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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.

Incidents and adventures in the life of Rev. William Scott during his career as a soldier in the War Between the States. 1861-1865.

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.

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 Army.

Some of my experiences while in company A.

Our small 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.

We were 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.

Some 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.


The first 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 journey.

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.

After that 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 them.

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 DesArc.

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.


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 doing.

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 fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas,
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are so needful
In the weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned."



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 destroyed.

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.

I 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 chills.

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.


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 safely.

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 night.

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 Ridge.

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.

William Madison 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 douglas39@msn.com or ginger36@msn.com

William Madison Scott in later years

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