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CIVIL WAR MEMOIRS
OF REV. WILLIAM SCOTT
Special heartfelt thanks to George
Williams for furnishing the information for this page on his ancestor, Rev.
William Scott, who wrote out his Civil War Memoirs about 1926. This is a
fascinating account with lots of humorous stories! (See end of memoirs to see if
you're related.) A picture of William Scott is shown in this old newspaper
clipping. He's the one on the far right.
I, William Madison
Scott, was born in Jackson, Missouri, May 4th 1845. My parents later moved to
Vicksburg, Mississippi, then to Yallowbushy County, then to Tallahassie County,
remaining there until 1858 when they moved to Arkansas.
adventures in the life of Rev. William Scott during his career as a soldier in
the War Between the States. 1861-1865.
The War Between
the States broke out in 1861, the fall of I864 I joined McCoys Company A. I was
appointed conscript officer to make up another company and when we had four
companies they formed a regiment and Colonel McCray was put in command, this
command was under Forrest's Division and we got all our supplies from Forrest's
Division at Walnut crossing below Memphis, Tennessee.
The first battle we
were engaged in was about three miles above Batesville, Arkansas. HereColonel
McCray was killed in the first charge made. I was dispatch messenger for Colonel
McCray, and after his death I did not go back to company A.A bunch of us started
for home. The Northern Army had us surrounded , that was when Price's Army
surrendered at Little Rock, Arkansas. After they had surrendered, and were
turned loose, they all started for
Missouri, each one looking out for
himself. I was with a bunch of boys when we were capture in about two miles of
West Point, Arkansas. They carried us to "Nigger Hill" landing on White River,
put us on a boat taking us to Devalls Bluff. We were then put in a stockade and
next day tried, court martialed and sentenced to be shot for bushwacking, we
were told that we would have to ride on our coffins to the place where we were
to be shot, fine thoughts. The night before this performance was to be pulled
off, most of the bunch were on their knees praying, I was studying and scheming
how to either get away or to get revenge on some of them.
There was a
gang of yankees confined in the room adjoining who had been imprisoned for some
meanness and we could talk to each other through the big cracks in the
partition. One of the yanks told me he was sorry I had to die. I told him all I
hated was I had some money buried and my people would never get it. He said he
was to get out soon and if I would tell him where the money was buried lie would
give part of it to my folks. Now was my time for revenge, as I knew he was lying
as to what he would do, even though I should trust him, but told him when all
was quiet to come to the big crack. I was prepared , I got my hand full or
cayenne pepper and when he came to the wall and put his eye to the crack, and
said he was ready for my story, I threw the pepper in his eyes. He began to
scream and the yankee guard came running up to know what was the trouble, he
told him one of them Damn Jonnie Rebs threw pepper in his eyes. The guard said
"good enough". I was told next morning that I had put his eye sight on the bad
for-ever that he might never see again.
Next day instead of riding on our
coffins to be shot, we were transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas for final
trial. We were tried and sent to the penitentiary in Little Rock, which was made
a military prison that day. Brother Joe was captured later and sent North.
Brother Jim and I remained in prison at Little Rock until the surrender. While
in this prison I learned to eat rats, as they only gave us one hard tack a day
two weeks. Lots of our men starved to death in prison and some froze to death.
It was while there that I had the small pox and my brother Jim saw my name on a
box and asked permission to bury me. He buried a man by the name of Pete Scott,
and wrote the folks at home that I had died and he buried me. When I got able to
get to the window, I saw him and he could not believe that it was me he saw as
he was sure he had buried me. We had to stay in prison six months or until the
surrender. Then we took the oath of allegiance and started home for good. Jim
and I had to walk about fifty miles or more.
The following incidents
occurred while I was in Company A before we were mustered into the regular
Some of my experiences while in company A.
company was in about three miles of Desark. We were going there to call some of
the yanks. out to have a little skirmish with them,we stopped at a house to get
something to eat, some one going past saw us and went on to Desark and reported
where we were ,and first thing- we knew, here came the yankees without any
warning at all, and we sure had to scatter. My horse would not jump the fence. I
got off and made him jump and he ran off , and left me. By this time the yanks
were coming in the gate close to me, I emptied my gun at them as they came,
wounding one man and killed his horse. They were shooting at me all the time. I
fell from the fence on my back and played dead. They all came up and every one
claimed he had killed me as it was almost dark they could not tell much about
it. They took the wounded yank back to Desark and as they passed, they told the
women they had killed a damn rebel and if they did not want the hogs to eat me
they had better get me first. When the women came down to get me I had crawled
between two logs under a brush heap. When the girls came I thought it was the
yankees returned to get me and I would not come out until one of the girls came
close to me. I left my guns between the logs and they stayed there until after
the war was over and a man found them. I went to the house and ate my supper
then started out a-foot after my company as I knew where they were going, I
found them about ten miles from there on an island. Not one of them would come
over or back after me, even my own brother refused to come, as they thought the
Yankees had me and were using me for a decoy to get them over on my side. I got
lost trying to find the crossing and by morning found myself in three miles of
Desark again. At daybreak I heard a chicken crowning, and went in the direction
from which the crow came and found a house, but when got up to it there was a
man whipping his wife out in the yard. I walked up and would have killed the man
but the woman wouldn't let me, she got between us, I then told him if he would
go and show me the way to the crossing I would not hurt him, so he went with me
to show the way, shortly after we left the yanks came back and the woman told
them which way I had gone. I heard them coming and told the man to go back and I
took to the woods, went about about two or three miles and saw an old log house
and there was four horses eating out of a trough. I slipped to the House and
there were four "buttermilk" hunters (yanks) eating at the table. I wanted to go
in and try to kill all of them but the woman would not let me, and told me to
hide until they left and then come back, which I did. After eating breakfast I
started out again for the crossing a-foot. When I got there I tried to go across
on a log but could not make it, had to come back. I went up to a house close by
and stayed till after dinner. I hid out in the grass thinking our own boys would
come back that way. The yanks had gotten in behind our boys, I heard later, and
killed one of them as he stopped to get a drink of water.
When my company
got to the house the woman told them that I was somewhere about so they left the
horse for me and they went on and swam the bayou. I went up to the house and got
the horse, I could hear and see the yanks coming, I made for the bayou, got
across just as the yanks came up on the other side, they hollowed when they saw
me on the other side and asked me if I was the man they had killed, and I told
them I was, they said if I would swim back across to them they would give me all
the whiskey I wanted, and would not harm me. I told them "No, I was afraid of
them." They then told me if I would promise
not to hurt one of them, they
would send a man over and bring me a canteen of whiskey. I promised and a man
came over and brought the whiskey and talked awhile, gave me the canteen and
said "Goodby" and swami back to his comrades and I went on. I came to the camp
of my comrades that afternoon. Of course they all wanted a drink of my whiskey.
I told them no, they were cowards and would not come across to my aid when I
begged them to. I finally gave some of them a drink, but there was not enough to
go around to all.
A story about Doc Rayburn, my First Lieutenant.
camped about four miles from Devalls Bluff, Doc's girl lived about three miles
on the other side of the town, she was very pretty and her folks were well off.
She was invited to all the balls in the town, the Yankees were stationed in the
town. She told Doc. she was invited to a big ball, he told her to ask if she
could bring a girl friend with her, the captain said it would be alright, they
would be glad to have her. Doc goes to his girl's house dressed like another
girl. .The captain and colonel came out and Doc ,went with the captain and the
girl with the colonel. They danced together nearly all night. When they got back
home, Doc pulled his handgun and said " My name is Doc Rayburn." The Colonel and
Captain surrendered and came on to camp with Doc., laughing and talking, ate
breakfast, and spent part of the day with us, pulled off their uniforms, gave
them to some of the boys, gave up their good horses, bridles and saddle, dressed
in citizens clothes, took their worst horses we had and said they going back
home never to fight again.
This joke and the next one I am going to
relate, happened before we formed our regiment. We were just jumping about
keeping the Yankees inside their lines. Another joke played on the Yankees: On
White river below Batesville, Ark., we heard the yankees were coming up the
river in a transport boat, so we made a dummy cannon out an old Elm log. put
bands and wheels on it. When the boat came up we ordered them to surrender and
come ashore or we would sink the boat. They landed, surrendered, marched off and
stacked their arms. We got what we wanted off the boat and sank it, turned the
men aloose, told them to go home and we left for other parts.
historians tell us that Doc. Rayburn died of tuberculosis, this is true, but it
was while a prisoner in the Federal prison that this disease was contracted.
When surrender came, Rayburn and His men were in a mountainous country, almost
inaccessible and they would not come down. The Yankees sent word if they would
come down and surrender, take oath of allegiance, they would be allowed to go
home. Rayburn, taking them at their word,, brought his men down and surrendered.
All were allowed to go except Rayburn, he was thrown into prison and kept almost
a year with no pretense of trial. When he became so emaciated from long
confinement that he could not get about, they put him on the train and sent him
to Duvall's Bluff. I happened to be at the station when the train came in and I
took him in my arms and placed him in a carriage and he was taken to the home of
his sweetheart where he shortly passed away in the flower of his manhood, just
another victim of the atrocious prisons of the North.
A STORY WHEN I FIRST JOINED McCOY'S CO.:
horse that I started out on was near sighted, and I had a no horn saddle. We
hear of some guerrillas up above Seary in the mountains, so we started our
Two miles this side of Seary we ran up on the Yanks. They were
in line and fired upon us, and we fired back. Then we made our break to get
away. I lost my hat and my saddle, but did not lose my gun. My horse ran out
from under the saddle. We got about a mile down through the woods, and saw a man
going ahead of us bent over on his horse. We fired down upon him, and kept
going. One of our boys on the right saw him as he passed by them, and the horse
fell, and both man and horse were dead. They didn't stop to take anything off
him but kept going.
We were all making for White Oak Bottom, and an old
White Oak log, which was our meeting place. There was none of us missing. As we
came along an old woman came out and gave me a hat. It was an old derby hat that
had fell down, and was yellow. The next night Jim and I went home to get me a
hat. We had this old hat with us, put it in the middle of the floor, and Jim
played the fiddle and we danced around it like it was a scalp.
the Yanks found out our stopping place by guerrillas. One dark night they knew
where we were and were planning to catch us. The spy made a plan to catch us. In
the night we heard something like cow bells coming toward us. We suspicioned
that it was the Yanks. We got up and built fires and got on the side opposite
from the side on which the Yanks were coming. As they rode up to the fires and
thought they had us, we fired on them, and there was some scattering. We wounded
one man, and he went to our home. They took him and dressed his wound and we
went another way.
The following story is about some negros in West Point.
They were blacksmiths. The Yankees would slip into West Point to find by them
were we were located. We found out that they were giving us away, so we took
them down to the river. There was a big log running out in the river, and we
made them walk out on it. That was the last of them; they sank with bullets in
After that we went in above Searcy in the mountains. We found three
or four guerrillas up there. We came upon one just after he had robbed a woman.
Jim Thompson was the fastest man in our company so he caught up with him and
shot him, killing him. He brought the horse back to the company. He had a new
saddle and bridle and the horse was a young one. As I had the poorest horse in
the company, Captain McCoy gave the horse to me. The horse that I had been
riding followed us home. This was the horse that they captured at
I have written a lot about bushwacking. I will explain what is
meant by bushwacking. Our company was divided. McCoy had part of the company on
one side of the Yankees' location, and Rayburn, a first lieutenant, had the
other part. We were watching to keep the "Buttermilk" hunters out of the county.
We were on one side of the town and McCoy was on the other. Rayburn said " Let's
have a little skirmish with the Yanks today." We went toward West Point to have
the skirmish. He put us all along the side of the road about 20 steps apart.
When we were all placed they sent Jim down the line to see that we were all in
the right place and were the right distance from the road. Jim was the last man
on the road, to fire the first gun. Rayburn went up and began firing at the
picket. Finally all the Yanks came down the road following Rayburn, with their
sabers rattling. Rayburn kept shooting and staying ahead of them. When the last
man came to Jim, he fired, and then we all fired down on them. Every sixth man
held the horses in rear of us. When we fired, the Yanks were on the ground, some
hit and some thrown off. Some of the horses were hit. We broke and ran for our
horses and got away. They returned to the town and were reinforced and came back
after us, spread out all through the woods. We went around behind them and shot
into them again.
A funny thing happened at this time; Jim came down the
line. He told that I was standing behind a little hickory tree about the size of
my leg waiting for the Yankees. After we fired at the Yanks, got away, and got
together again, the boys all teased me about it.
THIS IS THE STORY OF MY CONVERSION:
After the War
Between the States was over, every thing was in turmoil, so in 1869 my parents
moved to White County, Arkansas. My parents were devout members of the Methodist
Church. Some time after we settled in Arkansas, a preacher by the name of Simms
came into the community and started a revival. In those days, the Methodist were
the good old shouting kind and believed in a literal mourning bench, and brother
Simms was a preacher who called a spade a spade and made no apology for so
I was keeping company with a young lady named Miss Mary Alburn,
and like other young people, we attended the revival. When they began pouring up
to the mourners bench and the shouting would commence, I would leave. Miss Mary
told me I was a coward to do this, so the next night when the call was made I
went up just to show Miss Mary that I was not a coward. My folks gathered around
me shouting, praying, and slapping me on the back and I sure did wish I could
find a way out. I told Miss Mary about it the next night and she said it was the
Lord's work, and that I had better pray for myself and that she was praying for
me. I did as she said and was truly converted and joined the Cumberland Church.
I told them that I felt called to preach but felt my education was not
sufficient. I went ahead, held prayer meetings and doing the best I could for
the Lord, wondering all the time why he should call an uneducated man like me to
preach his word.
I fought the call for forty years. In 1907, in a revival
held at Gill, twelve miles South of Marshall, Texas, I got up and told them I
was ready to go any place and to do anything for my Lord, uneducated as I was, I
would do my best.
I was ordained at Marshall Presbytery in 1909 and have
tried in my feeble way to keep my promise.
"Not till the loom is silent,
And the shutters cease to
Shall God unroll the canvas,
And explain the reason
The dark threads are so needful
In the weaver's
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern
He has planned."
A STORY OF W M SCOTT AFTER THE WAR
I walked from
Little Rock to West Point, Arkansas, after the surrender of the Army. I was
released from prison.
When I reached home, they ran to meet me at the
Bayou. I told them not to come any closer to my brother, Jim, and I, because we
had so many lice on us that we had got in prison. They then returned to the
house and brought us some clean clothes. We changed the clothes which we were
wearing for the clean ones. We threw our old clothes into the Bayou. The only
place that lice could find on our bodies was in our heads. They cut our hair
real close and we combed and washed our heads every day until the lice were all
I remained at home until I was able to work again. I then went
down to Duvall Bluff where the Yankees were stationed. I got a job there hauling
water on a slide to a boarding house. The pay was small, but I managed to live
on my wages for a while. A man then came along and offered me a job driving a
six mule team if I could do this kind of work. I gladly accepted the job. He
gave me the job and paid me forty five dollars a month. The next morning after I
began work, the team ran away and the wagon was demolished. He sent me back to
the house with the team. The next morning he had another wagon for me. He went
ahead of me that morning, so the team did not run away. When they got on the
prairie he told me to let them go. I thought that I would get away with the
team, but he headed them off again and drove them back to the corral.
worked a little over a month and some one told the man that I was very mean. He
also told me that he had heard me talking in my sleep about burning the feet of
women and children. I suppose that he waited to fire me and get my check
himself. The boys told me that he planned to have me arrested that night, so I
hid out. A lady also told me that they were looking for me, so I went and hid in
an old corral that had been abandoned.
While there I heard a boat
whistle. I ran to the landing and there was a large boat docked. I got on the
boat and found a hiding place among the bales of cotton. The boat sailed on down
the river. Just before day I went down to the galley and told the cook I was
hungry. I told him I wanted something to eat and that I did not have a passport,
that I was hiding on the boat. He then told me that he would let me help about
the galley, and he would tell the captain that he had hired me as a helper.
While I was on the boat I ran across a negro, who agreed to help me off at West
Point, the place where he intended to get off. When the boat landed they let the
negro off. As the negro walked down the plank, I went behind him. The captain
told me that there was only one to get off at this place, but I ran up the hill
and told him that he was mistaken because there were two supposed to get off.
I left him and went back down close to West Point, I went back to my
home for a short visit. I then returned to West Point and here I broke my leg. I
went back to my home. I remained at home a short time and began to have the
They then took me up near the Ozark Mountains to send me to
school. The man was to board me for eight dollars a month and school me. There
were about 20 pupils in the school. Out of the whole group only one was in the
first grade. I had the blue back spelling book, second reader, geography,
arithmetic and a slate. I went about a week and neither the teacher nor I could
work my arithmetic. The next Saturday I was sitting in my room studying. I saw a
group of men coming to the house and this frightened me. After a while they
called for me to come into my room. The teacher told the group that I had a
better education than he and that he wanted me to take the school. The man I
lived with agreed to board me free if I would teach his children free. The other
people paid me a dollar a month for their children. It was a six month school.
They then wanted me to stay and teach again but I refused.
I went up to
the town, where I asked the direction to my cousin's house. I then went to their
home. I was to receive pay on the first, so I walked from West Point to Duvall
Bluff. I got to Duvall about nine o'clock and it was at this time that they were
paying off. At this time you only had to touch the pen, and I walked and touched
the pen and received my check.
I ran out the door, but as I ran out they
blocked the door so that the man could not catch me. I went to the house of a
woman, who hid me until almost dark. I came out about dark. I found a man who
had a team that would not pull a load. He agreed to sell me a horse for $10. I
then left town and stole a saddle from the corral. Mr. Birdwell, a friend of
mine was keeping a corral out of town so I went there and told him I wanted the
best mule he had. He picked a mule for me, so in the night I took the mule and
horse, but the mule refused to either ride or lead.
My mother moved from
White County to Oil Stroff and I went home to help make a crop. We made a crop
and then moved back to Mississippi. The place we moved to was Coffeeville. We
stayed there almost three years. I then married and left. On leaving there I
went into the picture business.
A STORY OF A TRIP SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE WAR
I was in
Crockett's Bluff, Arkansas. I left there to go to Tallahassee County and
Tallahassee River. There were very few settlements from White River to Crowley's
Ridge. When I landed in Helany, the tread-wheel boat was broke down. The man
told me he would take me across for two dollars in a boat he hauled sawdust in.
He put a floor in it and said if my horse would stay on it, he would take me
across the river. They pulled the boat way up the river, then crossed, and we
were just below the landing.
I thought the country was settled, but found
no settlements. I went on until I came to an old river. There was a negro store
on the same side of the river that I was on. I asked him if I could get across
the river. He said "yes". He did not know that I was going to take my horse
across. There was nothing but a narrow gauge railroad bridge across the river.
Two ten and twelve inch planks were laid to walk across on. I thought that if
other people crossed there I could too. After I got on and got to the second
plank, I saw that I could not go across, that my horse would fall through. I
said to my horse "Jim, you are gone". I took my saddle bags off and said " I
don't need my saddle and will leave it with you." I couldn't turn around or back
off. I took the reins in my hand, went ahead and said "Goodbye, Jim". When we
got to the top of the bridge we were fully one hundred feet from the water. We
took step by step and got across, and landed on the other side. We crossed
I saw a house about one hundred yards away and went up there and
asked the lady if I could stay there for the night. She said that l could ride
out and ask her husband. He asked me where I was from and where I crossed the
river. I told him I was from Helany and that I crossed the river on the bridge.
He told me that I didn't, that no man had ever crossed there on a horse. He said
to come on down there and we would see, that no one else had ever crossed it.
When he saw the tracks, he believed me. He said that his uncle was the governor
of Mississippi. He told me to take my pistol and go kill that negro and he would
see that I was not hurt. I would not kill him in cold blood. I stayed there for
The next morning I started out again on my journey. I had to
go from there through the swamp. I went through the swamp without seeing a
house, picking my own course. The man told me that I would come to a lake. He
said I couldn't get close to it because it was full of dead negros, and stank so
bad that I couldn't stand it. He said keep right down the lake and I would find
a bayou that wasn't very deep and I could cross it. I struck the hills about two
miles from Sunflower River. Jim was about plated out and so was I. I got down
and made spurs out of hickory.
When I got up to Sunflower River, I found
a little town. I asked if I could find a place to spend the night. A man told me
that there was a place I could stay about a mile below there. One of the men
asked me across the road to his store, and I went. He gave me two steel spurs
and told me that he wanted to swap them for my Arkansas spurs. We swapped and he
hung them up in his store.
The next morning I started to Tallahassee
River. The man that I had stayed with told me to keep my eyes open, that negros
might attack me before I reached there. I told him that I would. I reached
Graball about eight o'clock that night. I heard some men and boys talking in a
store. I rode up to the back door and yelled. They came out , and my youngest
brother was with them. I asked him if he could tell me where the widow Scott
lived. He said that he could. He said the first house on the left down the road
a ways was where she lived. About that time, Jack House, my brother in law,
recognized my voice and came out and said "That's William?"
As they were
looking for a preacher, they told me to go down an see if I could fool my
mother. I introduced myself to her as the preacher. She asked me if I had been
to supper, and I told her that I had not, so she fixed me supper and I went in
and sat down and started eating. My sister came in as I was eating, and my
mother told her to go in and see if I needed anything. She jumped in and said
"This is William" and grabbed me.
I stayed there about two weeks and then
started back to Arkansas. I went to the Sunflower River, and from there to the
Mississippi. A steamboat came along and I said I wanted them to take me near
Helany and put me off on the levee. They took me and my horse to the levee.
After I got off I started down the levee, riding my horse. A negro stepped out
of a canebreak and tried to halt me. I pulled my pistol and fired at him. He
went back into the canebrake and I went on.
I came to a big log house and
asked the man if I could stay there for the night. Negros lived in one side of
the house and he lived in the other. He had nothing to feed my horse except
green corn. My supper was cold greens, cornbread and coffee, but as I was very
hungry, they tasted very good. He said that he had a little post office near the
river, and I could sleep there. I went down and forgot my saddle bags. He said
he thought that I would be safe. and left me. After he left I got up and went
out in the woods close by and sat there all night. The next morning I went and
got my horse and started out again. I struck a neighborhood of negros and after
getting through them had about five miles to go rough the woods to Crowley's
I came to a little town and got my dinner and had my horse fed.
They I left for White River. When I was about four miles from Crochett's Bluff
night came. I went to a house and after a while the people told me I could spend
the night. I had a head ache. The next morning I got up and ate breakfast. The
man went with me and guided me through part of the bottom. I landed at the river
just as the polls opened for the election. I was running for constable. I fired
my pistols and they came over after me. My opponent beat me by two votes but
they found out that he had brought six men from across the river to vote for
him, so I was elected and got the office.
SCOTT was the seventh of twelve children born to John L. SCOTT, born 1806 in
Tennessee, and Elizabeth Angolan WILLIAMS, born 1813 in Alabama. Her father was
Moses C. WILLIAMS, born 1781 in Virginia.
William's family lived in
TN>MS>MO>MS>AR and the widow WILLIAMS moved to Texas in 1872 with
three sons and William's son. They settled near Marshall, Texas. William
remarried and raised a second family and was an active Cumberland Presbyterian
minister and a member of the Confederate Camp for the rest of his life.
Anyone that sees a possible connection that should be explored can
contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Scott in later years
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