Monday, June 11, 2007

Scene 8: 1863-1865 –- Strength and Courage

Scene 8: 1863-1865 – Strength and Courage
[Spotlight on Narrator.]

All across Missouri, women were imprisoned in St. Louis and Kansas City, being temporarily held in local garrisons. Many farms were abandoned, most burned. The migration to Texas, Kansas and “The Far West” began.

After their defeat at Pea Ridge, much of the Confederate Army was called to other campaigns east of the Mississippi. Many members of the Missouri State Guard refused to go, however, and simply returned home. With no Confederate army at home to resist enemy occupation, many Missourians joined bands of guerrillas that increased each year of the war in spite of, and often because of, the Federal's attempts to hold Missouri. In Shannon County, the Federal presence was punishing.

[Alex and Soldier Quartet enter stage right and move DCS.]

Ballad: “Quantrill side” by Alex Chilton & Soldier Quartet.

Oh, I seen Big Joe as he got his horse and set himself for a ride.
He wore a coat of blackest black,
And his gun strapped by his side,
And his gun strapped by his side.
And I says, Big Joe, where do you go? Do you go to the Quantrill side?
For the night is black and your coat is black,
And your gun strapped by your side,
And your gun strapped by your side.
And I says, Big Joe, Oh yes I know they stole your fair young bride,
But you lost your wife and you'll lose your life,
If you go to the Quantrill side.
If you go to the Quantrill side.
But not a word did he say to me, and he passed me by with a stride.
And I says, Big Joe, Oh don't you go.
Don't you go to Quantrill side.
Don't you go to Quantrill side.
Sinkin’ Creek was bare, and they caught him there, and that was the place where he died.
They killed him in his black, black coat.
And his gun strapped by his side.
And his gun strapped by his side.
[Alex and Quartet exit stage right. Spotlight on Narrator.]

Alexander Chilton visited our home and my mother advised him not to go home as Shannon County was badly infested at that time, October 1864, with Federals. However, he ventured on to his home, and while he was there, he went on a mile further to the home of his aunt, Mrs. Joshua Chilton, his Aunt Betsy. Her house consisted of two sections and a hallway running the length of the building. The family was in the South room and, before anyone was aware, Federal soldiers appeared at the yard gate on the West side. Alex sprang into the hall, and though they fired several shots through the hall, escaped through a wooded pasture into a cornfield.

One of the soldiers overtook him and shouted back, “Come on boys, I’ve got him.”

Chilton attempted to shoot him.

The soldier, seeing what Alex aimed to do, dropped as low as he could on the opposite of side of his horse and when Alex’s pistol failed to fire the soldier raised up to shoot.
Chilton struck him on the forehead with a heavy ear of corn and knocked him unconscious for a short time. Alex escaped along the opposite side of the field. When the soldiers came looking for him, they found no trace.

Chilton slipped along the south-side of the field, back into the wooded pasture, and climbed a white oak tree that had a cluster of grape vines 25 feet from the ground. In this cluster, he was able to hide completely from view of the soldiers. When they finally gave up the search, two of them passed under the tree. One of them remarked that he would like to know where that rascal Chilton had gone. Alex hid in the tree until he was sure they were clear gone before he came down.

The tree in which Alex Chilton hid is carefully guarded. Every time the farm changes hands, it is stipulated that this tree must be preserved as a monument to the heroism of Alexander Chilton who was the hero of Shannon County during the Civil War. The Federals arrested him three different times and attempted to kill him. Each time he escaped. He was a man six feet tall, weighing 215 pounds. He was a fast runner and of great strength and courage equal to his physical prowess. Had he not been thus qualified, the soldiers would have caught him in the cornfield.

[Spotlight down. Close curtain.]

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