Will Monroe County Answer the Call?


Will Monroe County Answer the Call?

By E. P. Blanton

When the call comes, if one does come, for volunteers to go to Mexico, will our county of Monroe be represented?  Fifty six years ago, when the Civil War broke out Monroe was represented, not only with the home guard or militia but also with companies of troops which took an active part in many of the great battles.  Does the patriotism that fired the hearts of our fathers and grandfathers to such an extent still burn within us so that if our country calls we will not be deaf?  Let us hope so.

A way back in 1862 when the nation was at war with itself, a company of soldiers was organized at Florida under the captaincy of Brackston Pollard.  That was in the spring and in the following August it went into battle at Newark where three of its members were killed and several severely wounded, among them the captain.

Have you ever heard of Brace's company?  It was our own Judge Theodore Brace who lives just west of town.  Soon after its organization it combined with four other companies to make a battalion and chose Mr. Brace as Lieutenant-Colonel.  He was succeeded in the captaincy by Elliott W. Major, another Monroe countian.              

A few days after Brace's company was organized, it went into camp at Higginbotham's mill, on Elk Fork.  In 1861 they had a slight skirmish with the Federals at Monroe City but it was not until the next month that they had to face a real invasion of this county.  Two thousand men from Kansas and Iowa came to Paris early one morning for the purpose of relieving the Farmers Bank of the responsibility of guarding a large amount of money.  However, the money was secreted by O. P. Gentry, cashier, while Frank L. Pitts, a private in Brace's company rode away to warn his commander of the prescence of the enemy.  His ride was somewhat similar to that of Paul Revere, only he was hastened on by shots from Union soldiers who saw him leaving town.  Only skirmishing between a few soldiers of each side followed, but fortune favored Brace's men as they killed one Federal and captured several others.

It was Captain Major who conducted the attack on Paris, a bloodless fight in October 1864, but which left the Old Glenn Hotel without windows and full of bullet holes, still to be found on the north side.  The town was in charge of about twelve federal soldiers and a company of the Home Guard under the command of Bill Fowkes, about a hundred and fifty strong.  Captain Major was returning to this vicinity for the purpose of recruiting more men for the Southern forces.  He approached the town from three sides, one force being stationed in the old grave yard, another by the Harley House, now Major's Livery Satble, and the third at Washington and Caldwell streets.  They gradually closed in, firing at the windows but hoping to hurt no one but friends and neighbors within.  The Home Guard feared that Major intended to burn down the town foe sheltering the Federal troops and were barricaded in the hotel to resist the towns capture.  Major went to Fowke's wife, who had been a neighbor before the war and aked her to interced with her husband for a surrender.  When it was found that the attacking party meant no harm to the town, the white flag was hoisted and surrendered with unconditional parole made.  Everybody was feeling good and so ended Paris' biggest battle of Civil War days.

Bob Swinney, of Middle Grove, later sheriff of this county, and Steve Mason, another man from that neighborhood, won recognition in the war.  Probably the most widely known soldier from this vicinity was Captain Thomas A. Sidener who gave his life to the cause.  He was one of the ten men of General Porter's command whom Mcneil ordered to be shot at Palmyra in revenge for the death of a Federal sympathizer.

And so I could go on naming scores of Monroe county men who have shouldered a gun and marched off to fight for the cause of their country and should the time come when their nation is in need of troops, undoubtedly something within us will say, "Young man, do as your fathers did."