Scene 6: 1863 -- Blue & Gray Cross Current
[Spotlight on Narrator.]
“The Federal Soldiers stationed at Pilot Knob in Iron County came down to winter with our citizens and to relieve them of their surplus. Federal General Davidson, with about 3,000 soldiers came to Van Buren and built a fort connected by a telegraph line to the parent fort at Pilot Knob. Rebel citizens kept cutting the wire. I remember my father used some of it to trellis his grapevines.
[Jefferson Lewis enters from stage right to DCS]
[Spotlight on Jefferson Lewis.]
Ballad: “JOHHNY WHISTLE TRIGGER” by Jefferson Lewis
Eighteen hundred and sixty one
Whistletrigger picked up his Long Tom gun.
Went down south with old “Pap” Price,
Fightin’ for Missouri and for Southern rights.
They whipped General Lyon down at Wilson's Creek;
They mopped up Lexington in just about a week.
But things was getting’ hot for the butternut boys,
So they high-tailed it down into Arkansas.
Run, Johnny Whistletrigger, Federals’ll get you.
Run, Johnny Whistletrigger, better get away.
Johnny got a hankerin’ to see his wife.
He asked for a leave from old “Pap” Price.
Pap said, “Johnny, you can have your way,
But be back next month by the 14th day.”
Johnny rode his mule both day and night.
He made it up to Van Buren and looked up his wife.
But early next mornin’ at the break of day
Johnny woke up when he heard his wife say...
They took Johnny prisoner and they marched him down
To a fort they had built at the edge of the town.
They put him to work with the kitchen crew,
And Johnny said, “This'll never do.”
Late one night when the guard got drunk,
Johnny took a chance and he showed his spunk.
He made a grab for his Long Tom gun;
Smacked that guard and he started to run.
He ran till he came to the river bluff edge.
Climbed on down and hid in a cave.
Early next mornin’ Johnny heard a man say,
“I think he's down there, don't let him get away.”
Well, Johnny busted out and took em’ by surprise.
His Long Tom caught a feller right between the eyes.
He jumped in the river and started to swim;
Union boys all shootin’ at him.
He swam on down to the Black River mouth;
Took that river and headed on south.
Just like he promised when he went away,
He reported in to “Pap” on the 14th day.
Old “Pap” made him a colonel on the spot.
His friends was amazed that he hadn't got shot.
He said he owed it all to his Long Tom Gun,
And knowin’ when to stand and knowin’ when to run.
[Lewis exits stage right. Spotlight on Narrator.]
NarratorUsually, about ten wagons accompanied by 50 to 100 soldiers made foraging trips. Both Federal and Rebel armies visited our farms for supplies for their men and the horses. They took corn and other feed; and, of course, the cattle and other livestock were not overlooked. One train drove up to my father’s corncrib. Soldiers tore out three logs from one side and helped themselves to ten wagonloads. Then, they took ten of our best cattle. Several other trains went up Current River to the Reed settlement and confiscated corn and other supplies. They stopped at our home and killed all the ducks, geese and chickens. Another day they came and took all the bedclothes off the bedsteads and searched every box, chest, trunk, nook and corner. They took my mother’s saddle and some books, and asked numerous questions that were not pertaining to war. They even shot some of our brood cows and took only their liver to eat. That showed the character of these soldiers.
Once the Federals arrested some of the local citizens among whom was Alexander Kinnard. After escaping, Kinnard joined General Jeff Thompson’s Rebels” who had also come to the area to forage. Thompson had 400 soldiers, but sent only sixty including Kinnard to attack the Federal foraging train at Kinnard’s farm. Alex’s young wife opened the fence gate for them to ride in.Both Confederate and Federal Soldiers formed battle lines and begin firing at the same time. Alex Kinnard was killed, as was one Federal Soldier. Some Federals escaped back to Van Buren, and reported the skirmish. Immediately a force of 400 Federals started after the Rebels. They marched in grand style up the road locating the trail of the Rebels who were headed back to Jeff Thomson and his 400. The Federals and Rebels formed behind logs and they swapped lead for 30 minutes. When the Federals failed to dislodge the enemy, they turned back. Instead of riding in file, the ones that rode and ran the fastest horses got to Van Buren first. Confederate General Jeff Thompson went his way having taken the pleasure out of the Federal foraging and putting some Rebel caution into it.