Monday, June 11, 2007

Scene 5: 1862 –- Tragedy of Eleven

Scene 5: 1862 – Tragedy of Eleven

The people of Shannon County were grieved by the murders of John West, Mrs. Sam West, Louis Conway, James Henry Gaylon, William Chilton, Henry Smith, Sam Herring, Jack Herring, John Huddleston, John Story, and Senator Joshua Chilton. The tragedy was one of the bloody incidents of the Civil War and was an instance of what man will do when war uncovers the brutal in man.
John Worthington became an enemy to Joshua Chilton over an imaginary wrong, and Dave Smith became an enemy to Alexander Chilton over a real wrong. Worthington and Smith, in the dead of night, accompanied Federal soldiers from Rolla to the vicinity where the Chilton’s lived. They first caught John Huddleston, Jack and Sam Herring, and William Chilton. The band next approached the home of Andrew J. Chilton who heard them coming in time to leap out of a window in nightclothes. He joined a herd of sheep in the pasture and escaped by running off on all fours.
When the raiding party reached the West home, Sam crawled under a bed. John West, Sam’s father, talked to them until they turned away. Sam ran to the door and fired a double-barreled shotgun at the soldiers, but missed. The raiders fired back and killed Old Man West instantly.
Mrs. West thrust Sam back into the house; as she came between him and the enemy, they fired a charge of heavy shot into her back and hips.
She suffered two weeks before death.
The soldiers caught Alexander Chilton. Senator Joshua Chilton and Louis Conway ran from the house and hid among some weeds in the yard of an old house about half a mile away. The soldiers spied Conway and killed him.
Senator Chilton slipped away, but was discovered.
James H. Gaylon had a broken leg. As the prisoners walked along, his leg became sore and he realized he would not be able to travel the next day. That night the prisoners were placed in a vacant house. Gaylon whispered to Alexander Chilton to knock the sleeping guard out with his boot and Gaylon would hold him until the prisoners could escape. Senator Chilton was a Free Mason and he whispered to the others not to attempt an escape. Two of the enemy were Masons. He thought that through their influence, he could save the lives of all the prisoners.

Early the next morning, as Monk’s raiders were marching the captives up Story’s Creek toward Lawson Hill, they met George Davis, a lad of fifteen years, very slender and tall for his age. Refusing to fall in line when ordered, George was struck with whips and straps and forced into line. George said “You’d better kill me now while you have the upper-hand. If I get away from you, I’ll kill you the next time we meet if it’s a hundred years from now”. Monk’s reply was a sarcastic laugh and a slash of his whip. Trying multiple times to escape and beaten after each attempt, George finally escaped, darted into the thicket. Monk said, “Let him go, he’s just a boy. He’ll remember the thrashing I gave him for a long as he lives, and besides, he can’t do us any harm.”

James Gaylon told the guard that he could walk no further. The guard replied that he must go on or be killed. He sat against a tree, brushed his hair back and said ”Kill and be damned”.
They shot him in the forehead. Then, Joshua Chilton realized his mistake in objecting to the escape attempt. When the Salem Company and Scouts turned over command to the Rolla soldiers for the continued march to Rolla for questioning,  the Rolla Company did not know that Joshua was a State Senator. He voted 'no session' and did not attend the Confederate legislative and constitutional convention in Neosho, yet as a 'neutral', hated by both armies, he was considered 'one of the worst' because of his staunch belief to "reason with the pen".
The guards in charge of Henry Smith and William Chilton lagged behind until they were out of view of the rest. The guards shot both prisoners.
They caught up with the other and proposed that all be killed.
[Guards, Joshua, Alex, and four others march into DR and DC.]

Guard 1
Take off your shoes, you Sesech!!

[All prisoners sit down and start to take off shoes. Guards remain standing and threatening with guns.]

Joshua Chilton
"We are neutrals or if some are rebels, they took the oath after capture and parole. Are you going to shoot me down like a brute?” I’m a Free Mason…same as you.

Guard 2
Once a person’s dead, you can’t tell the difference between an honorable man and a brute.

Joshua Chilton
“I have friends that can walk as deep in blood as any of you.”

[ Guard 1 shoots Joshua and others.
Guard 2 makes to get the ring, Alex scoots away in the confusion and runs off stage right.)

Guard 2(Speaking to the dead body of Joshua Chilton.) You…you’re no Mason, because now I have your Masonic Ring. (Laughs derisively and exits.)

Alex Chilton
I will hunt you down. You will find no safe haven. When I find you, you will wallow in fear and suffering in the dust. You will rue this day; the day of your descent into dishonor and brutality!

[Scene Description: From stage left, a woman brings laundry basket containing clothes. She moves for DL. Alex runs to a spring where a young woman is washing clothes, and being thirsty and exhausted, he drinks and lies down to rest. The woman throws some unwashed clothes over him and in a few minutes the 2 guards come along and ask her if she saw him pass. She points stage left, indicating that he went that direction. When they exit, Alex runs upstage to Aunt Betsey’s “house”. She takes him in, feeds him, helps him to rocking chair. Aunt Betsy then kneels to pray. He wakes, gets gun, provisions]

Alex ChiltonI will know no peace until I avenge the death of Uncle Joshua, William and the others.
{To Aunt Betsy] I will protect you and our family until I breathe my last breath.

[Alex and aunt Betsy Exit stage right.]

NarratorAlex got Charles T. Chilton and Jack Smith, brother of Henry Smith, one of the murdered men, to go with him to settle the score with John Worthington, one of the instigators of the crime. The three went to his home in the vicinity of Round Spring in the night. Worthington resisted but was wounded. His wife assisted him onto a bed and both began to beg. As Alex, Charles and Jack killed him, they reminded him that their people did not beg when the gang of murders shot them.

What they did not yet know, the St. Louis command launched an investigation of the killings of the Senator, his nephew, his hired hands, and the other citizens. The bodies were found laying by the road, with gunshots at close range, not typical of prisoners running to escape. they were buried where they fell. The commander of the Salem Company, Joseph Weydemeyer, a trained German soldier, an educated man and education leader in St. Louis, was not prepared for the undiscipled armies of Blue and Gray, and the neutrals in Homespun. He recalled to St. Louis shortly after the Tragedy of Eleven.

[Alex enters from stage right. Charles T. Chilton and Jack Smith enter from stage left. Meet in DCS.]

Ballad: “ANDERSON’S WARNING” by Capt. William Anderson, Alex Chilton, Charles T. Chilton, and Jack Smith

You sons of Missouri, in towns and on farms,
I hear you’ve been urged to go taking up arms,
To fight the guerrillas wherever they’re found—
Take such a step and walk perilous ground.
Remember we hide in the bush all around.
I can’t save you traitors from a terrible end,
Like wolves we will hunt you down both my men and me.
Fools that you are, you can’t run and can’t hide;
My eyes will be on you; watch how you decide.
Death will await those who choose the wrong side.

My name’s Captain Anderson; I hunt and I kill.
I am a guerrilla; I’m a Devil from Hell.
For my dear sister’s death I will kill till I’m killed,
Now there never can be enough Yankee blood spilled.
Jo was crushed as the walls of her prison caved in,
The Feds did it on purpose and they’ll pay for that sin.
And they’ll pay and they’ll pay, boys, again and again.
´Round my waist I keep a cord of the finest of silk,
And I’ve tied a knot in it for each Yank that I’ve killed.
There’s dozens of knots that I’ve put in the cord;
Each knot’s one step closer to evenin’ the score.
But it ain’t never enough, boys, I only want more.
My name’s Captain Anderson; I hunt and I kill.
I am a guerrilla; I’m a Devil from Hell.
One day we rode into Centralia town,
We broke into shops; we robbed the people we found.
Stole a barrel of whiskey from the local saloon,
And we drank and we had fun, boys, till just about noon.
When the real fun would be enterin’ the town mighty soon.
As the sun was a-blazing high up in the sky,
The train from St. Louis was just passing by.
We threw ties on the rails and then we forced ourselves in,
And to our delight there sat Federal men,
Unarmed and on furlough—right there in our hands.
We forced them all out; we lined ‘em all in a row,
With our guns we’d put each damn Yank on parole.
I says to Arch Clements, “Go on, muster ‘em out!”
Then that whole row of Feds fell with screams and with shouts.
We shot ´em till bodies lay littered about.
My name’s Captain Anderson; more feared than Quantrill.
He may spare a Federal, but I never will.
More Feds soon pursued us, but we knew they would come,
We tore through their lines; we shot and killed every one.
Jesse James shot Major Johnson, sent him screaming to Hell.
For a beardless young boy, I believe he’ll do well—
Someday that young Jess might make a name for himself.
So come all you Missouri boys, take warning by me,
No quarter will I give to any traitor I see.
I’ve already killed dozens. Dozens more will I kill,
And if you dare oppose me your fate it is sealed.
If at first I don't get you, the next time I will.
My name’s Bloody Bill; I hunt and I kill.
I am a guerrilla; I’m a Devil from Hell

[Curtain. Bodies exit stage right. Scene 6 set put in place.]

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