Sunny South, Feb. 6, 1897 -- page 10
TRUE TALE OF THE WAR
How I Stole the Yanks Saddle and Thereby Reached Home in Safety
It was in 1863. We had engaged in a little unpleasantness on the 19th of September at Chickamauga. I was wounded and had been sent back to Cassville, Georgia, where I lingered a long time with fever, but the noble hearted ladies of that place came to my relief, and after days and weeks of intense suffering I was convalescent and nothing but a walk in shadow or living skeleton. Dr. Curry told me he would give me a furlough to go to my uncle's in Courtland Alabama. He could not give me a furlough home, which was in Maury County, Tennessee as that was in the enemy's country, but I took the furlough all the same, not knowing or caring whether I saw Courtland or not. I had transportation papers to Gadsen, Alabama. It was about the 6th of December when I went by rail from Cassville to Kingston, thence to Rome and there took a boat on the Coosa River to Gadsen: from there I footed it across the noted Sand Mountains in Norther Alabama to the Tennessee river at Decatur, but couldn't get across and I saw a courier, who told me there were some Confederate Cavalry a few miles up river, so I struck out and found Colonel Dunk Cooper, with about 100 men, preparing to cross the river at Bainbridge. He kindly loaned me a horse to ride, but had neither saddle or bridle; but I was so glad to get a ride anyway, so I put a worn out old blanket for a saddle and with nothing but an old halter to guide, mounted and fell to the rear, so crossed the river and the next day struck out through the woods and bush for middle Tennessee. My feelings can better be imagined than described.
Think of an old webfoot on a good horse headed for home with a furlough in his pocket and within tow days ride of home and a prospect of seeing my loved wife and child.
But, oh! how I did want a saddle. The company went in a brisk trot and I had to keep up. We arrived within a mile of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee about dark, when we learned the next town was full of Yankees. We filed to the right and intended to go around the town. I was still in the rear and it was dark as pitch, when my hat was knocked off by a limb. I lit off to get the hat and the company went on, and when I finally got the hat the horse would not stand still. I had to get on a stump to mount, and by the time I got mounted the company was out of hearing, and having to halter the horse ran away with me. I knew that if I ran up to the company at this rate of speed that I would be fired upon so by skillful maneuvering I managed to turn him out of the road and into the bush. when I hastily dismounted and tied the horse to a beech limb, spread my blanket on the ground, which was frozen hard as a rock, and lay there until daylight. When I looked around I found that I was right close to the town and it was full of soldiers. I did not know but that I was inside the picket line, but fortunately for me there were no pickets out. this led me to believe the Yanks were gone, so I reconnoitered a little till two negro men to who I represented myself to be a Union man, and asked them what command was in town. they told me the town was full of Rebel Soldiers, and as this was just my taste I mounted my horse and rode right into town.
Think of my astonishment when I saw the town was full of Yankees as a dog is fleas. They were cooking breakfast, folding blankets, polishing guns etc. They were too busy to notice me, and my appearance did not denote a soldier by any means. My heart was beating like a trip hammer, in fact I was scared, and badly scared too. I had my furlough and my pockets full of letter, and had no way to dispose of them. But oh!, how I did need a saddle.
About this time a Yankee came out of an old livery stable with a saddle in his hands, which he placed on the ground, and took his bridle and went back to get his horse. Now was my tme to get a saddle. So I slid off and took Mr. Yanks Saddle and put it on my horse, girted it tightly, mounted and rode off quietly until i got out of the thickest of them, and then put on full steam and was soon on the pike headed for home. I suppose they thought it was a scheme to draw them out, but that was the best riding saddle I ever rode and I rode it for all it was worth and landed safe at home by nightfall. What happened afterwards will be told later on. J.C.M