No troops in the Union
service were more thoroughly patriotic than the Union
men of East Tennessee
Mostly of Scotch Irish stock, and often imbued with the most profound and earnest religious sentiment, they united the earnest puritanism of Cromwell
's Ironsides to the skill, tact, and daring of the pioneers of the border.
These qualities, added to their thorough knowledge of the country, and its inhabitants, and a sort of free masonry which prevailed among the hunted and persecuted Union men of the region made them invaluable as scouts and spies.
Among them all none perhaps acquired more renown or accomplished more for the benefit of the Union
armies of the Cumberland
and the Ohio
, in their great work of putting down the rebellion, than William Jehosaphat Smith
, better known throughout East Tennessee
as Bible Smith
from his Scriptural middle name.
was one of the middle class of farmers of that mountain region; and had had very little education; hi; wife, who, as was
often the case with the class to which she belonged, was of somewhat higher social position than her husband, and better educated, had taught him to read.
He was a man of very strong affections, and was deeply attached to his wife, whom he regarded as almost a superior being.
Next to her his most ardent love was bestowed on the flag of his country.
For it and the cause it represented he would dare any thing and every thing.
Mr. J. R. Gilmore
( “Edmund Kirke
” ) gives an admirable history of Smith
's experiences in connection with the war and as a scout, from which we quote the following:
Seated after dinner on the piazza of the hospitable Southern lady, Bible told me his story.
He had been stripped of all his property, his wife and children had been driven from their home, his house had been burned to the ground, and he himself hunted through the woods like a wild beast, because he had remained true to what he called democratic principles-“free schools, free speech, free thought, and free a'r fur all oa God's critters.”
The world went well with him till the breaking out of the rebellion.
That event found him the owner of fifteen likely negroes, a fine plantation of nine hundred and thirty acres, and a comfortable frame dwelling and out-buildings.
His elder daughter had married a young farmer of the district, and his younger-little Sally, whom I remembered as a rosy-cheeked, meek-eyed, wee thing of only seven years-had grown up a woman.
In the spring of 1861, when there were no Union troops south of the Ohio
, and the secession fever was raging furiously all over his county he organized one
hundred and six of his neighbors into a company of Home Guards, and was elected their captain.
They were pledged to resist all attacks on the person or property of any of their number, and met frequently in the woods in the vicinity of their homes.
This organization secured Bible safety and free expression of opinion till long after Tennessee
went out of the Union
In fact, he felt so secure that, in 1862-a year after the State
seceded — under the protection of his band of Home Guards, he inaugurated and carried through a celebratior of the fourth of July at Richmond, Tennessee
, under the very guns of a rebel regiment then forming in the town.
An act of so much temerity naturally attracted the attention of the Confederate
authorities, and not long afterward he was roused from his bed one morning, before daybreak, by three hundred armed men, who told him that he was a prisoner, and that all his property was confiscated to the Government
They at once enforced the “confiscation act ;” “and this,” he said, taking from his wallet a piece of soiled paper, “ara whot I hed ter 'tribute ter the dingnation consarn.
It'r Sally's own handwrite, ana I knows ye loikes har, so ye kin hev it, fur it'll nuver be uv no manner uv account ter me.”
The schedule is now before me, and I copy it verbatim
: “14 men and wimmin” (Jake eluded the soldiers and escaped to the woods), “1600 barrils corn, 130 sheeps, 700 bushls wheat, 440 barley, 100 rye, 27 mules, 5 cowbrutes, 105 head hogs, 17 horses and mars, and all they cud tote beside.”
Wall, they tied me hand ana fut, “he continued;” ana toted me off ter the Military Commission sittina ter Chattanooga.
I know'd whot thet meant — a short
prayer, a long rope, ana a break-down danced on the top oa nothina.
Better men nur me hed gone thet way ter the Kingdom-sevin on 'em wuthin a month-but I detarmined I wouldn't go ef I could holp it; not thet I 'jected ter the journey, only ter goina afore uv Sally.
Ye sees, I hedn't been nigh so good a man as I'd orter be, ana I reckoned Sally-who, ye knows, ar the best 'ooman thet uver lived — I reckoned she, ef she got thar a leetle afore oa me, could sort oa put in a good word wuth the Lord, ana git Him ter shot His eyes ter a heap oa my doin's; ana sides, I should, I know'd, feel a mighty strange loike up thar without har. Wall, I detarmined not ter go, so thet night, as we war camped out on the ground, I slid the coil, stole a nag, ana moseyed off. Howsumuver, I hedn't got more'n a hun'red rods, 'fore the durned Secesh yered me, ana the bullets fell round me thicker'n tar in January.
They hit the hoss, winged me a trifle, ana in less nur ten minnits, hed me tighter'n uver.
They swore a streak uv blue brimstuna, ana said they'd string me up ter onst, but I telled 'em they wouldn't, 'case I know'd I war a gwine ter live ter holp do thet ara same turn fur Jeff. Davis.
Wall, I s'pose my impudence hed suthina ter do wuth it, fur they didn't hang me-ye mought know thet, Mr. --, fur, ye sees, I hes a good neck fur stretchina yit.
Wall we got ter Chattanooga jest arter noon.
The Commission they hed too many on hand thet day ter 'tend ter my case, ana the jail wus chock-heapina, so they put me inter a tent under guard uv a hull Georgy regiment.
Things luck'd 'mazina squally, ana much as I detarmined ter be a man, my heart went clean down inter my boots whenuver I thort uv Sally.
I nuver felt so,
afore or sence, fur then I hedn't got used ter luckina at the gallus uvery day.
Wall, I didn't know whot ter do, but thinkina the Lord did, I kneeled down ana prayed right smart.
I telled Him I hedn't no face ter meet Him afore I'd a done suthina fur the kentry, ana thet Sally's heart would be clean broke ef I went afore har, but, howsumuver, I said, He know'd best, ana ef it war His will, I hed jest nothina ter say agin it. Thet's all I said, but I said it over ana over, a heap oa times, an it war right dark when I got off uv my knees.
The Lord yered me, thet's sartin, 'case I hedn't mor'n got up fore a dirty grey-back, drunker'n a member uv Congress, staggered inter the tent.
I recken he thort he war ter home, fur he drapped down onter the ground ana went ter sleep, wuthout so much as axina ef I was willina.
Then it come inter my head, all ter onst, whot ter do. Ye sees, the critters hed tied me hand ana fut, ana teddered me wuth a coil ter one oa the tent stakes, so I couldn't move only jest so fur; but the Lord He made the drunken feller lop down jest inside uv reachina.
Wall, when I war shore he war dead asleep, I rolled over thar, drawed out the bowie-knife in his belt wuth my teeth, ana sawed off my wristlets in no time.
Ye kin reckon it didn't take long ter undo the 'tother coils, ana to 'propriate his weapons, tie 'im hand ana fut loike I war, strip off his coat, put mine onter'im, swap hats, ana pull the one I guv him down onter his eyes loike as ef he never wanted to see the sun agin.
When I'd a done thet, I stopped ter breathe, ana luckina up I seed a light a comina.
I 'spicioned it war ter 'xamine arter me, so I slunk down inter a corne-oa the tent, jest aside
They wus a leftenant, ana three privits, makina the rounds, ana the light showed me nigh onter a army uv sentinels all about thar.
Thet warn't no way encouragina, but sez I ter myself: “Bible,” sez I, be cool ana outdacious, ana ye'll git out oa this, yit; “ so, when the leftenant luck'd in, ana sayina: ” All right, “ put out agin, I riz up, ana jined the fellers as wus a follerina on him. I kept in the shadder, ana they, supposina I war one on 'em, tuck no kind uv notice uv me. We'd luck'd arter three or four pore prisoners loike I war, when I thort I'd better be a moseyina, so I drapped ahind, ana arter a while dodged out beyont the second line oa pickets.
I'd got nigh onter a patch uv woods half a mile off, when all ter onst a feller sprung up frum a clump uv bushes, yelled, ” Halt, “ ana pinted his musket stret at me. I mought hev eended 'im, but I reckoned others wus nigh, ana sides, I nuver takes humin life ef I kin holp it; so I sez ter 'im; ” Why, Lord bless me, cumrad “, I didn't seed ye.”
“I s'pose ye didn't. Whot is ye doina yere?”
sez he. “ Only pursuina a jug oa blue ruin I'se out thar hid under a log,” sez I.
“ Ye knows it'r agin rule to tote it inside, but a feller must licker.”
“Wall, licker up ter-morrer,” sez he. “We's got 'ticklar orders ter let no 'un out ter-night.
” Blast the orders, “ sez I.
” Ye'd loike a swig yerself.
“ ” Wall, I would, “ sez he. ” Wull you go snacks?
“ ” Yas, “ sez I; 'ana guv ye chock-heapin measure, for I must hev some oa thet afore mornina.”
Thet brung him, ana I piked off for the ruin.
(It warn't thar, ye knows — I nuver totch the dingnation stuff.) Ye'd better b'lieve the grass didn't grow under my feet when onst I got inter the woods.
my coorse by the stars, ana made ten right smart miles in no time.
Then it come inter my head thet I'd a forgot all about the Lord, so I kneeled down right thar, ana thanked Him. I telled Him I seed His hand jest so plain as ef it war daytime, ana thet, as shore as my name war Bible, I'd foller His lead in futura — ana I'se tried ter, uver sense.
I'd got to be right well tuckered out by thet timethe 'citement, ye see, hed holt me up, but I'd no sooner gone to prayina fore my knees guv out all ter onst-so, I put fur a piece uv timber, lay down under a tree, ana went ter sleep.
I must hev slept mighty sound, fur, long 'bout mornina, some'un hed ter shuck me awful hard, ana turn me clar over, 'fore it woked me. I got up. 'Twar nigh so light as day, though'twarn't sun-up.
Yit I luck'd all around ana didn't see a soul!
Now, what d'ye s'pose it war that woked me?
“ Your own imagination, I reckon.
You were dreaming, and in your dream you thought some one shook you,” I replied.
“No; 'twarn't thet.
I nuver dreams.
It war the Lord
ana He done it 'case I'd prayed tera im. I'se nuver gone ter sleep, or woke up, sense, wuthout prayina ter him, ana though I'se been in a heap uv wuss fixes nur thet, He's got me out uv all on 'em, jest 'case I does pray ter Him.”
I did not dispute him. Who that reads the New Testament as Bible reads it-like a little child-can dispute him. In a moment he went on with his story
Wall, I luck'd all round, ana seed nuthina, but I yered-not a mile off — the hounds a bayina away loike a young thundergust.
They wus arter me, ana thet
wus the why the good Lord woked me. I luck'd at the 'volver I'd stole from the sodger, seed it war all right, ana then dumb a tree. 'Bout so quick as it takes ter tell it, the hounds-two 'maizina fine critters, wuth a hun'red ana fifty apiece-wus on me. I run my eye 'long the pistol-barr'l, ana let drive.
It tuck jest two shots ter kill 'em.
I know'd the Secesh wus a follerina the dogs, so ye'd better b'lieve I made purty tall racina time till I got ter the eend uv the timber.
Just at night I run agin some darkies, who guv me suthin ter eat, ana nothina more happen'd 'fore the next night, when I come in sight oa home.
I got ter the edge uv the woods, on the hill jest ahind uv my barn, 'bout a hour by sun; but I darn't go down, fur, ye knows, the house stood in a clarina, ana some uv the varmints mought be a watchina fur me. I lay thar till it war thick dark, ana then I crept ter the r'ar door.
I listened; ana whot d'ye 'spose I yered?
Sally a prayina — ana prayina fur me, so 'arnest ana so tender loike, thet I sat down on the door step, ana cried loike a child — I did.
Here the rough, strong man bent down his head and wept again.
The moisture filled my own eyes as he continued:
She telled the Lord how much I war ter har; how she'd a loved me uver sense she'd a fust seed me; how 'fore har father, or mother, or even the chillen, she loved me; how she'd tried ter make me love Him; how she know'd thet, way down in my heart, I did love Him, though I didn't say so, 'case men doan't speak out 'bout sech things loike wimmin does.
ana she telled Him how she hed tried ter do His will; tried ter be one on His raal chillen; ana she telled Him He bed promised
not ter lay onter His chillen no more'n they could b'ar, ana she couldn't b'ar ter hev me hung up as ef I war a traitor: thet she could part wuth me if it war best; thet she could see me die, ana not weep a tear, ef I could only die loike a man, wuth a musket in my hand, a doina suthina for my kentry.
Then she prayed Him ter send me back ter har fur jest one day, so she mought ax me once more ter love Him-ana she know'd I would love Him ef she axed me agin-ana she said ef He'd only do thet, she'd-much as she loved me-she'd send me away, ana guv me all up ter Him ana the kentry fur uver!
I couldn't stand no more, so I opened the door, drapped onter my knees, tuck har inter my arms, lay my head on har shoulder, ana sobbed out: “ The Lord hes yered ye, Sally!
I wull love Him!
I wull be worthy of sech love as y's guv'n me, Sally!”
He paused for a moment, and covered his face with his hands.
When he spoke again there was a softness and tenderness in his tone that I never heard in the voice of but one other man.
Sense thet minnit this yerth hes been another yerth ter me; ana though I'se lost uverythina; though I hes no home; though night arter night I sleeps out in the cold ana the wet, a scoutina; though my wife ana chillen is scattered; though nigh uvery day I'se in danger uv the gallus; though I'se been roped ter a tree ter die loike a dog; though a thousand bullets hes yelled death in my yeres; though I'se seed my only boy shot down afore my vury eyes, ana I not able ter speak ter him, ter guv him a mossel uv comfort, or ter yere his last word, I'se bed suthin allers yere (laying his hand on his heart) thet
hes holt me up, ana made me luck death in the face as of I loved it An ef ye hain't got thet, Mr.--, no matter whot else ye's got, no matter whot money, or larnina, or friends, ye's pore-porer nur I ar!
I made no reply, and after a short silence he resumed his story.
Jake — that war my boy-ye remember him, ye hed him on yer knee-he war eighteen ana a man grow'd then: wall, Jake ana me made up our minds ter pike fur the Union lines ter onst.
Sally war all night a cookina fur us, ana we a gittina the arms ana fixin's a ready-we hed lots oa them b'longina ter the Guards, hid away in a panel uv the wall-ana the next day, meanina ter start jest arter sunset, we laid down fur some sleepina.
Nigh outer dark, Black Jake, who war a watchina, come rushina inter the house, sayin the secesh wus a comina.
Thar wus only twenty on 'em, he said, ana one wus drunk ana didn't count fur nuthina, so, we detarmined ter meet 'em.
We tuck our stands nigh the door, each on us men-Black Jake, the boy, ana me-wuth a Derringer in his pocket, two 'volvers in his belt, ana a Bowie-knife in the breast uv his waistcoat, ana the wiminin wuth a 'volver in each hand, ana waited fur 'em.
Half a dozen on 'em went round ter the r'ar, ana the rest come at the front door, yellina out:
“ We doan't want ter 'sturb ye, Miss Smith (they's chivulry, ye knows), but we reckons yer husbana ar yere, ana we must sarch the house.
We hes orders ter take him.”
I opened the door stret off, ana steppina down onter the piazzer-Black Jake ana the boy ter my back, ana the wimmina ter the winder — I sez ter 'em:
“Wall, I'se yere.
Take me efye kin!”
They wus fourteen on 'em thar, uvery man wuth a musket, but they darn't lift a leg!
They wus cowards.
It'r nuthin but a good cause, Mr.--, thet guvs a man courage-makes him luck death in the face as ef he loved it.
Wall, they begun ter parley.
“We doan't want ter shed no blood,” said the leftenant.
“but we's orders ter take ye, Mister Smith, ana ye'd better go wuth us, peaceable loike.”
“I shan't go wuth ye peaceable loike, nur no other how,” sez I; “fur ye's a pack oa howlin thieves ana traitors as no decent man 'ud be seed in company uv. Ye disgraces the green yerth ye walks on, ana ef ye doan't git off uv my sheer uv it in less nur no time, I'll send ye --though it'r agin my principles ter take humin lifewhar ye'll git yer desarts, sartin.”
Then the leftenant he begun ter parley agin, but I pinted my 'volver at him, ana telled him he'd better be a moseyina sudden.
Sayina he'd 'port ter his cunnel, he done it.
We know'd a hun'red on 'em 'ud be thar in no time, so, soon as they wus out oa sight, the boy ana me, leavina Black Jake ter luck arter the wimmin, struck a stret line fur the timber.
We hedn't got mor'n four mile-ter the top uv the tall summit ter the ra'r IV Richmond-afore, luckina back, we seed my house ana barns all a blazina!
The Heaven-defyina villuns hed come back-shot Jake down in cold blood, druv my wife ana darter out oa doors, ana burnt all I hed ter the ground!
We seed the fire, but not knowin whot else hed happin'd, ana not beina able ter do nothina, we piked on inter the woods.
We traviled all thet night through the timber, ana jest at sundown uv the next day come ter a clarina.
We wus mighty tired, but 'twouldn't do ter sleep thar, fur the trees wus nigh a rod asunder; so we luck'd round, ana on t'other side uv the road, not half a mile off, seed 'bout a acre uv laurel bush-ye knows whot them is, some on 'em so thick a dog karn't git through 'em.
Jake war tireder nur I war, ana he said ter me, “ Dad,” sez he: “let us git under kiver ter onst.
I feels loike I couldn't stand up no longer.”
It wus foolhardy loike, fur the sun warn't clar down, but I couldn't b'ar ter see the boy so, ana, agin my judgment, we went down the road ter the laurels.
We lay thar till mornina, ana slepa so sound thet I reckon ef forty yerthquakes hed shuck the yerth, they wouldn't hev woked us. Soon as sun-up, Jake riz, ana went ter the edge uv the. thicket ter rekonnoitter.
He hedn't stood thar five minutes-right in plain sight, ana not more'n two hun'red rods frum me-afore I yered a shot, ana seed the pore boy throw up his arms, ana fall ter the ground.
In less nur no time fifty Secesh wus on him. I war springina up ter go ter him, when suthina tuck me by the shoulder, helt me back, ana said ter me: “ Ye karn't do nothina fur him. Leave 'im ter the Lord.
Save yerself fur the kentry.”
It went agin natur, but it 'peared the Lord's voice, so I crouched down agin 'mong the bushes.
I nuver know'd whot it war thet saved me till nigh a y'ar arterwuds.
Then I tuck tnet leftenant pris'ner — I could hev shot him, but I guv him his life ter repent in, ana he done it: he's a decent man now, b'longina ter Cunnel Johnson's rigiment.
Wall, I tuck him, ana he said ter me: “I wus aside uv thet pore boy when he war dyina.”
He turned his eyes onter me
jest as he war goina, ana he said: “ Ye karn't kotch him. He's out oa the bush!
He said thet, and died.
Ter save me, died wuth a lie on his lips!
Does ye b'lieve the Lord laid that agin him, Mr.--?
I am sure not. It was a noble action.”
“It 'pears so ter me, but it war loike the boy. He war allers furgettina himself, ana thinkina uv other folk.
He war all-all the pride uv my life-him ana Sallybut it pleased the Lord
ter tuck him afore me — but only fur a time-only fur a time-'fore long I shill hev him agin-agin — up thar — up thar!”
His emotion choked his utterance for awhile.
When he resumed, he said:
At the eend uv a fortn't, trav'lina by night ana sleepina by day, ana livina on the darkies when my fixin's guv out, I got inter the Union lines 'bove Nashville.
“ And what became of your wife and daughter?”
“ Lettle Sally went ter har sister.
My wife walked eighty miles ter har father's. He's one on yer quality folk, ana a durned old secesh, but he's got humin nature in him, ana Sally's safe thar.
I'se seed har twice ter his house.
The old 'un he's know'd on't, but he hain't nuver said a word.”
Bible's scouting adventures would fill a volume, and read more like a romance of the middle ages than a matter-of-fact history of the present time.
On one occasion, when about five miles outside of our lines, he came, late at night, upon a party of rebel officers, making merry at the house of a wealthy secessionist Riding coolly up to the mounted orderly on guard before the door-way, he pinion-d his arms, thrust a handkerchief
into his mouth, and led him quietly out of hearing Then bidding him dismount, and tying him to a tree, he removed the impromptu gag, and levelling a revolver at his head, said to him:
Now, tell me, ye rebel villun, whot whiskey-kags wus ye a watchina thar?
Speak truth, or I'll guv ye free passage ter a hot kentry.
“Nine ossifers,” said the trembling rebel, “a cunnel, two majors, a sargeon, two cap'ns, ana the rest leftenants.”
“Whar's thar weapons?”
“Thar swords is in the hall-way.
None on'em hain't pistols 'cept the sargeon-he mought hev a 'volver.”
“What nigs is they round?”
“Nary one, I reckon, more'n a old man thar (pointing to the kitchen building) ana the gals in the house.”
“ Wall, I'll let ye go fur this, ef ye's telled the truth.
Ef ye hain't, ye'd better be a sayina yer prayers ter onst, fur the Lord
wont yere ye on the t'other side uv Jurdan.”
Fastening his horse in “the timber,” and creeping up to the house, he then reconnoitered the kitchen premises.
The old man — a stout, stalwart negro of about fifty-sat dozing in the corner, and his wife, a young mulatto woman, was cooking wild-fowl over the fire.
Opening the door, and placing his finger on his lips to enjoin silence, Bible beckoned to the woman.
She came to him, and looking her full in the eye for a moment, he said to her: “I kin trust ye. Wud ye 'an yer old 'un loike ter git out oa the claws uv these durned secesh?”
“Yas, Yas, massa,” she replied, “we wud. We's Union!
We'd loike ter git 'way, massa!”
Then awakening her husband, Bible said to him: “Uncle
, wud yer risk yer life fur yer freedom?”
“Ef dar's a chance, massa, a right smart chance.
Dis dark'y tinks a heap ob his life, he does, massa.
It'm 'bout all him got.”
“Yas, yas, I know; but ye shill hev freedom.
I'll see ye ter the Free States
, ef ye'll holp tuck them secesh ossifers.”
“ Holp tuck dem, massa!
Why, dar's a dozen on 'em; dey'd chaw ye up in no time,” exclaimed the astonished African
“ No, thar hain't a dozen on 'em; thar's only nine; but-ye's a coward,” replied the scout.
, I hain't no coward, massa; but I loikes a chance, massa, a right smart chance.”
Bible soon convinced the negro that he would have a “right smart chance,” and he consented to make the hazardous strike for his freedom.
Entering the house, he returned in a few moments to the scout, confirming the sentinel's report: the weapons were reposing quietly in the hall, near the doorway, and the officers, very much the worse for liquor, were carousing with his mas. ter in the dining-room.
Selecting three of the best horses from the stables, Bible directed the yellow woman to lead them into the road, and to bring his own from where it was fastened in the woods.
Then, with his sooty ally, the scout entered the mansion.
Removing the arms from the hall, he walked boldly into the dining-room.
Gentlemen,” he said, pointing his pistols-one in each hand-at the
rebel officers, “ye is my pris'ners.
Surrender yer shootina irons, or ye's dade men.”
“Who are you?”
exclaimed one of them, as they all sprang to their feet.
, uv the Fust Tennessee Nigger Regiment
-one old black man ana a yaller'ooman,” coolly replied the scout.
“ Go to --,” shouted the surgeon, quickly drawing his revolver, and discharging it directly at Bible's face.
The ball grazed his head, cut off a lock of hair just above his ear, and lodged in the wall at his back.
The report was still sounding through the apartment, when the surgeon uttered a wild cry, sprang a few feet in the air, and fell lifeless to the floor!
The negro had shot him.
“Come, gentlemen, none oa thet,” said Bible, as coolly as if nothing had happened, “guv me the shootina iron, ana surrender, or we'll sot the rest on ye ter his wuckrakina coals fur the devil's funnace — in less nur a minnit.”
Without more hesitation the rebel colonel handed the scout the fallen man's pistol, and then all, followed by the scout and the negro, marched quietly out of the front door.
The mulatto woman, holding the horses, was standing in the highway.
“ Hitch the nags, my purty gal,” said the scout, “ana git a coil.
ana ye, gentlemen, sot down, ana say nothina -'cept it mought be yer prayers; but them, I reckon, ye hain't larned yit.”
The negress soon returned with the rope, and while Bible and her husband covered them with their revolvers, she tied ft e arms of the prostrate chivalry.
When this was done, the scout affixed a long rope to the waist of
the officer on either flank of the column, and, taking one in his own land, and giving the other to the negro, cried out
“ Sogers uv the Fust Tennessee
The regiment bounded into the saddle, and in that plight — the planter and the eight captive officers marching on before, the self-appointed “cunnel” and his chief officer bringing up the rear, and the rest of his commandthe yellow woman-a-straddle
of a horse between them, they entered the Union
On another occasion, hunted down by several companies of rebel cavalry, Bible took refuge in a grove of laurel bushes.
Among the bushes was a hollow tree in which he had once or twice slept on previous expeditions.
It had been overthrown by a tornado, and the soil still clung, in huge boulders, to its upturned roots.
Creeping into this tree, he closed the small opening with earth, and boring a hole through the trunk with his Bowie-knife to admit air, and give him a look-out on his pursuers, he lay there without food for three days and nights.
The rebels saw him enter the grove, and at once surrounded it, so that escape was impossible.
A party then beat the bushes, and after examining every square yard of the ground, came and sat upon the hollow tree.
Listening, he heard them recount some of his exploits, and assert very positively, that he had sold himself to that notorious dealer in human chattels --the devil-who, they thought, had given him power to make himself invisible at will.
“Ana beina thet's so, cumrades,” very logically remarked one of the number, “doan't it nat'rally foiler thet the devil ara on the Union
side, ana moughtent we 'bout so wall guv it up fur a dade beat 'ter onst!”
When the rebel army retreated from Murfreesboro
, its column came suddenly upon the scout as he was eating his breakfast in an “oak opening” near the highway.
There was no chance of escape or concealment, for the “opening” was covered with immense trees standing fifteen and twenty feet apart, with only a short grass growing between them.
Bible was disguised in an immense mass of red hair and beard, and wore a tattered suit of the coarse homespun of the district.
Knowing he would certainly be discovered, he assumed a vacant, rustic look, and, rising from the ground, gazed stupidly at the soldiery.
“I say, green one, what are you doing thar?”
shouted the officer at the head of the column.
“ I'se loss my cow-brutes, cunnel,” replied the scout; “two right loikely heffers; 'un on 'em speckle all over, 'cept the tail, ana thet white'n yer face.
Ye hain't seed 'em no whar 'long the road, nohow, hes ye?”
“No, I hain't seed 'em, no whar, nohow,” rejoined the officer.
“Come, step into the ranks; we need just such fellows as you are. Why the devil haven't they conscripted you before.
Step into the ranks, I say,” he repeated, as Bible, not seeming to comprehend his meaning, remained standing in his previous position.
The second command having no more effect on him than the first, the officer directed a couple of soldiers to take Bible between them, and to fall in at the rear of the column.
It was not till he was fairly in the road that the scout seemed to awaken to the reality of his condition.
“Why, why, ye hain't a gwine to tuck me 'long oa ye!”
he exclaimed, frantically appealing to the cunnel.
“Ye hain't a gwine ter tuck me 'long oa ye!
Ye karn't mean thet!”
“ We do mean that, and you just keep quiet, or, like St. Paul
, you'll fight against the pricks,” said the officer, alluding perhaps to the bayonets which the two soldiers had unslung and were holding ready to apply to Bible's flanks.
“Why, ye karn't mean thet!
ye karn't mean thet, cunnel!”
again piteously cried the scout, “Wh — wh — whot'll become on the old 'ooman-whot'll become on the cow-brutes?”
“D-n the old woman and the cow-brutes,” shouted the officer, riding forward and leaving the new recruit to his fate.
And thus Bible marched to the Tullahoma and thus he enlisted in the second regiment of Alabama Infantry.
He remained a fortnight at Tullahoma
, and while there obtained a correct idea of the number and disposition of the enemies' forces, and brought away with him, in his head, an accurate map of the rebel fortifications.
Desertions being frequent, the picket lines had been doubled, and when he was ready to leave, it had become next to impossible to penetrate them.
But he was equal to the emergency, and hit upon a bold expedient which proved successful.
Restrictions had been laid by the commanding general
on the importation of whiskey, and the use of that article, which is a sort of necessity to the Southern
“native,” had been prohibited within the lines of the army — except on the eve of battle Then the cold water
generals, themselves, dealt it out-mixed with gunpowder — to every man in the ranks.
The regulations concerning it were rigidly enforced in all the divisions except Hardee
's. That general — to whose corps Bible belonged — who has, notoriously, a weakness for “spirits” and negro women, winked at the indulgence of his men in those luxuries, when it did not interfere with their strict observance of “Hardee
Knowing his proclivities Bible, one evening just after sunset, took a tin “jug” under his arm, and sauntered past the general's tent.
“I say,” shouted Hardee
, catching sight of the long form of the scout, “where are you going with that big canteen?”
“Ter git some bust-head, giniral.
Ye knows we karn't live wuthout thet,” replied Bible, with affected simplicity.
“Perhaps you karn't: don't you know it's against regulations.
I'll string you up, and give you fifty.”
“ Oh, no!
ye woan't do thet, I knows, giniral, fur ye's a feller feelina for we pore sogers,” said Bible.
“We karn't live wuthout a leetle ruin; wuthout a leetle, nohow, giniral!”
“Where do you expect to get it?”
asked the general.
“Ter Squire Pursley
's,” said the scout, naming a planter living a few miles outside of the lines.
“He's got some on the tallest old rye ye uver seed.
I knows him. Ana he's the biggest brandy, too, an~ the purtiest nigger gal (rolling his tongue in his mouth and smacking his lips) thar is anywhar round.
She's whiter'n ye is, giniral, ana the snuggest piece uv house furnitura as uver wus grow'd.”
“And how do you expect to pass the pickets?”
asked the standard authority on “Tactics.”
“ I reckon this wull brung 'em,” answered Bible, tapping his canteen significantly.
“Well, it wont,” replied the general, laughing; “but I'll give you something that will.
And here, take this canteen and get me some of that ‘big brandy,’ and tell the squire I'll be over there one of these days.”
The general gave Bible a pass, another canteen, and five dollars of Confederate scrip, to effectually “raise the spirits;” and then the scout, saying, “Ye kin reckon on gittina sich brandy, giniral, as wull sot ye up so high ye'll nuver come down agin,” walked leisurely out of the rebel lines.
Once, while scouting near McMinnville
, Bible was captured by a small party of Forrest
One of the Confederates
knew him, and he was told he must die. Throwing a rope over the limb of a tree, they adjusted it about his neck, and the rebel officer, taking out his watch, said to him: “You can have five minutes to say your prayers.”
“I thanks ye, cap'n,” said Bible; “fur thet shows ye's got a spark uv humin feelina in ye; ana ef ye'll jest pile a lettle light 'ood on ter thet spark, it mought be it 'ud blaze up ana make ye a better man nur ye is, or kin be, whiles ye's a fightina agina yer kentry.
As ter prayina, cap'n, I doan't need no time fur thet; fur I'se allers a prayina, not wuth words-but silent, deep, down yere” --placing his hand on his heart--“whar I'se allers a sayina ‘Our Father
, cap'n; your'n
as wull as mine!
Ana doan't ye 'spose He's luckin down on ye now sorry, grieved ter His vury heart thet ye,
His chile, thet His own son died a wus death nur this fur, should be a doina whot ye is?-not a hangina uv me; I hain't no complaint ter make oa thet, fur it'r His wull, or ye wouldn't be a doina on it-but sorry thet ye's lifted yer hand agina yer kentry, agin truth, ana right, ana the vury liberty ye talks so much about.
Prayina! I'se allers a prayina, cap'n; allers been a prayina uver sense Sally said ter me: ‘Pray, Bible, fur it'r the only way ye kin come nigh ter Him: it'r the only way ye kin know, fur shore, thet ye's His raal chile.’
Ana I does know I'se his chile, 'case I loves ter pray; ana I'll pray fur ye, cap'n-ye needs it more nur me. It woan't do ye no hurt, ana it mought do ye some good, fur the Lord
promises ter yere His chillen, ana He has yered me
, over ana over agin.”
The five minutes had elapsed, but the Confederate officer still stood with his watch in his hand.
At last, turning suddenly away, he said to his men:
Take off the rope!
Take him to the general.
He may do what he likes with him. I'll be d-d if I'll hang him.
Before they reached Forrest
's headquarters at McMinnville
, they were set upon by a squad of Union cavalry, who rescued the prisoner, captured a half dozen of the privates, and gave the captain a mortal wound in the side.
Bible laid him upon the grass, and, taking his head tenderly in his lap, prayed for him. As the captain turned his eyes to take a last look at the setting sun, he placed the scout's hand against his heart, and saying: “I'm going now — I feel at peace — I owe it to you-God
bless you for it, may God
forever bless you,” he uttered a low moan and died.
While the rebel forces lay encamped around Chattau
nooga, Bible made them a professional visit.
For two days, from the top of Lookout Mountain
, he looked down on their fortifications.
With the works fully mapped in his mind, so that, in his rude way, he could sketch them upon paper, he started, just at nightfall of a murky, stormy day, to make his way northward.
Arriving at the house of a pretended friend, he took supper, and retired to sleep in a small room on the ground floor.
It was not far from eleven oa clock, and raining and blowing violently, when a light rap came at his window.
He got up-he always slept in his clothes, with his arms about him-and applying his ear to the glass, heard a low voice say:
Ye is betrayed.
Come out ter onst.
They'll be yere in a hour.
He lifted the sash, and, springing lightly into the yard, saw — as well as the night would permit — a young octoroon woman standing unprotected in the storm, thinly clad, and drenched from head to foot.
Leading him out into the darkness, she said to him:
This man's son war at master's house not a hour back.
He's telled on .ye ter git the reward!
They's 'spectina the cavalry uvery minnit.
Hark! I yere's 'em now!
While she yet spoke he heard the heavy tramp of horsemen along the highway.
Placing her hand in hi3, the woman fled hurriedly to the woods.
When they had gone about a mile, she paused, and said to him:
I karn't go no furder.
I must git home or they'll 'spect suthina.
When they find ye's gone, the cavalry'll make fur the landina.
Ye must go up the river, ana 'bout two mile frum yere ye'll find a yawl.
but ye kin break thet.
Doan't cross over — a hull regiment is 'camped on t'other side-put up the river so fur as 'e kin.
With a mutual “God bless ye,” they parted.
Bible made his way to the river, and narrowly inspected its banks, but no boat was to be seen!
He had spent two hours in the search, when he came to a bend in the stream which gave him an uninterrupted view of it for miles below.
All along the river the air was alive with torches hurrying to and fro. He knew his pursuers would soon be upon him, and ejaculating a short prayer, in which he reminded the Lord
that the information he carried in his head was of “no oncommon vallu, orter be got ter the giniral ter onst, ana wouldn't be uv no yerthly use” if he were hanged just then, he crept down to the water.
Entangled in the underbrush just above him was a large log, the estray property of some up-country sawyer.
Dropping himself into the water, he made his way to the log, and, laying down on it at full length, paddled out into the river.
When he had reached the middle of the stream, he let himself drift down with the current, and in a short time was among his pursuers.
A thousand torches blazing on either bank lit up the narrow river with a lurid glare, and made the smallest object on its surface distinctly visible.
Knowing that if he kept his position he would certainly be seen, Bible rolled off into the water, turned over on his back, and, keeping one hand upon the log, floated along beside it. When he came opposite to the landing, he heard one cavalry.
man say to another:
See! thar's a log; moughtent the durned critter be on thet?
“ No,” replied the other; “thar's nothina on it. Yer eyes is no better'n moles.”
“Wall, I'll guv it a shot, anyhow,” rejoined the first, and fired his carbine.
The bullet glanced from the log, and struck the water a few feet from the scout.
The one shot attracted others, and for a few minutes the balls fell thickly around him, but he escaped unhurt!
The God to whom he had prayed shielded him, and brought him safely out of the hands of his enemies.
In six days, after unparalleled hardships, he reached the Union
A few days before I left Murfreesboro
, Bible started on another trip into the enemies' lines to establish a chain of spy stations up to Bragg
He succeeded in the perilous enterprise, and, when I last heard of him, was pursuing his usual avocation, doing really more service to the country than many a star-shouldered gentleman who is talked of now in the newspapers, and may be read of centuries hence in history.
If I have outlined his character distinctly, the reader has perceived that he is brave, simple-hearted, outspoken, hospitable, enterprising, industrious, loyal to liberty, earnest in his convictions-though ignorantly confounding names with things — a good husband and father, with a quiet humor which flavors character as Worcester
sauce flavors a good dinner, a practical wisdom which “trusts in the Lord
, but keeps its powder dry,” some talent for bragging, and that intensity of nature and disposition to magnify every thing (illustrated in his story and conversation) which leads the Southerner
to do nothing by halves, to throw his whole soul into whatever he undertakes, to be, like Jeremiah's figs, “if good, very good: if bad, not fit to feed the pigs.”
and intellectually superior to the mass of poor Southern whites, he is still a good representative of the class.
They nearly all possess the same traits that he does, and differ from him only in degree, not in kind.
That is saying little against them, for one might travel a whole summer's day in our Northern cities, and not meet many men who, in all that makes true manhood, are his equals.
Three soldiers captured by a boy with a coffee-pot.
An amusing instance of the value of a ready wit and presence of mind occurred during the advance of the Second Corps of Federal troops, near Hatcher's Run
A young lad in the Fourteenth Connecticut regiment, going with a coffee-pot
to get water from the stream, suddenly found himself surrounded by three of the enemy.
With all the fierceness of voice the little fellow could muster, he commanded them to throw down their arms and surrender.
Supposing that the brave youth had companions near to enforce his command, they complied, when he seized one of their muskets and marched them into camp in great triumph.
This story was related in his camp as the capture of three Johnnies with a coffeepot.