Volume 36 , Number 3 , Winter 1997
Editors Note: M. D. Anglin was born and reared in Middle Tennessee in 1906 and grew up listening to the wartime remembrances of Tennessee veterans. At age 68, in 1974, he wrote of his Tennessee memories and of similar tales he heard in Carroll County, Arkansas.
I left Williamson County, Tennessee, in early 1919 and moved to Berryville, Arkansas, which is up in the northwest corner of Arkansas, and about 8 miles, as the crow flies, to the Missouri line. Back then there were many old people in Berryville and in Carroll County, that had seen a lot of it, but this was more of a bushwhacking variety than anything else.
Now, they had some hair-raising stories to tell about the yankees having the town one week and the rebels the next week, and each time one tribe got control, the families of the other tribe would have to beat it and leave their homes. The rebels headed south and the yankees would head towards Springfield, Missouri. So it was seesaw for all hands.
Uncle John Lundy was a great old man to talk to about this Civil War. His people lived in Carroll County, Arkansas, near Berryville, and he told me that he was a small boy at that time, but he well remembered he and his family leaving Carroll County and going to Missouri, five times during that war. Uncle John would cuss the rebels as bad as grandma cussed the yankees. I guess the $64.00 question was just whose ox got gored. He said that they would get back to Berryville, get a garden started and a house of logs put up, and just about the time they got started in real good and in earnest, here those damned rebels would come and chase the yankees out and they would go to Missouri. Just about the time they got settled in Missouri, the yankees would run the rebels out, and back they would come, hoping that every trip would be the last one.
Then there was Uncle John, the school janitor, who always enjoyed talking with the youngsters about the trials and tribulations the people suffered during the war, and my being from rebel stock and being acquainted with the history, made me a favorite with him. We had many happy visits ~iscussing the matter. Uncle John was up in his early
teens when the war started and had a good memory of what took place. He would point out spots where this one was buried, and that one was buried, when either the rebels or the yankees did some killing. He mentioned a spot just north of the square on North Main Street, where a fellow named Clayton killed a fellow who was intoxicated, and a yankee on top of that, who had killed this fellow Claytons brother during a bushwhacking tirade while riding his horse, and reciting a poem that went like this:
"That he was wild and woolly, and that they called him bully, and full of fleas, and that he had never been curried above the knees."
So this fellow let him have it. He would call names and point his finger at this one and that one and say he was a bushwhacker, and he stole that, and robbed so and so of his gold.
People in the vicinity of Berryville would hide their gold, either in crevices or bury it, and sometimes they had trouble finding it. One old fellow that lived out north of town and was mighty old when I knew him, hid his gold in some logs in his barn, and the rats got into this gold and scattered it in rat holes all over the barn stalls. This old fellow had a time digging out every rat hole he came on trying to find his gold. Some he found and a lot he didnt.
But the rebels finally found a solution to this matter, and their being the greater in numbers, made life so miserable for the yankees that they all moved out south of town on a mountain, now called Pension Mountain. The name was taken from the fact that all the old yankee soldiers that lived there drew a Federal pension and a pretty good wad for those times. Also, some of their descendants still live there. The rebel got a pension from the State of Arkansas, but not much, usually about $15.00 monthly.
There was my step-grandmother, who was affectionately known by her neighbors and friends as Aunt Sis [granny Denney], she could tell some hairraising stories about what went on and who did this and who did that, and it didnt take much prodding to get the old lady going and the funny part about it, she was truthful. That is a little strange in this day and time and makes me respect people of her caliber.
She was about 16 years of age when the war broke out and naturally she was called on a lot in the community, out Shady Grove way, to assist in nursbig sick rebels and burying the dead ones. She told one story about a sick rebel being in their home and almost dead with dysentery, and a yankee raiding group was in the community and they came upon the home and found this sick rebel soldier in their home, and burned their home and all their corn that they didnt feed their horses with. Then decided to kill this sick rebel soldier. She went on to tell how she and her mother got down on their knees and begged the yankees not to burn their home and all their corn, and not to kill that poor helpless rebel soldier, but to no avail.
She told me how they decided who was to kill him. They picked out three soldiers to do the killing, then they drew straws as to which one did the job. The one that the job fell to was a little fellow, he had a big black hat with a horsehair hatband on this hat. So he stood this rebel up against a tree, due to the fact that he was too weak to stand alone, got on his horse, jerked the horse, spurred him, and then shot. The fellow fell, but this shot didnt do the job, so they sat with him for 10 or 12 hours out under a tree until he died. The next day, she and her mother dug a grave and buried him. There was no coffin, you just dug a hole and dumped the corpse in the hole, and covered him with the dirt.
She said about 6 weeks later two women showed up from across the line in Missouri, and they proved to be the wife and daughter of this slain man, and they wanted to uncover him, get a lock of his hair, and then cover him back up again. So she and her mother obliged them, and after they got the lock of his hair~ that was all there was to it, and on they went.
Her brother, Uncle Cart, he could tell some dandies. He was about 6 years of age when the war broke out and knew every bushwhacker in the county. He told about one man, that I even remember, but he was very old when I knew him, who was very short. He had a normal body but very short legs, and how he looked like a toad frog riding a horse with a bunch of bushwhackers.
We had another old codger here in Berryville, who did odd jobs for a living, whose given name was Wright, and he was nicknamed Babe. He could tell some stories that would make the hair stand on your head. He was nine years of age when the war broke out and his family were rebels. From what he told me and other young fellows around here, his family must
have been frugal, and during many years had some property and money, along with a bunch of gold money. The reason for the gold being so desired by the rebels and yankees, to say nothing about the bushwhackers, was that it was good for purchases any where and any time.
Babe said that a bunch of bushwhackers visited his home one time when his father was gone, came right in, made themselves at home, and frightened his mother and the children into hysteria by their actions and vicious talk, and demanded that they tell them where the old man had his gold hidden. Babe said that none of them knew where it was and tried to tell the bushwhackers that they didnt know, but these rascals would have none of it.
So one big fellow he named in particular, who at that time was a very respected businessman here in Berryville, grabbed Babe, placed a big long revolver up to his head above his ear, telling this kid that he was going to kill him if he didnt tell them where the gold was, and finally pulled the trigger. Babe said the noise was deafening, that he thought that he had been shot. Finally his hearing came back to him but that there had been a ringing noise in his right ear ever since this incident, and that his head had ached ever since that day.
I asked Babe why he didnt get him a good pocket knife and go over to this old fellows place of business and cut his throat. Babe kindly shook his head and said no, that it had been so long, and that they were both so old, that the Lord would take care of it in a little while. He meant that both of them would soon be dead and the matter forgotten about. Well, Babe might use that philosophy, but I am not so sure that I wouldnt have tried to get even. Yes, we yell about the Japs and the Germans mistreating conquered people during World War No. 2, but for the benefit of the younger generation, we had it right here in this country during the Civil War, and some methods of harassment and torture that have never been dreamed of in other countries. I do know that if I had been this old fellow that shot this pistol while placed against Babes head, that I would have left the country. I dont think that I would have enjoyed stay-
ing around a place and seeing kids grow up, whom I had mistreated like that.
This was not the only incident that was talked about back in 1919, as to this old fellows conduct during the war. There was another old fellow, who lived up near Trigger Gap, by the name of John and he and his wife knew some stories to tell young people about what went on back then. This mans wife saw this same gent that shot the pistol while placed against Babes head, and some more bushwhackers, burn the toenails off of her grandfather, trying to make him tell where his gold was hidden. But the old man outlasted them and didnt tell after all of this harsh punishment.
We had an old fellow here, I shall call him Fatey. He told me one about the time the yankees came through here in a group of 250, and camped out on the spot where the local cemetery is now located. They then went out about the country and took corn away from the citizens, and if they were rebels or rebel sympathizers, they got some extra treatment that was undesirable on the side. After they had got this corn, they came back and fed their horses and mules on the ground.
So that night, Fatey said, his uncle and his grandfather went out to this campsite, slipping along, to steal them a good horse or mule. So they then got down on their hands and knees and crawled around the animals, sizing up a good one, and all of a sudden his uncle heard his grandfather yell and he thought the yankees had him, but instead of that an old kicking mule had kicked his grandfather while on his hands and knees, and almost broke his hip. So that put a stop to the horse thievery that night. His uncle had to get the old man up and sneak him home, and it was quite awhile before the old fellow could get going again. I asked Fatey why his yelling didnt let the yankees know where he was and he said with all those horses eating, kicking, snorting and breaking wind, you couldnt hear anything.
Then there was an old blacksmith here, affectionately known as Uncle Murle, and he had a vivid memory. It didnt take much to get him going as to which bushwhacker did this, burned that, and stole that. He would call names and he didnt back up, either. After listening to Uncle Murle tell about the hard times during the war, and for a number of years after, most any young person of that day would have seen how well blessed they were and not ever complain again.
Uncle Murle was born in 1854 and was seven years of age when the war started. He was living with his parents near Cassville, Missouri, at the time the war started and being as his family were southern sympathizers, they got harassed by both the bushwhackers and the yankees. His father joined the confederate army because it was safer in the rebel army than it was around the home due to the bushwhackers. His father made a short trip home and the bushwhackers killed him by ambush. He named an old fellow down this way, that I will call Maroon, that killed his father.
The yankees and the bushwhackers made life so miserable for his mother and small children, until she moved down to Berryville near some of her relatives, and they took up housekeeping in a log house that was situated on what is now Douglas Street, here in Berryville. So this family had to live on what they could find and sometimes the finding was scarce. Uncle Murle was 11 years of age when the war was over and the job of helping his mother rear the other four children, all younger than he was, fell to him.
Uncle Murle said that in the year of 1866 his mother had no land to make a crop on, and her relatives were in just about as bad shape as she was in, so naturally, something had to be planted so as to have something to eat. One of his aunts let him have 8 acres of land over on the spot where the old depot building is located, to clean up and make a crop on. His aunt let him have the first years crop for his trouble.
So he got busy at the age of 11 years, and not very large at that, and cleaned up this 8 acres. Somehow his mother got hold of an old Georgia stock bull tongue plow, and had the handles cut down so he could reach them, and he went to work with this plow and a small mare, planting this first crop. He hadnt much more than got the planting done until he went to catch this mare, who had a young colt, and found her dead. So there he was, with a crop planted, his horse dead, and a young colt to raise by hand.
Well the next best thing to do was to find another horse to cultivate this crop with. He made a deal
with a neighbor to give this neighbor 2 days work for an animal to work one day, and that kept up the rest of the year, and that was 2 days work for an animal for one days work. But as luck would have it, there was a good season that year and he did fairly well with this corn crop and truck patches, such as potatoes, onions and other edibles of the garden variety.
The closest corn mill (sometimes known as grist mills) was the mill that his father built up at Roaring River, about 30 miles from Berryville. The way he got his corn ground was to take his turn of corn on his shoulder and walk the 30 miles to mill, get his grinding done, and then to walk back, which made 60 miles walking to get some meal, which was the staff of life in those days. Sometimes he was able to catch a ride with some neighbors and friends to this mill, but most of the time he walked it.
Its hard to feature a lad of 11 years of age, weigh-big about 75 pounds, having to do that for a living; but I doubt his having any time for juvenile delinquencies. It was worth listening to when he and Uncle Perry, another old blacksmith that had a shop near his, got together, and then when old Dud came around with Uncle Arthur, who usually had a gallon of whiskey, and started in cussing the yankees and the bushwhackers, finally winding up on the Republicans. Now they had no use for them, didnt give a dam who knew it, and would call names and places.
Uncle Murle told one story about the yankees and the rebels getting into a fight here in Berryville and the rebels got the best of it that time, and it would up with 13 yankees getting killed and having to be buried. So the yankees got his mother and a few more old women of the town to bury these yankees, with no coffins or boxes, just as they were, and paid them for their trouble in salt. They were buried down in the cemetery by the local Presbyterian Church. I can see our local dowagers and their daughters of this day and time doing that, but I guess if they needed salt, and the dead bodies got to smelling bad enough, they could do it if they had to. You young people remember that they had no funeral homes and no morticians in those days.
It was worth any young persons time to listen to Uncle Murle and Uncle Perry tell about the Civil War, and then wind it up by cussing the yankees, ~ushwhackers and last, the Republicans.
I was back here in Berryville in 1932, when the ace between Hoover and Roosevelt was hot and heavy. There was an old fellow that lived here, a native, and an awful Republican. In fact, he was about as erratic as old Perry was a Democrat. This old fellow had to hoe gardens and do odd jobs for a living, due to there not being any welfare or old age pensions then. So old Jim took his hoe down to Perrys shop to get old Perry to sharpen it up a bit. While there, they got into it about the election.
Old Jim walked up the street and when he was about one hundred yards up the street, he yelled back to Perry and says, "Perry, be sure and put a Hoover temper in that hoe."
Old Perry yelled back, "Ill not do no such-of-a-damned thing." He then threw the hoe across the street into another fellows garden and while doing this, was mumbling to himself, "Ill not touch the damned thing."
The result was that old Jim had to come back down the street, climb this garden fence, get his hoe and take it to another blacksmith to get it sharpened.
There was another old rebel here, I shall call him Uncle Red John, due to his red hair. He, too, was violently opposed to any ex-yankees, bushwhackers, and Republicans. He would come up town and when he saw one of those creatures on the streets, he would say, "Thar goes a damned bushwhacker," and wave his walking stick.
I can readily see why all the yankee soldiers and the bushwhackers moved out to Pension Mountain here in Carroll County, Arkansas. If it was any worse on them right after the war than it was in 1919, now they had a reason to move. They yell about the ghettos nowadays and Pension Mountain was that very thing then. Had a bunch of people treated me like those yankees and bushwhackers got treated when I hit Berryville, I would have left also, or have committed suicide. Now it was that bad.
There was another old fellow that lived out in the Walnut Grove neighborhood and he and his family before him, were here a long time before the war got started in 1861, but he had the name of being an awful bushwhacker. He was known as Uncle Jim by those who liked the old man, and those that were related to him.
Granny Denney, my step-grandmother, told me a story about this fellow coming into a home on a bushwhacking spree while the menfolks were away, and helping himself to what they had to eat, which wasnt much, and they had a little six months baby boy in this home that was sick, and that old Jim picked
up this sick babys milk bottle, tore off the nipple, and drank up his milk.
Yes, I remember the old fellow and he had a mean look. Most anyone could see it in his face that he would do anything in the world that was mean if it would benefit him any I dont know how this old fellow lived with himself, much less in a community of people who he had mistreated when he had the advantage.
My reason for writing this matter is for the purpose of letting the young people know that the people back in 1861 were just as low down as they are now, and would take the advantage then the same as they will now, and just as merciless then as they are now. I will be sixty-nine years of age the 10th of February, 1975, and the date of the last writing of this was on June 11th, 1974. I have done a lot of reading, been around the world a lot, and am of the opinion that King Solomon was right when he said that there was nothing new under the sun.
I hope that any young person who reads this, suddenly takes notice of things and diagnose him or herself, and then realize that the modern day youth has it pretty easy.
Readers may examine M.D. Anglins entire text in The Civil War: From Hearsay located in the research library of the Ozark Folk Center, Mt. View, Arkansas.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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