It is sad to record the following details of suffering inflicted upon one of the oldest, most useful and honored members of the St. Louis Conference, M. E. Church, South; a man who for many years has been an humble, exemplary and influential member of the Conference, who occupied a high position in the confidence of the Church, and has been intrusted with high and responsible positions in her courts and councils. No man, perhaps, of any Church has stood higher in the esteem of all men of all Churches in Southwest Missouri, where he has so long lived and labored, than Marcus Arrington. Let him tell in his own-way the story of his sufferings:
“When the troubles commenced, in the spring of 1861, I was traveling the Springfield Circuit, St. Louis Conference. I was very particular not to say anything, either publicly or privately, that would indicate that I was a partisan in the strife. I tried to attend to my legitimate work as a traveling preacher.
“But after the war commenced, because I did not advocate the policy of the party in power, I was reported as a secessionist, and in the midst of the public excitement it was vain to attempt to counteract the report.
“At the earnest solicitation of divers persons, I took the oath of loyalty to the Government. This, it was thought, would be sufficient. But we were mistaken.
“Soon after this, my life was threatened by those who were in the employ of the Federal Government. But they were, as I verily believe, providentially prevented from executing their threat.
“After the battle of Oak Hills, or Wilson's Creek, July 10, 1861, it became my duty to do all I could for the relief of the sick and wounded, and because I did this I was assured that I had violated my oath of allegiance. I was advised by Union men, so-called, that it would be unsafe for me to fall into the hands of Federal soldiers. Believing this to be true, when General Fremont came to Springfield, I went to Arkansas, as I think almost any man would have done under the circumstances.
“While in Arkansas, I met Bro. W. G. Caples, who was acting Chaplain to General Price. He requested me to take a chaplaincy in the army, informing me at the time that, by an agreement between Generals Fremont and Price, all men who had taken the oath of loyalty as I did were released from its obligations.
“In December, 1861, I was appointed by Gen. McBride Chaplain of the 7th Brigade, Missouri State Guard. In this capacity I remained with the army until the battle of Pea Ridge, March 7 and 8, 1862. On the second day of this battle, while in the discharge of my duty as Chaplain, I was taken prisoner. Several Chaplains, taken at the same time were released on the field, but I was retained. , I was made to walk to Springfield, a distance of 80 miles. We remained in Springfield one-day and two nights, and whilst many prisoners who had previously taken the oath as I had were paroled to visit their families, I was denied the privilege.
“We were then started off to Rolla, and although I had been assured that I would be furnished transportation, it was a sad mistake, and I had to walk until I literally gave out. What I suffered on that trip I can not describe. When we reached Rolla I was publicly insulted by the Commander of the Post.
“From Rolla we were sent to St. Louis on the cars, lodged one night in the old McDowell College, and the next day sent to Alton, Ill.
“Whilst I was in Alton prison a correspondent of the Republican, writing over the name of ‘Leon,’ represented me as a ‘thief and a perjured villain!’
“I was kept in Alton prison until Aug. 2, 1862, when I was released by a General Order for the release of all Chaplains.
“I then went to St. Louis, and thence South, by way of Memphis, Tenn., into exile. I would have returned to Missouri after the war closed but for the restrictions put upon ministers of the gospel by the new Constitution.
“Eternity alone will reveal what I have suffered in exile. The St. Louis Conference is properly my home, and her preachers have a warm place in my affections. They are very near my heart. May they ever be successful.”
Rev. Mr. Arrington pines for his old home and friends, and few men have a deeper hold upon the hearts of the people in Missouri. Thousands would welcome him to warm hearts and homes after these calamities are overpast.
SOURCE: William M. Leftwich, Martyrdom in Missouri, Volume 2, p. 287-90