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Scouting in East Tennessee.

Edmund Kirke (Mr. J. R. Gilmore), who has explored extensively the regions desolated by the war, thus narrates one )f the adventures of a Union East Tennessean, who had been acting as a scout for General Rosecrans, in his little volume “Down in Tennessee:”

I was dreaming of home, and of certain flaxen-haired juveniles who are accustomed to call me “Mister Papa,” when a heavy hand was laid on my shoulder, and a gruff voice said:

Doan't want ter 'sturb yer, stranger, but thar haint nary nother sittina — place in the whole kear.

I drew in my extremities, and he seated himself before me. He was a spare, muscular man of about forty, a little above the medium height, with thick, sandy hair and beard, and a full, clear, gray eye. There was nothing about him to attract particular attention except his clothing, but that was so out of all keeping with the place and the occasion, that I opened my eyes to their fullest extent, and scanned him from head to foot. He wore the gray uniform of a secession officer, and in the breast of his coat, right over his heart, was a round hole, scorched at the edges, and darkly stained with blood! Over his shoulder was slung a large army revolver, and at his side, in a leathern sheath, hung a weapon that seemed a sort of cross between a bowieknife and a butcher's cleaver. On his head, surmounted by a black plume, was a moose-colored slouched hat, [158] and falling from beneath it, and tied under his chin, was a white cotton handkerchief stiffly saturated with blood! Nine motley-clad natives, all heavily armed, had entered with him and taken the vacant seats around me, and at first view I was inclined to believe that in my sleep the train had gone over to the enemy and left me in the hands of the Philistines. I was, however, quickly reassured, for, looking about, I discovered the Union guard and my fellow-travellers all in their previous places, and as unconcerned as if no unusual thing had happened. Still, it seemed singular that no officer had the new-comer in charge; and more singular that any one in the uniform he wore should be allowed to carry arms so freely about him. After awhile, having gleaned all the knowledge of him that my eyes could obtain, I said in a pleasant tone:

Well, my friend, you appear to take things rather coolly.

“Oh, yes, sir! I orter. I've been mighty hard put, but I reckon I'm good fur a nother pull now.”

“ Where are you from?”

Fentress county, nigh onter Jimtown (Jamestown). I'm scoutina it fur Burnside-runnina boys inter camp; but these fellers wanted ter jine Cunnel Brownlow-the old parson's son-down ter Triune. We put plumb fur Nashville, but hed ter turn norard, case the brush down thar ar thick with rebs. They'd like ter a hed us.”

“Oh, then you wear that uniform as a disguise on scouting expeditions?”

“No, sir; I never hed sech a rig on afore. I allers shows the true flag, ana thar haint no risk, case, ye see, the whole deestrict down thar ar Unin folks, ana ary [159] one on 'em would house'n me ef all Buckner's army wus at my heels. But this time they run me powerful close, ana I hed to show the secesh rags.”

As he said this, he looked down on his clean, unworn suit of coarse gray with ineffable contempt.

“ And how could you manage to live with such a hole there?” I asked, pointing to the bullet rent in his coat.

“Oh! I warn't inside of 'em just then, though I warrant me he war a likely feller thet war. I ortent ter a done hit-but I hed ter. This war he;” and taking from his side pocket a small miniature, he handed it to me.

It was a plain circlet of gold, attached to a piece of blue ribbon. One side of the rim was slightly clipped, as if it had been grazed by the passing ball, and the upper portion of the ivory was darkly stained with blood; but enough of it was unobscured to show me the features of a young man, with dark, flowing hair, and a full, frank, manly face. With a feeling akin to horror I was handing the picture back to the scout, when, in lmv, stammering tones, he said to me:

“'Tother side, sir! Luk at 'tother side.”

I turned it over, and saw the portrait of a young woman, scarcely more than seventeen. She had a clear, transparent skin, regular, oval features, full, swimming, black eyes, and what must have been dark, wavy, brown hair, but changed then to a deep auburn by the Ped stains that tinged the upper part of the picture. With intense loathing, I turned almost fiercely on the scout, and exclaimed: “And you killed that man?”

“ Yes, sir, God forgiv me — I done hit. But I couldn't holp hit. He hed me down-he'd cut me thar,” turning up his sleeve, and displaying a deep wound on his arm; [160] “ana thar!” removing the bandage, and showing a long gash back of his ear. “His arm wus riz ter strike agin --in another minhit he'd hev cluv my brain. I seed hit, sir, ana I fired! God forgive me, I fired! I wouldn't a done hit ef I'd a knowed thet,” and he looked down on the face of the sweet young girl, and the moisture came into his eyes: “I'd hev shot 'im somewhar but yereeomewhar but yere!” and laying his hand over the rent in his coat, he groaned as if he felt the wound. With that blood-stained miniature in my hand, and listening to the broken words of that ignorant scout, I realized the horrible barbarity of war.

After a pause of some minutes, he resumed the conversation.

“ They killed one on our boys, sir.” “Did they! How was it?”

“Wal, sir, ye see they b'long round the Big Fork, in Scott county; and bein's I war down thar, ana they know'd I war a runnina recruits over the mountins ter Burnside, they telled me they wanted me ter holp 'em git 'long with the young cunnel. They'd ruther a notion ter him-ana he ar a feller thet haint grow'd everywhar-'sides all the folks down thar swar by the old parson.”

“ Well, they ought to, for he's a trump,” I remarked, gdod-humoredly, to set the native more at his ease.

“Ye kin bet high on thet; he haint nothina else,” he replied, leaning forward and regarding me with a pleased, kindly expression. “Every un down my way used ter take his paper; thet ana the Bible war all they ever seed, ana they reckoned one war 'bout so good as 'tother. Wall, the boys thort I could git 'em through-ana bein's [161] it made no odds to me whar they jined, so long as they did jine, I 'greed ter du hit. We put out ten days, yisterday-twelve on 'em, ana me-ana struck plumb for Nashville. We lay close daytimes, 'case, though every hous'n ar Union, the kentry is swarmina with Buckner's men, ana we know'd they'd let slide on us jest so soon as they could draw a bead. We got 'long right smart till we fotched the Roaring river, nigh onter Livingston. We'd 'quired ana hedn't heerd uv ary rebs beina round; so, foolhardy like, thet evenina we tuk ter the road 'fore hit war clar dark. We hedn't gone more'n a mile till we come slap onter 'bout eighty secesh calvary. We skedaddled fur the timber, powerful sudden; but they war over the fence ana on us 'fore we got well under cover. 'Bout thirty on 'em slid thar nags, ana come at us in the brush. I seed twarn't no use runnina; so I yelled out: ‘ Stand yer ground, boys, ana sell yer lives jest so high as ye kin!’ Wall, we.went at hit ter close quarters-hand ter hand, ana fut ter fut-ana ye'd better b'lieve thar war some tall fightina thar fur 'bout ten minhits. Our boys fit like fien's-thet little chunk uv a feller thar,” pointing to a slim, pale-faced youth, not more than seventeen, “laid out three on 'em. I'd done up two myself, when the cap'n come onter me-but, I've telled ye 'bout him ;” and drawing a long breath, he put the miniature back in his pocket. After a short pause, he continued:

When they seed the cap'n war done fur, they fell back a piece-them as war left on 'em-ter the edge uv the timber, ana hollered fur tuthers ter come on. Thet guv us time ter load up-we'd fit arter the fust fire wuth knives-ana we blazed inter 'em. Jest as we done [162] hit, I heer'd some more calvary comina up the road, ana I war jest tellina the boys we'd hev ter make tracks, when the new fellers sprung the fence, ana come plumb at the secesh on a dead run. Thar warn't only thirty on 'em, yit the rebs didn't so much as make a stand, but skedaddled as ef old Rosey himself hed been arter 'em.

“And who were the new comers?”

“Some on Tinker Beaty's men. They'd heerd the firina nigh two mile off, ana come up, suspicionina how things wus.”

“But, are there Union bands there? I thought East Tennessee was overrun with rebel troops.” “Wall, hit ar; but thar's a small chance uv Union goorillas in Fentress ana Overton county. They hide in the mountins, ana light down on the rebs, now ana then, like death on a sick parson. Thar is places in them deestricts thet a hundred men kin hold agin ten thousand They know 'em all, 'case they wus raised thar, ana they know every bridle path through the woods, so it's well nigh unpossible ter kotch 'em. I reckon thar's a hundred on 'em, all mounted, ana beina as they haint no tents, nor wagins, nor camp fixin's, they git round mighty spry. Thar scouts is allers on the move, ana wharever thar's a showina, they pounce down on the rebs, cuttina 'em ter pieces. Thet's the how they git powder ana provisions. They never trouble peaceable folk, ana haint no sort oa 'spense ter guverment; but they does a heap uv damage ter the secesh.”

“ Well, they did you a ‘powerful’ good turn.”

“They did thet; but we lost one on our boys. He war only sixteen-brother ter thet feller thar,” pointing to a young man sitting opposite. “They hung his [163] father, ana now-they's killed him,” and he drew a deep sigh.

“Why did they hang his father?”

“Wall, ye see, they kunscripted him-he war over age, but they don't mind thet-ana he desarted, meanina ter git ter the Union lines. They kotched him in the woods, ana hung him right up ter a tree.”

“Was only one of your men hurt?”

“Yes, two on 'em wus wounded too bad ter come wuth us. The calvary toted 'em off ter the mountins, ana I reckon they'll jine 'em when they gits round. But we left elevin uv the rebs dead on the ground.”

“Did your men kill so many? The cavalry had a hand in that, I suppose?”

“Yes, they killed two-thet's all. They couldn't git at'em, they run so. We done the rest.”

“ You must have fought like tigers. How many were wounded?”

“Nary one; what wan't dead the boys finished.”

“You don't mean to say that your men killed the wounded after the fight?”

“I reckon they did — some four on 'em.”

“My friend, that's nothing but murder. I had hoped the rebels did all of that work.”

“Wall, they does anuff on hit; ana I never could bring my mind ter think it war right or human: but I s'pose thet's case I never hed a father hung, or a sister ravig'd, or a old mother shot down in har bed. Them things, you knows, makes a difference.”

“And have any of your men suffered in such ways?”

“In sech ways? Thar haint one on 'em but kin tell you things 'ud turn yer Hood ter ice. D'ye see thet feller [164] thar?” pointing to a thin, sallow faced man, two seats in our rear. “Not two months gone, some twenty rebs come ter his house while he war layina out in the woods, ana toted his wife — as young ana purty a'oman as yer own sister-off 'bout a mile, ana thar tuk thar will uv her-all on 'em! She made out ter crawl home, but it killed har. He warn't wuth har when she died, ana hit wus well he warn't, fur he'd hev gone clean crazy ef he hed been. He's mor'n half thet now-crazy fur blood! ana kin ye blame him? Kin ye 'spect a man thet's hed sech things done ter him ter show quarter? 'Taint in natura ter do hit. All these boys hes hed jest sich, ana things like hit; ana they go in ter kill or be kilt. They doan't ax no marcy, ana they doan't show none. Nigh twenty thousand on'em is in Burnside's ana old Rosey's army, ana ye kin ax them if they doan't fight like devils. The iron has entered thar souls, sir. They feel they's doina God sarvice-ana they is-when they does fur a secesh. ana when this war ar over-ef it ever ar over --thar'll be sech a reckonina wuth the rebs uv East Tennessee as creation never know'd on afore. Thar wont be one on'em left this side uv hell!” This was said with a vehemence that startled me. His eyes actually blazed, and every line on his seamed face quivered with passion. To change the subject, I asked:

And what did you do after the fight?

“ Not knowina what moight happen, we swapped does with sech uv the rebs as hed gray 'uns, ana put Northplm-nb fur the mountins. Nigh onter Meigsville we come onter a Union man, who holped us ter cut some timber ana make a raft-fur we 'lowed the secesh would track us wuth houns, ana ter throw 'em off the scent we [165] hed ter take ter the water. We got inter Obey's Fork, ana floated down ter the Cumberland; hidina in the bushes in the daytime, ana floatina at night. We got nigh onter Carthage, ana knowina the river wan't safe no longer, left hit ana struck'cross fir the railroad. Thet kentry ar full uv rebs, but hevina the secesh does on, we made out ter git 'nuff ter eat till we got yere.”

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