Civil War Stories
The New Era
Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas
January 16, 1864
Thankfully provided by Fran Alverson Warren, firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW THE REBELS ENFORCE THE CONSCRIPTION- A Mississippian communicates the following to the Memphis Bulletin: ďEach conscript band has a set of negro hounds attached to it. The conscripters come up to a mnís house, and announce that the incumbent, young or old, shall go with them to headquarters. They take no denial.
The headquarters are at Grenada. The conscripters announce to the head conscript officer that they have such a person (calling him by name), and before the luckless man can have an opportunity to say a word, they are ordered to take him to the guard house.
There the unfortunate remains for two or three days, until a sufficient number are obtained, and they are sent off to the conscript camp, where they are placed under such surveillance that escape is next to impossible. They are denied all opportunity now to go and see their families, or even take
They are unceremoniously dragged off, and never permitted to have an opportunity to show that they were unfairly dealt with. Some instances are recorded where persons have refused to go with the conscripters, and they were generally shot down on their own premises.
Civil War Story number two.
Below is a news item which I transcribed from the Fort Smith Newspaper:
Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas
May 7, 1864
FROM LITTLE ROCK
Little Rock, Ark., April 29th, 1864
Friend Dell: You have doubtless heard of the two trains being captured. I saw a few men who escaped from the latter train. They had just got into Pine Bluff; the train was captured about 35 miles from Pine Bluff. It consisted of 195 government wagons, going for supplies, and some sutler wagons, and 300 refugee wagons, and negro recruits. They were attacked by six or eight thousand rebels under Fagan, and the escort, 1,600, only about 200 of whom were known to have escaped, some 300 known to have been killed or wounded. They left Steele with 5 days half rations. The escort was as follows, 77th Ohio, 43rd Indiana, 36th Iowa, two sections 2nd Missouri Battery, part of the 5th Kansas Cavalry, and part of the 7th Missouri Cavalry.
The first train was captured nine miles from Camden. It consisted of 184 forage teams escorted by the 18th Iowa, 1st Kansas Colored, one section Rabbís Battery, two howitzers, and part of the 2nd, 6th, and 14th Kansas Cavalry, under command of Colonel Williams. They fought like demons, but were overpowered; the 18th Iowa lost over 60 killed, the 1st Colored about one third and 10 officers. I saw men who were with Steele at the time, who said that he heard the firing all the time and did not send reinforcements. Thayer had his cavalry saddled and ready to go but Steele did not or would not order it out. There is great blame attached to Steele and I feel almost certain his is not the right man. No flag of truce went out for three days and not till the rebels sent in and told him to send out and bury his dead niggers, and to send white men, as they would not allow no negroes in their lines. Wounded officers and men suffered and died for three days without attention. I do not kn!
ow how true it is, but I more than suspect that Steele is to blame.
Colonel Williams had three or four horses killed under him, but he fought his way out and never surrendered a man. The cavalry were nearly all taken or killed. An officer told me he saw who was wounded taken out of an ambulance by the rebels and asked what command he belonged to, he told them the 18th Iowa, they called him a "damned liar", and said he belonged to the 12th Kansas, brigaded with the negroes and knocked his brains out with the butt of a gun.
Some of the negroes who were wounded managed to get away, and crawled nine miles to Camden. After they shot all their ammunition away, they went at it with their bayonets and butts of their guns. The officer above mentioned said he saw them fighting after they were down, and one he saw with his teeth in the calf of a rebelís leg, where he held on till his brains were dashed out. Yours respectfully, G W Sisson.
Fran Alverson Warren