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.

A. B. Card may be Abraham Bird Card, who served from 1862 to 1865. []
“Eye and Ear Notes: East Tennessee Stories,” by “Uncle James” [James Redpath] (from The Youth’s Companion, October 5, 1865; p. 160)

A. B. Card, a private of the Fifth Regiment of Tennessee Infantry Volunteers, (whom I met at Marietta, Ga.,) told me that his father and himself were often hunted by the rebels before they made their escape to Kentucky, where they enlisted in the Federal army. After it was known that they were followers of the flag, a party of rebel soldiers and citizens went to his mother’s house and forced her to leave it. He said:

“She asked time to gather her truck together, but they cursed her, and told her to get right out, that no such Tories and Tory-harborers as they were should be suffered to live in the country, and that if she did not leave right straight off they would burn the place down over her head. She left, but they did not carry out their threat. They burned all the fences, and shot the door full of holes. There were six daughters with their mother when she was driven from home. The only reason why the rebels did this was because our family were Union folks.”

This was rough and barbarous usage, but it was more civilized than the next story that Mr. Card related.

“There was a man named Josh Gentry,” he said, “who was raised in our settlement. He joined the Second Tennessee Rebel Cavalry. His mother died when he was young. His father lived in the neighborhood; but he was raised as much by a Union man named William Farmer, who lived within six miles of my house, as he was by his own father.

“Josh got a furlough and came home for a few weeks in the spring of 1861. He was at the village of Pikeville, the county seat, one day, and tried to buy a pair of boots, but the storekeepers refused to give him credit. He met Mr. Farmer. The old man made him a present of a new pair, and asked him to go home and stay all night at his house. Gentry went to go home with him. But they had hardly got out of the village before he put his pistol to the old man’s head and shot him dead in his tracks.

“He was arrested next morning about daylight, travelling along the road. A citizen, who had heard of the murder, saw him coming, pretended to be a rebel, got into conversation with him, and induced him, under some pretext, to hand him one of his pistols for examination. As soon as the citizen got it he threatened to shoot Gentry on the spot unless he dismounted and went back with him as a prisoner to Pikeville. He was lodged in jail, and made a full confession. He said that he had been hired to murder Mr. Farmer by two officers of his regiment who were citizens of that county.

“In a few days afterwards Gentry broke jail, and when last heard from, he was in the rebel army. The county was ruled by the secessionists at that time, and there is no doubt,” said Card, “that they helped the murderer to escape.”

Corp. James M. Grimsley, of the same regiment and same mess, told a sadder story still, of the death of the son of old Parson Stephens, of Bledsoe county, a good Union man.

“A detachment of Carter’s (rebel) Cavalry went to his house, Carter himself in command, and found the parson’s son confined to his bed by sickness. They ordered him to get out. He was rather slow in obeying them; so they dragged him out of his bed by force, with only his night dress on, and took him into the yard. His wife pled with them to let him put his shoes on. They swore that he would not need any shoes. As soon as they got him into the yard Capt. Carter took out his pistol and shot him through the body. The wife rushed out and put her dress over him to prevent them from shooting him in the head. They pushed her back and shot him dead through the head.

“The poor woman fainted, and they rode away, leaving her alone with the bloody corpse. She never recovered from this terrible blow, but died in a few months afterwards.”

Thomas J. Hentman, a private of Company C, told me that he heard old Parson Stephens relate this story himself.

An officer of the same regiment related two instances of retribution.

“Bob Martin,” he said, “lived near Post Oak Springs, nigh to Kingston, and left his home in February, 1862; went over the mountains to Barbersville, Ky., and enlisted as a private in the Fifth Tennessee Infantry. In the fall of 1863 his brother-in-law went to his wife’s house and whipped her with a hickory because her husband had joined the Federal army. This regiment passed near the settlement where Bob lived last November, (1863,) and one day Martin happened to meet this brother-in-law on the road driving a wagon. He took out his pistol, shot him dead, and left him lying on the road.”

“Jackson Gardenhue,” said another officer, “was shot there about the same time. He was a wealthy citizen. He was not in the rebel army, but he acted as a pilot to bushwhackers, and helped them to rob and abuse the Union families. Whenever he heard that any of our soldiers had returned, he would go—even if it was in the night—and get the rebels to come and search for them. When the First Tennessee (union) Regiment was near his house in the fall of 1863, a squad of men went to arrest him. Hearing that they were coming, he ran from his house, but was seen and shot dead before he had got three hundred yards from his door. His wife and family were at home at the time.”

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines
To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872
To Titles at this site | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.