Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Emma's War: Shirt stolen off old man's back

Fourth in a series of 5 episodes
(To read "Emma's War" from the start, click here.)

Stoneman's Raid re-enactment at Carson House
For four days April 19-22, 1865, residents of the Carson House near Marion, N.C., were terrorized by Union raiders and desperadoes who used the raid as a license to loot. Miss Emma Rankin told their story in The Charlotte Observer in 1895. 

Friday, April 21, 1865
Miss Emma Rankin
     The next morning, our polite colonel started on an early march. On one side of the road was a broad field of wheat, now the latter part of April, giving promise of abundant harvest. A halt was made, which for a moment we did not understand, but the explanation came soon enough. The fence was torn down, and over and over the growing wheat, that cavalry galloped in wanton destruction. This was after the war was over, Lee having surrendered, though we had only heard of it through the raiders, and would not believe it. A flag of truce had been sent from Gen. Palmer to these men only the evening before, so this piece of maliciousness was purely gratuitous.
     This was only a repetition of the day before. One man wanted shirts for the hospital. Col. Carson told him he could not find one in the house, he was sure. “Well sir,” pointing his pistol at him “give me the one you have on.” He went in the house and took it off and was left with only his flannel underwear, and the man rode off with his shirt.
     One party found an old rifle, and a musket, and with great furor, broke stock and lock, and dashed them over the terrace into the creek. Never shall I forget the clangor of those great cavalry spurs and sabers as they dragged over the bare floors of those long passages and porches.
     Mrs. Carson was still sick, so we could not remain outdoors. Without ceremony they rushed in and out of her room, a kick at the door the only way in which they asked permission to enter. We left the door open for a while to avoid this.
     Once a mere boy with a red head and a redder face—hot from the bottomless pit he looked—ran in as if pursued, jerked open drawers, banged the closet doors, and at last reached up on the high old-fashioned mantel, pulled open the old clock door, and down it came with a bang on his head, the weights falling out and the whole thing coming down with a crash on the floor. All this time he had seemed never to notice that the room was occupied; but just then his pursuer appeared with a raised sabre, and out of the back door, one after the other, over the banisters of a high porch, away they went, and we saw them no more.
     We had missed our breakfast that morning, for just as we entered Aunt Hannah's door, two or three bluecoats ran out with the breakfast in their hands. It was a little tantalizing, but we had not much appetite, and I don't think we were as much disturbed as Aunt Hannah was over it.
     Another night now came on with all the terrors of darkness. I felt comparatively strong during the day, but the utter helplessness of two weak women and children made my heart faint at night. We were entirely alone. After the encounter about the shirt, Col. Carson again left, having promised his wife not to return till the Yankees were all gone. We fastened the doors of our room as securely as possible, determined not to open them to any comers, but knowing well how easily they could be forced open, we could only hope and pray that none would come during the night. Whenever we heard horses’ hoofs, our hearts would rise up in our throats, but when we heard the splash in the creek, we knew they had passed for that time, and thanked God for that.

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