SUBMITTED BY: Steve Campbell Hagwood
AUTHOR: Peter Jones, 1848-1943
“The day the Yankees came into this county was the first day of March in ’65. Me and some of the neighbor’s boys had run away from home. We were too young to join the army, and that day we went nearly to Mt. Croghan. We could hear the sound of guns firing. We went up on a hill and saw another man with a gun and he was listening for the Yankees. Over on the next hill we saw a man riding at a gallop up the road and his name was “Snake” John Huntley.
On the 2nd of March I came over near here and got with John Teal and we went to Mr. Cooley’s and somebody told us that the Yankees were close by. I went home with John and stayed all night. Next morning we went over to John J. Little’s, and while we were there Alex Hanna came and said the Yankees had gone into Wadesboro by the Camden Road. We did not know what to do, so we turned back this side of Bethel, and went down in the woods, and hitched our horses. We were about 16 years old then and afraid of Yankees – all of them. We came up out of the woods back of a field. While we were standing there a Yankee rode up and we stood there and he said, “You are my prisoners.” I told him that we were just boys, and didn’t mean any harm but he said he was going to take us to Headquarters with him. He changed horses, and put his saddle on John’s horse, and John took his horse and I rode a mule. We came back on the road and there was about a dozen of our neighbors that had been trying to keep away from the Yankees but they had been captured by another group of Yankees. One of the officers said: “I am out of tobacco”, and as I happened to have some in my pocket, I gave them some.
We started down toward Chesterfield and turned up toward Mt. Croghan to the old Tillman place. They put us in the gin house for the night. A Yankee Captain had been shot off his horse and killed. He was a man from Alabama who had gone against his section and fought with the North. It was night and they had gotten the Captain’s body out of the creek near Cannon Mill. They got him and we went to camp. They were as mad as they could be and said he was one of the best scouts they had. They questioned us about him being shot but we did not know anything. They said somebody had murdered him, and they would shoot about eighteen of us next morning if we didn’t tell them who did it.
We didn’t get much to eat and we picked up pieces of meat that they dropped and ate it. It was raining the next morning and we didn’t know whether they were going to shoot us, or not. They had a little skirmish with some soldiers and they ran us out of the gin house and put us in the fodder stacks. The next morning we came along the Chesterfield road, and went toward old Morven and we stayed in another gin house down there and they fired it that night. They got us out before they fired it though. They started us on down the road and we went until we got to the river. The Yankees were working on a “pontoon” bridge, or foot bridge and they gave us orders to cross the river on this bridge. We crossed there Monday night. They put us in another barn that night and took us on to Rockingham the next morning and put us in the Courthouse. We stayed in Rockingham Tuesday night. While we were there they brought in Col. Walter E. Steele, who had been hiding, but they had captured him anyway. They brought him in the Courthouse to question him and he told them he had no gun and they finally let him off. We stayed there Tuesday night and Wednesday morning it started raining and rained all day and we got just as wet as we could be, and we built a big fire. Thursday morning they started us out again. We traveled a lot that night and they finally stopped at a Yankee camp.
[ed.: Makes an escape.]
That night we were all sitting about the fire and we saw a group of horsemen coming. There was a guard standing out there and the guard told one of the men to put down his gun but one of the privates took the guard prisoner and started off with him. There was a gun lying down there and the man with the prisoner said, “Pick up the gun,” but I didn’t. There were a lot of woods around there and when we got further uphill I saw a lot of our people up there and I shouted: “Glory to God!” We started down toward Fayetteville, and I asked them to let me ride as I was barefooted and tired. They let me ride, almost, to Fayetteville and a woman came out on the porch with some corn pone bread and gave me some. I thought it was the best food I had ever eaten. After that we went across the river and stopped at a house, and told them we wanted some supper. The people who lived around there were all so friendly and would give us anything to eat when we asked.
Next morning we started up the river toward Raleigh and got up with the rest of the cavalry. We did not know how to cross the river. A farmer came along and told us he had a canoe and if we would go with him he would carry us across the river. We were trying to outsmart the Yankees. We were in about thirty miles of Raleigh and scared that we would run across the Yankees at any time. We occasionally saw groups of men on horseback we thought were Yankees. As we had come along we would stop at some house if we were hungry and they would never refuse us anything to eat if they had it. We thought we needed something else so we asked them if they had any “spirits.” It was about $30.00 a quart and was pure corn liquor. We would rest every once in a while. There were nine of us Anson County fellows along.
We went on until we got almost to Jonesboro and somebody told us that there were men in Jonesboro looking for deserters. We hired a man who said he could show us a way around Jonesboro. We gave him $25.00 to take us to Jonesboro. He said that he could show us the way around but we got behind somehow and did not know which road to take when we came to the cross road. We found another man who said he would take us. We went on and we got to a little place called “Peking.” We stopped there for a while. We went on to [Presley’s?] (who had two sons killed in the war.) We had breakfast there. We hitched up a wagon to carry us to Wm. C. Smith’s where we got dinner. Steve Tucker was there. We got a horse and buggy but the road was so bad that we had to walk most of the way. We got to Wadesboro about sunset and we stopped there to talk to some friends. One of the Niven boys said to me, “Let’s go to Uncle John Niven’s house to spend the night, as the roads are so bad once it is so dark.” We come home next morning, which was Thursday.
We escaped from the Yankees on Friday and got home the next Thursday. They had captured me on Friday. On the 5th of March they had left this county and went down on the river, and stayed until the 7th or 8th. They did not have very many slaves with them that they had picked up – just a few. They carried canoes with them to cross the river with. It took them a whole day, Monday, to get them ready to cross the river. There were several Yankees, drowned while they were crossing the river and the people that lived down by the river said that the river was haunted after that, and they could hear the Yankees screaming after dark in the whirlpools.
I do not love the Yankees, but I would not hate them quite as much if they hadn’t destroyed everything that the people had…
The Yankees took almost every horse in the county, and they would kill them if they had a surplus. There was hardly a horse left in the county.”
Notes, by Mr. Peter Jones
McGregors and Shorts lived out here near me – Cason’s Old Field settlement. Captain John McGregor was in the war. While he was fighting during the war, and the 14th, a Company nearby got out of ammunition and Col. R. T. Bennett called for volunteers to carry them some. McGregor and 5 other men swung an ammunition chest on [illegible] and hurried it to them. Two of these men were killed and the gallant Capt. McGregor lost part of an ear.
Old Huntley graveyard is located back in edge of woods near G. K. Little’s store.