Volume 36 , Number 4 , Spring 1997
Dear Sir: Having returned in safety from a visit to Northwestern Arkansas, we thought a few lines descriptive of our journey and the country through which we travelled might prove acceptable to your readers.
Having purchased a ticket to Chicago, we soon bade the Park City adieu, and were hurried from home and all its tender associations.
In due time we reached Chicago, the city which on the 8th day of last November was to have been committed to the flames by the emissaries of late Slaveholders Rebellion; but through the providence of God and "cool brain, sleepless vigilance, and wonderful sagacity of one man," viz, B. J. Sweet, Col. Comg. Camp Douglas, Chicago, the city was preserved and the guilty ones brought to punishment. Let his name be remembered by a grateful people.
Bidding the renowned city adieu, we were now hurried over the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis R.R. towards St. Louis. Having reached Alton, we for the first time beheld the waters of the majestic Mississippi sweeping onward to the Gulf, and in our minds eye we beheld the noble Father James Marquette, a French Canadian, with his five boatmen and two frail birch canoes exploring the waters of a river which he had been told was full of "hidden dangers, and abounded with terrible monsters who swallowed up men and canoes; that an immense bird swooping from afar, pounced upon hapless voyagers, carried them to its inaccessible eyrie among the mountains, and there deliberately tore its victims to pieces with beak and talons. And lastly, they told him of heat that would dry up the very marrow of his bones." But undaunted he pushed on, and now the waters of the Amazon of North America are covered with ships of commerce.
Bidding St. Louis farewell, we were carned onward by the great enterprise of this generation, viz: the Pacific R.R. In due time we reached Franklin, Mo., the junction of the South Western Branch of the Pacific R.R. with the main trunk. Here we changed cars and after a short delay were on our way to Rolla, Mo., the present terminus of the S. W Branch of said Road. We now became aware of the fact that we were in a country infested by Guerrillas or Gorillas, more commonly known as Bushwhackers. After two or three days delay caused by the heavy rain, we proceeded by Stage to Springfield, Mo., guarded by those invincible boys of blue, known in that country as Lincolnites.
Reaching Waynesville, Mo., about midnight, the Stage Agent failed to get an escort he, assigning as a reason that the U.S. Officers were having a jollification and had not time to attend to his claims.
The Stage Driver enquired of the passenger whether he should proceed or wait for an escort, when they unanimously declared that Onward, ran their motto.
As there were eight male passengers on the stage we now divided into two squads of four each, who, alternately guarded the stage: two walking in advance and two in the rear of the stage, with revolvers in hand ready for an emergency; but none arose and in due time reached Springfield, having given $13 to ride and then walked two-thirds of the distance through mud and water.
At Springfield we found the train of the 1st Ark. Cay., which was to start for
Fayetteville, Ark., the next morning. Having found Maj. Galloway, commander of the train and made ourselves known we were treated very kindly.
The country now became one scene of desolation. Where happy families once lived naught was to be seen but ruins. Having passed Keetsville [Washburn, Barry County] we travelled over forty miles during which not a home was to be seen, all having been destroyed by the red hand of war. Union people and rebels suffering alike in the general destruction.
We now had the pleasure of arriving at the end of our journey and of seeing the Rev. R. North, Chaplain, 1st Ark. Cay., to which position he was raised from the ranks of the 2nd Wis. Cay. We might be pardoned if we state that from accounts given by the officers and men of his Regt., he has been eminently useful. In battle he is said to be the bravest of the brave. Always in the thickest of the fight, cheering on the men by his presence and words, and when the battle was over and they returned to Fayetteville which Post they have held more than two years, although surrounded by rebels, he would then be busily engaged feeding and clothing the destitute women and children, made such by the war.
I have seen those who were rich before the war, begging of him to give them bread, and they were not sent away empty. The U.S. Christian Commission at St. Louis sent him three or four thousand dollars worth of Clothing and Goods to be distributed amongst the poor of Northwestern Arkansas, which caused many of them to rejoice.
Col. M. La Rue Harrison, Comg. 1st Ark. Cay., renders him every assistance in his efforts to relieve the suffering poor, and the Col. is an honor to the U.S. Service.
Respectfully, your humble servt.
From the Weekly Telegraph, Kenosha, Wisconsin, a August 1865.
Sent to the Society by John Bradbury, University of Missouri-Rolla.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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