Spencer, Article 27
I copied Genl. Johnston's farewell address to his little army to bring home with me. The boys kept a brush light while I drew several copies for them. We had been cut off from home communication for nearly two years, and knew nothing of the loved ones at home, and they knew nothing of us. We went to Genl. Cheatham's quarters one night and called on him for a speech, hoping to get words of cheer from him. At first he declined, but we succeeded in getting him up. He advised us to return to our homes and be loyal citizens. He said that his Division once numbered 8000 men, and out of that number 3500 had been killed and wounded. This will seem unreasonable to you until I explain. Of course the killed were counted only once, but a great many were wounded several times and counted one each time, for instance I was wounded at Perryville, KY and counted one, and was wounded again at Atlanta, GA and counted one again, thus making me counted two wounded. You can see at this ratio how Genl. Cheatham's statement was plausible and doubtless correct. We all honored and respected Genl. Cheatham. His home was in or near Nashville. I remember he was a large man and enjoyed smoking his pipe. My favorite Generals were R. E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, G. L. Beauregard, B. F. Cheatham, Leonidas Polk, N. B. Forest, Joseph E. Johnston, W. B. Bate, J. C. Breckinridge, Wm. Hardee, Pat Cleiburn, and G. G. Dibrell. Polk was killed in the Georgia campaign and Cleiburne at Franklin, Tennessee. We were under Genl. Zollicoffer at Camp Trousdale in the beginning of the war but we went to Virginia and Zollicoffer remained in Tennessee in command of a small army and went into Kentucky and attacked the army at ??? or Mill Creek. He was killed in the battle there. We all loved him and regretted his death. He was brave, true and Christian gentleman, and I love to think of him.
- First in the fight and first in the arms
- of the white winged angels of glory,
- with the heart of the South at the feet of God,
- and his wounds to tell the story.
- The blood that flowed from his hero heart,
- On the spot where he nobly perished,
- Was drunk by the earth as a sacrament
- in the holy cause he cherished.
- In heaven a home with the brave and blest,
- And for his soul's sustaining,
- The atoning blood of his Savior, Christ,
- And nothing on earth remaining.
- But a handful of dust in the land of his choice,
- A name in song and story,
- And fame to shout with immortal voice,
- "Dead on the field of glory".
Zollicoffer was the first Confederate Genl. killed and Genl. Cleiburne was one of the last. I intended to give you a sketch of our travels from the place where we surrendered to our homes in this article, but branched off on other events, and will likely tell of our return in next article. I am glad that some of the readers of "The Times" take great pleasure in reading my articles, and I would suggest that they make scrap books of the articles, which might be preserved and read with interest by future generations.
Spencer, Article 28
I told you last week that I would tell you of our trip homeward. We were anxious to start, which caused us to look westward across the Blue Ridge towards old Tennessee, our native land. We were yet subject to orders and waited for the order, "Let's go home". We were allowed to bring any personal effects we had, and started. On our arrival at Salisbury, Genl. Cheatham had us form in line, and he passed in front from right to left with tears running down his cheeks as he said "farewell". He went South for a few days before returning to his home. That was the last time I ever saw Genl. Cheatham. We then left the railroad and marched westward. I have forgotten the places we passed on the route, but a railroad route had been surveyed and graded. On reaching Catawba River in Rowan County, we found the recent rains had swollen it, and was pretty full to wade, but that was the only chance. We pulled off our rags and plunged in and when we crossed, redressed, started again, and in a few minutes came to another fork of the river fuller than the first, but we splunged it and pulled on westward. Finally we arrived at the eastern foot of Blue Ridge, and as we came up the Ridge, were in a terrible hail storm. I believe we camped one night on the ridge. The high peak, north of the place we crossed looked as though it might be inhabited by angels. The road down the western slope of the ridge to Ashville on French Broad River was good. Ashville was then a small place, but now a city and summer resort. We came on down French Broad on the north side to Paint Rock and left the river marching northwestwardly, and finally arrived at Greenville East Tennessee. It had been 24 days since we surrendered. We had not heard a steam whistle since we left Salsbury, N.C. and the long march made us eager for railroad transportation. We saw good many Negro soldiers with the blue uniforms on, and occasionally we heard a saucy Negro say, "O, yes, de bottom rail on top now." They made fun of our rags, and my blood has never quit boiling yet. We had surrendered and took an obligation to keep the peace, be loyal, etc., but if we had met those saucy Negroes a few days before the surrender, they would have "smelt the patchen." We boarded the cars at Greenville and came to Knoxville, thence to old Chattanooga. The Tennessee boys were taking near cuts for home. On the 21st (May) we boarded the cars at Chattanooga and came on towards Nashville. There were but few of us and we got off the cars at Deckard and came out a short distance and camped until next morning, the 22nd. We then came by Viola and crossed Collins River at Shell's ford (I believe). Ranse Martin, Andy Jones, John Patton, I. T. Hillis, and I now forget who else were with me. Late in the evening I crossed Rocky River at Goodbar (then Millers) into old Van Buren and remained overnight with Uncle John C. Clark. Next day, the 23rd I landed home. I want no more war in mine. Now my friends, I hope you have enjoyed reading my articles. I have only given you a short sketch of war, skipping from place to place, and the boys who were with me from start to finish are scarce now. I may go back and recapitulate and add my experience in the days of reconstruction.
Spencer, Article 29
On my arrival back home, I found some of the boys who had tired of war, good while before the close, and were at home, while others had been captured, put in Northern prisons and were not back home, but got home a few days after I did. A few of the boys from this country had been in the Yankee army, and back at home after the close of the war. They and I worked roads, rolled logs together and got along pleasantly. I cared little for politics in those days. My desire and ambition was to go to work and make a living. Col. Bill Stokes of Dekalb Co. went out in the Southern army, but left it, made up and commanded a Regiment in the Yankee army, and was a candidate for United States Congress soon after the war, on the Republican ticket. He had an appointment to speak here, and many of us gathered to hear him speak. He came at the appointed time, and brought a guard of blue coats with guns with him. I guess he was afraid some ex-Confederate might kill him. Election day came on, and I was not allowed to vote, notwithstanding and had to work roads and pay taxes, and had taken an oath to honor the "stars and stripes". Republicans and Negroes were allowed to vote. Later on, C. C. Senter (?) was elected Gov. and commissioned a man in each county to give certificates to such ex-rebs as he thought were loyal. I remember that U. Y. Drake was the commissioner in this county and gave me a certificate entitling me to vote, and I began with the Democrats, have followed them through evil as well as good report, and will never forsake the party unless I find a better one, which is not in sight yet. The public roads had not been worked in 4 years and were in bad fix. I was appointed overseer of the road from McElroys to Spencer (9miles) and very few hands. Under the road law in those days the overseer smelt the patchen if his road was in bad fix. I thought of going west and get rich, but finally decided to remain in Van Buren among my kindred and friends. I began to use the ax, the hoe and plow, and worked many days away from home at 50 cents per day. I used the old scythe cradle all over Laurel Cove, cutting wheat at $1.00 per day. I have worked all day for 3 # of bacon, and never grunted. I suffered for stomach timber and clothes and shoes while in the war, but have lived on the fat of the land since the war. I have had plenty to eat and wear and all the money I needed. My Cr (?) was not sufficient to purchase a little coffee at one time, and I told my dear wife that I parched meal and made coffee of it, the last year of the war, and suggested that she try it, which she did, and it was as good as Arbuckle is now. I have never complained of hard times since the war, and no one ever heard me say that we didn't have much to eat at my house. I was elected sheriff 37 years ago, re-elected 2 years later, and at the end of my second term was elected Cir. Clk. and in 4 years was elected again. I kept going higher and higher in office until I reached the position of J. P. I have a right to love Van Buren County and her people, giving me all things I asked for. By being a Democrat I was Postmaster for 4 years, during Cleveland's second term. I have experienced "dark, dismal clouds", have seen the time when the end of the world would have been welcomed by me, but the Lord has brought me through them all, furnishing sunshine and happiness, sufficient to overbalance the sorrow and sadness. I may from "time to time" try to furnish something of interest to "The Times" readers. Wishing you all prosperity and happiness, I remain your old Rebel Democratic friend.