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The Battle and Capture of Independence
“ON August 11, 1862,” says Trow, “about a month prior to the capture of Independence, while Press Webb and I were out on a little frolic, we attended a dance at his father’s, Ace Webb, and stayed all night there. During the night a regiment of soldiers surrounded the house. We barred the doors against them and I aimed to get away in a woman’s garb and had my dress all on, bonnet and everything, with permission to get out of the house with the women without being fired upon. But old Mrs. Webb objected to my going out for fear it would cause her son to be killed, so I had to pull off the dress and hide my pistols in the straw tick under the feather bed and surrender to them. I was taken to Independence and made a prisoner for a month.
“While in prison several incidents happened. A Federal officer in the prison who called himself Beauregard, was put into jail with me for some misdemeanor and challenged me to a sparring match, with the understanding that neither one of us was to strike the other in the face. However, he hit me in the face the first thing he did and I kicked him in the stomach and kept on kicking him until I kicked him down the stairs. For this offense I was chained down on my back for ten hours.
77 “The provost marshal would come in once in a while and entertain me while I was chained down. He was a Dutchman, and would say in broken Dutch, ‘How duse youse like it?’ and would sing me a song something like this: ‘Don’t youse vish you vas in Dixie, you d——d old secess?’ and dance around me.
“After I had been there a few days they cleaned up the prison and took out the rubbage and dirt. Press Webb, who had been captured with me, and I were detailed to do the work. We had an understanding that when we went out into the back yard, which was walled, we were each to capture the guards who were guarding us, take their arms and scale the wall. But Webb weakened and would not attempt to take his man, so we did not attempt to get away then. Then I was court-martialed and remained there in jail, while Webb was sent to Alton prison. I was held there under court-martial and sentenced to be shot.
“All this time Quantrell was trying to hear from me, whether I had been killed, and at the same time getting the boys together to make a raid on Independence and try to capture the town and release me from jail, all unbeknown to me, should I still be alive. Colonel Hughes had joined Quantrell with his company, the expedition being agreed between Quantrell and Colonel Hughes. Colonel Hughes asked Quantrell for some accurate information touching the strongest and best fortified points about the town. It was three78 days previous to the attack; the day before it was begun the information should be forthcoming. ‘Leave it to me,’ said Cole Younger, when the promise made to Hughes had been repeated by Quantrell, ‘and when you report you can report the facts. A soldier wants nothing else.’ The two men separated. It was the 7th day of August, 1862.
“On the 8th, at about ten o’clock in the morning, an old woman with gray hair and wearing spectacles, rode up to the public square from the south. Independence was alive with soldiers; several market wagons were about the streets—the trade in vegetables and the traffic in fruit were lively. This old woman was one of the ancient time. A faded sunbonnet, long and antique, hid almost all her face. The riding skirt, which once had been black, was now bleached; some tatters also abounded, and here and there an unsightly patch. On the horse was a blind bridle, the left rein leather and the right one a rope. Neither did it have a throat latch. The saddle was a man’s saddle, strong in the stirrups and fit for any service. Women resorted often to such saddles then; Civil War had made many a hard thing easy. On the old lady’s arm was a huge market basket, covered by a white cloth. Under the cloth were beets, garden beans and some summer apples. As she passed the first picket he jibed at her. ‘Good morning, grandmother,’ he said. ‘Does the rebel crop need any rain out in your country?’ Where79 the reserve post was the sergeant on duty took her horse by the bridle, and peered up under her bonnet and into her face. ‘Were you younger and prettier I might kiss you,’ he said. ‘Were I younger and prettier,’ the old lady said, ‘I might box your ears for your impudence.’
“‘Oh, ho! you old she-wolf, what claws you have for scratching,’ and the rude soldier took her hand with an oath and looked at it sneeringly. She drew it away with a quick motion and started her horse so rapidly ahead that he did not have time to examine it. In a moment he was probably ashamed of himself, and so let her ride on uninterrupted.
“Once well in town no one noticed her any more. At the camp she was seen to stop and give three soldiers some apples out of her basket. The sentinel in front of Buell’s headquarters was overheard to say to a comrade: ‘There’s the making of four good bushwhacking horses yet in that old woman’s horse,’ and two hours later, as she rode back past the reserve picket post, the sergeant still on duty, did not halt her himself, but caused one of his guards to do it; he was anxious to know what the basket contained, for in many ways of late arms and ammunition had been smuggled out to the ............
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