The U.D.C. Committee on Reminiscences has requested me to write of some of
my experiences during the Civil war, and I shall try to give a brief account of
some of those that I remember most vividly.
I have tried vainly to forget some of the ordeals through which I passed, as my
experiences were many and sad. Well do I remember one afternoon in
October, 1862, I, with my two little children, went to spend the afternoon with a
neighbor living near by. We had been there but a short time when we heard the
firing of guns and the whooping and yelling of men. Looking towards my home,
which was in sight, I soon saw that it was surrounded by a company of Federal
soldiers. I with my little ones hastened home and soon learned the cause of the
excitement. The Federals had caught up with three Confederate soldiers who
had been cut off from General Price's army a few days previous and were
trying to make their way back to the south by traveling in the night and hiding in
the brush during the day.
These boys, for the eldest had barely attained his majority, had gone into my
field and taken out some corn and fodder to feed their horses and had
carelessly dropped fodder through the brush by which the Federals tracked
them to their hiding place, and finding them asleep, shot and killed two of them
and wounded the third.
I knew one of the young men well, had known him all his life, but the other two
were strangers to me.
After the shooting was over the company of soldiers surrounded my house and
one of the number told what they had done. He said they had found the boys
napping and had sent them where they would cause no more trouble. I saw the
company was making arrangements to leave, and I asked one of them what
they were going to do with the men they had killed and wounded. He replied,
"We are going to leave them right where they are, they will make good food for
the hogs; that is as good as they deserve, and I don't think it will be very safe
for anyone to interfere with them."
I stepped out on the doorstep and called to the soldiers to know if the captain
of the company was there. A man rode up to where I was standing and said,
"Yes, I am the captain; what will you have?" I said, "Will you give me permit to
have the men you killed buried and the wounded one care for?" He said,
"Certainly I will," and took from his pocket a blank book and pencil, and with
trembling hands wrote the permit giving the privilege of doing the best I could
with them, assuring me he would see that I was protected by him and his men.
It was almost impossible to get a man to help me care for the dead and
wounded, as the few men left at home felt it would be risking their own lives to
give any assistance in a case of that kind.
My brother was living with me at the time, but, like all other southern men, was
in danger whenever he came home. However, he came home that evening and
obtained the help of an old negro man and two boys to bring the dead and
wounded men to the house. We felt that he was risking his life in doing that
much. I was afraid for my brother to try to stay with me, and finally prevailed
upon him to leave.
I and my children, one five and the other seven years old, spent the night alone
with the dead and wounded. What thoughts and feelings attended me through
the long and lonely hours of that night none but God can ever know; my eyes
were not closed once in sleep. I was kept busy trying to relieve the suffering of
the poor wounded boy who I thought could not live through the night.
The next day two or three men ventured to come and dig a grave to bury the
dead. It was impossible to get coffins or even planks to make a box. The men
lined the grave with rough boards, I washed the blood from their faces and
hands, had each wrapped in a clean sheet and blanket and we laid them to rest
side by side in the same grave.
The captain of the company sent a physician from Clinton to attend the
wounded man. He improved slowly, but his life was threatened and we lived in
dread until his friends came one night and smuggled him away.
A still sadder experience, to me the most dreadful of that terrible war,
happened on Sunday morning in August, 1863. My brother, who had stayed
with me since the death of my husband in 1859, and who would have been in
the Confederate army had it not been that he was so nearsighted he was unfit
for duty, was called out by a company of Federal soldiers who, unheeding my
prayers and pleading with them to spare his life, took him a short distance from
the house and cruelly murdered him almost in sight of my door. I heard the
report of the gun and ran to him, but he had breathed his last before I reached
him. As it was in the other case, there was not a man we could get to help in
our great need.
The women in the neighborhood came to my assistance and brought his body to
the house and washed and dressed him for burial.
The old men living some distance from us heard of it and came the next morning
and made a box of planks--which was the best we could do for a coffin--and
with the help of the women, dug a grave and laid him away the best they could.
This was the hardest trial I had to bear. I thought at the time I could not
possibly live through it, but found we never know what we can endure until we
are put to the test.
As I look back over the years that have passed since we heard with aching
hearts of Lee's surrender, I thank God for the white-robed angel, Peace, that
has hovered over us and dwelt in our hearts these many years. I am glad the
bitterness of that long struggle had passed away and we can forget many of
the hardships and sorrows of that trying time, but I do not wish to forget the
bravery, the heroism of our gallant boys in gray who gave their lives for a cause
they felt to be so just and holy. All honor to the private in ranks. "No stars and
bars to deck his homespun jacket." Oh! May we never forget what we owe his
Mrs. Ann C. Everett
Reminiscences of the Women of Missouri During the Sixties
Missouri Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy
|SPENT THE NIGHT ALONE WITH DEAD