My husband, D. L. Vance, was captain of Company G, Monroe's regiment, Cabell's brigade. He went to the army the first of the year 1862, and remained in it till he was killed by Union home guards, July, 1864. I lived in the country, about 20 miles below Little Rock. After the Federals took Little Rock it was not long until they began foraging through the country. Several of them passed my house one day, and when they came back they had a drove of cattle. The road ran through our field, and they had two large gates to pass through. Some of my cattle had just come up and I went to drive them out of the way and got all away but one, when the Yankees drove it away from me. I was so angry that I threw the club I had in my hand at one of them. I tried to hit him, but struck his horse in the face; I got a cursing for it. The gentleman said he would run his bayonet through me if I did that again.
A few negroes were still with me. I had hired them to gather my corn, and they had just started in with a load, when they met the Federals. The negroes had a yoke of oxen to the wagon and the soldiers made them take the oxen out and they drove them off with the other cattle, and the negro man returned to the house.
I was sitting on the steps seeing it all. He came up to me and said: "Missus, you ought not to have struck that man's horse; that's what made them take the oxen." I said I did not care; they had taken nearly all I had, and I would as soon die as live.
There was a young paroled soldier, a neighbor, and he went to their camp that evening and pleaded with them to give up the oxen, but the lieutenant, a very gallant gentleman, said they would not and sent me word to go to him and he would tell me what he thought of me. I did not go to find out.
At another time I was away from home a day or two, and when I returned the first thing that I saw was the top of my corn crib torn off. I knew what that meant. The Federal soldiers had been there in my absence and taken nearly all my corn.
One time my husband sent his horse home with a very sore back. I doctored him and fattened him. He was a fine riding horse. One day I was sitting at a window and saw two soldiers coming through the field. I went out the back hall door where I could see the horse in the horse lot. I was afraid they would take him. I stood there some time and did not see the Federals pass. I stepped back to the hall door and there they stood in the hall. They said: "What did you get up from the window for? Your husband is home and you went out to tell him to hide."
I replied: "He is not at home."
They said they know better, and that was what I went out for. It made me so angry I said: "I don't tell lies, and if you want to know what I went out for it was to see if you were going to take my horse."
They went to the horse lot and looked in his mouth, and when they came in again they said: "You need not hide that horse tonight." I told him I was not going to hide him, but I knew they were going to take him, so when I got up next morning I went to look for him and he was gone. They did not take him out through the gate, but let the fence down at the back of the lot.
The same paroled soldier that tried to get them to give up the oxen, followed them ten miles next morning and pleaded so hard they gave them up. Well, I sent for this young man and we went to the next house about a mile from my house where the wagon train had staid that night. There was a plantation of corn there, that the owner had run off and left as soon as the Federals took Little Rock. The ground was frozen and I could hear the train going before we got there and, when we got there every one was gone, but the one who had my horse, and he was just starting. I rode up to him and said:
"That is my horse. What are you going to do with him? I want my horse."
I was determined to follow him to Little Rock if he did not give him up.
He eyed the young man with me for he had his gray uniform on. Once the fellow put his hand back on his gun, but he did not scare us. We stood there quite a while. I kept telling him to give up my horse, so at last he gave him to me, saying to the young man: "She's got a brudder or brudder-in-law that has put the devilment in her head."
That was my husband's brother, Captain J.M. Vance, that came with Steele's army. I went home with the horse and took a little nephew and went to Little Rock. I rode the horse. We did not overtake the wagon train until we got to the arsenal. I got a pass to go South, went home and got a little boy to go with me.
We started to find Monroe's regiment. I heard it was at Arkadelphia. I rode that horse, for I was determined the Federals should not have him. We went a long way and heard the regiment was at Princeton, so we went there. I inquired in the town and they told me the regiment was camped at the edge of town. After two or three days the news came that the Federals were coming, and our boys hustled out. I told the boy that came with me we would meet the Federals, but he must not tell them which road our soldiers took.
Sure enough, we had not gone far until we met them. An officer asked us how far we had come. I told him. He then asked if any rebel troops were there. I told him "no." Then he wanted to know when they left and what road they took. I told him I did not know. He spoke very crossly, and said: "It is very strange, Madam, you don't know." Then he turned to the boy and spoke crossly to him, and he got scared and said they went down the Camden road. I left the horse with my husband and rode a sore-back pony that belonged to the negro man that my husband had with him.
A set of vagabonds sprung up as soon as the Federals took Little Rock. They went to General Steele and told a tale of woe about how they had been treated, and he let them form companies. They called themselves Home Guards. My husband and two of his men were on a scout and were slipped upon by those men and shot. He was killed and one of his men wounded and a boy who had taken them some papers was shot, while telling them not to shoot him, that he was no soldier, but they shot him and badly wounded him.
How kindly and how proudly and tenderly they were ministered to by the gentle hands of our patriotic women can be imagined, and how the tired, suffering soldiers enjoyed the cool country and fresh milk and butter, the complete rest and quiet, was shown by their rapid restoration to health and strength.
All too soon, it seemed to us, they were called back, their furlough ended, and they returned for duty with renewed vigor and pleasant memories of a delightful furlough.
MRS. M.A. HARRIS
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