Chapter 1 - Sam Hildebrand's Confession


Legend of St. Francois County
Reprinted from the County Advertiser by Farmington News Printing Company
September 26, 1979

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Confessions of Sam HILDEBRAND

TYPIST’S NOTE: I have not altered the manuscript at all, including all spelling and punctuation.  The ONLY change I have made is to capitalize all surnames. - BethK


[Introduction -- Yankee Fiction. -- Reasons for making a full confession.]

Since the close of the late rebellion, knowing that I had taken a very active part during its  progress several of my friends have solicited me to have my history written out in full.  This  anxiety to obtain the history of an individual so humble as myself, may be attributed to the fact,  that never perhaps since the world begun, have such efforts been put forth by a government for  the suppression of one man alone, as have been used for my capture, both during the war and  since its termination.  The extensive military operations carried on by the Federal government in  South-east Missouri, were in great measure designed for my special destruction.

Since the close of the rebellion, while others are permitted to remain at home in peace, the war, without any abatement whatever, has continued against me with a vindictiveness and a  lavish expenditure of money that has no parallel on this continent; but through it all, single-handed, have I come out unscathed and unconquered.

My enemies have thrust notoriety upon me, and have excited the public mind at a   distance with a desire to know who I am and what I have done.  Taking advantage of this popular  inquiry, some enterprising individual in an eastern state has issued two or three novels purporting  to my history, but they are not even founded on fact, and miss the mark about as far as if they  were designed for the Life of Queen Victoria.  I seriously object to the use of my name in any  such manner.  Any writer, of course, who is afflicted with an irresistible desire to write fiction,  has a perfect right to do so, but he should select a fictitious name for the hero of his novels, that  his works may stand or fall, according to their own intrinsic merit, rather than the name of an  individual whose notoriety alone would ensure the popularity of his books. But an attempt to  palm a novel on the inquiring public as a history of my life, containing as it does a catalogue of  criminal acts unknown to me in all my career, is not only a slander upon myself, but a glaring   fraud upon the public.

Much of our misfortune as a nation may be attributed to the pernicious influence of the  intolerant, intermeddling, irrepressible writers of falsehood.  In a community where the spirit of  fiction pervades every department of literature and all the social relations of life, writers become  so habituated to false coloring and deception, that plain unadorned truth has seldom been known  to eminate from their perverted brains; it would be just as impossible for them to write down a  naked fact as it would for the Prince of Darkness to write a volume of psalms.

“Perverted Public Opinion”

     The friend who has finally succeeded in tracing me to my quiet retreat in the wild solitudes of the down trodden South, is requesting me to make public the whole history of my  life, without any attempt at palliation, concealment or apology.  This I shall now proceed to do,  in utter disregard to a perverted public opinion, and without the least desire or expectation of   receiving justice from the minds of those who never knew justice, or sympathy from those who  are destitute of that ingredient.

     The necessity that was forced upon me to act the part I did during the reign of terror in  Missouri, is all that I regret.   It has deprived me of a happy home and the joys of domestic peace  and quietude; it has driven me from the associations of childhood and all the scenes of early life  that so sweetly cling to the memory of man; it has caused my kind and indulgent mother to go down into her grave sorrowing; it has robbed me of three affectionate brothers who were brutally  murdered and left weltering in their own innocent blood; it has reduced me and my family to  absolute want and suffering , and has left us without a home, and I might almost say, without a  country.

    A necessity as implacable as the dress of Fate; was forced upon me by the Union party to  espouse the opposite side; and all the horrors of a merciless war were waged unceasingly against  me for many months before I attempted to raise my hand in self-defense. But fight I must, and  fight I did!   War was the object, and war it was.  I never engage in but one business at a time - my  business during the war was  killing enemies.  It is a very difficult matter to carry on a war for  four years without some one getting hurt.   If I did kill over a hundred men during the war, it was  only because I was in earnest and supposed that everyone else was.  My name is cast out as evil   because I adopted the military tactics not in use among large armies. They were encumbered  with artillery and fought where they had ample room to use it, I had no artillery and generally  fought in the woods; my plan was the most successful, for in the regular army the rebels did not  kill more than one man each during the war.