The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

This sad account was given me by S. H. (Sam) Griffin, an ex federal soldier who during war days belonged to Co. A 8th Mo. Cavalry. Mr. Griffin, when I interviewed him, lived near Oneta Post Office in the Indian Territory. In relating incidents of war times in southern Missouri he said that one day seven men who belonged to that command were captured by southern guerrillas and executed. The men were detailed on special duty and after they had performed the services they had been sent to do they were on their way back to join their command at Lebanon in Laclede County, Missouri, and were overpowered by the guerrillas and captured. The exultant band of men conducted their captives to a spot of ground in the vicinity of Buffalo in Dallas County where they put them to death by shooting. One of the unfortunate fellows was a young man of the name of Silas Hook, son of Alpherd Hook who lived near the Iron churchhouse in Polk County which joins Dallas on the west. Young Hook, when he found that he and his comrades were doomed to die by the cruel hands of their captors, begged permission of the leader of the bushwhackers to be permitted to write a farewell letter to his dear old mother, Mrs. Annie Hook, and also to grant him the privilege of kneeling in prayer to the great Power above to pray for himself and his companions to which both requests were reluctantly granted. Then he ask his enemies if they would send the letter to his mother and father after he was dead and the leader promised him that he could rest assured that his mother would receive the letter provided she could be reached without endangering their lives. After he had written the last words and signed his name for the last time he handed the letter to the commander of the band to inspect who after reading it placed the missive in his pocket and then the young man requested his doomed comrades to kneel with him in prayer and after an earnest petition to the all merciful God to receive their spirits they arose from their knees and made ready to die and the seven condemned men were shot to death and their enemies left their dead bodies lay where they fell and rode away. It turned out that the leader was true to his promise and sent the letter to the young man’s friends and they in turn sent It in haste to his father and mother and the sorrowing parents accompanied by some of their neighbors started immediately to the scene of the execution and found all the dead men lying in a heap. Friends of some of the other dead men arrived and took charge of the bodies and taken them to their respective homes where they were buried. Others of the dead men were buried on the spot where they gave up their lives for the old flag. Mr. Hook and his wife took the remains of their dead son to their home in Polk County and gave them burial in the Iron church house graveyard. The mother of Silas Hook was a kind hearted woman, but she was so overcome with sorrow and grief at the manner in which her son suffered death that while the coffin was being lowered into the grave she rose to her feet and expressed her feeling in the following angry tone. "I never want to speak to another southern man. I cannot afford to forgive the southern people for the death of my dear child." The almost heart broken mother imagined that all the southern army were like those guerrillas who slew her son unfairly. She did not take into consideration that the true and brave men who composed the regular confederate army were not made up of bushwhackers and cutthroats and were not guilty of committing such cruel deeds and did their warring according to the rules of war and that there were just as mean and wicked men on our side who committed the worst of crimes on southern people whenever they had a chance and not those brave fellows who fought in the regular organizations. It was the bad men of both sides who committed such wicked deeds." Continuing Mr. Griffin said, "Silas Hook was shot in the forehead above the left eye which was all the wound found on his body except that the finger next to the little finger of the right hand was shot off. None of his friends were able to explain this unless his hands were left free when he was executed and if they were it was supposed that the gun or pistol in the hands of his executioner was held close to his head and just as the fatal bullet was fired the young man had raised his right hand for some purpose and the ball took off the finger and took effect in the head as mentioned above. Many men of both north and south acted very cruel and unmerciful and refused to follow honorable rules of warfare, " said Mr. Griffin.

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