A WONDERFUL ESCAPE FROM DROWNING
By S. C. Turnbo
The following account of war times was given me by Ben Hager a veteran of the Civil liar who served on the Union side. "One day" said he, "While our command was camped at Huntsville, Arkansas, a detail of men and wagons was ordered to go to Fayetteville for supplies, There were 6 wagons in the train with two drivers to each wagon. There were a detail of 40 mounted men sent with us as guards. Lieut Marion Vaughn was in command and Sergeant Buck Stroud was the next in command. I call to mind the following names of a few soldiers who went with us on that trip. Ham Guthrie, John ,Rainey, Abe McBrown, Frank Gilliland, Jake Smith and Tom Bohanon, the last named was my driver mate of one of the wagons. There were a number of refugees went with us to Fayetteville. In my wagon was a widow lady with 4 children., two of which were quite small. There was also a young lady accompanying the woman and children who was a daughter of Harry Silk. These people lived on Kings River. We teamsters were armed with a Whitney Rifle and a brace of Army Navy pistols each. The pistols were buckled around us and the rifles were strapped to our backs. On arriving at White River 3 miles above McGuires Store we found the stream past fording. Our orders were to cross at once for the country was infested with armed guerrillas and we did not have time to wait for the waters to fall. The teams were oxen and the 3 front wagons succeeded in getting over safe. It was 60 feet across the water and the cattle had to swim near 20 feet. The wagon that I and Bohanon had charge of was the 4th one and we drove in with the two ladies and 4 children. When we had got one third of the way across the stream we encountered a tree that was floating and rolling down the river. At first we made an effort to rush by it before it struck us but the limbs caught us and rolled over the wagon and oxen. Myself and Bohanon and the refugees and pressed us all under the water, at the moment we struck where it was swimming. It was a critical moment and the 40 soldiers and the other ten teamsters were so astonished at seeing us take such a sudden dive with the tree passing over us that they all give us up for lost. But fortunately we were under the water only a moment or two for the tree rolled on over us and on down stream and the oxen rose to the surface of the water and soon swam to where they could wade and out of the water to safety. But as the limbs of the tree swept over us it dragged me off the seat and right over the head of one of the cattle and the point of one horn stuck me in the bowels and inflicted a severe wound the sear of which I carry to this day. I do not know how I got out of the water but I did somehow. The widow lady with her two youngest children in her arms clung to the wagon box and the young lady held to the other two children. But a limb of the tree mashed one of the little girls hands against the top of the wagon box. The women and children were strangled while they were under the water, yet with the exception of myself and little girl we made a lucky escape without getting hurt, and it seems miraculous how we escaped being drowned."
Springfield-Greene County Library