January, 1862, was an intensely cold month. I was on our large farm one
mile and a half southwest of Hickman Mills, in Jackson county, Missouri. My
husband, James Doneghy, was in the South. I was alone save my six little
boys, the oldest 11 years, the youngest Hanson Weightman, 6 months. We
were living very uncomfortably, as an attempt had been made to burn the
house by Federal soldiers in October, 1861. We were among the first in the
county to suffer in every way possible. I, however, saved the house till
October 22, 1862. In order to pass away the lonely evening I would read
Bible stories to my children from an old family Bible, which was always in its
place on a small table near one of the front windows. One cold bright night,
so cold that the air seemed to snap with electricity, and a brighter moon I
never saw--I remember it well--all at once there was a dash and a crash on
the outside. My window shaded were not lowered for the night, and I could
see plainly the house surrounded by Federal cavalry, who had hitched their
horses about one hundred yards from the house, walking stealthily, that we
might be taken by surprise--guns and bayonets at every window--threatening
to fire into the house. I called out not to shoot, that I would open the doors
and they could come in. After telling my children not to be alarmed I, with my
baby in my arms, opened the doors, when the house was soon crowded with
soldiers in full uniform. O, I see the gleam of their arms today. They were
much excited, I may say, enraged, and with drawn revolver, said they came
to burn the house. Imagine yourself surrounded by fifty enraged men, but O!
how a child will quell them.
One of the soldiers said, "I will burn this house, and if you want to save
anything take it out." My little boy, only 6 years old, who had been hearing all
that was said, called at the top of his voice and gathered the Bible in his
arms saying, "I will take the Bible; I know my mother does not want to lose
her family Bible." That was enough. Silence reigned and pistols fell to the
side; they were subdued by the power of the Bible presented by the child.
After a short while they left, not a word spoken; they were softened, leaving
without any threats. The Bible has been rebound and willed to the one who
save it. He is a good man and lawyer in Kirksville, MO.
Those Federal soldiers had been told that my husband had returned from the
South, and their object was to capture him and then burn the house. They
were enraged in their disappointment, but when my little boy called and asked
to take out the Bible, hugging it in his arms, they were speechless for a few
minutes and stood as living monuments, all in full uniform. Finally one of the
leaders had the courage to say, "Let's go, boys." Not another word was
spoken. They left peaceably; a little child led them. There was reverence for
that book in their hearts that conquered.
Mrs. Kate S. Doneghy

Reminiscences of the Women of Missouri During the Sixties
Missouri Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy