GUIDING FIVE SOUTHERN MEN TO SAFETY AFTER NIGHT
By S. C. Turnbo
The following war story was given me by Mr. Isaac Fleetwood, an early pioneer of southern Missouri, who when I interviewed him lived 5 miles west of Clarksville, Indian Territory. At the time of the breaking out of the war Mr. Fleetwood was living with his uncle Isaac Fleetwood 4 miles above old Rock Bridge on Bryants Fork in Douglas County, Missouri. He was a union man and enlisted in the federal army, "But a few months before I was sworn into the service I piloted five southern men to where they were enabled to find their way to safety. I did what I agreed to do and have never regretted it. How it come about for me to lead these men to where they could find a more secure place to prolong their lives was in this way:
"One night in the early part of the war a party of men rode up to the yard gate at my uncle Isaac Fleetwoods and hallooed Hello. As it was war times it was dangerous to go out of the house to a man after night unless you knew he was a friend, but uncle went to the door and ask what was wanted. They said they were bewildered and that they were strangers in that part of Missouri and that it was so dark they could not find their way. My uncle now went out to the gate where the men were and talked with them. They informed my uncle that they were southern men and lived in Green County, part of which resided in Springfield. They said they were trying to make their way into the confederate lines. At this my uncle ask them their names and they told him. I cannot call to mind now all of their names but two of them were John Price and Billy Kelby. When they told my uncle their names he seemed to have much confidence in them for he knew them from character. There were 5 of them and they told my uncle that they wanted to go south for protection and was lost and were afraid to venture any further without a guide. They said they did not know who to trust but decided that it was more prudent to risk someone to pilot them a few miles if they could find anyone that would be willing to do so, for without a guide they might fall into the hands of the enemy. At that time Capt. Billy Rutherfords company which was after-ward commanded by Capt. William Piland was camped on Bryants Spring Creek near the Billy James farm. After my uncle had conversed with them awhile and being satisfied they were all honest and upright men he ask me if I was willing to take them to Brickseys Creek which runs into Bryants Fork below the village of New Rock Bridge. This stream was named for Croff Bricksey an old settler who lived on it many years previous to this. I informed my uncle that I was willing to go with the men and show them the way to the water course he had designated, and my uncle says, "Now men, You must not reveal this to no one while the war lasts. If you do and it gets to the ears of certain parties in this locality they will kill both my nephew and myself," and all five of the men gave their promise of good faith and I caught my horse and after putting the saddle on him I mounted him and told the men I was ready and we started. The night was very dark, road narrow and rough, but I was well acquainted with the country and did not stand In dread of losing my way. I and those southern fellows rode on in darkness and silence. I was watchful and careful to guide the men safe from their enemy. It was late in the night when they came to my uncles house and when we reached the point on Brickseys Creek where I was to take them the chickens were crowing for day. I knew very well that I must not be caught out from home especially in night time and it was dangerous to be out from home in day time too unless I could render a proper escuse. After we had stopped I gave them directions how to find the way to the inside of their own lines and wishing them a safe journey I bid them adieu and reined my horse around to return back home when they requested me to wait a few minutes. I did not know what they meant but I halted my horse and waited and I soon heard the jingle of money and one of the men handed me three silver dollars which they said was a small recompense for my trouble then they thanked me and we separated. I got back home without meeting anyone. I and my uncle did not mention this until after the close of the war and as I said awhile ago I never was a bit sorry that I aided these men to get to their friends. I never heard of them any more until several years after those angry times when I met Mr. Price and we enjoyed a prolonged talk together about war times and we did not forget to mention that long rough ride that night to Brickseys Creek.
Springfield-Greene County Library