Monroe County & the Civil War

"Rebel Girl"

Journal of Mildred Elizabeth Powell

A special thanks to Civil War historian Bruce Nichols at [email protected] for sharing this interesting chapter by Mary Stella Hereford Ball, daughter of Lizzie Powell Hereford, published in the “Reminiscenses of the Civil War”. Her detailed account of the turbulent times during her imprisonment includes mention of several Monroe Countians and county related events.

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“In 1861 the storm clouds were gathering over Missouri with almost cyclonic swiftness and men and women waited breathlessly until the decision of Missouri’s loyalty or secession was known. Families and friends were divided here as elsewhere in the states by this decision. One small Missouri town especially, Palmyra – afterwards to be made famous by the inhuman massacre of ten innocent men – was eagerly discussing war news. Even children fought their sham battles in the streets, young girls and youths held their enthusiastic, though friendly debates, at evening gatherings, little dreaming that soon their own lives, too, would become involved in the great tragedy of the states. Among the belles of the town was Mildred Elizabeth Powell. 

Young, exceptionally beautiful, cultivated, of high parentage and distinguished ancestry, she easily swayed her young friends by reason of her eloquent enthusiasm, her expressive brown eyes and her ready tongue, which knew well how to employ the heated rhetoric which was so customary in those days. Her nineteen years had been spent in Missouri with those who had reared her with extreme tenderness and affection, and her heart glowed with the loving sympathy and loyalty to those who had shared her youthful friendship. 

Among these was a young girl, Margaret Creath, daughter of Elder Jacob Creath, the great expounder of the tenets of the Christian Church, then in its infancy. It was while visiting at her home that she urged her young friends ‘to go south,’ as the _expression was then used, and join the Confederate forces, and not to listen to the persuasions of the Union men or their newspapers. Her character was of so positive a nature and her influence was so great that she became feared by General McNeil, then commanding the Union forces at Palmyra, and without warning she was arrested and made a prisoner of war.  

The great lawn at Prairie Home, the name of Elder Creath’s home, was one day surrounded by soldiers in numbers, commanded by Colonel Smart, who requested to see her. She fearlessly complied, but her spirited answer whetted the anger of her captors, and in a few hours she was imprisoned, to remain until months later she was banished to Nevada, then a far-away territory, where communications with her friends could but rarely be received. Extracts from her journal at that period of her life will give a better idea of the oppression and cruelty that she underwent in her desire to aid Missouri in her struggle for liberty that anything I can say: 

Prairie Home 

Monday, September 29, 1862. Rose this morning to find our beautiful prairie in front of our dwelling overspread with hostile troops who, like the frogs of Egypt, have covered the land in an hour. Through the day various privates and officers have invaded the house, demanding mil, butter, eggs, chickens, turkeys, etc. The command, Colonel Smart’s – poor Elliott Majors is held by them as a prisoner. Aunt and I prepared a nice breakfast for him this morning and sent it over by ‘Cuff,’ who found the poor fellow, all mounted, to be taken to Mexico. Of course, he was not allowed to receive any favor from his friends or relatives, so some of his persecutors had the pleasure of enjoying a meal solely intended for poor unfortunate Elliott. I could not suppress my indignation when I heard the circumstance.  

About six o’clock Captain Poillon, with a guard of forty or fifty, drew up in front of the house and alighted. A guard immediately surrounded the dwelling whilst five or ten officers entered, and upon being called for I went down. Captain P. met me rather excitedly and commenced a general introduction to those who accompanied him. I requested him to dispense with this, as it was not my desire to be introduced to those whose acquaintance I had not sought and did not expect to cultivate. To this he replied with asperity, stating with evident satisfaction that his business at that time was to arrest me. I insisted that the lateness of the hour would prevent me from accompanying him to Colonel Smart’s headquarters. However, with him acting under imperative orders, and being assured I should be returned by nightfall, I reluctantly consented. Uncle’s buggy was impressed, and I was taken to Colonel Smart’s headquarters.  

As we approached the camp the soldiers drew up in line for us to pass. The escort drew up in front of a dirty-looking tent surrounded by at least fifty dirty, dusty, unshaven, unfeeling-looking hirelings who commenced gazing and staring in my face as though I was a hyena. Upon being ordered to alight and enter the tent, I refused, and after a few sharp words Colonel Smart presented himself – a heavy, strong, athletic man about forty-five years of age. He addressed a few remarks to me, told me I was his prisoner, and that my arrest was designed as a punishment for the many offenses that I had committed against the government in discouraging enlistment, persuading my friends to fight against the administration and a great many other things, to all of which I exhibited the most profound indifference, and unconcernedly remarked to him as he ceased speaking that from the beginning of the war in our state the unprincipled party that inaugurated it had waged it against the women and children, and that the cries of the weak and unprotected were more pleasing to his party than the defiance of the brave. He did not reply to this, but turned and left me. I overheard him giving his orders to McElroy, captain of the escort, and instead of allowing me to return home I was sent to a farm house about two miles distant for the night. “McElroy,” said Colonel Smart, “take this rebel to Mr. Alverson’s house, now used by our men as a hospital, and keep her tonight under double guard, as Majors’ me are in ambush not far off and may attempt a rescue. Tomorrow she will be taken to Mexico.” 

Captain Poillon also heard every word, and promised to befriend me in any and everything consistent with his duty. I then asked him if he would also send word to my aunt to have my trunk in readiness for the next day’s journey. He promised to do so. My kind friend, Mrs. Alverson, was very much surprised to see me under arrest, and poor Lou sobbed outright. Here I met with several Federal officers with whom I had but little conversation. To all their questions I gave the most bitter sarcasm for answers that my excited brain could suggest. Here at tea for the first time in my life I sat at the same table – but how could I eat – break bread – eat salt – with the enemies of my country. The house is surrounded by guards, one of whom has threatened to shoot me. Captain P. refused to send my message for my trunk. Write a note to aunt and pin it under the negro girl’s apron and tell her to rise early in the morning – pass the pickets for the ostensible purpose of hunting the cat. 

 

Tuesday, September 30. – Slept very little last night – had such a headache, produced by excitement. Dear little Lou, with her small, soft hand, would smooth back the hair from my burning forehead. The parlor is occupied by six soldiers. Early after breakfast Captain P. came, bringing with him my own sweet cousin, Irvin, who had gained permission to accompany me. Captain Poillon continues to annoy me by introducing Federal officers – among the number is Lieutenant Bradley, who is to take command of the escort that is to take me to Mexico, twenty miles distant. Major Woodson has sent letter by us to Yeiser, the provost marshal. My not was received and my trunk sent accordingly. About nine we started and for two hours the ride was very pleasant, but the heat and the air became oppressive, and last night’s headache returned. Our escort consisted of sixty soldiers, styling themselves “Red Rovers.” When we arrived at the suburbs of the city the train halted. The soldiers fell into line, unfurled the desecrated old stars and stripes and marched us into Mexico with all the pomp and display as though I had been a Madame Roland. Great God, can men, calling themselves Americans, take such infinite delight in waging a war against defenseless women! “Judgment has fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason.” Was delivered over to the provost, who permitted me to be taken to Mrs. Walker’s without a guard. The greatest excitement prevailed on account of my arrest. The house was crowded with friends to know the cause of such an outrage. Among the ladies who called were the Misses Larne, whose cousin had been banished to “Ship Island” by General Butler; also Mr. ------, and my own sweet friend, Mattie Y-----.  

 

Wednesday, October 1st. – Several calls this morning – Dr. Lee, Mrs. L. and others. Hear several flying reports about myself-annoying because of their falsity. One charge was that I had been traveling a Confederate spy, recruiting for President Davis. Have to report by proxy twice a day to the provost marshal.  

Afternoon. – Lycurgus Batey called; had almost forgotten him in the change of three years. Sick and dispirited and retire early, but not to sleep. 

 

Thursday, October 2nd. – Sent a polite request to provost marshal to allow me the privilege of seeing poor Elliott Majors, who is a prisoner here under sentence of death and desires to see me. The rough, crusty refusal I received brought the tears to my eyes despite my efforts to the contrary. About ten o’clock an officer came to tell me to prepare to leave in half an hour for the cars. He brought a buggy, thinking I would ride with him. I refused to do so, and Mr. Smithy, a friend, drove me up to the depot, where I met with Lieutenant Stidger and a number of friends who had assembled to see me off. One old lady, who was a stranger, came up and seemed very much affected. Mr. Morris gave me some fine peaches. Cars arriving, bid adieu to friends and embark with my guard for Hudson City. Met Mr. William Bowen an old friend, on the cars. Purchase a “Republican” containing an account of the execution of ten men at Hudson City for the account of the execution of ten men at Hudson City for the offense of being southerners who did not regard an oath imposed upon them to support Lincoln’s administration. Among the number was a boy of fifteen years, a brave, bright youth, who even at his age had borne arms in defense of his country. They were shot by order of Col. Merrill, who, for the dark deed, was promoted to a generalship. Upon arriving at Hudson City our guard conducted us to General Merrill’s headquarters. We were duly presented to this cold-blooded man who, attired in full dress, paraded up and down the room, his hands crossed behind him, dictating to his secretary. Here we remained only a few minutes when we were escorted to the “Union House,” Egleston the proprietor.  

Afternoon. – Sitting reading. General Merrill entered my room desiring a conversation, remarking that he had never met with an intelligent southern lady in Missouri. I replied that he had been very unfortunate in his associations. He said the accusations against me were that I had discouraged enlistments; was a rebel spy; corresponded with Price’s army; had proven myself a firm friend of Colonel Porter, supplying him with ammunition and valuable information at the peril of my own life. To some of his questions I refused a reply. He assured me I should soon be released and that every courtesy should be extended me which my position in society entitled me to receive. Professed to be very much interested in my behalf, complimented me highly, amounting even to flattery. I assured him, under the present circumstances, I did not feel disposed to receive his sarcasm or his flattery, whichever it might be.  

He remained nearly an hour, and after tea Cousin Irvin and myself were seated playing chess when he again entered. We spent some time discussing religion, politics and war, differing materially upon the two last-mentioned subjects, and kept up quite a firing of grapeshot and shell in the form of words. Spent a very unhappy night, having no fastening to my door and feeling myself entirely among foes. The Union Aid Society had a dance in the dinig room just under my room. The old general invited me politely to participate, which, of course, I refused with some indignation to do. 

 

Friday 3rd. – After breakfast we had another game of chess. General Merrill breakfasted at 11, then came in to inform me we would continue our journey in one hour. Says our destination is Palmyra, and that he will send an officer as a guard for his “fascinating captive,” and says I should have been Union – that he would be proud to know that I, with my intense feelings and devotion to a cause, was numbered among the loyal ladies of Missouri. Great Heavens – how preposterous the thought that I could identify myself with those who marked their pathway through my native state with despair and gloom. With Queen Catherine I can say, “Is it possible for me to love the enemies of my country and my liberties.” 

Cars arriving at one, Lieutenant Easley present himself to accompany me, and proves quite a friend and quasi-southerner – gives me a copy of Edgar Poe to read and proposes assisting me in escaping to Illinois, which proffer I refuse, telling him I belong to a party that never runs. Reach Palmyra at 4 o’clock. The lieutenant kindly assures me he will not report me till morning, so that I may rest one night without a guard. Take rooms at the National Hotel and order my supper in my room. Landlady, Mrs. Reider, very kind, and thinks I am a Union lady, sister of Lieutenant Easley; consequently tells me of the arrest of Miss Creath, and that a young lady friend of Miss C. was also under arrest and was expected hourly; said she had heard General McNeil say they would be held as prisoners till the close of the war. I humor the joke by an attempt to play Union and learn by it many little things that will prove of interest to me. Mr. Clay Vivian of Paris and cousin spend the evening in the parlor with me. Clay V., traveling under an assumed name, is making his way to Richmond. Retire to my room and sink to sleep to the measured tread of military beneath my window. 

 

Saturday 4th. – Awakened by the bright sunlight streaming in at my window. Breakfast in my room, after which Cousin P. came in and talked with me until the landlady announced Lieutenant Easley in the parlor desiring to see me. Went in and found him waiting to escort me before Colonel Strachan. Went with him with much reluctance and had the humiliation of being introduced into a room filled with gentlemen. Yet it did not require much time to discover that most of them, like myself, were prisoners. Colonel Strachan, a low, red-faced man, with small, keen black eyes and dark hair, brown whiskers and drew up a chair for me in close proximity to the one he had occupied. I bowed politely, took the chair, placed it some distance from him and took a seat. With a frown he resumed his writing at the table – occasionally remarking to a prisoner: “Stand up here, sir. How many horses have you stolen,” etc., at the same time casting sidelong glances at me, with a look of triumph, to know he had me at last in his power. He had been making the threat – now it had been executed. 

Remained in his office nearly an hour, during which time several lady applicants presented themselves for passes to see friends in prison – most of whom were refused in such a heartless manner that my heart swelled with indignation, and the contempt – supreme disgust – I felt for the soulless being manifested itself in every reply I was forced to make him. After a spirited discussion of the circumstances by which I was surrounded Lieutenant Fuller of H-----, who rejoiced in the position of a subofficer in the militia, made his appearance with a band of bleached muslin encircling his hat – I suppose to designate his rank – and I was ordered to go with him to the house of Elder J. Creath, to keep company with his notoriously disloyal daughter. Just at this moment my friend, Rufe Anderson, opened the door and exhibited great surprise in seeing me and requested the privilege of taking Mr. Fuller’s place, which was refused, Colonel Strachan remarking, “Mr. Anderson, Miss Powell has the honor to be at present under military surveillance, and you are not a military man,” but added, “You can walk with her if you desire, in company with the lieutenant.” We returned to the hotel, where I called the landlady, informed her that I had been her prisoner, and had been sent by the colonel to keep company with my particular friend, Miss Creath. The surprise the old lady exhibited was highly amusing. Poor Sister Mag, how fearfully imprisonment tells upon her delicate frame. She was almost beside herself with joy to know we were not to be separated. At tea time the house was surrounded by a guard. Sister Mag and I spent the whole night in conversation. 

 

Sunday, October 5th. – Spent most of the morning in reading my Bible and in conversation. In the afternoon Mrs. Pittman and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who are the only ones outside the family we are permitted to see, came out to see us, and bring no very encouraging news to us, as they think we are here for the war. The dark clouds that have been rising in the sky all afternoon begin now to dissolve themselves into a slow rain – a dreary, chilling rain – almost enough to sadden the heart of anyone, much less a prisoner’s. 

 

Monday, October 6th. – Guards still stationed around the house, carefully watching every movement. My friends see General McNeil and make an ineffectual attempt to have me paroled. Colonel Strachan absent in H., trying to collect evidence against us. About 10 o’clock an officer, calling himself Lieutenant Moon, came up to station guards, called for me, and when I appeared pointed to his dirty-looking men and told them to know their prisoner, to look at me well and know whom they had to guard. I felt frightened for a moment, but it soon gave place to indignation, and I said, “Yes, take a good look. It may not be often that you see a lady – a real live rebel – besides, I have the power of assuming a great many forms. One day I may metamorphose myself into a bird of passage and will take my flight.” 

Sister Mag and I agree to read three hours a day, play chess two and work one, commencing with the History of the Bastile. One of the guards, styling himself Thos. Allen, boasts that he was a spy in General Green’s camp in July. I make an attempt to bribe him and find I could succeed if I desired. Poor, indeed, is the prospect of such a cause when such unprincipled creatures are relied upon to sustain it. Beautiful moonlight! We site and sing, and then retire dream of “Home, Sweet Home,” and freedom once more. 

 

Tuesday 7th. – Spend the morning reading and playing chess. Hear that poor Tom Sidener, who was captured in Shelby county, is here, confined in this loathsome prison. A great many other southerners are also in that unhealthy jail waiting exchange. According to the proclamation of General Halleck, they were to be exchanged in three weeks if they would give themselves up. But the weather grows cold and the leaves are falling, the only protection from heat or cold that those brave, noble boys have known for months; willingly sacrificing personal comfort rather than become the slaves of these cruel tyrants who infest our state. After we had retired I had a note from Colonel Strachan saying he would call the next morning. 

 

Wednesday, October 8, 1863. – A dark, dreary day. Wake with no very pleasant reflections. Begin to realize that I am, indeed, a prisoner. The day passes as usual, with work, reading and writing. In the evening Colonel Strachan came, bringing with him Major Cohen, a former acquaintance. Went into the parlor and quite a sharp, bitter discussion ensued. Agree to with Colonel Porter a cartel for the exchange of horses. Colonel Smart tells me the sentence of “banishment” is passed upon Maggie and myself, confining us to the northern portion of Indiana till the close of the war. He promises to remove the guards if I will give bond for my appearance. 

 

Thursday, October 9th. – Dear Mrs. Pittman has called and promises to see Colonel Strachan and try to have the sentence of banishment revoked. O Heavens! Is this the “Land of the free and the home of the brave?” 

 

Friday, October 10th. – Clear, bright and beautiful overhead but muddy underfoot, and a bleak fall wind sighing and moaning through the yellow-tinted tree tops. Write some letters and lay them aside to await an opportunity to get them to the office. Our friends see Colonel S., and find him determined upon banishment to Indiana. Maggie and I join together and write an appeal to General Merrill, requesting him to have the sentence revoked or delayed until we could have a fair and impartial trial. 

 

Saturday, October 11th. – The day lovely, calm and bright – a strange contrast to the many scenes of carnage and bloodshed enacted before its close. Mrs. Agnes Smith called and we stole down to see her. Mrs. Thompson sent Maggie a beautiful bouquet of rare flowers by the underground railroad, and among the buds we found a little note secreted expressing the heartfelt sympathy extended us by the dear southern people of Palmyra. 

 

Sunday, October 12th. – Mr. and Mrs. S. and Mrs. Pittman came out – brought late papers and some nice grapes for the “poor fettered birds,” as they styled us. 

 

Monday 13th. – Just two weeks a prisoner – feel the effects of confinement and loss of freedom. Maggie and I are left alone today, and in the afternoon disguised ourselves completely and went down street to the dressmaker’s; only made ourselves known to Judge Redd and one or two good friends. 

 

Tuesday 14th. – Unpleasant dreams woke me early today, and upon looking out of my window behold the face of the sky covered with clouds. A chill, dreary atmosphere prevails and warns of the sad approach of the “sere and yellow leaf.” God grant protection to our noble-hearted soldiers exposed to its chilling rains and frosts. Every hour of my life I am more forcibly impressed with the hardships and sufferings they undergo for the sake of liberty. More especially do I sympathize with those who, like myself, are prisoners. 

Afternoon. – Sister Em and Charley with Laura C.came up. They applied for a pass to see me, but were refused, when they determined to come anyhow. So they did, and oh the joy it occasioned to see the loved ones from home. They stayed but a short time and had to hurry back to the cars. How sad I felt to see them leave for H. without accompanying them. Irene Pittman and Nannie Willock came out to see us, accompanied by the officer of the day; had to converse in his presence. Heard that General Merrill was under arrest for the murder of those men. 

 

Wednesday 15th. – Commenced reading the “Talisman.” 

 

Thursday 16th. – Day passed without anything of interest occurring. 

 

Friday 17th. – This afternoon received from General Merrill a reply to our letter in which he says we should not seek “immunity when made to suffer the penalty of our crime anywhere in the Federal Union.” Answered in a manner we expected, consequently not disappointed. Hear at the supper table that ten of the poor, persecuted prisoners now confined in the Palmyra jail tomorrow at one o’clock are to be shot. Some time since Colonel Porter, in the capture of Palmya, arrested and carried away with him Andrew Allsman, a spy and reporter. A notice was promulgated by Joe Winchell allowing ten days for him to return, and alleging as a penalty for his nonappearance the execution of ten southern men. The time has expired and he has not returned, and General McNeil has already issued the death warrants. Great God! I cannot realize that I hear aright. Surely ‘tis but a repetition of their cruel threats – so often made against those who dare oppose their vile, polluted deeds. Mr. Kennedy of Monroe calls and assures us that it is too true, and – O Heavens, can I write the word? My poor, dear friend, Captain Sidener – the noble, brave, bright youth, the handsome, dark-eyed southerner, the dependence of helpless orphans – is one of the fated ten. 

What sleep is there for my red and swollen eyes tonight? What rest is there for this poor burning, bursting brain? Sister Mag and I, with arms locked closely around each other, pace back and forth our lonely room, sobs only disturbing the silence. Then occasionally we kneel and pour forth out burdened hearts in prayer. The sound of the saw and hammer are plainly heard, and the light at this late hour in yonder casement bespeaks the preparation being made for the living dead. What must be the thoughts of those poor, doomed beings tonight – no sweet sleep can fold her balmy wings around their hearts – no sweet thoughts of future meetings with the loved ones at home to come to cheer them. O, my soul! Lift, lift to God thy strongest, purest prayer for help in this trying hour. O, may the thunderbolt of His wrath fall upon those wicked murderers and save the lives of the innocent and the good. 

 

Saturday, October 18, 1863. – Such a lovely day in Indian summer. Ah! It seems that more appropriately Nature should be clothed in sadness and her face bedewed with tears. Yes, she, too, should weep. Too many tears cannot be shed for these, the good, the brave, “who go forth strong in life and come not back to us save with the dead.” Grandpa Creath has gone over to talk and pray with those poor, distressed victims. O, that I might sleep till the dreaded hour be past. A large number of women have gone this morning to General McNeil, and almost on bended knees begged that the sentence be revoked, but all in vain. He is lost to all feeling and is almost unconsciously drunk. 

Ten O’clock. – Grandpa has returned, and exhibits more emotion than I ever saw him manifest; his eyes are red with weeping, and he says never – no, never in his eventful life – has he witnessed such a scene, and with trembling hands clasped earnestly, his gray “eyes sheltered in their lids,” prayed heaven to spare him from such a trial again. He visited them in their dark, loathsome cells, and the dear creatures threw themselves into his arms and pierced the heavens with their shrieks, their payers and lamentations. Eight are young men, in the prime and vigor of life, and oh, it seems so hard to yield to the cruel tyrant monster’s decree. One o’clock is the hour appointed for their execution. My brain runs wild, my blood seems frozen in my veins, my very heart seems pulseless. 

‘Tis over! The dread ordeal is past – and ten noble patriots have been hurled into eternity. At half past twelve o’clock they passed through the city sealed upon their coffins and waving a final adieu to friend and foe. Women rushed out in front of the procession and prayed for mercy, which was denied. Mrs. McPheeters, whose own nephew is one of the condemned, prostrated herself before General McNeil and prayed him, if he expected mercy at the throne of God, to spare, if but for a few hours the dear lives in his power to save. ‘Twas all in vain; her petition was unheeded. 

Arriving at the fair grounds they were seated upon their coffins and a bandage to bind their eyes offered to each, which was promptly refused. After prayer by Rev. Rhodes, they were ordered to kneel to receive their fate, to which Captain Sidener replied: “I kneel to none but my God.” The command to “fire” was given by Ervin, and 60 shots were fired at the defenseless brave. Two fell instantly; the remainder, though almost perforated by bullets, still manifested signs of life. Observing it, the fiends rushed upon them with bayonets and drawn swords and butchered them in a most horrible manner. My poor friend, Tom Sidener, was among the latter. He bravely bared his bosom to the shower of leaden bullets and requested them to aim at his heart, remarking to a friend near him, “We will meet again; my home is in heaven.” They died like men – like heroes – like martyrs! 

One of the condemned had a wife and six little children. She pleaded long and earnestly with General McNeil to spare his life, and upon being denied, sank in convulsions at his feet. A young and noble boy, about seventeen years of age, who had just arrived that morning to visit a brother in prison, was so affected by the scene that he stepped boldly forward, and, lifting his hat from his forehead, remarked to McNeil: “Sir, if you are destitute of all feeling, I am not. Receive me as a substitute for her husband. True, I am young, and life has many charms and ties to bind me to it, but I have not a wife and six helpless babes.” The noble sacrifice was accepted, and that great heroic heart perished with the others. “O Father, forgive them! they know not what they do.” 

‘Tis a calm, beauteous twilight that is now stealing gently over the earth, yet a pall darker than Egyptian blackness has settled over the hearts of the people. From our prison home we can see the residence of Mrs. Boswell beautifully illuminated. Upon asking the cause we are told that a large party is given there tonight in honor of the perpetrators of the foul deed which has plunged, not only the city, but the whole country, in despair and gloom. “O woman, with a devil’s purpose and an angel’s face!” Why seek to encourage, by your base approval, the crimes of men who are aiming deathblows at the heart of the Constitution which you pretend – falsely assert – you love? 

 

Sunday, October 19th. – How calm, how beautiful the day! Yet what heart can feel enlivened by the voice of nature when ten dear southerners are to be hurried away in their rude coffins, their heads pillowed upon pine shavings, to the final resting place of the dead? Hear from Colonel Porter that he has crossed the Missouri river at Portland, Callaway county. 

 

Monday, October 20th. – Sent today to procure a lock of Captain Sidener’s hair, which was dark, long and curly. Joe Winchel, Editor “Courier,” in describing his dress and appearance at the time his execution, remarks: “We were forcibly reminded of the beautiful but misguided Absalom.” 

 

Tuesday and Wednesday, 21st and 22nd. – Mrs. Pittman brings us “Frank Leslie.” 

Thursday 23rd. – Wave today at 150 prisoners who are sent to St. Louis. They responded in cheers, waving their hats. A Federal officer grew indignant and called out to us pettishly: “Give them God’s blessing and pray they may never return to disgrace their country again.” How my heart ached to see them go, knowing that before the winter is ended many of that noble band will fall victims to the horrible diseases that infest their loathsome prisons. Hear that Colonel S. is removed. 

 

Friday 24th, Saturday 25th, Sunday 26th. – Three days pass without bringing an incident worthy of notice. This evening the chaplain of the regiment took the liberty to call upon grandpa because he was a minister. Sister Mag and I gave “Major” a quarter to unhitch his horse, which the little darkey did, showing his ivory at what he considered a capital joke. 

 

Monday 27th. – Hear that General McNeil says we are not to be taken out of the state; says he will decide our cases today. A funeral takes place this morning, Mrs. Hoskins’ son. 

 

Tuesday 28th, 1862. – Maggie and I are alone today and revive old memories of Cousin Mortimer and dear Capt. R.E.D., their many trials, their cool daring, and our sympathy, hopes and fears. 

 

Wednesday 29th, Thursday 30th. – Days pass gloomily away in a prison when not permitted to see friends, to receive a letter or write a note. Nothing of interest occurs sufficient to be recorded. Life grows as tedious as “a twice-told tale.” 

 

Wednesday, November 12th. – A note was handed me slyly today from home. How strong a desire it awakened to be with them once again, visiting – free and untrammeled – with my friends and breathing again the pure air of God’s universe. Sister M. and I have concluded to put our heads together to effect our release or escape. 

 

Friday, November 14th. - All day my brain has been bent upon some plan of escaping, if only for a few days, from our monotonous prison life. Miss Nannie calls and thinks we can get a parole for a few days. 

Afternoon. – Get Grandma to accompany me to General McNeil’s headquarters. How I shrink from appearing before such a man asking a favor. Down, down pride! Let me be politic, for a few minutes at least, when so much depends upon it. Have some misgivings, not having any permission to leave the house, and expect to be sent back under guard. See General McNeil, who expresses surprise at my boldness in coming out without being bidden. I tell him that I demand a trial; that I have waited seven long weeks for him to decide our case, and ask him to release us altogether. Upon being refused, ask him to parole Maggie and me for one week to go to Hannibal. He granted our request, adding that he was pleased to grant me a request or favor; that he did not suppose prisoner was a lady possessing the superior qualities he had found, and his greatest desire was to see me love my country. I replied, “General McNeil, I am devoted to my country and her cause, as my present surroundings indicate.” 

Started from grandpa’s at 3; went up Main street and met several friends, all surprised at seeing us. Waited at depot some time for the cars. Met Miss Muldrow and sister. Joe Winchell came in and eyed us with round-eyed wonder. Reach home after dark; find Laura C. awaiting us. 

 

Sunday 23rd. – Receive a few calls. 

 

Friday 28th. – An officer and two privates came twice today to search the house for Lieutenant Boles, who has made his escape from jail. He was under sentence of death, and fortunately they have not yet found him. Great God, shelter and protect him from those who seek to destroy him!  

The snow is falling rapidly and has already covered the ground some inches. ‘Tis the first snow that has fallen upon the graves – the new-made graves – of those ten noble champions of liberty. May it rest lightly upon their bosoms! The “Times” today contains a demand for the head of their murderer, John McNeil, purporting to come from President Davis.  

 

Monday, December 1st. – Get Grandma Creath to see Colonel Strachan to ask if we were not released from confinement by the late order of the War Department relating to political prisoners. His answer was, if we had repented, become loyal, and would take an oath to that effect, he would release us. Grandma was highly insulted by his manner towards her. I wrote him a pithy little note this afternoon which I suppose has settled all doubts upon that subject, telling him I am as loyal as any faithful subject can be to the best and most superior man that ever graced a presidential chair. Perhaps it was injudicious – imprudent; but death is preferred to a cowardly, craven spirit that will uncomplainingly submit to every indignity. Mrs. Pittman and Mrs. Smith went to see Colonel Strachan in regard to our release; found him in the dept surrounded by prisoners and Federal officers. He was reading my note to the crowd, and was highly incensed at me for what he was pleased to term my “sarcastic, bitter letter and impudence.” 

 

Thursday 4th. – Irene and Nannie got permission from McNeil to call on us. Nannie gave me photograph of President Davis. 

 

Sunday 7th. – Ten long weeks since my arrest. Grandpa went yesterday to secure the interference of Colonel Benjamin in our behalf. Were it not for Sister Mag my heart would break. We are devoted as the “Siamese Twins.” What a sad fate to fall into the hands of such despots! May their reign be short! 

 

Tuesday 9th. – Sister Mag and I played another good joke on our tormentors. Dressed ourselves in disguise and went to Mrs. A’s, where we met Mrs. McPheeters and spent most of the afternoon. When we get home find Mrs. Thompson, Irene and Nannie Willock had stolen out to see us and to bring us some late southern news. Town in excitement about enrolling, and the jail is crowded with poor southern men who refuse to comply with their requirements. 

 

Wednesday 10th. – My imprisonment becomes almost endurable. All health, appetite and energy seem to have forsaken me. Poor Maggie is sick in bed and is suffering intensely. She cannot bear to feel that I am sick, sad and unhappy, and the kind-hearted creature makes every exertion to make me contented and happy. 

Venture once more with grandma into the detested presence of McNeil. He was quite polite and has granted me leave of absence until my shattered health is restored. Says if I will take the oath I shall be released entirely. I promptly refused, telling him plainly I had rather die in prison that to perjure myself before God and man. He was profuse in his compliments and expressions of admiration. Spoke of the murder he had committed, and I shuddered at the thought, which he observed; said I must consider him inhuman and barbarous, and I frankly replied that I did. A dark scowl crossed his features, and he proceeded to write a “leave of absence” for me.  

 

Thursday, December 11th. – Prepared for home. I am instructed by General McNeil to consider myself still a prisoner, and that my prison is only changed. I am also required to report twice a week to him by letter. At four the cars came, and after bidding grandma and dear Maggie an affectionate farewell, grandpa and I went down to the train. Arrive in H – about five and find my trunk is left behind. Found Mr. Tom Henson here. All were pleasantly surprised to see me and supposed at first that I was released. 

 

Sunday 14th. – Heard today of the repulse of the Federals at Fredericksburg and the removal of Burnside. Thank heaven! Victory still perches upon our banners. May the names of the noble dead that perished there 

Fill memory’s cup to the brim;

May the laurels they won never perish,

Nor a star of their glory grow dim. 

 

Monday 15th. – Amanda B—n brings out her album of Confederate generals. After tea stole out to Mr. Foreman’s prayer meeting. Meet with Sallie G. and Mrs. T., who come home with me. 

 

Tuesday 16th. – Jennie M. came today and sang “Officer’s Funeral” for me. 

 

Thursday 18th. – Mite society met here tonight. Every room crowded. Laura says all night. 

 

December 31st – New Year’s eve. Go over to Mrs. H’s and receive three letters. One from dear M., who received her unconditional release the 26th. One from General Merrill, giving me the preference of banishment to Indiana during the war or remain in prison in Missouri. The other from Colonel Strachan telling me I was released. How joyously the tiding was received and how guarded I must now be lest by work or deed I offend these supercilious, female-persecuting dignitaries of our land. Like a bird when set free from its prison home, it sits for a moment as if afraid to unfold its trembling wings for flight, lest it is by some rude hand thrust again in its cage, so I sit, perfectly stupefied, inactive, desiring to flee from my persecutors, yet knowing not what course to take, what plan to adopt. 

 

New Year’s Day. – All hail, thou new-born year of ’63! May peace, sweet peace, spread her gentle wing over our distracted country before thy days are run! May the states of the South take their places among the nations of the earth, and before the dawn of ’64 may the South be acknowledged a free, independent power! 

Receive several calls from gentlemen friends and enjoy the day because I am once more free. Form the acquaintance of Miss Zadie Bagwill of St. Louis. 

 

January 4th. – Charlie H – comes out for me to assist dressing cake for the supper tonight in Brittingham’s – a supper given ostensibly for Fire company No. 2, but in reality for the benefit of the southern widows and orphans. I cannot refuse anything pertaining to an act of charity for those I love. Eunice Eddy and I succeed in trimming cakes and arranging tables nicely. Nothing will do the boys but my attendance this evening; they will receive no excuse. Promised Mr. R—d to attend with him. He has been banished to Illinois, and allowed to return last week by orders from War Department. Meet with Mr. T.D. Price, provost marshal, who solicits an introduction and passes several compliments; refuse for the reason that I do not wish to devote the evening to entertaining a Federal officer. 

 

January 6th. – Meet with an important rebel today at church, a nephew of Joseph E. Johnston. Was introduced by Miss Zadie. Long may he live to enjoy the glory he has so richly deserved. 

 

January --. Answer Maggie’s letter, and also write to General Price and mail one to General Merrill. Zadie came to say “good-bye;” she is going home tomorrow. 

 

January 14th. – Sitting today reading to sister when an officer came to order me to report forthwith to Provost Marshal Major Price. Do not feel well enough to leave my room, yet go down with Mrs. Bowen to hi office. Shows me an order of banishment, requiring me to leave my native state in twenty-four hours to return no more “during the war.” Major Price tell me if I refuse to obey the order I am to be again imprisoned. Show him my release from McNeil and demand the cause or reason for this change of action. No satisfaction was given me except that it was for no new offence that I was again under military arrest. ‘Tis, I feel, an illegal, personal persecution, instituted by Major Price himself, because I refused an introduction to him. He paroles me to the limits of sister’s yard. 

 

January 17th. – Brother Wilks came out today to confer with me and to offer his Christian sympathy. 

 

January 18th. – Hail glorious Sabbath! As I sit at my window watching the crowd of passers-by, winding their footsteps to the house of prayer, how sadly my heart throbs in my bosom to think of the many long weeks and months I have been denied the blessed privilege of taking my accustomed seat and mingling my voice, as I once did, in their sweet songs of praise. My dear little Sabbath school scholars take every opportunity to assure me that I am missed. Will there be a prayer breathed for me today? Will one sigh be heard for my cruel fate? Ah, yes; I know I will be remembered by the “faithful few” among whom I have so often met. Spent most of the day in reading my Bible; the Psalms are my selection now, because they are so sweet and sad, yet withal, so comforting. 

Mr. R—y and Mr. Richmond called, kindly bringing me books. Amanda B came to say good-bye, as she leaves tomorrow with her mother for St. Louis. Mr. H—n and John T—spent the evening. We never know what a host of warm friends we possess until the dark storm of adversity beats upon us. Poor J.T. says he wishes he might suffer in my stead. 

 

Monday, January 18th. – Receive another order to report tomorrow morning at nine o’clock to hear my fate. All advise me to refuse banishment from my friends in the severest months of winter and my present ill health. So I know my doom will be a second incarceration. My poor old father placed his thin trembling hand upon my head this morning when I finished reading him the order, and with tears in his eyes remarked: “My daughter, trust in God.” O Father in heaven, Do I not, have I trusted in Thee through the saddest trials of life, and has Thou turned a deaf ear to the many heartfelt prayers offered for the success of right over might. 

 

Thursday, January 20, 1863. – Wake to find a heavy, wet snow upon the ground, and poor head almost bursting with pain. Directed a note to Major Price requesting him to call if his business was imperative, as the weather and ill health would prevent obedience to his commands. At noon he came, somewhat indignant, and said he would place me forthwith under guard. Brother Willie offered himself security for my appearance if he would permit to remain until my health was restore, but he was persistent, cruelly persistent, and demanded my appearance at his office at three o’clock. Says I am to be placed under guard in solitary confinement in a room at the Continental. Poor sister is almost frantic, yet tries to suppress her grief in my presence. My little niece – my little motherless pet – stole in a few moments ago, and winding her soft arms around my neck, whispered through sobs: ‘Aunt Lizzie, will not those cruel men let me come and stay with you? You can take little Bobbie – he is a prisoner, but he will sing to you.” 

Six O’clock. – Alone, all alone in my prison room at the Continental. Methinks I caught a glance of pity and sympathy from the landlady, Mrs. Short, as I passed through the parlor. Major Price is from Massachusetts, and I can expect no favors. Oh, I should hate myself if I asked one at his hands. Twilight deepens, and I sit alone – sad but not cast down – listening to the measured tread of the armed and savage-looking German guard at my door, which is the only sound that disturbs the stillness. 

 

Wednesday, January 21, 1863. – Opened my door this morning to ask a knife of the guard to sharpen my pencil. Was struck to recognize in him a friend of other days. Frank Jackson, a brother to one whom I once loved as devotedly as a sister. O war! With all thy attendant evils, what can be more maddening than to find former friends changed to deadly foes. How strange to see that slender boy dressed in the uniform I so much detest standing guard over one whom he once professed to love and respect so kindly.  

Emma, sweet pet, and Katie B. came – I could see them from my third story window – said they had been three times to Provost Price to see me, but he will not giver her permission to so do. Little Arthur H. came to the door and asked the guards if he could see me. The guard opened the door and permitted the little fellow to look in, but would not allow him to speak to me. He brought me some nice yellow apples, and I could see a tear in his brown eyes as he turned away. He is just six years old. When he grows to be a man will he remember this scene in his early life? Will he, can he love and respect the flag that was waved over imprisoned females – over the ruins of our temple of liberty. Heaven bless the boy! How my heart warms towards those who show a kind sympathetic part when in distress. 

‘Tis twilight, the close of another lonely day in prison. How eagerly I listen to each footstep passing my door, wishing, oh so fondly, to hear a pause before my door and some loved one would enter. What would my poor R.E.D. think, away in his sunny home in the South, if he knew the sad circumstances that surround me. I sit by the window and strive to forget my sorrows in gazing down into the street upon the motley crowd hurrying towards their different places of abode. So many all bound one way – each heart a mystery to the other and each a little world to itself. Today the enrolling officers have been trying to enforce Order 1001, and many southern men refusing to enroll their names with those whom their souls detest are, life myself, prisoners. 

 

Thursday, January 22nd. – Today sister, Mrs. Wilks, Mrs. Robards, and other friends applied to see me, but I presume it was in vain, for sister waved at me from the street and shook her heard, indicating her ill success. My Bible! Sweet, hallowed book! – whose sacred pages a mother’s eye hath scanned, what a treasure art thou now in my lonely hours. How consoling are thy precious words. Yes, it is thy page that record the sweet promise of my Saviour to His sorrow-stricken children, “Lo, I m with you always, even unto the end of the world.” And I know He tempereth the wind to the shorn lamb and heareth the young ravens when they cry. He, too, hath said, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” 

 

Friday, Janurary 23, 1863. – Gave the guard money to buy me a paper and some reading matter, but he replied Major Price had given him his instructions that he was to let me have no book or papers to assist me in passing away the time. How fortunate then that I brought a volume of Walter Scott and my Bible with me. In my Bible I can always find something new. Tonight new guards are stationed, and they all have to take a look at their prisoner. One is a Dutchman, the other is a fine looking man. He seems kind and sympathetic, and I overheard him say he would perish sooner than load his gun for a woman; that he would rather be a prisoner with a thousand men to guard him than to engage in the unmanly act of persecuting me. When the evening wore on and he was left alone, he slipped a note under my door. I picked it up and read, “Young lady, you are not unknown to me and I am a friend. Tomorrow they expect to take you from this house, wither to a dilapidated hotel in S. Han. or to St. Louis. If I can be of service to you do not fear to trust me.” How my heart beats. Can it be that I have found a friend in this horrid guise, or is he seeking to betray me. How my brain whirls; how can I leave my home and my friends and be thrown in those miserable prisons in St. Louis, to suffer with cold and die, perhaps, with those infectious diseases that are hurrying away the poor victims there by the hundreds. No, I will refuse to leave this city, and if I have to go it will be by physical force I am taken. 

 

Saturday, January 24th. – My guard, in whom I found a friend, has been removed and a raw Dutchman fills his place. Before he left he threw a Harper and some late papers into my room. He was an editor in Fulton, knew R.E.D., and published hi key to the “Emanant.” He was also nine months in Price’s army, and upon the margin of the magazine was penciled: “Think not I am here by choice – far from it – and tomorrow morning you will hear that with six others I have made my escape. Be of good cheer. You are effecting more for our holy cause in you cheerless prison than a dozen recruiting officers could do.” O, I would I had trusted him to mail some letters to my friends. Do they not know how soon I may be forced from them. The Dutch guard I heard this morning wishing that I with all the d—n traitors was in h—l. 

Later. – O, what an unexpected kindness I have received. How my heart bounds with gratitude too deep for words to speak. Tears will force themselves into my eyes and my heart bounds with emotions unknown before. I have friends, thank heaven! That was been demonstrated even in my solitary prison – I knew this morning when the Dutch guard was relieved, yet I knew not who took his place, until my door was quietly opened and friend W—l spoke to me. A note was thrown hurriedly in, the door closed and the calm, measured step renewed before my room as before. I read hurriedly: “Lizzie, poor girl, you are to be taken tomorrow to St. Louis; refuse positively to go, and tell them that they will have to use main force to take you. You have many friends and sympathizers who are groaning beneath their oppressions and your own. Tonight at nine open your window and lower from it anything you may wish to communicate to friends. Persons will be present to receive them and also to send up to you letters and money. Be cautious for the sake of heaven, as the safety of yourself and friends depend upon it.” That was all, and the key has turned gratingly in the lock. A low conversation in the hall denotes the return of the guard. 

Afternoon. – The guard let poor little Arthur H. look in at me today. How his bright eyes and sweet face cheer me, and he looks up into my face with a look of such sweet, childish innocence and pity that it reaches my heart. Boy, may thy young heart, like Albert Tell’s, early learn to love truth and freedom next to life. Major Price sent back my letter today because I had not “left it open to his inspection.” ‘Tis night once more and I wait impatiently the hour of nine. I have written two letters and several notes, made a long line of yarn, the only string I had about me; I have tied my letters in a hankerchief with a little apple to give it weight to descend quickly. 

At 8 o’clock Mr. Armstrong came to say I was to prepare to leave my present prison. “Where am I to go, Mr. Armstrong?” I asked pleasantly. “It is not necessary for you to be informed. All you have to do is to obey orders,” was his reply. “One thing is certain, Mr. Armstrong,” I answered, “I do not leave here this night.” At this he laughed in my face with a defiant air, remarked he has the means, the men and the power, and he would tame at least or subjugate one rebellious “South Carolinian.” Uttered in the spirit of a true black Republican, whose ambition, patriotism and bravery aspires no higher, I replied “than to shoot unarmed men and imprison defenseless women.” He wheeled and left the room, closing the door violently after him and turning the key with a hurried hand upon me. What am I to do? To Thee, O God, I turn and pour forth my burdened soul in prayer. 

Nine O’clock. – Mr. Armstrong handed me a note from Major Price which read: “Owing to the lateness of the hour, Miss Powell is excused from obeying orders tonight. Tomorrow morning she will hold herself in readiness to leave at eight o’clock as her presence her is disagreeable to the loyal inmates of the Continental.” A few minutes after Major Price came in. Oh, how much solicitude I feel for the safety of my friends who are doubtless waiting to assist me. Major Price said I had done right in refusing to leave; that he admired and commended me for it. Charged me with trying to convert one of the guards, as he with six others had deserted and would be shot if captured. Said he did not wish me to have papers or books with which to employ my time. That he desired to punish me so severely that I would be glad to obey the order of banishment – that he had refused at least a dozen friends the privilege of seeing me, and that my confinement was to be as solitary as possible. I do not remember now what I said to him, but I know that he left me with a burning cheek and remarked, “Miss Powell, if every man that fills the southern ranks is actuated by as much principle and devotion to the cause as yourself, I would always love and respect the South. Would that our ladies were half so zealous in their country’s cause.” After he left I blew out my light and sat in the window. Waited a few moments only till I heard a well-known voice in subdued tones whisper, “All is right.” In an instant almost my package was lowered, and in a few minutes more I drew another up – a number of notes and letters and a roll of “greenbacks.” My dear friends, how sincerely interested they appear. Mr. H. has gone to St. Louis with a petition to Governor Gamble to have me released. Judge P. has written to Major Rollins and J.B. Henderson in Washington to have the freedom restored of which I have been so unjustly deprived. To know we have friends fills the heart with gladness, even in a prison. 

 

Sunday, January 25. – The occurrences of last night seem almost like a dream, and I would persuade myself that I have been dreaming did I not find closely grasped in my hand unmistakable evidence that it was indeed a reality. How many causes I have this holy Sabbath for thanksgiving and prayer. At eight Mr. Armstrong called again and informed me for the present I would be taken to R.R. house to await an order from St. Louis requiring my presence there. I pronounced myself in readiness, and after descending two flights of stairs I found myself at the parlor in which were assembled officers and their wives, and as I passed on, closely followed by the Dutch guard, I heard whispering, laughing and clapping of hands. At the door a closed carriage stood in waiting. Mr. Armstrong handed me in, stepped in himself and closed the door, and we moved slowly off, the guards, with their guns at charge, marching along by the side of the carriage.  

Arriving at the R.R. house, I found again the windows filled with heads, men and women congregated to see a live Secesh. I wore a bonnet in southern colors, and, passing through the crowd, I threw aside the veil which partially concealed them. This house bears the reputation of an asylum for run-away negroes. My room, with no fire, no carpet, very, very small, with but one little window, presented such a cheerless appearance I felt my fortitude forsake me, and when I heard the savage-looking Dutchman turn the key upon me I could no longer suppress the tears that seemed choking me. From my little window I could see the Mississippi, the Father of Waters, a stream I have always loved, and feel an emotion of pride that my home has been so long beside its waters. It is forcing its way along towards the mighty gulf with a calm, quiet, resistless freedom which the icy breath of winter has not checked. O, friend of my earlier and happier days, as thy waters which I now see fast receding from my view lave the shores of the sunny South, bear upon thy bosom a message to the brave hearts there that upon thy bank stands a Lincoln bastile in which is pining one whom they hate and scorn because she has dared to love the brave and desires to be free. 

‘Tis night, O heaven, how can I sleep upon this horrible bed of straw, these offensive, dirty, greasy quilts, these hard pillows of straw. My brain seems a ball of fire, my hand trembles so I can scarcely write, a strange, wild feeling seizes me, and I pace back and forth this gloomy room until it seems if the uncarpeted floor were not iron it would bear the imprint of my footsteps for ages to come. 

Monday, January 26, 1863. – O, what a long, sleepless night I have passed. The guards, drunken and infuriated, made several ineffectual attempts to enter my room, and had it not been for small bolt I had fastened over the lock their efforts must have been effectual. Finding they were defeated, I could hear them heaping their curses upon me and planning to come in through the window. I was almost speechless with fear – to cry for help would have been but mockery when there was no arm to save. I sprang upright in my bed and kept that position until daylight. O, how I welcomed the first rosy tints of morning that peeped with cheering light into my little window. 

Two O’clock. – Great heavens! I have had another return of that horrible hemorrhage which caused my life to be despaired of when at school. I am perfectly prostrated and the crimson tide of life continues to rise in my throat and mouth without abating. My hands are coorless as marble and it is with great effort I clasp this pencil in my trembling fingers. O, to suffer so and be alone. No kind, cool hand to rest upon my burning brain, no one near to breathe a kindly word of sympathy. No one has entered my room since nine o’clock, when the chambermaid brought my breakfast – a cup of cold coffee, some fried mush, codfish and potatoes – and left my room with a curled lip and many airs because I could not eat. 

Sent a note tonight to Major Price requesting a physician, as I feel a great deal worse as night approaches. O, how can I spend such a night as the last. The landlady came in about three o’clock bringing me my dinner, which I found impossible to eat. She is German, and sat down a few minutes by my bed, drew from her pocket a large Dutch pipe and filled my room almost to suffocation with the smoke. From my window I can see a boat has landed at the depot, the first boat that has ventured this far for some time. A woman with a babe – I suppose a passenger – has been assigned to the room adjoining mine. Through an aperture in the wall, made for a stovepipe, between us I heard her inquire of the chambermaid why the guards were stationed in the hall. Shortly after the chambermaid left her she peered through the aperture into my room. Supposing it was curiosity that prompted her to see who the young lady was, I glanced up at her, then turned my head away. She spoke my name in a whisper and indicated by her gestures that she wanted to speak to me. I felt almost too weak to stand, but by supporting myself with the bedpost I stood up almost face to face with her. She commenced by assuring me that she was a friend; she had just returned from Alton prison, where she had been to visit and sick son confined there, and, added she, “The mean cowardly treatment the poor fellow received there, the intense suffering I witnessed during my short stay, has caused me to make a solemn resolve that henceforth and forever my humble means, my life, is dedicated to my country’s cause.” She then remarked if I needed assistance as far as she could she would render it. How I thanked her in my inmost heart as I sank back almost exhausted upon my couch of straw. In a short time I had penned a note to father telling him how I was situated, also one to another friend in Palmyra. These I gave her with the one I had written to the President. If she should betray. 

 

Tuesday, 27th. – Pa came this morning and had received my note. O, my dear father – it has been many, many months, and even years, since I saw him so much affected so broken-hearted as he seemed the fifteen minutes allotted him to stay. How his pale lips quivered and his hand trembled as he stood by my bed. Price had given him a pass, but had refused to allow our family physician to accompany him. Sister sent me some dinner and dear Mrs. C. sent me “brandy peaches,” of which she knew I am so fond. ‘Tis evening again and my illness it seems increases. Sent for the landlady her husband, Captain Gillett. The Captain seemed moved with compassion when he saw me, he could scarcely control his voice to speak; said he would have given me a room with a carpet and every accommodation, but Major Price would not permit. Captain G. sat down and wrote a hasty note to Price, telling him to send a doctor immediately. In about an hour Dr. Duffield, our family physician, came; says I am very sick and need constant care. The landlady at my request takes the key tonight from the guards. 

 

Sunday, February 2nd. – Four days have passed since I recorded my thoughts and feelings upon the pages of my journal. Dr. D. says that I have been very low, but now danger is past if I take good care of myself. Received a note today from Major Price, accompanied by a box sent to me from Palmyra. The note said that he was determined still to make me obey the order of banishment and that he would make my prison unendurable. Hoped I would see the propriety of yielding implicit obedience forthwith. I replied that it was impossible to do so, and that I would endeavor to bear patiently and heroically any measures his heart prompted him to enforce. Tonight he came himself, seemed surprised to find me so weak, thought my illness had improved my appearance as it had given me a “helpless, dependent, patient air, which he desired to see depicted in my face.” Repeated again his threat that if I did not consent to leave and said he felt convinced that close confinement would kill me. I begged him long and earnestly to let sister visit me some times until I recovered, but he obstinately refused. Said he would remove guards until I grew better. 

Mrs. Gillett has grown very kind to me; takes care of my dear little bird, “Robert Lee.” She brought her brother, a Mr. Selleck, in to see me. He is a Democrat and could not find expressions too bitter to apply to those fanatics who would persecute a woman. 

 

Friday 30th. – Captain G. and lady came in this evening to request me to instruct them in chess. He took his first lesson and seemed delighted. A captain’s wife sent me a glass of cider. 

 

Sunday, February 9th. – Mr. Selleck sent me by his sister the “Caucasian” and “The Times” to read today, the first papers I have seen since my illness. How drearily the time passes with no one to talk to but my little canary. 

 

Monday 10th. – Captain G. and lady came again and we had a stolen game of chess. Captain G. has been negotiating with Price for my release, which he has said can be effected by taking the oath. Refuse again to forswear myself. 

 

Wednesday 12th. – Mrs. Selleck sent me Ballou’s Magazine and a Democrat. Major Price told me he had fully intended sending me to St. Louis, and might do so yet, but for present I was to remain where I was. Said I was much more comfortable than the prisoners in Richmond, confined in tobacco warehouses and in Libby prison. How I detest the man! Seemingly so devoid of feeling and everything that pertains to manliness. 

 

Thursday 13th. – How swiftly the weeks seem gliding by. Would that I were free to enjoy them as they pass. A buried life, I suppose, will be mine for years if the fettered spirit does not burst its prison bars and basks in the light and freedom out under the sun. A light snow has fallen and a sleigh containing two friends passed my window this morning. A handkerchief was waved in token of recognition and away they whirled, the merry sleigh bells dying away in the distance like a fading dream, reminding me of the days that once were free and joyous and my heart kept time with their merry music. Mr. Selleck sent me a little present with a note, and no one can tell much a little kindness is appreciated under such circumstances. He pitied my loneliness and relieved it all he could. Sent a note to Brother Wilks. 

 

In their part of the long war the southern women proved themselves glorious heroines in many ways, though I think but few of them were actually made prisoners of war. When banished my mother was accompanied to Nevada by her devoted brother, James Powell. She was the only white person of her sex in the large territory, and at first she suffered greatly from fear of the Indians, who were so numerous and many of them hostile. Eventually she learned their language and made many staunch friends among the red faces. Here she instituted the first Bible class, reading to those rough miners who had come to seek gold in the mountains of Nevada. At first this was but a handful of men sitting under a great pine, but eventually this gentle and eloquent woman read every Sunday long portions of her Bible to hundreds of men who had pitched their tents near the mining center of Virginia City.  

It was here that she met my father, Alfred Powell Hereford, a young lawyer practicing in the active little mining town. They were both descended from Col. Levin Powell, a hero of the Revolution, but were not aware until many years afterwards of the distant relationship. They were married in Virginia City in 1864, where one child was born, Jennie, who died in infancy. They moved to St. Joseph, Mo., after the war, where one daughter, Mary Stella, was born, now Mrs. R.E. Ball of Kansas City, and four years later one son, William Richard (W.R. Hereford is prominent in social and literary circles of Paris and New York, and is the author of several popular books – as well as being contributor to most of the leading magazines of the day.) 

Her health, impaired by her long imprisonment, would not stand the Missouri climate, and on the advice of her physician, my father took her to Denver, Colo., where they were both prominent in that rapidly growing city. My mother, of an extremely religious nature, here again exercised her influence and organized a small body of Christians, who called a minister and thus founded the first Christian Church of Denver. She was greatly beloved by all who knew her, and was interested actively in the politics of the day. She was instrumental in establishing the Red Cross Society, then in its early growth, and was the close friend of its founder, Miss Clara Barton. In returning from a drive with Mrs. John B. Routt, the Governor’s wife, the horses became frightened, throwing my mother from her victoria to the curb, thus giving her the wound which resulted in her death November, 1877. 

Her loss was greatly deplored, as she was actively associated with the charities of the town and its hospital, and her sympathies for the poor and unfortunate were very keen. Their stories always had a ready ear. My father never recovered from the shock of her death, and survived but two years. Her life was particularly blessed in that she ministered unto such numbers. Her aid was far-reaching and her influence widely felt, her interest in all whom she could help keenly alive. Her whole life was full of tragic, interesting, vivid and thrilling experiences, all resulting in the supreme good of those associated with her – but my article dwells only upon the incidents of war. She was a daring youthful prisoner, and her zeal for the cause militated against her, and sometimes in after years she would laughingly cross swords with my father, who was an equally loyal southerner, but whose uncle, Gov. Henry Foote of Mississippi, had defeated Jefferson Davis for that position of honor, she claiming she would have entered the field against so fine an opponent. 

In my possession I hold scores of original notes, commands from leading officers, and a small Confederate flag, fashioned in prison from bits of ribbon, and showing the infinitesimally small stitches for which I believe the southern women, taught from babyhood to be skillful with fine needles, almost as a hall mark of gentle birth, are unequaled in their perfection. Her lineage, unexcelled, bears no part here. Her actions show she was “to the manner born.” Her life, tense and full as it was, was brought to a tragic and terrible climax, being suddenly killed by runaway horses while returning from one of the many errands of mercy she accomplished during her short life.”