Situated between two armies and being frequently overrun by the raiding and scouting parties of each, Yell county suffered much from the horrors of war; but worse than either Federal or Confederate troops, were the depredations and atrocities of bands of marauders belonging to neither side, known as bushwhackers or jawhawkers, who preyed impartially on secessionist and unionist alike.
From Mrs. Hart, an aged lady now well on between eighty and ninety years of age, and her daughter, Mrs. McCray and Miss Lizzie Hart, I heard many incidents of those perilous times, in which they were active. All men able to bear arms were in the field, only the aged and infirm, and the very young boys being left at home as protectors. Many of these were murdered in cold blood by the bushwhackers and at times it was necessary to preserve their lives, or that they hide from these lawless bands, whose watchword seemed to be "Kill! Kill! Kill!" and whose lust for blood seemed well nigh insatiable.
During one of these seasons of special peril, a young man named Underwood, belonging to Capt. Hollswell's command, was fatally wounded by Jake Graves, a bushwhacker. Under cover of night, he was carried on a stretcher several miles to the banks of Harris Creek, at a point near the Hart home, where he was placed in a tent, concealed by the heavy woods and undergrowth. Here he was nursed, night and day, by six heroic girls, two at a time, for several days until death relieved him of his sufferings. His grave was made on the spot where he died, and he was buried by three old men, Messrs. Toomer, Harrington, and Pendergrass. They dared not mark his grave, but concealed it as well as they could, being assisted by these six young heroines, his faithful nurses, Mrs. McCray, then Miss Anne Hart, her sister, Miss Lally, afterwards Mrs. Leonard Cotton, Miss Pendergrass, now Mrs. Berry, Misses Harrington and Hoovis, and Miss Ferguson of Pope county; whether or not these three last are living, or whether married or single I know not.
The Hart home was known as Confederate headquarters, and one dark night, word was received that the Federals were coming. There being no other way to warn the small Confederate command of their approach, Miss Lally Hart, a young girl of seventeen, rode through the midnight woods, three or four miles, alone, to give the alarm.
Mrs. Hart, whose mind is wonderfully clear and alert, told of her many experiences, some humorous, as when she became a sort of peripatetic post office, using her hose, already fulfilling their lawful function, as mailbags, many otherwise, as when she rode horse-back many perilous miles, with the fear of death in her heart, to carry relief, in the shape of a sack of meal, to a starving family. On one occasion, she accompanied the ox wagon, driven by one of her faithful negroes, ten or twelve miles with a load of corn and wheat to be ground at Wood's mill. Part of the load belonged to neighbors, and she hoped by her presence to protect it from thieves. The wheat had been ground and sacked, and was in the upper story of the mill. While the corn was being ground, the Federals rode up to the mill, and immediately confiscated the meal. In vain the lady pleaded for at least a portion of it, to take back to her neighbors who had confided the corn to her care. Not one peck would they allow her. So off they went with the entire amount, including the miller's toll, "but," she added, with a little chuckle of satisfaction, in telling me of it, a few days ago, "they didn't know a thing about the flour upstairs, and you may be sure I didn't tell them."
In an old scrap book belonging to Mrs. Dora Shinn, nee Lemoyne, I find the following taken from "The Pocahontas Herald:"
"Miss Williams, a daughter of Isaac Williams, living in Black River swamp, about seven miles from this place, heard the report that troops were approaching this place on Sunday evening. Her father was not at home, but she immediately caught a horse, and was soon off in search of him.
"She found him at a neighbor's and told him to hurry on home and get his gun, and come here to help drive back the enemy. She then returned home, got down her father's rifle, molded all his lead into bullets, took the gun, powder and bullets, and hid them under the house, again mounted the horse, and rode to several houses and spread the alarm, returning home in time to give the old man his gun and ammunition and started him with a crowd of ten men she had collected for the scene of action. All this she did in less than two hours. Such acts of heroism should not be passed by without notice.
This same scrap-book has this comment on the weather:
"The weather is as cold as a Yankee's heart, and as disagreeable as his company; as blustering as he is before a battle, and as dismal as he is after one."
There are many newspaper accounts of battles, with private letters from soldiers, on the same subjects which the papers were permitted to print. There was also the speech of Miss Lucy Lorraine Adams, presenting a flag to the Moro Greys, Calhoun county, and of Miss Elizabeth Higginbotham, presenting a flag to the Jackson Minute Men.
"What army to you belong to?"
"I belong to the army of the Lord," was the solemn reply.
"Well, then, my friend," said the soldier, "you are a long way from headquarters."