Friendly with both John Brown and William Quantrill … until one of them shot him

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First Sergeant
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Jul 23, 2017
Southwest Missouri

Abraham “Bullet Hole” Ellis 1815-1885
To go with Laura's thread "10 Civil War Soldiers Shot Through the Head and Survived" here

Letter from Ellis to W. W. Scott. This letter appeared in 'Quantrill and the Border Wars' and was apparently sold in 2005 to parties unknown
(punctuation, or lack off, and errors in spelling left - paragraph breaks added)

Elk City Montgomery Co Kan Jan 5th 1879

ME. W. W. Scott

Dear Sir

My first acquaintance with William C. Quantrell was in the winter of 1858 & 1859 he was then teaching school near Stanton in Miami County & I was Superintendent I visited his school, & put up, at his boarding house I found him an interesting well educated man we slept together & talked until after 2 P. M. The next thing I heard of him he had turned Abolitionist & was acting as a conductor on the under ground Railroad & assisting Negroes from Missouri to Canada But he was not prompted by conscience, or pure unadulterated religion as he was never known to assist any Negro unless the Negro first assisted him to steal a horse or mule The stock was Quantrells & the Negro passed North through Iowa to Canada. . . .

And my next interview with Quantrell was on the 7th of March, 1862 I stopped for the night at Aubrey in Johnson county, Kan not anticipating any trouble But at daylight I was awoke by the cry The cut throats are coming But before I could dress the house was surrounded & they were yelling & screaming & swearing like Devils and five men who were in the lower rooms started to run across the fields But were soon overtaken and butchered there were five of us up stairs (all travelers) & about thirty of them were riddling the house with bullets while these men were being butchered in the field & I was carelessly looking out at the window up stairs & Quantrell saw me through the window & gave me a dip he made a good shot (or as he afterwards expressed it, a dam'd good shot) I was struck in the center of the forehead where the brains of most men are supposed to be located I fell & was supposed to be dead

the others then went down stairs & surrendered & in a few moments Quantrell & two others of the gads hill Band Came up stairs each had a revolver in his hand with the hammer raised They were trembling like criminals & Swearing like Devils & to give an idea of their interesting language I will give a few detached sentences I was lieing on a mattress at the head of the stairs & they had been told by the prisoners that there was only one man up stairs & he was probably dead So Quantrell and two others started up stairs & as soon as they got within about four feet of me they all pointed their revolvers at my head, with their fingers on the trigger at last one of them balled out If you have any money God **** you give it to me in a minute or I'll blow you to Hell and as I had no hankering after [that] place I passed over the checks (or in other words) I handed him $250.00 they then passed on & searched the rooms & I heard one of them say, that he had found a pocket book & that it was a dam-d fat one

They then ordered me down stairs & said that I was not dead by a dam-d sight I then crawled down stairs & was helped into a chair & in a few minutes Quantrell came down stairs & then recognized me & got a cloth and some water & washed my face & said he did it himself & was dam-d sorry for it as I was one of the Kansas men he did not want to hurt I then told him of my team & about fifty dollars worth of groceries that were there in the house he said that he was glad that I had told him, as he was sorry for what he had already done & said that not one thing more of mine should be touched & if I had then thought of my money it is possible that that he might have given it back to me But I was too far gone to think of money & soon after I fainted away & lay on the frozen ground about four hours senseless & motionless & to all appearances dead & all who saw me pronounced me dead.

I was really supposed to [be] dead by all who saw me & if any of my Ohio friends are anxious to see my likeness & the bullet & portions of my skull bones all they have to do, is to call at the army Medicinal Museum in Washington City D. C. I am a native Buckeye was born and raised in Green County, Ohio But the only redeeming traits I ever saw in Quantrell was that he showed by his kindness to me, after I was wounded that he was not entirely a Demon But history will record him a desperately bad man a highway robber, of the darkest shade & a desperate leader of a set of the most desperate Demons that ever disgraced the name of man infinitely worse than he was. None of them with bravery enough to meet an enemy But they took every advantage of the surroundings by treachery to drench the earth with blood & carnage

Abraham Ellis
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