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[23] cries of despair; the soldiers wavered and hesitated to obey the command.

Keith said, if they did not fire instantly, he would make them change places with the prisoners. The soldiers raised their guns, the victims shuddered convulsively, the word was given to fire, and the five men fell pierced with rebel bullets. Wood and Shelton were shot in the head, their brains scattered upon the ground, and they died without a struggle. The other three lived only a few minutes.

Five others were ordered to kneel, among them little Billy Shelton, a mere child, only twelve years old. He implored the men not to shoot him in the face. “You have killed my father and brothers,” said he, “you have shot my father in the face; do not shoot me in the face.” He covered his face with his hands. The soldiers received the order to fire, and five more fell. Poor little Billy was wounded in both arms. He ran to an officer, clasped him around the legs, and besought him to spare his life. “You have killed my old father and my three brothers; you have shot me in both arms — I forgive you for all this — I can get well. Let me go home to my mother and sisters.” What a heart of adamant the man must have who could disregard such an appeal! The little boy was dragged back to the place of execution; again the terrible word “fire!” was given, and he fell dead, eight balls having entered his body. The remaining three were murdered in the same manner. Those in whom life was not entirely extinct, the heartless officers despatched with their pistols.

A hole was then dug, and the thirteen bodies were pitched into it. The grave was scarcely large enough; some of the bodies lay above the ground. A wretch jumped upon the bleeding bodies, and said to some of the men: “Pat Juba for me, while I dance the d — d scoundrels down to and through hell.” The grave was covered lightly with earth, and the next day, when the wives and families of the murdered men heard of their fate, searched for and found their grave, the hogs had rooted up one man's body, and eaten his head off.

Upon the return of Keith and his men to Laurel, they began systematically to torture the women of loyal men, to force them to tell where their fathers and husbands were, and what part each had taken in the said raid. The women refused to divulge any thing. They were then whipped with hickory switches; many of them till the blood coursed in streams down their persons to the ground — and the men who did this were called soldiers! Mrs. Sarah Shelton, wife of Esau Shelton, who escaped from the town, and Mrs. Mary Shelton, wife of Lifus Shelton, were whipped and hung by the neck till they were almost dead, but would give no information. Martha White, an idiotic girl, was beaten and tied by the neck all day to a tree. Mrs. Unus Riddle, aged eighty-five years, was whipped, hung, and robbed of a considerable amount of money. Many others were treated with the same barbarity. Mrs. Sallie Moore, seventy years of age, was whipped with hickory rods till the blood ran in streams down her back to the ground; and the perpetrators of this were clothed in the habiliments of rebellion, and bore the name of soldiers!

One woman, who had an infant five or six weeks old, was tied in the snow to a tree, her child placed in the door-way in her sight, and she was informed that if she did not tell all she knew about the seizure of the salt, both herself and the child would be allowed to perish.

All the women and children of the Union men who were shot, and of those who escaped, were ordered by Gen. Alfred E. Jackson to be sent through the lines by way of Knoxville. When the first of them arrived, the officer in charge applied to Gen. Donelson (formerly Speaker of the House of Representatives at Nashville) to know by which route they had been sent from there, whether by Cumberland Gap or Nashville. Gen. Donelson immediately directed them to be released and sent home, saying that such a thing was unknown in civilized countries. They were then sent home, and all the refugees met on the road were also turned back.

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