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Doc. 136.-affair at Charleston, ill.

Charleston “plain-dealer” account.

Charleston, ill., March 28--9 P. M.
this afternoon a dreadful affair took place in our town, the most shocking in its details that has ever occurred in our part of the State. Early in the morning, squads of copperheads came in town from various directions, and, as the sequel will show, armed and determined upon summary vengeance upon our soldiers. During the day, premonitions of the coming trouble were too evident. Some of the soldiers, about to return to their regiments, were somewhat excited by liquor, and consequently rather boisterous, but not belligerent — were more disposed for fun than fight. About four o'clock, a soldier, Oliver Sallee, stepped up to Nelson Wells, who has been regarded as the leader of the copperheads in this county, and placing his hand good-naturedly against him, playfully asked him if there were any butternuts in town? Wells replied, “Yes, I am one!” and drawing his revolver, shot at Sallee, but missed him. In an instant Sallee was shot from another direction, and fell; but raising himself up, he fired at Wells, the ball taking effect in his vitals. He (Wells) went as far as Chambers & McCrory's store, and, passing in, fell dead.

The copperheads were gathered behind Judge Edwards's office, loading their firearms, and then would step out and fire from the corner at the soldiers indiscriminately, with guns and revolvers. Of course, having come fully prepared, they had vastly the advantage over the soldiers, who were not expecting such an attack, and were, for the most part, unarmed. Those who were armed would hardly know at whom to fire until they were fired upon. The copperheads were seen to hurry to their wagons, hitched at the square, and gather therefrom several guns, which were concealed under the straw. They were freely used, and with terrible effect. Thomas Jeffries was the next to fall, receiving an ugly wound in the neck. William Gilman was shot by B. F. Dukes, the ball striking a rib on his left side and glancing off. Dukes was then seen to fire at Colonel Mitchell, and afterward declared that he had killed him. Colonel Mitchell received several shots through his clothes.; one hit his watch and glanced off, producing only a slight flesh-wound upon his abdomen. The watch thus providentially saved his life. Dr. York, surgeon of the Fifty-fourth Illinois, while passing through the Court-House, was approached by some one from behind, who took deliberate aim and shot him dead — the pistol being held so close to him that the powder burned his coat! So far as we could learn, Dr. York was not actively engaged in the affray, save in his professional capacity as surgeon, and in trying to restore order. A soldier, Alfred Swim, of company G, Fifty-fourth Illinois, was shot, and taken to Drs. Allen & Van Meter's office, where he soon died. Mr. Swim lived somewhere near Casey, ia Clark County, where he leaves a wife and three children. He is spoken of by all as having been an excellent soldier and a good citizen. William G. Hart, Deputy Provost-Marshal, was shot in several places — in the head and vitals — his wounds are probably mortal. James Goodrich, company C, Fifty-fourth Illinois, received a shocking wound — being shot in the bowels. His wound, we fear, will prove mortal.

Unarmed as our boys were, Colonel Mitchell soon rallied all he could, citizens and soldiers, and improvising such arms as could be had, gathered, at the south-west corner of the square, as the copperheads retreated down the street running east therefrom. Despatches were sent to Mattoon for soldiers, and three hundred were soon on the way. The copperheads halted somewhere near Mrs. Dickson's, and remained for some time, then turned and went off. Beyond J. H. O'Hair's residence they gathered together, consulted for a time, then moved off in a northerly direction, cutting the telegraph wire as they went — unfortunately before a despatch could be sent to Dr. York's family, at Paris, giving notice of his assassination.

About five o'clock the reinforcements from Mattoon arrived, and while in the Court-House yard, Mr. John Cooper, from Saulsbury, was captured and brought in as a prisoner, by Mr. W. H. Noe and a soldier. Mr. Cooper had taken an active part in the affray. When in front of Jenkins's store he attempted to escape, and when commanded to halt refused to do so, whereupon Mr. Noe fired over Cooper's head, who, in return, fired at some of our men, when orders were given to fire upon him, which was done, and he fell dead at Jenkins's door. Unfortunately, one of the balls passed, through the closed door and struck Mr. John Jenkins in the groin, producing a serious, and probably mortal wound. Mr. Cooper was shot through the neck and shoulder. When the copperheads were halted near Mrs. Dickson's, he was heard to say, that as they now had no leader, he was ready to lead them back and kill the d — d soldiers and burn the town, or die in the attempt; and at various places he was heard to threaten to cut out the hearts of the “d — d Abolitionists,” and use kindred expressions.

How many there were of the copperheads we do not know, nor can we estimate the number, save by the size of the squads that retreated in several directions. We think there may have been from one hundred to one hundred and fifty, and all mounted. Who their leaders were we do not know, precisely. J. H. O'Hair, Sheriff of this county, was seen to fire three times at the soldiers. John Frazier, while sitting on his horse, was seen to deliberately fire five times at them and then leave. Others of less prominence were equally warlike.

Immediately after the soldiers arrived, squads, mounted upon all the horses that could be found, were started out in every direction in pursuit--Colonel Brooks in charge of one, Lieutenant Horner another, etc. Up to this writing, nine P. M., [596] some twelve prisoners have been captured, and the pursuit still kept up after more.

Of the gang were two men from Edgar County, on one of whom was an oath of allegiance, taken by him at Paris, recently. He boasted that he was the man who shot Dr. York; that he came for that purpose.

We herewith present the following list of killed and wounded:

Killed.--Major York, Surgeon Fifty-fourth Illinois; Alfred Swim, company C, Fifty-fourth; Nelson Wells, copperhead; John Cooper, copperhead.

Wounded.--Colonel Mitchell, Fifty-fourth Illinois, slightly; James Goodrich, company C, Fifty-fourth, severely; Oliver Sallee, Fifty-fourth, severely; John Neer, company G, Fifty-fourth, slightly; William Decker, company G, Fifty-fourth, slightly; George Ross, company C, Fifty-fourth, slightly; Thomas Jeffries, Brooks's regiment, severely; William G. Hart, soldier, severely; John Jenkins, citizen, severely; William Gilman, citizen, severely; John Trimble, slightly; Sanford Royes, slightly.

Several of the copperheads were severely wounded, but were taken off in wagons.

Tuesday Morning, 11.30 A. M.
Messrs. Jenkins, Hart, and Goodrich are dead, having died at five, half-past 10, and half-past 11 o'clock, respectively, this morning, making a total of seven killed.

Colonel Brooks's squad, going up through the O'Hair settlement, recaptured Levi Freisner, and also the guard of butternuts placed over him, six or eight in all.

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