In 1865, Youth’s Companion printed a series of articles by abolitionist James Redpath, who contributed several pieces from 1865 to 1867. In “Eye and Ear Notes,” he offered readers of the Companion descriptions of Southern incidents before and just after the War: everything from a slave auction to a patriotic May-day celebration. The pieces are surprisingly gritty and often have a raw power.


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[Scraps for Youth] “Eye and Ear Notes: Jottings in My Army Diary,” by “Uncle James” [James Redpath] (from The Youth’s Companion, August 17, 1865; p. 130)

I acted for a few months as an army correspondent in the Western Department. I saw the battle of Nashville, and was in various skirmishes. From my Note Book of that period I will copy a few incidents that have not been published.

Moseby, the Guerilla.

A few days before the battle of Nashville, as I was riding round the lines, I inquired of some soldiers the position of Smith’s corps. At first they were quite communicative, but suddenly grew silent; and, seeing that they suspected me, I rode off. I had not gone more than half a mile before I heard the sound of horses at full speed behind me, and looked round to see what it meant. Two soldiers, with carbines, were rushing towards me. “Halt!” they shouted. As they drew near one of them said:—“Stop here, my Christian friend; you go back with us.” As I had already learned the wisdom of obeying without a murmur all military orders, I rode back with them to headquarters. As there were no officers higher than second lieutenants there, I was subjected to a searching scrutiny. My pass and credentials were read and re-read by one and then another of the group. The papers were too clear to admit of any doubt as to my right to be there; but they were determined to make assurance doubly sure, and sent for a first lieutenant. He was a fine-looking, soldierly young fellow, and after examining my pass, and comparing it word for word, type for type, and paper for paper, with his own, very graciously ordered me to be released. He mounted his own horse at the same time, and expressed a desire to go with me to town. I believed that he still suspected me, but I soon got his confidence. He was a nephew of Moseby, the Virginia guerilla. His father, and another brother of the rebel partisan, lived in Indiana. He described his rebel uncle “as smart as a steel trap,” and said that he was quite rich before the war began, and had made a large amount as a guerilla. He said that Moseby began life by cheating both of his brothers out of several thousand dollars apiece; “You mightn’t call it cheating exactly,” said the nephew, “but it was very sharp dealing.” The nephew expressed an ardent wish to command a company, with a chance to hunt his uncle. He thought he could capture him, and evidently would have liked to undertake the job.

Dropping an Uncle.

Young Moseby is not the only nephew who has had hard feelings toward a “cruel uncle” in this war. I met a young South Carolina boy at Huntsville once, who gave the briefest and most graphic account of an untimely death that I ever heard. He had been in East Tennessee at school when the war broke out, and his uncle, who was his guardian also, ordered him to return to his home. As he knew that he would be conscripted into the rebel army, if he went back, he refused to obey.

The uncle then came to force him to go. The nephew told the reason of his disobedience, and the uncle lifted his hand to strike him.

“But he didn’t strike,” he said.

“Why?”

He dropped.”

His explanation, on further inquiry, that this phrase meant, that he shot his uncle dead! Subsequently, all the property of this boy’s mother was confiscated by the rebel authorities. He was in a Tennessee regiment. The war is full of such incidents as these.

“You ’uns all hes Hog-meat.”

We were speaking one day of the ignorance of the poor whites of the South at Gen. Steedman’s headquarters. He told a story to show how little the people know of the great questions at issue between the North and South. A refugee woman applied to him in the Etowah district for relief. She asked him:

“Gineril, is’t true that you ’uns hes hog-meat every day?”

He answered her that our soldiers had all the pork or beef they needed.

“I knowed it,” she said; “I told my ole man so; I says to him that you ’uns all hes hog-meat every day, and he could do a heap better by going with you ’uns.”

Her only estimate of the justice of the cause was its daily rations of sow-belly.

Igo, the Quartermaster

One of the sharpest “Yankee tricks” of the war was done by an eccentric quartermaster from Indiana, of the name of Igo. By some means his wagons had got isolated from the regiment, in an exposed condition, and in the vicinity of a rebel force. He saw that he would be attacked in the morning, and built a large number of fires to deceive the enemy. Early the next day they showed signs of attacking him. A few shots were fired. He then went out with a flag of truce, and asked for honorable terms. The officer whom he addressed sent for the General commanding, who asked him what terms he demanded. Igo answered that the persons, servants, private papers and property of the quartermaster should not be interfered with.

“You outnumber me,” he said, “and I know that I shall be obliged to surrender finally, but if you give me these terms, it will prevent the useless shedding of blood; but otherwise I must fight to the bitter end.”

The General said that he agreed to those terms. “Now, sir, what are your forces?”

“Thirty-two quartermaster wagons, eight clerks and thirty-two negro teamsters!”

The rebel General wheeled round his horse, and as soon as he was out of hearing lay back in his saddle, and roared with laughter at the Yankee trick. But he sent up a guard to protect the wagons until his force had passed, and left the ingenious Igo to go on his way rejoicing.

Speaking of a retreat he made when his wagons were once under a cannonading, this quartermaster in his official report stated—“My name is I go, and I went.”

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