HE SAVED HIS LIFE BY FEIGNING DEATH
By S. C. Turnbo
This account how the presence of mind of a man in war times saved his life was related to me on the 30th of November 1905 by Mrs. Margarette Griffin, wife of Wilse Griffin. Mrs. Griffin is a sister of Jim Rhodes who lives on Mountain Creek in Marion County, Arkansas. In narrating the story she said, "I was born in Knox County, Tennessee, May 7. 1850. I come with my parents to Webster County, Missouri, in the early part of 1861. I recollect that one day during the follow year after our arrival here a scouting party of soldiers passed through our neighborhood where we lived in Webster County 8 miles south of Marshfield. As the war party rode along they discovered Tobe Hinkle, a cousin of mine, and a man of the name of Shipman together. The two men were afoot and when they caught sight of the armed body of men they started to run and the soldiers pursued on their horses and soon got within gunshot range when they began firing on the two fleeing men and Hinkle dropped to the ground at the first volley. The war party thinking the man was dead galloped on by where Hinkle lay in pursuit of Shipman. It seems that this man had temporarily escaped them for they all went out of hearing and they had passed beyond our view. Mr. Hinkle who was only feigning death rose to his feet made haste to a hiding place for he was afraid the enemy might return and examine the dead to see if there were enough life left to revive. He had not been touched by a bullet. Nothing more was heard of Shipman until several weeks afterward when his remains were found by two hunters that were out in the wood searching for game. The time of this incident occurred in the middle of the winter and the weather was cold and the body was rigid and frozen. But it had lain so long in the weather that his clothes were nearly all rotten and the birds had picked his eyes out and the buzzards and wild animals had devoured part of the body. The two hunters had not been personally acquainted with Shipman but they were convinced from descriptions of the man that these were his remains and without further investigation they went to Marshfield and reported their find to the authorities there. The officer of the Civil law impaneled a jury for the purpose of holding an Inquest over the remains and they went to where the remains had lain so long in the woods. Mrs. Shipman, the widow of the dead man, accompanied the men and his identity was established without a doubt. Mrs. Shipman recognized the clothing of the dead man as that of her husbands that he wore the day he disappeared and by a cripple hand. The remains were taken from their resting place and enclosed in a coffin and taken to Marshfield and buried there.
"Tobe Hinkle the man that pretended to his enemy that they had shot and killed him and thus saving his life was a son of Jesse and Hannah Hinkle, who lived in ½ mile of my fathers house when this occurred. After Tobe Hinkle had escaped so miraculously with his life he joined the federal army and was shot through the palm of the hand one while his command was engaged in battle with a southern force."
Springfield-Greene County Library