Part III






Printed by American Printing Co.

St. Joseph, Mo.


Those of us who were out on the 27th, and had ridden some twelve miles after the skirmish of Black Foot, had but little time to refresh ourselves with food and sleep until we were again in the saddle. About 3 o'clock on the morning of the 28th, five companies of our regiment, and several companies of Co. Berge's sharp shooters,--700 in all,--under command of Gen. Prentice, were marching to the point where we met the enemy on the evening of the 27th. We reached the ground on which the skirmish of Black Foot took place, about sunrise, and a mile beyond, Co.'s A and B had a skirmish with a heavy outpost, which we defeated and scattered so that they were prevented from falling back on their main body which was then formed in line of battle. The rebels occupied a good position on a ridge covered with a growth of young white oak,--many of them quite small,--covered with brown leaves. I was wounded just as we were going into action. The battle was brought on by Berge's sharp-shooters, and when we came within striking distance we were ordered to the right, where we remained for a few moments. Then we were ordered forward without being formed in line of battle and led by the officers, each man keeping in touch with his comrade on the right and on the left, striking the line of battle where the heaviest firing was heard. For from the position we occupied we could see neither friend nor foe. I was on the right, and by this movement became separated some distance from by comrades, and had almost reached the thick growth of young oak in which the rebel line was concealed, when I saw a man fall to my left. At that moment I was seized with an impulse to fire. My aim was low, and a second after I pulled the trigger a slug passed through my right thigh just in front of the bone, and three slugs through my overcoat. As I did not think I was severely wounded I did not make any effort to move until I had loaded my gun, when I made an effort to go forward, but my leg was so paralized [sic] that I could not move it until I made the third effort, and only then by bearing most of my weight on my gun and using it as a staff. In this way I got back to the rear.

But what about the man who fell to my left? Well, there was no man there; and yet I distinctly saw a man fall forward on his face to the ground; but the vision was only for a moment, as the act of taking aim shut it out from view. I am aware of the fact that the largest number of those who read this statement will say, "It was only imagination." Not so! For me it was real, and my only explanation is this: God, as a loving Father, has his own ways of saving the lives of his children when they are exposed to great danger. The question has often occurred to me,--why was it that the man who wounded me did not reload his gun and kill me? Well, sometimes a shot fired at random kills or wounds, and as my aim was directly in line with his he may not have been able to do so.

The battle lasted about five hours, at the end of which our little army of 700 gained a complete victory over that of the rebels consisting of 900. Our loss was small, only six killed and between fifty and sixty wounded. That of the rebels was much greater. Not less than twenty-five killed, seventy-five wounded, and thirty taken prisoners. There was a Baptist Church called Mt. Zion, near the battlefield, which was used as a hospital by the rebels, hence the name "Battle of Mount Zion." The transfer of the wounded from the battle field to Sturgeon was accomplished by pressing farm wagons and teams into service. The journey of fifteen miles was very trying to the occupants, as most of them were compelled to lie on their backs with nothing between them and the hard boards but a little hay and a blanket. It ended, however, shortly after dark, and to those who were not mortally wounded it was a season of joy. We were made as comfortable as the circumstances would admit, and no doubt most of us reviewed the incidents we passed through on the battle field and thought of the victory we had won, with feelings of pride. Only the wounded soldier knows how the joy of victory will enable him to bear with patience the suffering he is called to pass through.

We were in the hospital at Sturgeon about two weeks, and then taken to Palmyra, Missouri, at that time the headquarters of our regiment. We had, during our stay in Sturgeon, two very pleasant visits from citizens, the first from a Mr. Jackson and wife accompanied by a New Yorker and his daughter,--all living near the battle field and all thoroughly loyal. They not only brought an abundance of good food with them, but luxuries which were highly appreciated by us. Mrs. Jackson had also made a number of small pillows which she distributed among us and added greatly to our comfort. As my thoughts go back over the intervening years, these ladies come up before me as angels of mercy. We also had a visit from a Mrs. Hicks and daughter, who brought with them a bountiful supply of chicken soup. The old lady frankly told us that her sympathies were with the South, but that she took pleasure in administering to the comfort of those who were suffering, and although I do not remember her as an angel of mercy, I do,--on account of her christian spirit,--remember her as a mother in Israel.

Our transfer from Sturgeon to Palmyra was made by railroad, and the journey, to me, was a painful omen; from the fact that I could not sit up, and the only place I could lie down was on the mail clerk's table. The thought, however, that I would be much nearer the loved ones, and that by and by I would be taken home and tenderly cared for by them, enabled me to cheerfully endure the pain. Just after we were transferred from the train to sleds and sleighs at the depot, and had started to town, we were met by part of our own regiment with General Prentice at their head, and welcomed back with hearty cheers. Here I was taken to a private house and taken care of by some of my comrades.


Shortly after our return to Palmyra a notice appeared in the St. Louis Daily Republican and Daily Democrat, that I had died of my wound. This caused a short season of joy among the disloyal who knew me, and a short season of sorrow among some of my friends. Happily for my loved ones, I was so near home that they knew the statement was not true; but with friends at a distance it was different. The editor of the "Schuyler Citizen," a weekly paper published in Rushville, Illinois, with whom I had been acquainted for a number of years, wrote and obituary and published it in his paper.

About the last week in January I received a furlough and was taken to LaGrange, where my wife, and one of her sisters, who was teaching in the public school, had made for themselves a pleasant home. Only those who have passed through a similar experience can have any conception of the joy that filled my heart, when placed under the care of her who loved me, and was again permitted to listen to the innocent prattle of little ones. I was not able to walk until the last of February, when, by the aid of crutches, I took my first walk to the business part of town. This added much to my enjoyment, after being so long confined indoors, and meeting only those who were kind enough to visit me.

About the middle of March I returned to the regiment, which was still stationed at Palmyra. Just after the battle of Mount Zion I was promoted to Battalion Quarter Master Sergeant, and on my return to the regiment was placed in charge of the clothing department. This was an easy berth, and one suited to my physical condition at that time.

About the middle of April the First Battalion went to Memphis, Missouri, and spent a few days scouting in the vicinity, but no enemy was encountered, and no incident worthy of note. After our return the ordinary duties which are required of a soldier became monotonous, and the men became anxious for a change. This desire, however, was not gratified until the middle of June, when the regiment was ordered to Rolla, Missouri. The change did not add to the comfort of the men, but did give them something more to do. My duties remained the same, and, as I had a good tent and my duties were light, I found much enjoyment in gaining an accurate knowledge of the movements of our armies then in the field, and the many important matters that were being transacted at Washington. When the war began, I believed, as many others, that the rebellion would be put down, and slavery would still exist in the States where it had long been established; but, by careful reading and study, I became convinced that it was the bone and sinew of the rebellion, and when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation I hailed it with joy.

In September a change was made in the organization of Cavalry Regiments, under which Battalion Quarter Masters and Battalion Quarter Master Sergeants were to be mustered out; but the field officers of our regiment either ignorantly or willfully retained the quarter master sergeants in the service. Two of us, however, were sent to Northeast Missouri with Lieutenant Howe, to enlist a new company, (the regiment lacking two of its full number) of which we were to be commissioned officers. This gave me an opportunity to visit my family, but recruiting a company proved a failure. I returned to the regiment the first of November, and was sent as a recruiting sergeant to Huston, Texas County, Missouri, where a battalion of our regiment was in a brigade consisting of the 21st Iowa Infantry, the 99th Illinois Infantry, a battalion of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry, and a battery of artillery under command of Brig.-Gen. Fits Hugh Warren. Here I made an earnest effort to enlist a number of refugees who had come from Arkansas to escape conscription in the rebel army, and were eating Uncle Sam's rations and spending their time in idleness. While they professed to be thoroughly loyal, none of them were willing to risk their lives in the service of their country. I again returned to Rolla, and after spending a few days in a very quiet way, I received an order from Lieutenant Colonel Carrick to go to headquarters. I at once obeyed the order, and after saluting him and standing at attention, he commenced reprimanding me for some imaginary wrong but graciously ended it by handing me a commission as 2nd Lieutenant of Co. D. My name was carried on the roll of Co. A while acting as a recruiting sergeant, and as recruiting sergeant I was commissioned over Orderly Sergeant Hill who was in the line of promotion. I knew that this would cause unpleasant feelings in the company, and more than likely make an enemy of Sergeant Hill. However, there was but one thing for me to do, and that was to report for duty to Captain Black, who was in command of the battalion stationed at Huston, of which Co. D was a part. This I was enabled to do in a few days, as a train carrying supplies went through accompanied by a guard. I had gone through before, dressed in "butternut" and mounted on a horse that did not have U.S. branded on him, with my orders concealed in a comfort which I used as a saddle blanket, accompanied by one man, but now I had to wear my uniform and needed some protection.

I was kindly received by Capt. Black, and also by Capt. Reed of Co. D. The men treated me with respect, but there was some whispering among them, to the effect that the first scout I accompanied them on they would leave me in the brush. This did not cause me any anxiety, although I knew that the company had in it some of the worst element in the regiment. On the other hand, I also knew that many of its members were among the best. This led me patiently to do my duty and watch for an opportunity to gain the respect of all the members of the company. The opportunity came a few days after I had joined the company. On the morning of the 9th of January, 1863, a body of troops, consisting of infantry, a section of artillery and a battalion of cavalry, under command of Col. Merrill of the 21st Iowa Infantry, was ordered to Springfield to relieve Gen. Brown, who had been besieged by Gen. Marmaduke about the first of January. On the morning of the 10th our battalion was ordered to follow. We marched until evening and then halted for a short time, but now long enough to make even a cup of coffee. About 12 o'clock we reached Hartsville, the county seat of Wright County. Here we were halted long enough to obtain some information regarding the command which had preceded us. This being secured, we continued our march until 2 o'clock on the morning of the 11th, when we came up with the command of Col Merrill, encamped on the Springfield road five miles west of Hartsville. The rebel army was encamped about a mile farther west on the same road. Our time for rest and sleep was very brief. By 6 o'clock we were in the saddle and formed in line, but before the command of march was given the videttes fired on each other, and Co. E was ordered forward to reconnoiter and a few moments after Co. D was ordered to follow. Co. E fell into an ambuscade and was fired on. The captain was killed and the company fell back in confusion. We were taken forward by Capt. Black within a short distance of where Co. E was fired on, and assigned a position between two fields separated from each other by a narrow strip of timber, where we remained on picket until our forces came up and formed in line of battle in our rear. During this time the first lieutenant manifested symptoms of cowardice. He did not form the company in skirmish line as he should have done, but left them in column, and, riding up to me, said, "Lieutenant, I must report to Capt. Black." I said to him, "Your place is here with the company, report through one of the men." He answered with an oath, saying, "Capt. Black ordered me to report in person," and rode to the rear. Being in command, I formed the company in skirmish line, giving them instruction how to fall back if attacked, and we were not able to hold our position until re-enforced, and with a brave fellow who had volunteered as a lookout on top of a cabin to our left, we awaited developments. During this time the lieutenant came up twice within forty yards of us, but remained only a short time.

When our forces came up and were formed in line of battle, two or three shells were thrown to where the enemy's line of battle was supposed to be,--heavy timber being in our front. At this juncture our scouts came in and reported the enemy marching on a ridge south of our left flank and in the direction of Hartsville, their object being to secure a better position and get possession of the road on which to continue their march to the south. Two squadrons of cavalry were ordered forward, and were fired on by the rebels, who had placed a gun in the road loaded with shrapnel. Fortunately but one man was injured. After taking a few prisoners and gaining an accurate knowledge of the number of the enemy, we about-faced and started on the double quick for Hartsville. Reaching a point west of the town, our line of battle was formed on two ridges overlooking it, with timber in the background and open ground in front. The battle opened with an artillery duel of some length. Sharpshooters in the meantime had occupied the court house, but were quickly driven out by the artilleryman, who threw a few shells into it. Then followed a charge on our center by a brigade of cavalry. They made three successive charges, but were driven back each time with considerable loss. The next point that was hard pressed was on the right, which was held by the 99th Illinois. There came a moment during the hard fighting when our brave boys had to fall back, but being re-enforced by two companies of the 21st Iowa which were withdrawn from the center (we had no reserve), the tide soon turned the other way. The last attack was made on the left wing, held by a battalion of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry. It was, however, of short duration. This closed the battle. It was now nightfall and we were ordered to horse and withdrawn from the field, our company being the rear guard.

This--the Battle of Hartsville--was one of those small but hard fought battles which thoroughly test the nerve of the soldier. We had only 850 men, and the rebels had 3000. All of the officers and many of the men knew that we were out-numbered more than three to one. We could have remained on the battle field in safety, but under the circumstances the officers in command were justifiable in withdrawing us from the field.

Our loss was small, six killed and between fifty and sixty wounded. I have never seen a statement of the rebels' loss, but it could not have been less than one hundred and fifty. They lost a number of commissioned officers. Gen. McDonald of Camp Jackson fame, being among the number. Col. Porter, who commanded the brigade which made the charge on our center, received a severe wound of which he died a few weeks after the battle. His home was only nine miles from my own.


We marched until 1 o'clock a. m. and then halted until morning. As the officers of our battalion had no rations, and the men only what they could carry in their haversacks, we had but little to eat from Saturday morning until Monday morning, when we secured breakfast at a farm house by the wayside. We reached Lebanon in the afternoon and went into camp until Tuesday morning. Being assigned by Capt. Black to act as quarter master until we reached Huston, and three of our companies being ordered to return by the way of the battlefield, and needing forage for horses and rations for men, I was kept busy until 12 o'clock Monday night. On Tuesday and Wednesday I was in command of the rear guard, and did not get into camp until after 8 o'clock either evening. On Thursday I was relieved from all duty. By 1 o'clock p. m. we reached Huston, and I entered on a season of much needed rest, having eaten but little and slept less for five days and a half. We now fell back to the ordinary duties of camp life, and, as it was mid-winter, these were confined almost entirely to camp and guard duty.

As is the case after a battle, there are many statements made that are true and others that are false. Some of them show the bravery of individuals, and some their cowardice. Others, if they reach the ears of relatives at home, cause sorrow. Some of these may properly find place here. The last named being the most important, I will refer to it first. A report reached that part of the regiment which was stationed at Rolla that I was among the killed and communicated by letter to some one in my home neighborhood. A neighbor visited my wife for the purpose of communicating the sad news to her, but his heart failed him. A few days after a cousin called on her for the same purpose, but, before telling her, he asked if she had received any letters from me since the battle, and was informed that she had just finished reading two. This gave him great relief, and he told his story with a light heart, and was enabled to go forth with good news to gladden the hearts of other friends.

Capt. Black, who was regarded by us all as a model officer, and to whom much credit was given for the victory we gained, had one bullet hole through his hat, two or three through his overcoat, and seven in the back part of his saddle tree. The first lieutenant of Co. D, who played the coward so completely in the morning, did do much better on the battle field. When the charge was made on the center, our company, with others, was ordered forward to support the artillery. I advanced at least fifteen steps, and turning, saw the company still remaining in line; but at that moment the lieutenant received the order the second time to lead the company forward in language that was neither gentle nor complimentary. Of course the command was obeyed.

Regarding the moment we went into action this story was told, but to me its author is unknown. Our regiment was united in April of 1863, and as the chaplain and I were old friends, I visited him as soon as he had his tent pitched and was prepared to receive company. After conversing for a time on those subjects that come up between friends who have been separated for a time, he turned to me with an assumed gravity, and said, "Well, Hindman, I am sorry that an ill report has come to my ears regarding you, I had always taken you to be a christian." I quickly answered, "Why, Mr. McCoy! what have I been doing?" Said he, "They tell me you have been swearing," and I answered "That is not true." "What," he said, "did you not swear at the battle of Hartsville?" "No, sir," I answered. "Why!" said he, "they tell me that just as you were going into action, the first lieutenant asked you to stop and pray, and you cursed him, and bade him to do his fighting first and praying afterwards." "No," I said. "That is not true, but this did occur. The men were swearing, and, with a trembling voice, the lieutenant said, 'Men, men, you should not use such language at such a time as this. I, not liking his theology--for it seemed to express that if at that moment they would cease to swear, and a ball from the enemy send them into eternity, they would enter it with all their sins pardoned--turned to them and said: 'Men, if you have been swearing all your lives it is not worth your while to quit now.'"

We remained at Huston, Texas County, Missouri, until the first of February, then the entire command marched to West Plains, Howell County, Missouri, and effected a juncture with a large body of troops coming from Pilot Knob, Missouri. Our army now numbered about 13,000 effective men commanded by Maj. Gen. Davidson. We reached West Plains on Friday, and on Monday morning part of the 4th Missouri Cavalry and our battalion, under command of the colonel of the 4th, started on a raid into Arkansas. We went as far south as Batesville, where we remained about eighteen hours. Gen. Marmaduke's command, numbering 5000 men, were encamped about five miles south of Batesville. Our pickets exchanged shots with the rebels across the White River during our short stay. We were out seven days, and having no rations, but what we secured by foraging, and no tents to shelter us at night, we endured great hardship. On the fourth day snow fell twelve inches deep, and the next day it turned very cold. When we returned to West Plains the army was marching back to Pilot Knob, and we at once followed. Our march from West Plains to Pilot Knob was made with difficulty, on account of bad roads, the mud in places becoming very deep by the passing of the cavalry and army wagons. More than once, when in command of the rear guard, I had to dismount a platoon, and, with a heavy rope which was used to tie the horses of the company, help a six-mule team out of a mud-hole.

Our march from Huston, Texas County, Missouri to Batesville, Arkansas, and back to West Plains, and from West Plains to Pilot Knob, covered a period of twenty-two days, all of which I was in the saddle, and a number of nights until a late hour. Being on special duty two days during that time prevented me from getting any rest.

We remained in the vicinity of Pilot Knob from the last week in February until the first day of July, 1863. During this time but a few incidents occurred worthy of notice. During the month of March the weather was very unpleasant and the exposure and hardships through which we had passed called for a season of rest; but as the captain and first lieutenant claimed exemption from duty on account of sickness, I was left in command of the company, which position I filled to the best of my ability. I would, however, have been justified in placing myself under the surgeon's care for a short season, but the consciousness of faithfully having done my duty was a source of greater gratification than could have been derived by a few days' rest secured by being reported on the sick list.


The first lieutenant having resigned in March, I was promoted to first lieutenant on the 10th of April, 1863. By interceding with the staff officers of the regiment, I secured the recommendation of Orderly Sergeant Hill for 2nd lieutenant, and he received a commission bearing the same date. This was very gratifying to the company, and I hoped it would so reconcile him to my being commissioned over him from another company, that he would become my friend. It did not, however, have that effect. I out-ranked him, and there was still ground for hard feelings. He did not show any bitterness toward me, except on one or two occasions, but knowing his feelings and their cause, it made my duties much harder than if I could have trusted him as a friend.

In May, Gen. Marmaduke came up into the southeastern part of the State with an army of [sic] 5000 or 6000 men. He attacked Patterson, an out-post some thirty miles from Pilot Knob, held by a regiment of M. S. M., commanded by Col. Smart. They made a hasty retreat, reaching Pilot Knob in the evening. A body of troops, under command of Col. Glover, numbering about 1000 effective men with a section of artillery, started to Patterson about midnight. About 10 o'clock in the forenoon we met some of Col. Smart's men who had been taken prisoners and paroled,--among them, Maj. Patterson, slightly wounded. He gave our officers information that caused them to countermarch to Pilot Knob. A season of excitement followed, as we had no means of knowing where the rebel army would strike. A regiment of infantry came down from Jefferson barracks, also a brigade of cavalry from Rolla under command of Gen. Vandevere. In a few days we learned that Cape Girardeau had been attacked, and all the forces that were at Pilot Knob marched for that point. Many of our regiment were without horses, and a company of these men had been organized, and I was, by special order, placed in command; and when our forces started to the Cape I was out on a picket with my company. This prevented me from going with the command and sharing with them in their hardships and in the small amount of glory that they acquired on the expedition. Gen. McNeil defeated the rebels at the Cape, and before our forces succeeded in getting into their rear they gained the road to Chalk Bluff, and only one or two skirmishes took place with their rear guard. Our regiment lost one man, killed, and a few were slightly wounded, among them the lieutenant-colonel.

During the month of June a division of cavalry was organized, to which six batteries were attached, and on the morning of July 1st, under command of Maj. Gen. Davidson, we started on a long march south. The division consisted of seven full regiments of cavalry and six batteries. This long column of troops and about three hundred army wagons covered many miles of road, and required a number of hours for all to get in motion. Our regiment was in the rear of the division, and Co. D was rear guard. We did not move until 4 o'clock p. m., and did not halt until 2 o'clock a. m. We rested by the wayside until morning, when we resumed our march and about 1 o'clock p. m. were relieved. All this time we were without rations for either men or horses. Through the efforts of one of our men who was in advance of the company, a small amount of rations for both were secured, for which we were all very thankful. After resting for half an hour we were again in the saddle, and in a short time one of the most difficult marches began that it was my lot to pass through during my entire term of service. Our regiment being in the rear on the first day, was, on the second, in the advance, and we had the wagon train and the entire command to pass before we came up with it. The road in many places was narrow, and we had often to pass between the wagons from one side of the road to the other. I ordered the second lieutenant, whose place was in the rear, to keep the men well in hand and prevent straggling. We made all the haste that was possible, but it was midnight before we reached the camp of our own regiment. Three days' march brought us to Bloomfield, Stoddard County, Missouri, where we went into camp for about ten days. We then continued our march south, crossing the St. Francis River at Chalk Bluff and going down Caullies Ridge.

Only one incident occurred during this week worthy of note. Being assigned the duty of foraging for the regiment, and having accomplished the task, we halted at a cottage by the wayside and fed our horses, and while waiting for the regiment to come up we sought shelter from the hot rays of the sun on the cottage porch. A young lady of more than ordinary intelligence came out of the sitting room and entered into conversation with us. She asked a number of question [sic] in one of which she was specially interested, and which was asked by her in a very pleasant manner. The question was, "What will Abe Lincoln do with us if he whips us?" After stating the fact that one who rebels against the government under which he lives and undertakes to overthrow it, has not only forfeited his citizenship and property, but life, I said; "I have no doubt but the Southern people will, when the war is over, be treated with lenity. Some of the leaders will be punished, but the rank and file will not." At this point in the conversation the lady of the house (aunt of the young lady, whose home was in Georgia) came out and took part in the conversation. She spoke without reserve regarding the condition of the South, said her husband was a private in the Southern army, had been taken prisoner at Port Hudson, was paroled, and that she expected him home in a few days. In reference to the condition of the people in the South she said: "There is much suffering among them now, and it will continue and increase," and as to what the end would be she expressed great fear. I tried to comfort her by assuring her that when the war ended the northern people would, as soon as it was possible, supply the wants of those who were suffering, and she immediately revealed the love of a mother's heart by asking the question: "Will they educate our children?" I answered, "Yes, of all who will move North and live among them." She then pointed to a little boy near by, saying: "He is a mute, and I have a great desire for him to receive an education." A great deal of corn had been taken from her cribs during the morning; a yoke of oxen also had been taken, which no doubt was a great loss to her. She expressed a wish that I would use my influence to have them returned; but I told her that the fact of her husband being in the rebel army would preclude all hope for their return. Our regiment coming up was the signal for our departure, but before leaving we gave her, out of our own pocket, full remuneration for all the corn that had been taken by the men under my command. This touching incident has never been forgotten, and a deep sense of pity has always been felt for these two ladies, who, while all alone, seemed to bear with such fortitude the trial through which they were passing.

The time for me to take my final leave of the men with whom I had been associated for almost two years in the service of my country, was now drawing near. I had, for causes which I cannot analyze, been constrained to offer my resignation. This course on my part had ben strongly opposed by Col. Glover, but he finally consented to endorse and forward it to the headquarters of the department at St. Louis. My discharge was dated July 21st, 1863, but was not received by me until about the twenty-eighth. At that time as steamboat met our command at a point on the St. Francis River, with supplies. This gave Maj. Howland, who had also resigned, and me, an opportunity to reach Hilman, from which point we could with ease and safety reach our homes.

The wisdom of my resigning at the time I did, can only be seen by the events in my life yet to be written. That some of my friends regarded it as a mistake, I have good reason to believe, although they never expressed it in words. For one thing I am thankful, there was no compulsion in my case as was in the case of some others. I had the confidence and respect of all the commissioned officers in the regiment and of all the non-commissioned officers in Company D. My resignation was entirely voluntary on my part.

What the future of my life would have been if I had remained in the service until my time expired,--which would have not been until in June of 1886,--or whether my life would have been spared until that time,--God only knows. As the Ninety-first Psalm was often read by me during my army life imparting strength and comfort, the eleventh and twelfth verses will be a fit closing for this paragraph: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."

I reached home the evening of the 5th of August and found all the loved ones well, and received a loving and tender welcome.

Before closing the war record contained in this simple narrative, I wish to report two sad incidents which are closely connected with each other. On the morning of July 1st, 1862, a company belonging to a rebel regiment commanded by Col. Joe Porter,--who was mortally wounded at the battle of Hartsville,--passed through Palmyra, Missouri, killing one man, searching the houses of some loyal citizens, and taking a man by the name of Alsman prisoner. He was past middle life, but had been connected with Co. A, 3rd Regiment Cavalry, Missouri Volunteers, during the time the regiment was stationed in Palmyra; but when the regiment went South he was discharged. This and his loyalty was the cause of his being taken prisoner, and carried from his home. His captors kept him with them for several days, and during the time treated him in a cruel manner. At last there came a morning when a small squad of men took him from camp, and when they joined their comrades he was not with them, nor was he ever heard of afterward. There was one among them who treated him with kindness, and it was from his lips that I received the sad story of his final disappearance from earth. It is not likely that there is any one living at present who could point out the spot where his dust is now sleeping.

A few days after this Col. Joe Porter's forces were defeated in the battle of Kirksville, by our army, under command of Gen. McNeil, and his army, to which many men attached themselves who were only bushwhackers and not regular soldiers of the Southern army, were scattered over a large portion of Northeast Missouri and many of them were taken prisoner. Gen. McNeil, after the battle, marched to Palmyra, and his army went into camp on the Fair Ground. As Mr. Alsman had not returned to his home, and no tidings had been received by his friends regarding him, Gen. McNeil issued a proclamation and caused it to be widely circulated that if he was not returned to his home within ten days he would select from the prisoners held by him ten men, and cause them to be executed. Mr. Alsman was not returned to his home and was never heard of. The mouths of those who took his life were sealed. The fatal day came and the ten men were shot.

Much has been said regarding the shooting of these men by Gen. McNeil, and for it he has been denounced a murderer, but there is good reason to believe that every one of the ten could have been tried under the rules of war and shot for violating their parole, in which they took an oath not to take up arms the second time against the government of the United States.


After resting some two weeks, I made arrangements for the future. The money which we had accumulated during he seven or eight months of my lieutenancy was paid on our little home, and as it was rented I fell back on my trade as a means of supporting my family. Securing a berth in a cooper shop in Palmyra, I removed my family to that city, where we spent five years, which financially were the most profitable of our lives. The change from the life of a soldier to that of a citizen brought with it blessings of which I had for two years been deprived, that of Sabbath rest and the spiritual blessings which it brings to the child of God. Our church association was very pleasant, and, although there was bitter feeling between the professing christians who were loyal and those who were disloyal, each found their proper place and engaged in christian work. Those with whom we were intimately associated in church work, both men and women, were of sterling worth, true to their country and their God. Our Sabbath school superintendent, H. H. Winchell, was faithful and efficient, and with a liberal hand used the means with which God was blessing him for the good of the school. The church having divided, and our Southern brethren retaining the church building we were for a season compelled to use a hall over the livery stable, then the court house, but in 1866 we erected a pretty little chapel. Associated with our little band of workers were two noble christian men who deserve mention here.--Samuel McAfee and Dr. Joseph LaFawn. They not only gave of their substance for the advancement of Christ's kingdom, but were earnest christian workers whose very presence in the house of God was strengthening and helpful to others.

Our most efficient worker was the Rev. James A. Darrah, who faithfully preached the gospel to us. He and Rev. Thomas H. Tatlow passed through more danger during the civil war than many who were bearing arms out on the tented field. To these two men the loyal Presbyterians of Northeast Missouri, owed a debt which they were wholly unable to repay.

I shall ever cherish the memory of the Rev. James A. Darrah as one who was among my best and truest friends. Although from the revival in the New Providence Church in the fall of 1860, there had been kept alive in my breast a desire to enter the gospel ministry, it was not until by the encouragement and help of this faithful man of God that the desire became a reality. Other friends, though not aware of the desire which was ever present with me and had become a part of my very being, were instrumental in preparing the way for its consummation. At the election in November, 1864, a man by the name of Joseph Bowler was elected sheriff, and by the suggestion of friends he chose me as one of his deputies, and placed me in charge of the county jail. This position not only became profitable, but gave me, during the four years that I held it, all the time I could profitably use in study.

My duties were attended with some danger, but by watchfulness and prudence, and the protecting care of my Heavenly Father, I passed safely through every danger to which I was exposed. Many plans were laid by the prisoners to get an advantage and escape, but in but one case were they successful. Many of those who were charged with crime and placed under our care to await trial, were well educated, and four-fifths of them attributed their downfall to the use of intoxicating drink. We exercised a spirit of kindness toward all, and in no case did we find any fallen so low but what there was some chord of human kindness in his breast that would vibrate to our touch, if we could but find it. To my companion and me this period in our lives was one of peace and comfort, touched here and there with seasons of joy. On the 7th of June, 1864, another precious treasure was added to our household,--our second son, whom we called David Ramsey. Although his coming added much to the care of her whose hands seemed already full, the love of the mother-heart regarded it, not as a burden she would fain lay down, but a treasure to be taken up and fondly cherished. Another season of gladness came to us when we were permitted to transfer our household from a very ordinary house to the comfortable mansion of eight rooms connected with the jail.

In April of 1865 another great joy came when the glad news was flashed over the land that Gen. Lee's army had surrendered, scattering the anxiety and gloom that had enshrouded the land for over four years; but how sad the thought, even after forty years have passed, that this thrill of joy was almost extinguished by the sad news which quickly followed, that our nation's chieftain, he who, guided by a Divine Hand, had led us through those dark and bloody years, had been slain by the hand of an assassin.

A season of more than ordinary prosperity now dawned upon us. While working at my trade we were able to secure the comforts of life, but there was no surplus to fall back on. Now this was changed, and we could indulge in some of the luxuries which it was proper for us to enjoy. With a loving companion guiding the most important affairs of the household,--often perplexed, sometimes burdened with inefficient help, but always cheerful,--we were drawing near the long-hoped-for period when all of our debts would be paid. This acted as a stimulant, helping me to press forward in my efforts to reach the end of so much desired,--the precious privilege of preaching the gospel. But one dark shadow fell upon us during this period, though even amid the shadow, there was light. Scarlet fever entered the household of friends with whom we were very intimate, taking three of the lambs which the Heavenly Father had intrusted [sic] to the parents' care for a little season, to dwell in the "Upper Fold" and be tenderly cared for by Jesus the "Good Shepherd." In the school room, just as the disease was taking hold of the first one taken, it was communicated to one of the little ones in our own household. Without hesitation we committed her into the hands of our Heavenly Father, asking Him if it be His Holy Will to spare her to us, at the same time securing the best medical skill within our reach. Nine days after, a son was taken. Moving him into the room with his sister, we committed him also into the hands of Him who doeth all things well, and using the means which He had placed within our reach we calmly awaited the result. With the household affairs in charge of competent helpers, these days spent watching over the little ones passed peacefully away, and at their close our hearts were made glad and our souls filled with thanksgiving by seeing them again taking their places in the family circle.

During the summer of 1866 all the debts we had incurred in Illinois were cancelled, and the little home we had purchased in Round Grove Township was free from incumbrance. As I look back to the dark days of 1861, when my financial obligations were not less than $800, and I entered the service of my country as a private soldier with a family of three to support on the pitiful sum of $13 per month, the cancelling of these obligations seemed an utter impossibility, and yet I had hope. I had again and again asked my Heavenly Father for this blessing, and had faith to believe He would not disappoint me. Today I can see the path that then was only known to Him, and realize that His loving hand not only marked it out, but guided me as each step was taken, and in the end granted the temporal blessing for which I had so often prayed, granted it because I had asked for it--not to consume on my lusts--but for his Glory.


Two years more of prosperity and we were able to carry into effect a purpose which we had long cherished--the improvement of our little home. This was accomplished during the summer and fall of 1868, by a great deal of hard work and the expending of $1600.

Another matter of great importance, and one which had been long cherished, was the action of the Presbytery of North Missouri N.S., granting me license to preach the gospel. This action was taken by the Presbytery at the fall meeting in September, 1868, at Canton, Missouri. I entered on this great mission with a feeling of gladness I had never experienced in any change of avocation [sic] that I had heretofore been called on to make. With this feeling of gladness was joined a willingness to preach the gospel anywhere. At the same time the opening to me of a field where I could successfully bestow my labors was earnestly desired. Through the influence of Rev. James A. Darrah, chairman of the committee of Home Missions of the Presbytery, I received a commission from the Board of Home Missions, and commenced my labors with the Presbyterian Church of Canton, Missouri. During the summer of 1869 I extended my labors to Monticello, county seat of Lewis County, and a church was organized in the fall of the same year. During the summer of 1870 a pretty little chapel was erected and dedicated to the service of God. This was accomplished, to a great extent, through the influence and financial help of one man, who, with his wife, united with the church on the morning of the Sabbath on which the chapel was dedicated. He was seventy years of age and she was in her sixty-sixth year.

At the fall meeting of the Presbytery, in the Pleasant Prairie Church, September 1869, I was ordained as an evangelist, and entered on the full work of he gospel ministry, administering the ordinances as well as preaching the gospel. After this I extended my labors to Williamstown, and in the winter following organized a church of ten members, to which I preached one-half of my time. giving the other half to Monticello. December 23rd, 1869, brought to us a new joy in the birth of a second daughter, whom we named Mary Susan.

In the fall of 1879 some of the leading members of the New Providence Church made an effort to have the membership unite in calling me as stated supply, but failed, thus demonstrating the truthfulness of the words of Jesus: "No prophet is accepted in his own country."

In the month of December, 1870, I received a letter from the session of the Presbyterian Church of Memphis, Missouri, asking me to visit them. This invitation was accepted. During Christmas week my wife and I made the journey of sixty miles in our buggy, taking with us our baby girl, then one year old. We spent a week with the membership of the church, preaching on the Sabbath. This resulted in our being called to that field as stated supply and a few months after as a pastor, in connection with the church at Williamstown. The labor required of me in this field was arduous, the churches being thirty miles from each other, and I often suffered much from the cold weather during the winters of '71, '72 and '73, but in no instance did I fail to meet my appointments. The giving up of our pleasant home in Round Grove Township, and removal into this new field, not only required of us pecuniary sacrifice, but that of comfort, and the giving up of cherished plans for the future. To add to this was the moving of the family and household goods sixty miles by wagon in mid-winter, and that just after a heavy fall of snow. The journey, however, was safely made, by the assistance of four young men who had charge of the wagons, and at the end of three days our household goods were deposited in a house that was but little better than a shelter, and the following week we took up our abode in it; but our Heavenly Father had a better abode for us, which was at the opening of a spring occupied, with hearts full of gratitude to Him who is the dispenser of every blessing. Thus the sacrifices which were made by giving up our pleasant home in Round Grove Township without a murmur, even on the part of her who felt it most deeply, was made up to us. The field into which we had entered was not one of great promise. As in many churches during the Civil War, the bitterness became so intense that the church divided, and a law-suit over the church property followed. Our people were led by a minister who was more disposed to indulge in strife than Christian charity, and although the property was retained by them, the feelings engendered did much harm, and some of those who should have remained with our church, united with a few others and organized a Congregational church.

I soon realized that, as far as possible, the harm done must be righted. By the wise counsel and help of an elder who was familiar with all the trouble the church had passed through, this was, to quite an extent, accomplished by a compromise with the Southern brethren. We on our part agreed to release them and give them the church building; and they on their part paid our church $200.00, which covered the amount expended in the law suit. We then took steps to erect a new building, and in the early part of the summer of '72 our hearts were made glad by the dedication of a beautiful chapel to the service of God. Two very dear friends, Rev. Wm. P Cochran, D. D. and Rev. James A. Darrah, were with us, the former preaching the sermon and the latter offering the dedicatory prayer.

On the 18th day of August of the same year, another season of joy came to all the household by the birth of a son, the sixth and last of the precious treasures God has given us, and we called him Joseph Harvey.

In the spring of 1873, I organized a church at Greensburg, twelve miles south of Memphis, and pastoral relation with the Williamstown church was dissolved by the Presbytery, and I became pastor of this little church in connection with the church of Memphis. We labored in this field for four years and nine months, but, losing some of the most influential members of the Memphis church by removal, and the fact that the Southern Presbyterian Church, Congregational Church and our own must be built up from the same material, made the field an discouraging one, and I resigned in the fall of 1875. During my labors in this field, sixty-six were added to the churches. Having received a call to become stated supply of Seymore, Promise City and Allerton, in Des Moines Presbytery, Iowa, I moved my family to Seymore and commenced my labors with these churches the first Sabbath in October, 1975. During my labors in this field, covering a period of three years and a half, 102 members were added to the churches, most of them being young people who were received by the profession of their faith in Christ.

In November of 1878, I receive a call to become stated supply of the Lineville Presbyterian Church in the bounds of the same Presbytery, my labors to commence the 1st of April, 1879, at which time the engagement of the stated supply then preaching was to close. My labors with this church commenced at the appointed time, and covered a period of two years, which were among the most pleasant of my ministry. The only reason they did not continue longer, was insufficient support. During my labors in this field twenty-six were added to the church.


During the last week in February, 1881, by arrangement made by Rev. Timothy Hill, D. D., Synodical Superintendent of Home Missions for Kansas, I visited the Presbyterian Church of Wilson, which resulted in my becoming stated supply of the Wilson and Ft. Harker churches in the Presbytery of Solomon, and in the spring of 1882 pastor of the Wilson Church. My labors with these churches covered a period of three years and a half. During that time thirty-seven were added to the churches.

On the 1st of October, 1884, I took charge of the churches of McCune, Osage 1st, and Monmouth, in the Presbytery of Neosho, for six months. At the expiration of that time McCune and Osage 1st were anxious to call me as pastor, but not having moved my family to the field, I returned to my home in Wilson. During the short period I labored on this field, sixteen were added to the churches.

On the 1st of April, 1885, I again took charge of the Ft. Harker Church as stated supply, and during the summer preached one-half of my time in Kanopolis, and in the fall organized a church of seventeen members, which,with the church of Ft. Harker, made a very pleasant field. I remained in this field until the spring of 1889, four years. During this period forty-one were added to the churches.

In the spring of 1889 I accepted an invitation to supply the United Presbyterian Church of Miltonvale for six months. Being commissioner to the General Assembly which met in the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City, I was absent for three weeks, but on my return I again took up the work and, at the meeting of Presbytery in September, the church transferred its connection to Solomon Presbytery. During the six months two were added to the church by examination. Having been called as stated supply of the Clyde Presbyterian Church, I moved my family from Wilson, where we had resided for almost nine years, into the pleasant parsonage which had been built by the former pastor. During the two years I labored in this church, I was much hindered by ill health, but the people were very kind to us, and during two months of the second year released me from the evening service. During my labors with this church eight were added to the church.

Having received a call to become stated supply of the Presbyterian Church of Phillipsburg, in the Presbytery of Osborne, we moved to that field in the first of November, 1892. At the end of two years our labors with the Phillipsburg Church ceased, and we took charge of the Bow Creek and Long Island churches, still residing in Phillipsburg. We remained in this field three years and a half. During this time fifty were added to the churches.

Having been called at state supply of Auburn, Wakarusa and Sharon churches, in the Presbytery of Topeka, we moved to that field, April 1st, 1895, and took up our abode in the pleasant little parsonage at Auburn. Here we were very pleasantly situated. The parsonage stands on a lot of two acres, most if it in cultivation. This gave me plenty of exercise which was remunerative. To the Wakarusa Church was a drive of eight miles, and to the Sharon Church nine, and to Topeka--a good place to buy family supplies--was fifteen miles. We spent four very pleasant years in this field, during which time sixty-four were added to the churches and they gave $483.00 to the Boards of the church, the largest amount ever given by them in any four years since their organization.

It is very pleasant to record the fact, that at the close of my labors in this field, which had been so successful, the time when I purposed [sic] to lay down the gospel sickle, to be taken up by younger and more efficient hands, had come. I had at this time entered my seventy-second year, and although the preaching of the gospel from the sacred desk was still a delight, the burden of preparation and pastoral work had become too heavy for one of my age. I had spent over thirty years, the happiest years of my life, in the ministry; twenty-six and a half of thee on the Home Mission Field. The largest salary received per year was $1,000, this at a time when there were ten in the family; the smallest $400.00, but during all these years "The barrel of meal did not waste, neither did the cruse of oil fail." As now as I am about to write the closing paragraph of this simple story, we are surrounded with all the comforts that heart can wish or hands can use.

We moved to Parkville, Missouri, the first of April, 1899, and intend, if it be God's will, to spend the few days that yet remain for us on earth, in the pleasant home He has given us.

As I look back over a period of seventy years which I can distinctly remember, there comes up before me many seasons of joy, and some of trial and sorrow, which have been measured out to me by the hand of my Heavenly Father. How pleasant to think of a father and mother who trained me up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;" to think of the old church home in which I was baptized, and into full membership of which at the age of seventeen, I was received by the session; to think of the brothers and sisters and the many young friends with whom I was surrounded as I grew up to manhood! But, mingled with these pleasant thoughts of long ago, is a strain of sadness. All the loved ones who were in the household have passed away from earth but two, and of the friends of my youth, but a few still linger on the shores of time.

Again my thoughts go back into the past, and as they glide down the narrow stream of time, they rest on the dark shadows which fell upon my pathway. Death comes, and for a little season the joys of life fade from my vision, and I seem to walk alone, but by and by the star of hope dispels the darkness, and new friends come into view. With these I have mingled and held sweet communion, but most of them are gone. One, however, more dear to me than any one among them all, still walks by my side. 'Tis more than fifty years since first we met and our hearts went out to each other entwined in tender bonds of love. From our home have gone out six precious children whose lives are shedding light in the communities in which they are dwelling.

Turning from these scenes of the past, I look into the future, and as I look, I catch a glimpse of the golden sunset of every true Christian life. For me its rays now rest on my pathway, and as I think of the mansion Jesus has prepared for me, and the precious promise, "I will come again and receive you unto myself," I am glad to ocupy the position of one who is:

"Only waiting till the shadows

Are a little longer grown;

Only waiting till the glimmer

Of the day's last beam is flown;

Till the night of death has faded

From the heart once full of day;

Till the stars of heaven are breaking

Thro' the twilight, soft and gray.

Only waiting till the reapers

Have the last sheaf gathered home;

For the summer time has faded

And the autumn's winds have come.

Quickly reapers! gather quickly,

All the ripe hours of my heart:

For the bloom of life has withered,

And I hasten to depart.

Only waiting till the angels

Open wide the pearly gate,

At whose portals long I've lingered,

Weary, poor, and desolate;

Even now I hear their footsteps,

And their voices far away,

If they call me I am waiting,

Only waiting to obey.

Waiting for a brighter dwelling

Than I ever yet have seen,

Where the tree of life is blooming,

And the fields are ever green.

Waiting for my full redemption,

When my Savior shall restore,

All that sin has caused to wither;

Age and sorrow come no more."

Copyright 1999, 2006 Robin L. Worth Petersen


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