- Jul 23, 2017
- Southwest Missouri
It was in 1864, down in front of Grant's army, and I was a mile or so outside of the Union pickets, having been on a scout. In making my way back I had been followed pretty closely by half a dozen Confederates, and had eluded them by hiding in a thicket. After an hour's rest I was creeping along on hands and knees, toward the nearest field fence, when the above command reached my ears, and a ‘reb’ stepped in view from behind a large tree.
”Yank, in course ?" he queried, as he looked me over, holding his carbine ready for a shot. I nodded in the affirmative. "How are you heeled?"
I had a navy revolver in my belt, and showed it to him.
He threw down his carbine, drew a navy from his now belt, and, coming quite close he said "Yank, one of us has got to die! A week ago some of you’uns set the cabin afire and turned my poor old mother out into the fields to take sick and die. I swore on her grave that I would kill the first Yank I could draw bead on, and you're my meat!"
"Are you going to shoot down a prisoner in cold blood?"
"That ain't Silas Curtis - not much! It's ten paces - one - two - three - fire. You shall have fair play."
"You mean we shall tight a duel?"
"Sorter one, I expect you'll shoot at me and miss, and I’ll shoot at you and put a ball into your head. I'm no bushwhacker to shoot a man down without a show, but I'm dead certain to kill you all the same."
We backed away from each other. The woods were fairly open, and when we had thirty feet between us there was no obstruction to deflect a bullet or annoy the eye.
"All ready, Yank ?"
”I’ll be fair. You may do the counting. Good-bye to you, for I'm a dead shot."
'”One - two - three - fire.”
The two pistols made one report, but as the noise filled my ears I went down. I was bewildered, half unconscious, but realized that I was hurt.
"Shoo, now, but I just raked his scalp!" I heard the man say as he bent over me. "Say, Yank, we must have another shot. You cut powerful close to my ear, and maybe I dodged a bit. Come, fair play, ye know.’
I tried to rise up, but fell back, and at that moment two bushwhackers pushed out of the woods and came running up. I heard loud talking, oaths, threats, and a bullet from a pistol tore through the cloth on my shoulder. Then I must have fainted, for the next thing I remember was of being carried on the man's back through the woods. When he felt me moving he laid me down and asked "Say Yank, how far is it to your lines?"
"About a mile from where we fought."
"Straight north? "
"Because those bushwhackers was bent on killing you, and to see fair play, I had to plant 'em both. Reckon I haint no more business in the Confederacy after this. Reckon Uncle Sam won't be any wuss on me nor Jeff Davis. Yank, kin ye hang to my neck? "
"All right. Keep this 'ere handkerchief sorter waving as a signal to the pickets, and I'll carry ye safe as an ambulance."
And clinging to the back of a man who had thirsted for my blood, I was soon inside the lines, and Sam was explaining to the pickets: "No, I ain’t no deserter. I've been sorter driven in here because Sile Curtis will see fair play if it takes a leg."
Detroit Free Press reprinted in The Golden Argosy Vol 3