The Armidale Express Tuesday, February 19, 1895
This article is titled: Left For Dead
In the summer of the third year of the civil war, I was one of Jennison's Red Legs who waged such a relentless warfare across the border between Kansas and Missouri, against the equally fearless devils,
who recognized Quantrill as their leader. Between the two disparate bands, there was literally no quarter, and a capture was equivalent to death. Thrilling adventures were of daily occurrence, and this guerilla warfare was carried on with a recklessness that almost passes understanding. I was young just 20 and had seen hard service from the beginning of the war. Being a good horseman I was selected for many a desperate journey, carrying messages and despatches, and so often had I escaped by a hair's breadth that my luck was proverbial among my comrades. On the occasion of which I am about to relate, I was returning after one of these trips and expected to reach my commander before sundown. When only a few miles from my destination, while Crossing a small opening in the timber, I saw suddenly emerge from the woods ahead of me a body of horsemen, whom I recognized only too well to be my hated enemy. There was a quick engagement. I was surrounded, knocked from my horse by a blow from a carbine, and realized that I was in Quantrell's hands. There was no mistaking what this meant.
I was taken to their camp in the timber, and without parley searched, and the dispatches, which were in my boots, proved conclusively my identity. In thirty minutes after my capture, I was told that my life's lease was numbered by minutes. I glanced into the faces of the hardened throng to see if an appeal for mercy would be in vain but saw not a glimmer of hope. Two men were detailed to be my executioners and without a tremor of a nerve they coolly looked to the priming of their pistols and mounted their horses.
I was told to walk between them and, with drawn revolvers, they walked on either side of me a distance of a hundred yards from the camp, just far enough away so my dying groans could not be heard by those we left behind. Not a word was spoken as the little procession moved to the appointed spot. Over in the West the sun, a great ball of fire was just sinking beyond the plains of Kansas, coloring the clouds with its golden light and looking to me surpassingly beautiful. The trees were greener and the wildflowers more lovely because I thought I would leave them all in so short a time. In the intensity of my excitement the slightest detail impressed itself indelibly upon my memory:
Yet, while I thought this bright summer evening will be my last on earth, at no times did I cease to watch for an avenue of escape, however hopeless the chance might be. Presently in a small open space fifty yards across, my captors halted and directed me to step a space ahead so that they might better execute their murderous mission, and as I obeyed I nerved myself to die as a soldier should. As I started forward one of the men noticed a bright spur of the peculiar pattern upon my boot, and he said:
'You'll have no further use for that spur; suppose you let me have it?' I balanced myself on one foot, and with trembling fingers unstrapped it. While doing so I held to the bridle-rein of one of the horses and 'as the Quantrell soldier reached for the spur, I took advantage of a second's inattention gave the bridle a sudden jerk and darted under the horse's head with a last forlorn hope of reaching the timber twenty yards away. Both of my captors fired and missed, but in another instant, one of them spurred his horse to my side and leaning over in the saddle fired his 'dragoon pistol full at my breast. As the report awoke the echoes, I felt the sting of the bullet, and fell forward with blood streaming from my eyes, nose, and ears, for the bullets had penetrated my lungs. My executioners sat silently on their horses and watched what they supposed to be my dying gasps.
One less Red Leg' to deal with, remarked one of them, and they turned their horses and rode back to report their bloody commission. Although I remained motionless, feigning death, never for a minute did I lose consciousness. Shortly after they left a light rain began falling, and the chill night air which followed served to check the hemorrhage, and so far revived me that before daybreak I had managed to crawl to a road which I knew led to a camp of our own forces. A traveling company picked me up the next morning, and I was soon receiving attention And medical skill. My youth and vigor soon brought me around, and now, more than a quarter of a century later I have only the memory of that eventful night and an ugly scar on my breast to remind me of the time I was led out to execution.