Treacherous Hosts: A Difficult Journey Home
Solomon David Finger didn’t take kindly to the people who wanted to murder him while he was on his way home from Camp Chase, a Union prison in Columbus, Ohio, where he had been a prisoner for nine months. The Civil War had just ended. The surprise of his life was a plot to end his life as he was returning to his mountain home in Western North Carolina. When Solomon was released from prison in Ohio, he went to Loudon, Tennessee, by train. Because there were not any railroads through the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1865, Loudon was about 100 miles from home. Solomon started walking toward home on a road that sometimes narrowed into a trail. Tired and hungry, he stopped at a farm house and asked the family for something to eat. They told him to stay for supper and spend the night. When he went to bed, he noticed the sheets were stiff with dried blood and he became suspicious. He felt around in the moonlight coming through the window and found a dead man under the bed. He figured they waylaid people and killed them for their few belongings. Solomon knew they were scheming to kill him while he slept. At Camp Chase, his constant companion was death that claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Confederate soldiers, many whose families never learned of their fate. Having survived the hardship and sorrow of war and prison, Solomon was not going to die in that dreadful farm house if he could help it – but could he? Solomon lay down on his back next to the dead man and removed a wooden slat from under the bed. He hid behind the door and when the door opened, he saw the figure of a man in the dim light clutching a big knife in his hand. In that terrifying moment, Solomon used the slat and hit the man with all his strength, then he bolted out of the house. Fear followed him into the darkness as he fled through the night. The next morning, he heard horses galloping in the distance and he knew the murderers were after him. The Confederate veteran had to be as crafty as a rabbit chased by snarling dogs. He ran into the woods and hid until the horses went by. Keeping the road in sight, he walked in the woods until he finally made it home.
– Waynesville Mountaineer