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“Old Bradley,” the Tennessee blacksmith.

The sufferings and sacrifices of the loyal men of East Tennessee were as worthy of record as those of the Covenanters in Scotland in the time of the Primate Sharp, and their courage and daring, and their unselfish devotion to the Union and to those who, like themselves, were persecuted for their adherence to it, give life and interest to some of the most thrilling incidents of the war.

One of these incidents, as related by an East Tennessean, is the following:

Near the crossroads, not far from the Cumberland mountains, stood the village forge. The smith was a sturdy man of fifty. He was respected, wherever known, for his stern integrity. He served God, and did not fear man-and it might be safely added, nor devil either. His courage was proverbial in the neighborhood; and it was a common remark, when wishing to pay any person a high compliment, to say, “He is as brave as old Bradley.” One night, toward the close of September, as he stood alone by the anvil plying his labors, his countenance evinced a peculiar satisfaction as he brought hie hammer down with a vigorous stroke on the heated iron While blowing the bellows he would occasionally pause, and shake his head, as if communing with himself. He was evidently meditating upon something of a serious nature. It was during one of these pauses that the door [481] was thrown open, and a pale, trembling figure staggered into the shop, and, sinking at the smith's feet, faintly ejaculated:

In the name of Jesus, protect me!

As Bradley stooped to raise the prostrate form, three men entered, the foremost one exclaiming:

We've treed him at last! There he is! Seize him!

and as he spoke he pointed at the crouching figure.

The others advanced to obey the order, but Bradley suddenly arose, seized his sledge-hammer, and brandishing it about his head as if it were a sword, exclaimed:

Back! Touch him not; or, by the grace of God, I'll brain ye!

They hesitated, and stepped backward, not wishing to encounter the sturdy smith, for his countenance plainly told them that he meant what he said.

“Do you give shelter to an abolitionist?” fiercely shouted the leader.

“ I give shelter to a weak, defenseless man,” replied the smith.

“He is an enemy!” vociferated the leader.

“Of the devil!” ejaculated Bradley.

“ He is a spy! an abolition hound!” exclaimed the leader, with increased vehemence; “and we must have him. So I tell you, Bradley, you had better not interfere. You know that you are already suspected, and if you insist upon sheltering him it will confirm it.”

Ss-pect-ed! Suspected of what?” exclaimed the smith, in a firm tone, riveting his gaze upon the speaker.

“Why, of adhering to the North,” was the reply. [482]

“Adhering to the North!” ejaculated Bradley, as he cast his defiant glances at the speaker. “I adhere to no North,” he continued; “I adhere to my country-my whole country-and will, so help me God! as long as I have breath!” he added, as he brought the sledgehammer to the ground with great force.

“ You had better let us have him, Bradley, without further trouble. You are only risking your own neck by your interference.”

“ Not as long as I have life to defend him,” was the answer. Then pointing toward the door, he continued: “Leave my shop!” and as he spoke he again raised the sledge-hammer.

They hesitated a moment, but the firm demeanor of the smith awed them into compliance with the order.

“You'll regret this in the morning, Bradley,” said the leader, as he retreated.

“Go!” was the reply of the smith, as he pointed toward the door.

Bradley followed them menacingly to the entrance of the shop, and watched them until they disappeared from sight down the road. When he turned to go back in the shop he was met by the fugitive, who, grasping his hand, exclaimed:

Oh! how shall I ever be able to thank you, Mr. Bradley?

“This is no time for thanks, Mr. Peters, unless it is to the Lord; you must fly the country, and that at once.”

“But my wife and children?”

“Mattie and I will attend to them. But you must go to-night.” [483]


“Yes. In th e morning, if not sooner, they will return with a large for e and carry you off, and probably hang you on the first tree. You must leave to-night.”

“But how?”

“Mattie will conduct you to the rendezvous of our friends. There is a party made up who intend to cross the mountains and join the Union forces in Kentucky. They were to start to-night. They have provisions for the journey, and will gladly share with you.”

At this moment a young girl entered the shop, and hurriedly said:

Father what is the trouble to-night?

Her eye resting upon the fugitive, she approached him, and in a sympathizing tone, continued: “Ah, Mr. Peters, has your turn come so soon?”

This was Mattie. She was a fine, rosy girl, just passed her eighteenth birthday, and the sole daughter of Bradley's house and heart. She was his all-his wife had been dead five years. He turned toward her, and in a mild but firm tone, said:

Mattie, you must conduct Mr. Peters to the rendezvous immediately; then return, and we will call at the parsonage to cheer his family. Quick! No time is to be lost. The bloodhounds are upon the track. They have scented their prey, and will not rest until they have secured him. They may return much sooner than we expect. So haste, daughter, and God bless ye!

This was not the first time that Mattie had been called upon to perform such an office. She had safely conducted several Union men, who had been hunted from their [484] homes, and sought shelter with her father, to the place designated, from whence they made their escape across the mountains into Kentucky. Turning to the fugitive, she said:

Come, Mr. Peters, do not stand upon ceremony, but follow me.

She left the shop, and proceeded but a short distance up the road, and then turned off in a by-path through a strip of woods, closely followed by the fugitive. A brisk walk of half an hour brought them to a small house that stood alone in a secluded spot. Here Mattie was received with a warm welcome by several men, some of whom were engaged in running bullets, while others were cleaning their rifles and fowling-pieces. The lady of the house, a hale woman of forty, was busy stuffing the wallets of the men with biscuits. She greeted Mattie very kindly. The fugitive, who was known to two or three of the party, was received in a bluff, frank spirit of kindness by all, saying that they would make him chaplain of the Tennessee Union regiment, when they got to Kentucky.

When Mattie was about to return home, two of the party prepared to accompany her; but she protested, warning them of the danger, as the enemy were doubtless abroad in search of the minister. But, notwithstanding, they insisted, and accompanied her, until she reached the road, a short distance above her father's shop. Mattie hurried on, but was somewhat surprised on reaching the shop to find it vacant. She hastened into the house, but her father was not there. As she returned to go into the shop, she thought she could hear the noise of horses' hoofs clattering down the road. She [485] listened, but the sound soon died away. Going into the shop she blew the fire into a blaze; then beheld that the things were in great confusion, and that spots of blood were upon the ground. She was now convinced that her father had been seized and carried off, but not without a desperate struggle on his part.

As Mattie stood gazing at the pools of blood, a wagon containing two persons drove up, one of whom, an athletic young man of five-and-twenty years, got out and entered the shop.

“Good-evening, Mattie! Where is your father?” he said. Then observing the strange demeanor of the girl, he continued, “Why, Mattie, what ails you? What has happened?”

The young girl's heart was too full for her tongue to give utterance, and throwing herself upon the shoulder of the young man, she sobbingly exclaimed:

They have carried him off! Don't you see the blood?

“ Have they dared to lay hands upon your father? The infernal wretches!”

Mattie recovered herself sufficiently to narrate the events of the evening. When she had finished, he exclaimed:

Oh!, that I should have lived to see the day that old Tennessee was to be thus disgraced! Here, Joe!

At this, the other person in the wagon alighted and entered the shop. He was a stalwart negro.

“Joe,” continued the young man, “you would like your freedom?”

“Well, Massa John, I wouldn't like much to leave you, but den I'se like to be a free man.” [486]

“ Joe, the white race have maintained their liberty by their valor. Are you willing to fight for yours! Ay! fight to the death!”

“I'se fight for yous any time, Massa John.”

“I believe you, Joe. But I have desperate work on hand to-night, and I do not want you to engage in it without a prospect of reward. If I succeed, I will make you a free man. It is a matter of life and death-will you go?”

“I will, massa.”

“Then kneel down, and swear before the ever-living God, that, if you falter or shrink the danger, you may hereafter be consigned to everlasting fire!”

“I swear, massa,” said the negro, kneeling. “Ana I hope that God Almighty may strike me dead if I don't go wid you through fire and water, and ebery ting!”

“I am satisfied, Joe,” said his master; then turning to the young girl, who had been a mute spectator of this singular scene, he continued: “Now, Mattie, you get in the wagon and I'll drive down to the parsonage, and you remain there with Mrs. Peters and the children until I bring you some intelligence of your father.”

While the sturdy old blacksmith was awaiting the return of his daughter, the party that he had repulsed returned with increased numbers and demanded the minister. A fierce quarrel ensued, which resulted in their seizing the smith and carrying him off. They conveyed him to a tavern half a mile distant from the shop, and there he was arraigned before what was termed a vigilance committee. The committee met in a long room on the ground-floor, dim y lighted by a lamp which stood upon a small table in front of the chairman [487] In about half an hour after Bradley's arrival he was placed before the chairman for examination. The old man's arms were pinioned, but nevertheless he cast a defiant look upon those around him.

Bradley, this is a grave charge against you. What have you to say?” said the chairman.

“What authority have you to ask?” demanded the smith, fiercely eyeing his interrogator.

“ The authority of the people of Tennessee,” was the reply.

“I deny it.”

“ Your denials amount to nothing. You are accused of harboring an abolitionist, and the penalty of that act, you know, is death. What have you to say to the charge?”

“ I say that it is a lie, and that he who utters such charges against me is a scoundrel.”

Simpson,” said the chairman to the leader of the band that had captured Bradley, and who now appeared with a large bandage about his head, to bind up a wound which was the result of a blow from the fist of Bradley.

Simpson,” continued the chairman, “what have you to say?”

The leader then stated that he had tracked the preacher to the blacksmith shop, and that Bradley had resisted his arrest, and that upon their return he could not be found, and that the prisoner refused to give any information concerning him.

“ Do you hear that, Mr. Bradley?” said the chairman.

“I do. Wh 't of it?” was the reply.

“ Is it true?”

“ Yes.” [488]

“Where is the preacher?”

“ That is none of your business.”

Mr. Bradley, this tribunal is not to be insulted with impunity. I again demand to know where Mr. Peters is? Will you tell?”

Mr. Bradley, it is well known that you are not only a member but an exhorter in Mr. Peters's church, and therefore some little excuse is to be made for your zeal in defending him. He is from the North, and has long been suspected, and is now accused of being an abolitionist and a dangerous man. You do not deny sheltering him, and refusing to give him up. If you persist in this you must take the consequences. I ask you for the last time if you will inform us of his whereabouts?”

“And again I answer no!”

Mr. Bradley, there is also another serious charge against you, and your conduct in this instance confirms it. You are accused of giving comfort to the enemies of your country. What have you to say to that?”

“I say it is false, and that he who makes it is a villain.”

“ I accuse him with being a traitor, aiding the cause of the Union,” said Simpson.

“If my adherence to the Union merits for me the name of traitor, then I am proud of it. I have been for the Union--I am still for the Union-and will be for the Union as long as life lasts.”

At these words the chairman clutched a pistol that lay upon the table before him, and the bright blade of Simpson's Bowie knife glittered near Bradley's breast; but before he could make the fatal plunge, a swiftwinged [489] messenger of death laid him dead at the feet of his intended victim; while at the same instant another plunged into the heart of the chairman, and he fell forward over the table, extinguishing the lights, and leaving all in darkness. Confusion reigned. The inmates of the room were panic-stricken. In the midst of the consternation a firm hand rested upon Bradley's shoulder; his bonds were severed, and he hurried out of the open window. He was again a free man, but was hastened forward into the woods at the back of the tavern, and through them to a road a quarter of a mile distant, then into a wagon, and driven rapidly off. In half an hour the smith made one of the party at the rendezvous that was to start at midnight across the mountains.

“John,” said the smith, as he grasped the hand of his rescuer, while his eyes glistened, and a tear coursed down his furrowed cheek, “I should like to see Mattie before I go.”

“You shall,” was the reply.

In another hour the blacksmith clasped his daughter to his bosom.

It was an affecting scene-there, in that lone house in the wilderness, surrounded by men who had been driven from their homes for their attachment to the principles for which their patriot fathers fought and bled --the sturdy old smith, a type of the heroes of other days, pressing his daughter to his breast, while the tears coursed down his furrowed cheek. He felt that perhaps it was to be his last embrace; for his resolute heart had resolved to sacrifice his all upon the altar of his country, and lie could no longer watch over the safety of his [490] only child. Was she to be left to the mercy of the parricidal wretches who were attempting to destroy the country that had given them birth, nursed their infancy, and opened a wide field for them to display the abilities with which nature had endowed them?

Mr. Bradley,” said his rescuer, after a short pause, “as you leave the State it will be necessary, in these troublous times, for Mattie to have a protector, and I have thought that our marriage had better take place to-night.”

“Well, John,” he said, as he relinquished his embrace and gazed with a fond look at her who was so dear to him, “I shall not object, if Mattie is willing.”

“Oh! We arranged that as we came along,” replied the young man.

Mattie blushed, but said nothing.

In a short time the hunted-down minister was called upon to perform a marriage service in that lone house It was an impressive scene. Yet no diamonds glittered upon the neck of the bride; no pearls looped up her tresses; but a pure love glowed within her heart as she gave utterance to a vow which was registered in heaven.

Bradley, soon after the ceremony, bade his daughter and her husband an affectionate farewell, and set out with his friends to join others who had been driven from their homes, and were now rallying under the old flag to fight for the Union, and, as they said, “Redeem old Tennessee!”

John Davis the heroic sailor.

When the record of the war comes to be written, not the least interesting [491] feature of it will be the heroic deeds of the humble men who compose the rank and file of the army and navy. Instances of individual heroism and self-sacrifice are already presenting themselves in abundance, and when the conflict is happily ended, will furnish a rich harvest of materials for the annalist and historian. One of the most conspicuous of these in any chronicle of the war, must be the case of the gallant tar, John Davis, who:e courage in the attack on Elizabeth City, N. C., was made the subject of special mention by his immediate commander and by Commodore Goldsborough, who thus united to make manifest the bond of true chivalry, which binds together all brave men, however widely separated their station. The following is the story of this brave sailor :--

Lieutenant J. C. Chapin, commanding United States steamer “Valley city,” off Roanoke Island, writing to Commodore Goldsborough, noticed a magnanimous act of bravery by John Davis, gunner's mate on board his vessel, at the taking of Elizabeth City. He says John Davis was at his station during the action, in the magazine, issuing powder, when a shell from the enemy's battery penetrated into the magazine, and exploded outside of it. He threw himself over a barrel of powder, protecting it with his own body from the fire, while at the same time passing out the powder for the guns.

Commodore Goldsborough, in transmitting this letter to the Navy Department, says: “ It affords me infinite pleasure to forward this communication to the Navy Department, to whose especial consideration I beg leave to recommend the gallant and noble sailor alluded to;” and he adds, in a postscript, “ Davis actually seated himself [492] on the barrel, the top being out, and in this position he remained until the flames were extinguished.”

The Navy Department promptly rewarded him. He was a gunner's mate, receiving a salary of twenty-five dollars per month or three hundred dollars per year. The evidence of his bravery was received at the Navy Department, and on the next day Secretary Welles appointed him a gunner, an office which carries with it a salary of one thousand dollars per year, and is a life appointment, the salary increasing by length of service to one thousand four hundred and fifty dollars, and the medal of honor was conferred upon him, by order of Congress.

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