The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

On the 18th of August, 1906, I met Mr. Jerry Roots at Coweta, Indian Territory, who lived then three miles and a half southeast of this place. Mr. Roots was a member of the 14th Kansas Cavalry in war times and was commanded by Colonel Moonlight. The letter of his company was H and the name of his Captain was Thomas Stevenson. He was born in Holt County, Missouri, March 7, 1846, and therefore quite young when the war commenced. Mr. Roots is a son of Crittendon and Phoebe Ann (Baldwin) Roots. Mr. Roots taken part in the Battle of Wilson Creek, Pear Ridge, and Prairie Grove. He also followed General Steele in his campaigns through Arkansas and was in the Battle of Jenkin’s Ferry on the Saline River some 55 miles from Little Rock on the 30th of April, 1864. In alluding to the fight at Prairie Grove he said that if General Hindman, the commander of the confederate forces, had not retreated at midnight the union army would have done so on the following morning. But as the southern men had given them full possession of the battleground it was not necessary for them to retreat. "On the morning after the battle was fought, " said Mr. Roots, "the federal and confederate dead lay scattered over the field where the fight took place. Soon after sunrise an aged lady made her appearance at our picket line and ask permission to enter our line to search over the battleground for dead or wounded relatives. She said that her husband and sons belonged to the confederate army and they might be killed or wounded. If wounded she wanted to help them all she could. If dead she wanted to be with them and prepare the bodies for burial. Her request was granted at once and she thanked the men very kindly for passing her through the lines. She was certainly a noble wife and mother and a brave southern woman. A few hours after she was admitted on the field, a number of other women and old men and children come onto the battleground to hunt for their dead and wounded. It was not many hours before the first woman we speak of discovered the dead body of her husband and four sons lying in the cold embrace of death. They all lay near together. The woman gave up in grief and despair and after the bodies were placed together she stood and wept over them. We soldiers had met all kinds of sad scenes, these and the hardships we had underwent since we had been in the army, that our conscience was tough and our hearts were of stone. But the cries and lamentations of that heart-broken wife and mother was too much for us and many of us shed tears. In a, short while more our regiment was assigned to duty away from the heart-rending scene of the battleground and we were truly glad to get away from it." Mr. Roots said that he served in the army until after peace was restored and was mustered out of the service at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory.


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