waved at first.
The Southern army overpowered in the struggle lost out,
But left to Southern people an inheritance of which they are proud.
Now all sections of our country fight under one flag,
And when the Southern boy is called for he does not lag.
We love our country no less than before,
But fight for it because we love the Sunny South more.


Surrender of Lee.—On the ninth day of April 1865 at Apomattox Virginia General Lee surrendered to General Grant, after four years struggle in perhaps the most awful war of modern times. Only a remnant of the once powerful and vigorous army was left to share in the humiliation. A large proportion of the gallant soldiers of the army over which the immortal Lee was the commander had fallen to rise no more, and the few remaining were broken down by the continued hardships of the four years struggle. Being overpowered they humbly submitted to the inevitable and in good faith accepted the terms given by their conquerors and returned to their homes, thousands of which[87] were broken up, and thousands more in mourning for loved ones who had perished in the war.

Right to Secede.—The question as to whether a State had a right to secede from the General Government could not be settled by arbitration or legislation, and had been submitted to the arbitrament of the sword and decided in the negative. The Federal government through its civil representatives and military hosts claimed and proclaimed a State had no right to secede. An overwhelming majority of the people north of Mason and Dixon’s line embraced this theory. Southern people embraced the opinion that States had the inalienable right to rebel against the government, if the rights vouchsafed to said states by the constitution were infringed upon. After four years of civil war unparalleled for its severity and extent of loss of life and property, the issue was settled in favor of the Northern idea, and Southern soldiers accepted their parole, took the oath of allegiance to the government of the United States in good faith, and returned home to take up life again as peaceable, loyal citizens.

Sherman’s March to the Sea.—A few days previous and subsequent to the surrender of Lee, Johnson with his army was retreating towards North Carolina, with Sherman in hot pursuit, on his famous march to the sea. General Sherman, talented, as he was, holding a key to the[88] situation, must have known that the end of the so called rebellion was near at hand, but leading his Vandal hosts with pine torch in hand, careless with fire, seemed to take a fiendish pleasure listening to the crackling conflagrations and witnessing the lurid sheets of flame as it swallowed up barns full of feed and stock and palaces, cottages and all kinds of residences with the accumulation of the lifetime of the occupants, and the inmates themselves, helpless women and children driven out of doors, groping their way through the dense smoke and darkness, hurried on with agonizing fear and dread of personal harm that was terrible beyond description. A man of intelligence raised in a land of Bibles under christian influence that could gloat over such orgies is more in need of missionary influence than the inhabitants of Greenland’s icy mountain or India’s coral strand.

Home Coming of Soldiers.—For several weeks after the surrender of Lee and Johnson, the soldiers continued to return to their homes and returning divested themselves of their army clothes worn, dirty and sometimes infested with vermin sad reminders of camp and prison life. The old clothes were burned and the soldiers dressed in citizens clothes that had been laid aside four years before, or in new clothes that thoughtful mothers, sisters or wives had prepared in anticipation of their home coming. The soldiers were welcomed[89] home by their people who rejoiced to see them return. On some occasions they were met by mothers, sisters or wives who had passed through four years of great tribulation, and sometimes by hungry, ragged children, made more than orphans by the war. To welcome the return of the soldiers. Nature seemed to smile in extravagant luxuriance. Flowers were blooming, growing crops were springing up in a prolific growth, promising a bountiful harvest. The soldiers became citizens and relieved women and children of burdens of farm work that their forced absence had put upon them, and under the changed condition of affairs everything was in a fair way to resume normal conditions.

Assassination of Lincoln.—Very soon after the surrender of Lee, Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States, was assassinated and Southern people deplored the sad event. Although the leaders and common people of the South had nothing to do with the awful crime, it had a tendency to intensify the already bitter feeling of the radical element North, and this element began to clamor for revenge, demanding the punishment of innocent people of the South for a crime for which they were in no way responsible but entirely innocent. If Lincoln had not have been removed by death from the presidency and could have exerted an influence that the promptings of his really generous nature would have caused him to[90] endeavor to use, it would have been a boon to the downtrodden people of the Southland. The average soldier was disposed to get to work and really did get to work with an honest endeavor to repair the damage done, and to build up the waste places.

Federal Officers.—The rulers or representatives of the general government could have immortalize themselves and their names would have gone down in history as benefactors, but instead they took a different view of the situation and apparently actuated by a revengeful spirit heaped up burdens that made the suffering people cry out in agony “How long will this state of affairs exist.”

Conduct of Yankee Soldiers.—Early in the Spring of 1865 the war was rapidly coming to a close and the Yankee soldiers were invading every nook and corner. Some of them acted very gentlemanly and did what they could to protect private property, but others committed depredations, terrified the people and stole or impressed, as they called it, the most of the good horses, sometimes leaving worn out old scrubby plugs for farmers to make their crops with, and then other gangs would come along and take these leaving farmers without horses. In the Summer the army horses were corralled at different places, sold at auction to the highest bidder and brought from one to fifty dollars a piece. In this way they got about all[91] the money the citizens had managed to get hold of.

Looters Follow Yankee Army.—In the rear of the Yankee army there followed a motley gang of looters that were ignorant, vicious and some of them penitentiary convicts. This despicable class, that would not have been invited into the homes of respectable people where they lived, set themselves up as leaders to plunder, steal and overawe the good citizens of the desolated country.

Provisional Government.—The Southern people soon learned to their sorrow that if a state did not have a right to secede that the states which were in rebellion were not considered in the union. Provisional Governments were forced upon the Southern States and in North Carolina W. W. Holden, who perhaps had done more to bring about, foster and encourage the secession of the state than any other man within her borders, was made governor of the state, and a reign of terror, misrule and tyranny began. A governor with a retinue of ignorant, vicious, dishonest followers, willing and anxious to humiliate and punish the leading and best citizens of the state, caused a distressing state of affairs to exist.

The Negro Enfranchised.—To still further humiliate the Southern people an amendment was added to the constitution which placed the ballot in the hands of every negro man in the South twenty-one[92] years old, and not satisfied with this leading citizens of the South were disfranchised. Thousands of the most prominent and influential citizens of the State of North Carolina were disfranchised. An election was ordered and held but everything was one way, and many of the poll holders were big “buck niggers” that would not have known the Constitution of the United States from the Ten Commandments.

Carpetbaggers.—The carpetbaggers and low down thieves, thugs and bums that were tacked on to the tail end of the Yankee army and left to torture, torment and terrorize the peaceable, law-abiding citizens of the South were now busy with their fiendish work. They had already done effective preparatory work by visiting and mingling freely with an element congenial to their degraded and vitiated tastes. They had frequented negro cabins which were thickly scattered over the country. These ignorant, confiding negroes were easily prevailed upon to meet in old fields, woods, or old houses located in obscure places where they organized and instructed them.

The Negro Politicians.—The negro politician loomed up and these self-constituted bosses pictured to them in glowing colors the beauty and grandeur of a position they would occupy where their former owners and other leading white citizens would have to bow the knee and acknowledge their royal authority. They were[93] informed that the lands owned by Southern white people would be confiscated and divided out among them. Some of them in obedience to instructions went so far as to stake off forty acres of land where they wanted it, with the assurance that it would be given them. They were also promised with the forty acres of land and a mule, and were happy in anticipation in the near future of being in possession of immense wealth. Their political aspirations were if possible more extravagant. Offices not wanted by these designing political robbers were parcelled out to negroes that they could use to do their bidding.

Election a Farce.—An election was held that was worse than a farce. The negroes marched up to the polls like droves of sheep and deposited a piece of paper in a box that they could not have told by looking at it whether it was a ballot or ticket for passage on a railroad or admission into a theatre. In North Carolina the ballot boxes were sent to Charleston, S. C., for the ballots to be counted by a military commander. To the legislature were elected a few good citizens and a host of carpetbaggers, scalawags, and negroes, the last three named having overwhelming majorities.

Legislature.—The legislature met composed of this motley crew to enact laws for the government of the people of our loved State. In the legislature were a few representative members mixed in[94] with the disreputable carpetbaggers, scalawags and ignorant negroes, and an organization effected by a few sharp unprincipled alien adventurers who at once began to plan a system of robbery bold, insolent and disgraceful, and their corrupt ignorant tools were ready to do anything dictated by them. The legislature remained in session an entire year, the members voting themselves seven dollars per day, and some of them computing their mileage over a roundabout way to give them an excuse to augment their mileage accounts. The public school fund that had been sacredly preserved through the four years vicissitudes of war was taken to pay the per diem of the members of the mob that had convened under the name of legislature. State bonds were voted and issued for millions of dollars ostensibly to build railroads, but the proceeds of the bonds were gobbled up by money sharks and no railroads built. Many of these bonds were later repudiated by the state as fraudulent. A system of state, county and municipal government prevailed that was oppressive, and the good people of the state were humiliated and felt outraged without having any chance to remedy the evil existing.

County Officers.—In the legislature were several negroes and in some counties were negro sheriffs, registers of deeds, county commissioners, magistrates and school committees. While such a state of[95] affairs was humiliating, perhaps the carpetbaggers and some of the homemade scalawags who forgetting and forsaking their race and color, acting with them were, if possible, a worse curse to the state than the negro himself. White people were arrested upon warrants issued by negro magistrates who tried their cases and gloated over an opportunity to punish them. Extortionate taxes were levied and collected and in some counties claims were held by officers and people were obliged to sell them at a tremendous discount and the officers and their pet partners would buy them in and pay themselves full value from the county fund. Their outrageous extravagance disgusted all decent white people and their methods were universally condemned. The negro as a politician became aggressive and the bosses were obliged to put their names on the ticket because in many places they furnished the voting population. Negroes became offensive and entirely ignored their former owners and other white friends who were disposed to treat them fairly, and accepted as their advisers these low down carpetbaggers and if possible lower scalawags. The negro depended almost entirely for his living upon the better class of white people and notwithstanding all his prejudice and bitterness, acknowledged this fact, but a dirty thief or a dirty, no account white man of the class used to do their dirty work would tell them if they voted[96] with the old secession crowd, as they called them, they would be put back in slavery, but if they voted as they suggested they would surely get the forty acres of land and a mule, and what was still more pleasing to them would place themselves in a position to wreak revenge on this now despised class. Some of the hireling serfs were willing to sell their birthright for less than a miserable mess of potage, and went so far as to advise the poor, ignorant, confiding negro, in case he was refused work by this class of white people, to steal such as he needed from the corn cribs, wheat houses, smoke houses and if that would not suffice to burn their barns or to burn them out of house and home.

Crimes Committed.—Under this wicked teaching or training crimes galore were committed and men were unsafe and women insecure to go along the streets or highways. Instead of law and order anarchy reigned supreme and crime stalked boldly in the land heretofore noted for peace, happiness and prosperity.

Negroes Offensive.—Young negroes became offensive as a result of the false training of this vicious class of men and some women, pretended religious enthusiasts, who knew nothing of the class of people to whom they were teaching a doctrine of direct or indirect social equality. Ambitious notions took possession of the bestial natures of some of the worst element of the race and results revolting[97] to think of blackened the page of history of this fearful period.

W. W. Holden was then governor of North Carolina, and could have used his fine talent, directed in a proper channel, to have been a blessing instead of a curse to the people of the State whom it was his sworn duty to protect instead of persecuting. The Executive and Judicial powers of the State were silent as the grave and by their silence put their seal of approval upon the disgraceful transactions, thus staining their administration with crime and the approval of crime and becoming a party seeking and wreaking revenge.

Ku Klux Klan.—The ferocious wretches became so bold in the commission of their outrages that in defense of life and property the good people of the country organized a society called by different names in different places but known every where as the “Ku Klux Klan.” The object of the organization was to secure protection that the pretended officers of the law failed to give to the oppressed people.

Holden and Kirk.—Governor Holden prevailed with his gang of blind partizans in the legislature to pass a law authorizing him to declare martial law in any part of the state. This he proceeded to do in a few counties and had some citizens of the highest character, accused of committing heinous crimes. Federal troops were sent to these counties, not troops made up in the state, but a gang of cut-throats from[98] Tennessee, commanded by an acknowledged vicious wretch by the name of Kirk.

Governor Holden was not satisfied with the scope of power given him, but wrote to the president asking for Federal authority allowing arrests to be made and parties tried before a military tribunal hoping to have some of the best citizens of the state shot at the stake. Congress refused to confer on the president the power to declare martial law. The governor and his crowd had to depend on such state authority as they had managed to usurp. Col. Kirk with his gang had invaded the state under the direction of the governor and more than one hundred citizens were arrested and imprisoned by Kirk and his minions.

Judiciary Exhausted.—Chief Justice Pearson had until this time been regarded as a just judge, and application was made to him for a writ of habeas corpus that men in prison might know why they were imprisoned. Judge Pearson granted the writ but when an attempt was made to serve it on Kirk he ignored it under the plea that he was acting under orders from Governor Holden. Counsel of the prisoners asked for further process to punish Kirk but the Chief Justice held that his power was exhausted and that the Judiciary could not contend with the Executive. The highest judges in the state claimed to be powerless and the Holden Kirk conspirators, although panting to get recognition from[99] the Federal Government, began to make preparations to form a Drumhead court to consist of thirteen members—seven to be appointed by the governor and six by Colonel Kirk. The Chief Executive of the state expecting to preside over this court and try cases with the Judiciary in sight and hearing, declaring itself helpless.

Judge Brooks.—The right will usually prevail and Judge Brooks a Federal Judge listened to the cry of the distressed and oppressed and gave them relief. Governor Holden and Colonel Kirk could not intimidate him with their scarecrow cries of war and bloodshed. He gave Kirk peremptory orders to allow his prisoners to come before him at Salisbury within ten days. Governor Holden asked the president to interfere and he promptly informed him that Judge Brook’s order must be obeyed. Nothing was against the prisoners and they were released, and the state was soon relieved of the presence of the Kirk mob. Governor Holden was impeached, convicted and expelled from his high office. The people rose in their might and partially redeemed the state, but it took years to accomplish the desired effect.

One hundred thousand ignorant negroes were enfranchised and their proportional numerical strength of the voting population enabled them to exert a baneful influence which very much afflicted the counsels of our state.

Negro Problem.—This brings to the[100] surface the negro problem, which will not be discussed here, but the different phases of negro life at different periods of time will be noticed. The negro was brought to this country from a heathen land centuries ago and it was soon discovered that a Southern climate was suitable to his health and growth and as a commercial commodity in the South he would be profitable. The negro living as a servant of the white families developed many commendable traits of character. Under the influence of an acknowledged superior race he became partially civilized and became very much attached as a servant to his master and mistress as he was pleased to call them. He brought with him from the dark continent some traits of character that were inherent and hard to eradicate. As a slave he was faithful and the great mass of them were happy, and growing up with white children loved and respected them without once thinking himself their social equal. Before the war and during the war it was a very rare case to hear of an outrage being committed. The negro was happy in his surroundings, having no cares for the future, knowing he would be provided for even in sickness and old age. During the war he cared for and as far as he was capable protected the white women and children at home while their fathers, brothers and husbands were in the army.

The Old Time Darkey.

The old time darkey is in the evening of his life,
After the passing of the last one with the race there will be strife,
He is a colored gentleman in company or at home
And when asked to do a favor always will come.
If his people are suffering with hunger or in distress
He will divide his last slice of bacon or last crumb of bread;
If at any time employed in the field at work
He does not have to be watched for he will not shirk.
He is polite in company, at home, on the road, or street
And will pull of his hat to anyone he may meet;
He is proud of his freedom, and glad he is not a slave
But remembers his early training and knows how to behave,
He has bought his acre of land that he claims as his own
Has built a rude cabin and lives at home,
When a slave he worked through the week and on Saturday night
Danced to the tune of the banjo till broad daylight
Then on Sunday all through the day
Courted his dusky damsel in the old time way.
If asked how he liked roasted potatoes, opossum or chicken to eat
With a broad grin he answers “Dem things is sweet.”
He said poor nigger got tired of bacon and corn bread,
And relished good eating before he went to bed.
He owns he was fond of nice good picking
And thought it was no harm for mister’s niggers to eat master’s chickens,
His mouth still waters and he sighs for the luxury so fine
When he feasted on watermelons in the good old Summer time.
During the war he was industrious, polite and genteel
And took care of women and children while the men were in the field.
He was loyal to the South as any Southern son
And his conduct should be classed with Southern victory won.
The old black mamma that stayed around the home
And took care of the children the same as her own,
The children remember her kindness and care
Though now growing old they are children to her,
The old time darkeys are well meaning and try to check
The young generation that are losing self respect.

The Emancipated Negro.—To do the negro race justice, there is no doubt if they had been let alone to follow their own inclinations and judgment they would have been largely influenced in their conduct after being emancipated by their former owners and the better class of white people of the South who were then and are now their best friends, because having grown up with them in an entirely different social scale are better calculated to advise them for their good. Two classes of people accepted by them as their advisers[102] are responsible for present conditions. A low class of avaricious, ignorant, known enemies of the South who have used them to advance their own selfish interests, and another equally objectionable class of Northern religious fanatics, whose training lead them to believe that the Southern people treated them inhumanly. By mingling with them socially and teaching them that they were entitled to recognition in the social circle of the whites, caused them to have aspirations and ambitions to which they can never attain.

The Southern people at once acknowledged their freedom, and were ready to help them in their struggle for a more prosperous career, and were willing to give them their rights before the law but not willing to place the ballot in their hands or give them a place in the counsels of the government. Negroes who have followed the advice of their real friends are now doing well, accumulating property and are in possession of homes of their own and their children are being educated, but those who have gone astray under the teaching and advice of aliens who know nothing about them and care less have become vagrants and criminals and are a menace to the communities in which they live. The negro problem will be solved by Southern people who know the characteristics of the race and will treat them in such a way as to enable them to build up as a race. If listened to their condition will be bettered and the two races will live in the Southland together harmoniously, but if the advice of their only true friends is ignored it will be a survival of the fittest and like the Indians they will by the management of Southern people be provided with a home elsewhere and live to themselves and[103] enjoy the fullness of their freedom.

The sun may be darkened and the moon stream in blood
But the voice of the Anglo Saxons in our counsels will be heard,
The stars may fall and the earth with fervent heat melt,
But the influence of an inferior race in our counsels will not be felt.
They may come from Greenland’s icy mountain or India’s coral strand,
From the black continent of Africa or other heathen lands:
We will humanely treat the savage, and give them their rights before the law,
But before they undertake to rule they had better quietly withdraw.
In our own Sunny South we will give them a home
And teach them civilization and to no longer roam,
We have a knotty problem to solve in our own Sunny Southland,
But will resist any interference from any alien band.

The Coming South.—For forty years the oppressed South has been under a cloud groping its way in the wilderness, a part of the time without even a feint hope of reaching the promised land, but the clouds are breaking and through the dense darkness can be traced at least the outline of a silver lining. To the most obscure vision a light appears, and the dullest prophet can forecast the sunshine soon to burst forth in magnificent splendor. Neither heights, lengths, breadths, depths, principalities nor all the powers that be can stop the onward march of education, industrial development and universal wave of prosperity destined erelong to place the people of this, by nature favored land, in possession of their own. In the scientific, religious, industrial and political world, the South is forging its way to the front rank, and our grand old state of North Carolina with its variety of soil, climate, minerals, timbers and its progressive people is coming. From the foundation of the government till the sixties the native born talent of the[104] South shaped and managed the affairs of the nation, and now she is coming, after passing through a fiery ordeal, to again resume a place that other sections of the country will be compelled to concede to her.

We no longer hear the bellowing cannon or clash of arms,
Or the tramp of soldiers marching raising alarm.
But instead the busy hum of machinery and tramp of children to school on their way,
And the blessings of peace and prosperity making triumphant strides in their day.


Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

Archaic or variant spelling has been retained.