The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The author of these stories heard Clabe Briggs, who was a member of the 14th Arkansas Confederate Regiment and lived in Crocket township, Marion County, Arkansas, say that while he was serving in the army east of the Mississippi River, he knew of a soldier in the Confederate Army who lived in Tennessee that refused to fight in battle. He said that he was opposed to war and that it was not proper for the people of the United States to fall out with each other and war among themselves. He informed the officer that he was willing to drive a team or do any other work in the army except fighting. "You can court martial me and have me shot or hung if you choose, but I never intend to fire a gun to hurt anyone if I can help it. I will agree to perform any duty that is imposed on me that I am able to do except to go into ranks and go into battle." They did not make him fight, but turned a. team and wagon over to him and the man took charge of them and proved to be faithful at this duty to the end of the war. I heard Mr. Briggs relate this account on the 19 of February, 1878. Briggs was a faith soldier in the southern army. He died in 1879 and if I mistake not lies buried in the cemetery at Lead Hill, Arkansas.

On the 12 of August, 1906, Mr. Sam Griffin of near Aneta, Indian Territory, and who was a veteran of the Civil War on the union side, gave me an account of a similar case to the foregoing that Mr. Briggs told me of Mr. Griffin said that Elisha Wood, who lived in Benton County, Arkansas, refused to fight in the War Between the North and South. He said that he was willing to go to war against a foreign foe, but never to fight his own people. He said the people of the United States should live as one family and not go to war with each other. He refused to enlist on either side willingly, but after the war had progressed a while, he was forced into the southern army. Said he, "You can force me to join you but you can’t make me fight for I will neither fight for or against the people of the north and south. One day the command of southern men that Woods belonged to encountered a command of federals, and during the engagement Wood was made to stay in ranks during the fight, but said he, "I loaded and shot just like the others did, but I took care to elevate the muzzle of my gun high enough so the balls would pass over the heads of the opposing forces. At one time the federal troops made a charge and succeeded in driving the southern men back and while the southerners were falling back, I discovered two logs lying in a few feet of each other which afforded shelter from the bullets of both sides and I lay down between them. After the confederates had retreated a short distance, they made a stand and after rallying their men went on. When the federals come up to where I was between the two logs, I surrendered to them and after telling them how it was with me, the officers informed me that if I aid not want to fight for the south, they would not hold me a prisoner of war, and if I did not wish to fight for the north, they would send me north, but in either case, I must take the oath of allegiance to the Government of the United States, which I did and went on my way up north.


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