The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In an interview with Captain J. C. Rea one day at his home in Oakland, Arkansas, in the month of July, 1903, relating to the hardships and deprivations that the people of northern Arkansas endured from the effects of the Civil War, he gave me this interesting account. "You remember," said he, "when we were on detached service in north Louisiana in 1863. Many of us taken sick from the effects of malaria in the swamps and bad water. I passed through a severe spell of swamp fever at Delhi. I lay many weeks before I was able to travel. Our regiment, the 27th Arkansas, had been ordered back to Little Rock, Arkansas, and when I reached the command there, I was permitted to return to my home in Marion County to recuperate my strength until I was able for duty. Bad health kept me at home several months. When winter time set in and we were ready to kill our fattening hogs, we found that we were without salt and none could be procured except within the federal lines, and there was none for sale nearer than Batesville, which was sold at an enormous price and which had to be paid in gold or silver, for the owners of the salt refused to take paper money of any sort. As soon as cold weather set in I become stouter. Having several fattening hogs on hand, I postponed the idea of going back to the army until I made an effort to supply the family with salt. So I told my people I was going to Batesville 80 miles down White River to purchase salt. But when I told the family what I intended to do they exclaimed in terror, "Why, that is beyond the federal lines and you will be killed and must not attempt to go there." They all did their best to dissuade me from going. I told them that it was useless to fool away time in trying to prevent me from making the trip and that we stood in great need of salt and could not afford to do without it. And I went to work to prepare myself for the journey by discarding my military uniform and donning an old ragged cast-off suit of citizens clothes, and put on an old flopped-brim hat and borrowed an old shell of a saddle and with a few $20 gold pieces in my pocket that we had saved to meet emergencies with, I mounted a horse and rode to Batesville. I had no trouble in penetrating the enemies’ lines and rode boldly into town and bought a bushel of salt by paying $20 for it and started on the return back and reached home in safety with it."


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