Reminiscence of Rev. Gideon H. Higginbotham

More familiarly known as "Uncle Gid"

(Published in "Bolivar Herald” newspaper in 9 parts in 1921-Covers his early life-1845 & on thru the Civil War)

          Mr. great-grandfather was an Irishman who came across the "Frog Pond".  My grandmother and grandfather Higginbotham were born in Naine (Wayne Co.) Kentucky.  They immigrated to Illinois about 1830, and lived there until my grandfather died.  He died on the Sangamon River, one hundred miles from home.  Grandmother worried about him being buried so far from home until she read in the Bible, "As the tree falls, so shall it lie."   Then she became satisfied.

         When grandfather moved to Illinois, wolves were as thick there as rabbits are here.  There came a big snow and the lakes froze over.  The wolves took to the lake to keep out of the deep snow.  Grandfather had a fine mare that he had ice shod.  He went to the lake with a club and killed the wolves by the hundreds.  While making the rounds, the mare slipped and fell and killed herself.  (also killed John.)  Then my grandmother went back to Kentucky with her five children, two girls and three boys.  My father being the oldest, he was bound out to his uncle until he was twenty-one years old.  He was given a horse, saddle, and bridle, and a $30.00 suit of clothes and six months schooling.  Father and Mother (Rachel McKinney) were engaged to be married when my father was twenty-one years old.  His birthday was May 17th.  That was too late to put in a crop so he bought his time and put out a crop and about May 25th he and my mother were married.  On June 1, 1843, I was born.  We lived in Kentucky until 1845 when we came to Missouri.  My brother John was six weeks old when we started.  We landed in Polk Co., Mo., in June 1845, and visited around among kinfolk.  In Nov., 1845, we left McKinney cabin, went two miles to what is known as the Jump farm north of Halfway.  We went there with a little yoke of steers hitched to a wagon.  When we drove up to the little cabin I remember what my father said to my mother.  It was, "This is our home."  We had never had a home.   The little slat gate was swung to a hickory tree.  The little cabin was covered with clapboards with weight poles.  And the door was made of slats, they had no planks in those days.  The floor was a puncheon floor hewn out, and a stick and clay chimney.   The amrocks in the north went cornerwise to a hole in the floor.  We had woodrats in those days and they built a nest in the house out of sticks, grass, etc.  We had no matches in those days so my father took his rasp and a flint & piece of punk, struck a fire and burnt the nest.  That was my first recollection in happenings in this world.  Father was a shoemaker and a farmer.  I was two years and six or seven months old at this time.  My mother would cook our dinner at breakfast.  We had only one glass tumbler.  She set it under the table cloth.  I wanted some bread but she told me to wait until dinner.  I grabbed for some bread and jerked the glass off and broke it.  Then I ran.  I was in my shirt tail.  I ran and got up on the ash hopper and thought I was safe.  My mother come and whipped me around my bare legs.  Another time I concluded I would have some fun, so I tied a rope around John's neck and led him around the house.  There was a big kettle in the yard.  I gave him a jerk and he fell against the kettle and cut a gash in his head.  Then I got another whipping.

         We moved from there to the place where Sam Brock’s son-in-law lives now.  Father took up a claim for 160 acres of land. When he landed there he had $25.00 in silver wrapped up in a silk handkerchief in the till of an old chest.  When they opened it they found that one dollar was counterfeit.  He took the $24.00 and bought twenty-four steer calves.  He had a big pocket knife so he traded it and some work for two more calves.  Then he built a cabin and fenced six acres of land and set out some peach trees.  Rail timber was scarce in this country in those days and the wind blew very hard.  My mother carried water in a churn on her hip to keep the wind from blowing it out.

         We had a blind yellow mare.  One day she and her young colt were down by the branch.  We saw her cutting up, running and jumping.  When we investigated we found that she had killed a big snake and had torn it to pieces.

         Uncle Johnnie Vanderford had his land fenced.  He gave my father a lease on it if he would break the sod.  Father had only two yearling steers so he traded a rifle to Moses Simpson for a yoke of three year old steers.  The gun was valued at $16.00.  He put the steers to the wheel and broke twenty acres of the land.  Uncle Johnnie came up there one day.  He had a yoke of big cattle running to the still tub.  He wanted to trade them for the three year old steers.  Father called Oscar Gatrel to witness the contract.  Father gave him the three year old steers for the big cattle but he was to keep them until he broke the other twenty acres.  Uncle Johnnie was to let the big cattle run to the still tub until Father called for them.  In about a week there came a man buying heavy cattle.  He drove up to Uncle Johnnie’s and asked him if he had any cattle to sell.  Uncle Johnnie told him that he had some he had conditionally traded to Higginbotham but he would call the trade off.  They came up to Father’s and said, “Have you any heavy cattle to sell?” and Father said “Yes”.  Father sold them to him for $30.00.  Uncle Johnnie saw his mistake in selling them to my father so cheap, and tried to rue back but Father wouldn’t do it.  This trade, I guess, caused us to lose our home.   Nick Cox, Uncle Johnnie’s brother-in-law, had settled on the place Mrs. Oldfield sold not too long ago.  He had a blacksmith shop there.  They tried to put father out but didn’t want to pay him for his improvements.  This was just after the war in Hickory County.  The neighbors told him if he didn’t pay for the improvements they would take him out and “lick” him.  They agreed to arbitrate it.  Father selected a man and he one and they agreed on $60.00.  He gave father his note, due Jan. 1st, with 10% interest.  I was a little boy but I hated him like a rattle snake.  On the last day of December father was sitting in the north door of the house where I now live.  I saw Nick Cox coming, so I ran up to Father and said, “Yonder comes ole Nick”.  He rode up and said, “Here, Tom, is your money.”

         We gave Bill Hale a yoke of steers for the claim where I now live.

 [Note from Judy:  The “still tub”, I assume, would be where they made whiskey out of corn, and the “leavings” were good cattle feed, and fattened them up.  It was swollen corn, that was left after they had run it thru the still.   And the “war” in Hickory County would be the “Slicker War”.  There is a book about it, written here in Polk Co..  Seems families started feuding, I don’t know about what, and they would get a man, and whip him with limbs stripped of their bark (slick limbs) and called it “slickering him” and they whipped several men like that.  Some so severely they died.  Sort of a “Hatfield and McCoy” thing, that got started, and sides were taken, etc.]

          The first time I remember going to church, I wore a little suit of clothes made from flax and my mother a cotton dress made of her own hands.  It was close to Uncle Billy Clark’s by the Reed Cemetery.  Father had brought a gig with him from Kentucky.  The young men took turn about pitching it at a cob before meeting.  I wanted to pitch it, too, but I was too little.  They wouldn’t let me have it.  I went into the house when the singing commenced and sat down by mother near the door.  but all the time my mind was on the gig.  Old Father Yeager was the preacher.  After he had prayed he began to preach.  There was a little window on the south side of the house.  I slipped out through this, picked up the gig and thought I would have a good time all by myself.  When I drew back to throw the gig, through the window it went, knocking out the window pane and throwing glass all over the preacher.  I was very much frightened and started to run thinking I could get back into the house without being discovered, but my mother met me at the old stack chimney and led me down by the old bee hive north of the house, where there was an old seedling apple tree.  She pulled a good sprout from this and gave me a good whipping, and I’ve never liked a seedling apple tree since.   I had one dime that had a hole in it.  I had tied a string through the hole and hung my dime to a joist.  When we got home mother said, “You must take that dime and give it to Uncle Billy Clark for his window pane.”  This I did not like to do at all, but had to do it just the same.  Next morning I started with the string tied around my wrist and the dime in my hand.  After I had gone awhile, my mother became uneasy about wolves getting after me, so she followed my until she saw me go into Uncle Billy Clark’s house.  I went in feeling very guilty and handed him the dime.  He looked at me and said, “You are a little boy.  I won’t take all of your money.”  I felt awfully good right then.  I thought to myself, “Well, I have got two whippings, walked a mile, and he has taken only half my money.”  The more I thought of this, the more I loved that old man.  He was as close as the bark on a tree, but after that I never shook his hand but what I thought of that five cents.  I had learned a lesson, I would rather offend a grown person than a child and try to gain his confidence back.  An impression made on a young mind is lasting.

         One more incident.  My father was a shoemaker.  His tool bench was a little slab with four legs on it sitting against the little slab door which was open.  My mother was spinning flax on a little wheel nearby.  I took the knee strap and put it over the door down to the bottom, then I got John up on the bench with his back against the door and put the knee strap around his neck.  Then I slipped the tool bench out from under him and ran out the door.  I thought I  had played a good joke on him and was having lots of fun watching him kick the door.  Mother heard the noise and looked around.  John was hanging there black in the face.   If she had not been close, he would have been dead in a very few minutes.  This ended as usual with a whipping from my mother.

         Once my father went to mill with a load of wheat and stayed almost a week.  In those days it took a long time to grind it.  There were a hundred wagons in the yard waiting to have their wheat ground.  We heard a panther howling in front of the house, and someone was in our crib stealing corn.  The hogs were squealing, too.  Mother came in and woke John and me both up, and we were scared almost to death.  At another time, it had rained 11 days and had got all the branches (rivers) up.  Then it began to snow.  Uncle Johnnie Vanderford had a still house near us.  That night we heard a panther howling again and we thought it was someone freezing to death, so my father started to them.  When he got to the branch, he could not get across, so he came home and waited until morning.  In the morning he went over there and he found where the panther had sat on his hunkers and howled.

         On this lease, we cut our corn and went with a wagon with three yoke of steers to bring it home.  We leaded our wagon and went to the river which was up swimming full.  I said, “Father, how are you going to cross?”  He said, “Float across,” so he drove the leaders, Rock and Rhine, right up to the bank.  Then he said “Gee, Rock” and in we went.  We floated across and landed safely on the opposite side.

         One day as I went to school I found a cat and her four kittens and brought them home with me.  This did not please my father so he told me I must take the kittens to the creek and drown them.  I wanted to keep them so instead of drowning them I took them down on the mound and made them a bed and thought they were all right.  In the night the old cat heard them crying and went down and carried them all to the house.  The next morning my father gave me another good whipping.  You see I got it coming and going.

         Father traded for an old mare.  She had kicked so much that the outside of her hoof had come off and another thing had grown on.   Father put me to working her.  I worked her with her head and tail tied together for four years.  The fifth year she got fat, so father put me to plowing with her.  She worked as well as a team of oxen.  One day I hit a stump and broke the rope that tied her head and tail together.  She kicked the plow against my stomach and knocked the breath out of me.  I let go of the lines so she went around and round like a circus horse.  Sometimes the plow was as high as the traces would let it go.  She kicked everything all to pieces, and all the time father was saying, “Hold to her, Gid.”  I held on until there was nothing left but the rope I was holding her by.  Father had to take the pieces of the plow to the shop and have them fixed.  Next morning he took her and went up to plant some potatoes.  This time he had John to lead her.

John had on a pair of boots that turned up at the toes.  They were using a one-horse como plow.  They hit a stump and broke the rope that tied her head to her tail.  She kicked the plow out from under the root, knocked John down and dragged the plow right over him.  She kept on until she had everything off except the collar and bridle.  Then she threw her head down and pawed the collar and bridle off with her forefoot.  She had gotten everything off but the rope which was still tied to her tail, so away she went to the west as fast as she could go, my father yelling “Whoa” as loud as he could.  He said, “Gid, catch my saddle horse and I will get her.”  I did and he started after her.   He caught her near the Botts place and took her to Bolivar to sell. He put her up and sold her at auction.  A widow, living west of town, bought her for $30.00.  She was perfectly gentle for a woman to ride.  As many women and children as could get on her could ride her.  For years she had been a range nag.  We raised one of her colts which we called Mary Blaine.  She was certainly like her mother.  In the winter of ‘55, Mr. Pitner and Mr. Burns come to this country.  Mr. Pitner lived in the school house.  Mary Blaine was then four years old.  We thought we could have a sleigh ride so we made a sleigh and started out.  The first thing she did was to kick the dash board into atoms.  Then we made the shafts longer so she couldn’t reach the sleigh with her heels, and put on another dash board.  We could drive her to Bolivar in about twenty minutes.  We broke her by working her to that sleigh!

         We began breaking out grubs in the year ‘51 and broke out new land each year until 1860.  My job was to drive up the oxen and put them in the corral.  When I went after them, I had to walk barefooted.  I went every morning until July.  If I saw an old rattlesnake across my path with the sun shining on him he looked pretty, but if I could find any rocks or sticks, I would try to kill him.  If I couldn’t find any rocks or sticks, I would give him the path and I would go on to get my cattle.  I knew every bell in the country.  Sometimes I would be tired and want father to make John go, but it didn’t do any good.

         In April of ‘55, father went to Springfield to enter land for Gillem Tirey.  Gillem worked in oat harvest while father was gone.  John and I got lazy and wouldn’t do our part so Gillem said he was going to tell father when he came home.  We knew what that meant.  We decided we would get even with him for that, so I cut a club and hid it by the road.  Gillem always walked with his hands behind him, and was always either singing or whistling.  I was going to knock him down, as he went out to his work, then John was to come and help me.  I got behind him and had my club ready.  I was watching him and just as I made the lick I stumped my toe and hit him between the shoulders and knocked him down.  He got up and began to swear.  He caught me and began to beat me.  John thought I had him down but when he saw that I was down he ran for the woods.  When father came home Gillem didn’t tell him for a long time.  Gillem saved me from more than one whipping.  Gillem made rails enough to very near fence Polk County.  He would make a crop and sell his corn for twenty cents a bushel or let the cattle eat it up and then buy corn off father for fifty cents a bushel and make rails to pay for it.  I went to school about three months in the year.  I cut corn, sawed wood and sowed wheat during the time I missed.  My first teacher was Uncle Ben Cheneyworth.  We had a dunce rock he would make us sit on.  This rock had a sharp edge.  John Calloway and I tried to flatten it.  My next teacher was Joe Hull.  He used a lot of “hickory tea.”  My third teacher was Warren and the next was Doc Pitt.  One Friday John Higginbotham, Bill Tirey, John and George Lesley, Jack Decker, and I had a pitched battle.  Pitt had whipped John Calloway, John went outdoors and he was swearing.  Pitt knew I heard it because I was out there, too.  My  father was one of the directors so when Pitt came up to get his pay that night he asked me what John was saying.  Mother didn’t want me to tell  but he insisted that he had a right to know so I told him.  On Monday morning he called all us boys up who had been fighting.  He had a bunch of switches so we knew what that meant.  John had gone home with Bill Tirey and had put on a double amount of clothing.  He was the first one to be whipped.  By the time he got through with us all my whipping had quit hurting me.  Then he called John Calloway up and asked him why he had talked that way.  John denied it and proved it by John Lesley.  So the teacher called me back and gave me fourteen stripes more.  That made two whippings for me, hard ones, too.

         On Sunday morning Pitt came up behind us and said “Good Morning, Sister Higginbotham,” but mother said, “I don’t speak to any such man, you made my boy tell you something and then whipped him for it.  If I were a man, I would get out and stamp the earth up with you.”  He apologized and told mother if she said so he would whip John Calloway Monday morning for lying to him, but John didn’t come back to school any more.  Our next teacher was Lynn Hayden.

         Mr. Pitts had a darkey working for him.  She slept in the smoke house on a little bed of rags.  One night I went coon hunting and about 1 o’clock I heard her out chopping wood.  Another very cold day he had her out chopping wood and Mrs. Pitts told her to come in.  The old darkey was so cold she couldn’t get into the house so Mrs. Pitts picked up a plank and hit her in the head.  Mother was there and helped her into the house.  Mrs. Pitts wanted to leave her out in the smoke house but mother wouldn’t let her.  She died, and was buried in her rags, and nothing was ever done about it.  Mr. Pitts was a teacher, preacher, then he got to be a doctor.  They caught him in a trap stealing meat at a butcher shop.  Then he left and went to Salt Lake City, Utah.  Mrs. Pitts married Davey Henderson and led him a happy life.

         When the war came in 1861, I enlisted in the Home Guard.  We drilled around Bolivar with our rifles and shot guns, then went to Springfield.  That was my first camping out.  We elected our commission officers.  My captain was Capt. Lunceford.  I ran for sergeant but got beat.  I was a private in Co. A of the Home Guard.  We came back to Bolivar then on to Humansville.  That night a false alarm was given.  Bill Tirey and I were sleeping under the church house (the church stood on a sloping ground) and when the alarm was given we didn’t hear it.  Next morning they accused us of hiding.  I thought I was some pumpkins in those days.

         Our next march was to Springfield.  The day of the Wilson Creek Battle we stopped at the Adcock spring to eat our dinner.  There we met Col. James Johnson who told that Gen. Lyons was killed and the Federal army was whipped.  He turned us back to Jefferson City.  I thought this was the most wonderful army in the world.  We came back to my father’s that night.  Grandfather McKinney and Uncle Bill Johnson started to move to Illinois.  All of the Union people were scared.  The Rebel Army was in this county.  I got a permit from the Officers to help my grandfather and Uncle Bill Johnson drive the stock through.  We went as far as Linn Creek when my father overtook us, and persuaded them to come back and stay.  The Rebel army scouted all over this country.  They took possession of everything, even gathered the wheat and threshed it.

         Siegles army was sent back to Rolla, and the other back to Jefferson City.  Ben Wilson had two negroes who ran off and went to Jefferson City.  They were put in jail there.  They hired father to go to Jefferson City in a two-horse wagon to get them.  When they got to the Osage River it was up high.  They took the wagon apart and took it across on a skift, then put it together again and went on.

         When they came to Cottonwood Prairie they met an old Kentuckian whom my father knew. They talked over old times.  Father went on to Jefferson City and got the two negroes and brought them home.  they gave him $300 in gold for this.  One day my father and I were at my grandfather’s across the river and the Rebels came and took an old horse.  Uncle Reuben Higginbotham followed them almost to Humansville and overtook them and got the mare back again.  Uncle Rube was a southern man.  He and father lived on adjoining farms, one was a union man, the other was a southern man.

         Jim Johnson, Sheb Brow, Gillem Tirey, Ben Cox, Ike Peters, Joe Ammerman, Owl Hurt and I started to Jefferson City.  Owl carried an ax to cut our cord wood.  When we came to Cottonwood Prairie, Ben took half the crowd to his father’s place and I took the other half to Mr. Norflid’s.  We stopped at a little saloon on the road and gave thirty cents for a quart of whiskey.  This left us five cents in the crowd and we were fifteen miles from Jefferson City.  We asked Mrs. Norflid how much our fill was and she said “Nothing.”

         We landed in Jefferson City that day foot sore and tired.  We had just left the southern flag.  And, oh, how good we felt when we were under the stars and stripes, for it was floating there.  And there was a “Wail” that went through my being that was never felt before.  We went out to where our boys in blue were stationed about one mile west of Jefferson City.  The boys all stayed that night at the camps except Gillem Tirey and I.  We went to Jeff Gordon’s camp where he was cutting cord wood.  That night I bought Jeff’s outfit from him and was going to cut cord wood.  The next morning I went back to where the “boys in blue” were.  all our “bunch” had on their new uniforms.  They said, “Gid, come and join.”  I said “Not much.”  “I will cut cord wood.”  so Gillem and I went back and went to cutting cord wood.  We cut wood until Saturday.  We went down to visit the boys again and there six of the boys had died with measles.  They wanted us to fill the vacancies.  They said, “Come, Gid, and join us for we are going back to Polk County.”  I had enough wood cutting, so I left all my camping outfit with Gillem and joined the army.  Then I drew a uniform and a black overcoat something extra and Lieut. Gravely offered me three dollars to boot between his overcoat and mine.  by the time we reached Linn Creek I had my overcoat worn bare where I carried my gun.  Poor Owl Hurt joined Capt. Rice’s company.  He said they were coming on but they never came.  We left Owl crying.  We drew six mules from the govt. for the company.  Out of the six there was only one that was broke all the way.

         On mornings, the wagon would be frozen into the ground and the mules would buck me out of breath before they wagon come loose.  The day we got to Gravi the mules had gone without water all day.  We locked the wheels but the mules were in a hurry and they went down the hill in a hurry.  As quick as the lead mules reached the water they stopped and the second mules ran over their double-trees and the wheel mules ran over theirs.  I had to get out into the water and what a tangled mess I had.

         We came on to Linn Creek and camped.  Then we started to Bolivar.  We stayed all night the first night after we left Linn Creek at old Mr. Ellison’s.  We boys were tired of “hard tack and bacon.”  So that night we started out “foraging.”  The old man had lots of bee hives, so we carried off one of them.  We carried it down to the sticks.  It was full of honey so we took it all out, put the head back on the gun and carried it back and placed it exactly where we found it.  Then we struck out up the hollow. We found a hole of apples, got about a half sack of them and covered the hole up as we had found it and started back to camp.  As we crossed the fence there say an old turkey gobbler with his head under his wing.  Some of the boys picked him off and rung his head off, dressed him and burned all the feathers.  So we had turkey, apples, and honey.   We got it ready about eleven o’clock and invited  Lieut. Akard and Lieut. Gravely down for supper.  We didn’t let Capt. Stockton know anything about it for we knew it would get us into trouble, but never-the-less we all enjoyed that supper.  The next morning Mr. Ellison came down and bragged on us to our captain and said he hadn’t missed a thing.

         We came from Linn Creek to Pittsburg.  There we recruited and took Jim Skinner, Peter Sowings and John Parsons.  They had on coon skin caps and shoes with wooden soles.  There at Pittsburg Lige Parrish professed religion.  We came from there to Bolivar, from Bolivar to Humansville, and had a fight there.  My first experience with that awful bloody war.

         Monroe Robinson claimed to be one of those brave fellows.  He came to the captain and asked if he didn’t want a spy to go out upon a high hill nearby.  And the captain let him go.  After the battle was all over, he came charging in saying, “Didn’t we give it to them.”  Bill Wyatt was guarding a prisoner.  Monroe came up with a revolver in hand and asked who was that.  They answered it was a rebel prisoner.  He drew his revolver and said, “Let’s kill him.”  Awful brave after it was over.  Bill Wyatt threw his gun down on him and told him he could put a hole thru him a dog could jump through if he bothered the poor fellow.

         In the charge Capt. Stockton was shot in the leg by Major Frazier who was wounded.  Ben Smith was killed there.  When he fell he fell against my knees.  Mr. Devine was shot, he lived thirty days and then died.  Stricklin and Sorders, two confederate soldiers, were killed and when we saw them they were as spotted as rattlesnakes.  Major Frazier had thirteen holes shot in his body.  He had a silk handkerchief in his pocket.  It was shot through him.  Robert Howe was on sentinel and was not released.  He fought from where he was, he shot the first man in the leg.  I saw them take his limb off.  He died that night.  Aunt Martha McKinney stood at the window and watched her two nephews, Jim Johnson and myself.  Several balls passed through the house but she never left her post.  She said if either of us fell she would go to us.  Bill Stockton and Eric Jordan were wounded.  Benton Cox was at my left.  He concluded he would get behind a barn near by and as he made the change they shot the spur off his heel.  There were several Confederates killed, wounded, and taken prisoners.  There was a woman by the name of Renfro who ran about two miles to warn us of the approaching enemy.

         After the battle, there was a scout sent out to Cedar County.  Bill Wells, a wealthy Southern man, was plowing.  That brave Monroe Robinson slipped up and shot and killed him.  They were about to court martial him, and he deserted.  Then we found out he was a deserter from a Kansas regiment.  He did so bad he went back to Tennessee.  Several years after the war he killed his brother-in-law and was hanged.  That was the end of Monroe Robinson.

         We marched from Humansville back to Linn Creek or Quiney, then on to Warsaw, then to Sedalia.  From Sedalia to the Lone Jack Battle.  It was raining and we got lost on the Sedalia prairie and had to send back to Sedalia for a guide.  While waiting for the guide to come, I got off of my horse and laid down in a draw and went to sleep and when the bugle blew it woke me and water had been all around me until the drifts had lodged against me.  I was so dead for sleep, I could have slept any place.   My horse was gone, it was raining as hard as it could, and Oh!  so dark!  There was the bugle and my horse gone.  So, I got up, started down the little ravine and as luck would have it, I ran against her.  We marched the rest of the night.  Next morning Jack Sawyers was so sleepy, he fell asleep on his horse.  The horse broke ranks and started out in the prairie.   When he got about one hundred yards away, the boys began yelling and woke him up and he was certainly scared.  By getting lost in the prairie we were too late for the Lone Jack Battle.

         Then we started south after Price’s army.  We came through Clinton, Osceola, Bolivar, Springfield, and then onto Crane Creek.  The boys went out foraging.  They killed a sheep, came by the mill, got some meal and some cabbage.  These were the first cabbage I ever ate that I liked.  From Crane Creek we went to Pea Ridge and there we camped for awhile.  There some boys went out and shot a hog.  General Brown had them arrested, blew the bugle and had them together at the top and set them in front and made Jim Johnson pull off his shirt and was going to tie him to those rails and whip him and the rest of those that were with him.  This threw the whole army in an uproar and General Brown contermanded the order in a hurry and turned them loose.

         The next move we made was toward Osage Springs.  On the night of Oct. 24, 1862, four of us boys slipped out away from the command, built us up a fire out in the woods, rolled up in our blankets and went to sleep.   Next morning when I threw my cape off my head, the snow poured in on me and there was snow four or five inches deep.  Next morning we moved on but the company had gone and left us and when roll as called next morning there was no “Gid” to answer and when we got there, we were put on extra duty.  I was put on sentinel away out from the command.

         When I came in from duty, I found I had typhoid fever.   My company was gone except the cook and baggage wagon.  They had gone around by mud town on a scout.   The rest of the army started to Fayetteville.  We marched all night and I was so sick, it seemed the longest night I ever passed through.  I would ride as far as I could stay on my horse, then I would get off and lie down by the road.  Then the rear guard would come along and pick me up.  Maybe I would go a mile or two then I would crawl off again.  Next morning we came to a nursery and hot house.  I thought I would eat an apple.  They were all frozen on the trees but that apple didn’t taste like I imagined they would.

         We marched on to Fayeteville, Ark.   When I got there, I lay down among the dog fennel in the street.  Lieut. Wakefield came to me (he was with my company that went out on the scout), and had arrived at Fayetteville before we did.  He ordered me to be put in the mess wagon.  John Parsons helped me into the wagon, then we marched down to White River.  The snow was melted off by this time.  When we camped at White River, they spread out my blanket on the ground and laid me on it, then spread another one over me.  The next morning when I awoke my “mess” was about thirty steps from me.  My fever had cooled down, I raised on my elbow and called to my comrades and four of them came and carried me to the tent.  My adjutant came to me and borrowed $60 in confederate money to buy a horse. 

         Joe Wakefield died that night, there were five of them down with the fever at once--Tom Stockton, Ben Cantrell, Nande Peters and myself.  We left there and started back to the head of Spring River to vote for Gov. and on the road one of Co. F laid down by the fire, someone slipped up and shot him in the head.  His name was Wilson, it was found out afterwards it was one of his own company.  So we took him on with us until about noon where we camped.  They dug a hole and laid him to rest.  I thought the next hole they dug would be for me.

         While we were camped Bill Stockton got some sassafras and made us sick boys some tea when we got to Spring River.  We stayed over there three days.  Sergent Meade came to me and said he was going to send a dispatch to Bolivar and did I want him to let my father know I was sick.  I told him I did.  They had hauled me all this route in a Government wagon which was filled with our cooking utensils, guns, saddles and almost everything else.  It seemed to me the next morning when we started to Sand Spring, they put us four in an ambulance.  They found out my father was an Officer and this saved me from riding in the wagon.  We reached York town and stayed all night.

         Next morning someone pulled the curtain back and spoke my name.  I looked and to my surprise it was my father, Capt. Higginbotham.  I never realized how well I loved my father until then.  He and Col. McClung were good friends so father went to him and got permission to take us out and he gave us a bath and put clean clothes on us.  Next morning they put us back in the ambulance and come through Springfield.  There father asked permission to drive us to a private house.  The Col. said, “Take them where ever you please”, so father had me taken to Mr. Dyer’s just south of the Woolen Mill springs.  There they kept me ten days.  I was about two hundred yards from the soldiers grave yard.  There they buried from one to six a day and when they would fire a volley over a dead comrade’s grave I would know another one of “the boys” was gone.  That would worry me a great deal.  Then they hired an ambulance and brought me home to my dear old mother.

         I was a happy boy to get back to my loved ones.  I was sick about four weeks.  The fever settled in my left limb and I never got over it, I went on crutches for about six months.  I was engaged to one of the sweetest little girls in America and when I recovered from my sickness and while her father was away in the Southern Army, I married his daughter.  Her name was Mary Agnes McKinney.   We were married in the little log house which now stands north of J. P. Thompson’s house on the Bolivar-Buffalo road.  We were married by James McKinney (my grandfather) who was justice of the peace, on March 4, 1863.

[Note from Judy:  James Rane McKinney was shot and left lay by a young man on a horse in Oct. 1863, while he was near the Halfway spring, in sight of his house.  They never caught the killer, but assumed it was a Union man, as James was a southern supporter.]

         I was at home about six months.  Then Lieutenant Wakefield came after us.  Cousin Jim Johnson had taken a French furlough and came home so we all started back.  Got as far as Robertson Prairie and stayed all night.  Next morning Wakefield arrested Johnson.  His horse was sick so we had to leave it.  When we got into Springfield, Major Eno came up and said “Where is Johnson?”  so he took him and put him in the third story of the court house.  That night he made a rope out of his blanket and tied it to the center post and went out of the window and made his “getaway”, come by and got his horse and came back  home.  the President sent out a proclamation that all soldiers that had run away if they would come back to the army by a certain time would be reprieved.    Johnson went to Lebanon to Col. Gravely.  But Col. Gravely had sent the reprievance down to New Tony and Major Eno.  When Johnson got to New Tony he got there before the reprieve did so Major Eno arrested him again and put him in the block house.  When his reprieve came he was set free.

         Company F had stacked their arms when the word came to Eno that Company F was going to steal his horses, so Major Eno came to Company A and wanted a “guart” to guard his horses and Johnson was the first man to step out.  So he went and stood guard over those horses.  It was a cold night, he had to walk before Major Eno’s tent, so the major invited him in and set the fine drinks up to him and he sure won the friendship of Johnson, so ever after that when he wanted a scout, he always called for Johnson.

         While I was at New Tony my horse broke loose, I started out on my crutches after him.  I got off about one-quarter of a mile from camp when I heard tow guns fire.  There had been some “bush wackers” skip in and took one of the boys from the seventh Missouri.  They had taken him to the timber, took his clothes from him, shot him and left him for dead, but he crawled back into the prairie and the boys that were watching the horses, heard him and brought him back to camp.  My horse was gone, and this fellow said they had him, and I never saw my horse again.  It was about 30 years before I ever got pay for him.

         While I was searching for my horse out on the road, I found a pocketbook which contained $25 in money, 95 cents in stamps and a man’s picture which proved to be the owners picture.  Mr. Roundtree of Company C2.  I brought it and gave it to him and in this act made a friend which never forgot me.  Jerry McCarty and Bill Stricklin were started to Mt. Vernon with a dispatch.  I loaned Bill my revolver and holster case.  My father, who was at Mt. Vernon and was fixing to send a scout back to New Tony, wanted them to go with them, but they weren’t ready to return.  So when they started back they were captured by those lawless men.  Bill stricklin’s horse was captured later.  It was a blue horse, a very noted one.

         From there we went to Greenfield.  There my wife came on horseback to visit me.  She was accompanied by Mr. Box.  She visited me for about two weeks.  While we were there my horse ran away with me and crippled me.  Joe Box died while there of rheumatism.  There fourteen of us were sent to the Berry Hospital at Springfield where I stayed about four months.  In November, 1863, I received my discharge and came home.     The End.

 Some notes:  Rachel McKinney (middle of page 1) is daughter of James Rane McKinney and sister of George Franklin McKinney (Uncle Frank, who married his first cousin Martha Ann McKinney (Aunt Mat)   Gid’s dad (husband of Rachel) was Captain Thomas D. Higginbotham.

 Grandfather McKinney (middle of page 7)  James Rane McKinney, who is uncle of John Vardaman McKinney.

 Aunt Martha McKinney (bottom of page 9) is Martha Ann McKinney, daughter of William Franklin McKinney & Mary “Polly” Boone--she married her first cousin George Franklin McKinney, James Rane McKinney’s son.  She is a sister to John Vardaman McKinney.

Mary Agnes McKinney (middle of page 12)  Daughter of John Vardaman McKinney, the subject of my book of descendants.

Transcribed from the newspaper articles by Judy (Jones) McKinney -- judymckinn (at)

Reprinted here with permission.


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9 Feb 2000