Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cases of Hardship

On the 25th of December, the Tribune gave an account of Charles Spencer, of Syracuse, N.Y. who lost $15,000 in property in Hickman last year; how his wife and daughter were taken from him and carried away prisoners, and how he escaped and came to Cairo, where he was long suspected, but at last righted by Gen. Grant. Recently he went to Hickman, now in possession of our troops, where he found his wife and daughter, from whom he had been separated eight months.

A few years ago, Charles Green, from the vicinity of Lafayette, Indiana, removed to Scott county, Missouri, where, as a blacksmith, he was doing well. Last summer he was shot in his own door yard, in the cool of the evening, after working all day, and while he was holding his youngest child and singing to it. This was done by one of Jeff. Thompson’s men, who was his near neighbor. Yesterday, I saw his wife, with her children, on their way to Indiana. She had not been able to reach Cairo before. The sight of this woman called for sympathy and assistance, which she will get. She has six children, all girls but one, and the oldest not over thirteen years of age. By saving a little money which her husband had left, and by selling off everything the rebels spared, she managed for over six months to support her children, and at last to dress the girls in calico frocks and white bonnets. They were very neat and clean, but they had scarcely any other clothes, as she told me. The boy, a very bright fellow, five years old, and evidently her pride, was decently clothed and wore a smart military cap. Her husband was worth about $1,200. All that was left her was – her children.

A C. O’Donnel came from Iowa to Arkansas and was engaged in merchandising and general trading with a large capital, and he is an enterprising and wealthy man. Of course they took away his property, this partly was the trouble with him; and he started, with what house keeping and small valuable articles he could save, for Memphis, hoping to get up the river. His wife was sick, and had a young child. He was unable to get a house; he could not even get a shed. They lived out doors, but made a tent of bed quilts. The weak mother and tender babe took to congestive chills. He sold a note calling for $150 for $15, and his wife’s valuable gold watch for $30, Confederate scrip. It was difficult for him to keep what provisions he bought, because the soldiers would steal them, and they boldly carried off a sack of flour. He went up to Columbus, still meeting the same hardships. Here the little baby died. While they were getting ready to bury it, and he stood with his children by the grave, he was told that the cars were ready, and that he must leave. – He was obliged to go, and they hastened away, leaving the little coffin on the ground the grave still open.

He went to Mayfield, and there giving two feather beds, he got his [family] hauled to Paducah, smuggling through the lines. Here he sold his wife’s shawl. Then he went to work as a common laborer at $15 a month. At the end of the month he went to Cairo, and with six dollars commenced life again. Mr. O’Donnel is now a Commissary in the [60th] Regiment at Jonesboro’, Illinois. He talks bitterly, and this anecdote is here to the point.

During the Kansas troubles a gentleman saw an old acquaintance talking somewhat profanely in company, in the town of Topeka. This acquaintance was a Vermonter, and the gentleman had known him as a Methodist minister, very pious and exemplary. When their eyes caught they were glad to learn of each other, and to talk of old times. At last the gentleman says: “How is it that when we used to know you we all thought you a truly pious man, and now I hear you using very strange language.” The preacher promptly answered: “If you had suffered and seen what I have you would not be a bit surprised.”

School teaching is supposed to be profitable in the slave States. Albert Salisbury went from Tioga county, Pennsylvania, to Arkansas, and engaged in school teaching. Two years ago he married a young lady, a Miss Dickey, from near Bloomington, Illinois, who also had been teaching in the vicinity of Pine Bluff, in a planter’s family. Mr. Salisbury had bought a small farm above Pikeville, and laboring on it during his leisure hours, had created a beautiful home, and they lived in a nice style. Both were will liked by their neighbors previous to the war. – Of course his school was broken up. Of course he was ordered to leave. It is not an easy matter to drive a native of Northern Pennsylvania from his own farm.

Last August the Rebels approached his house through a corn field, and fired at him while he was eating his dinner. They shot through the back door, he ran out of the front door and gained the woods. He was slightly wounded in his shoulder. Toward midnight he came back. He wife lay dead on the bed, she neither had been shot nor beaten. Her husband knew how she died. Her ear-rings had been pulled from her hears and her gold breast-pin was gone. – She had not yet been a mother. When last I saw him he was a scout bound for Arkansas with the great expedition. With that terrible weapon, Sharp’s rifle, slung at his side and a black plume shading his uneasy eyes he looked as though he meant to get to work. He is not choice in his use of the English language.

Recently a well dressed old man of good information, and named Symonds, came to Cairo from his plantation on the lower waters of the St. Francis river, back of New Madrid. He is a native of Tennessee. He owned four slaves which the rebels took from him. As he came up from the boat he led by one hand a young and handsome woman, his daughter, and by the other a little boy, her son and his grandchild. The boy’s father and the lady’s husband went the way of all the rest. While the old man told his story he frequently extend his hand and stopped, because he could not think of the right word, but when it did come, the by-standers cried – “That’s it.” He has money and he is going to buy a farm in Southern Illinois. He hopes to get something from his wreck.

We gather from the receding waves of Rebellion, that there is no cannibal Island containing such bloody inhuman monsters as exist this day in the Southern States. Of course, not all the people are so, but enough are to frighten and to give character to the rest. They have been made what they are, by “dealing in the souls and bodies of men,” by whipping, hanging, and burning human victims. Nor are there ten in a hundred of those Northern men, talking of compromise, whom they would not butcher in cold blood, in their own homes, if they could get a chance. – {Tribune.

– Published in the Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 19, 1862

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