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Death of Quantrell
QUANTRELL, with forty-eight of the most daring of his old band, accompanied Shepherd as far south as White River, Arkansas. He left them there to go to his old home in Maryland. He passed all Federal camps, had no trouble staying in Federal camps, eating with Federal soldiers, playing Federal himself until he reached Upton Station, in Hart County, Kentucky, where he crossed the Louisiana & Nashville Railroad, still representing himself and his men as Federal soldiers.
Near Marion County he entered the Lebanon and Campbellville turnpike at Rolling Fork and traveled north to New Market, thence east to Bradford, and from Bradford towards Hustonville, camping for the night preceding the entrance into this place at Major Dray’s, on Rolling Fork. Thirty Federal soldiers were at garrison at Hustonville, possessed of as many horses in splendid condition, and these Quantrell determined to appropriate. No opposition was made to his entrance into the town. No one imagined him to be other than a union officer on a scout.
He dismounted quietly at a hotel in the place and entered at once into a pleasant conversation with the commander of the post. Authorized by their chieftain, however, to remount themselves as speedily as possible and as thoroughly as possible, the Guerrillas spread238 quickly over the town in search for horses, appropriating first what could be found in the public stables and later on those that were still needed to supply the deficiency, from private places.
As Quantrell conversed with the commander, a Federal private made haste to inform him of the kind of work the newcomers were doing, and to complain loudly of the unwarranted and outrageous appropriation.
Enraged and excited, the commander snatched up a brace of revolvers as he left his headquarters and buckled them about him and hurried to the nearest livery stable where the best among the animals of his men had been kept. Just as he arrived, Allen Parmer was riding out mounted on a splendid horse. The Federal major laid hands upon the bridle and bade Parmer dismount. It was as the grappling of a wave with a rock.
No Guerrilla in the service of the South was cooler or deadlier; none less given to the emotion of fear. He looked at the Federal major a little curiously when he first barred the passageway of his horse and even smiled pleasantly as he took the trouble to explain to him the nature of the instructions under which he was operating.
“D——n you and d——n your instructions,” the major replied fiercely. “Dismount!”
239 “Ah,” ejaculated Parmer, “has it really come to this?” and then the two men began to draw. Unquestionably there could be but one result. The right hand of the Federal major had hardly reached the flap of his revolver, before Parmer’s pistol was against his forehead, and Parmer’s bullet had torn half the top of his head off.
In June, 1865, Quantrell started from Bedford Russell’s, in Nelson County, with John Ross, William Hulse, Payne Jones, Clark Hockinsmith, Isaac Hall, Richard Glasscock, Robert Hall, Bud Spence, Allen Parmer, Dave Helton and Lee McMurtry. His destination was Salt River.
At Newel McClaskey’s the turnpike was gained and traveled several miles, when a singularly severe and penetrating rain storm began. Quantrell, to escape this, turned from the road on the left and into a woods pasture near a postoffice called Smiley. Through this pasture and for half a mile further he rode until he reached the residence of a Mr. Wakefield, in whose barn the Guerrillas took shelter. Unsuspicious of danger and of the belief that the nearest enemy was at least twenty miles away, the men dismounted, unbridled their horses, and fed them at the racks ranged about the shed embracing two sides of the barn.
While the horses were eating the Guerrillas amused themselves with a sham battle, choosing sides and using corncobs for ammunition. In the midst of much240 hilarity and boisterousness, Glasscock’s keen eye saw through the blinding rain a column of cavalry, one hundred and twenty strong, approaching the barn at a trot.
He cried out instantly, and loud enough to be heard at Wakefield’s house sixty yards away: “Here they are! Here they are.” Instantly all the men were in motion and rushing to their horses.
Captain Edward Terrell, known well to Quantrell and fought stubbornly once before, had been traveling the turnpike from the direction of Taylorsville, as completely ignorant of Quantrell’s proximity as Quantrell had been of his, and would have passed on undoubtedly without a combat if the trail left by the Guerrillas in passing from the road to the pasture had not attracted attention. This he followed to within sight of the barn, understood in a moment the character of the men sheltered there, and closed upon it rapidly, firing as he came on.
Before a single Guerrilla had put a bridle upon a horse, Terrill was at the main gate of the lot, a distance of some fifty feet from the barn, and pouring such a storm of carbine bullets among them that their horses ran furiously about the lot, difficult to approach and impossible to restrain.
Fighting desperately and deliberately, and driving away from the main gate a dozen or more Federals stationed there, John Ross, William Hulse, Allen Parmer, Lee McMurtry, and Bud Pence, cut their way through,241 mounted and defiant. The entire combat did not last ten minutes. It was a fight in which every man had to do for himself and do what was done speedily.
Once above the rattling of musketry, the neighing of horses and the shouting of combatants, Quantrell’s voice rang out loud and clear: “Cut through, boys, cut through somehow! Don’t surrender while there is a chance to get out.”
The fire upon the Guerrillas was furious. Quantrell’s horse, a thoroughbred animal of great spirit and speed, could not be caught. His master, anxious to secure him, followed him composedly about the lot for several minutes, trying under showers of bullets to get hands upon his favorite.
At this moment Clark Hockingsmith, who was mounted and free to go away at a run, saw the peril of his chief, and galloped to his rescue. Quantrell, touched by this act of devotion, recognized it by a smile, and held out his hand to his comrade without speaking. Hockingsmith dismounted until Quantrell took his own place in the saddle, and then sprang up behind him.
Another furious volley from Terrill’s men lining all the fence about the great gate, killed Hockingsmith and killed the horse he and Quantrell were upon. The second hero now gave his life to Quantrell. Richard Glasscock also had secured his own horse as Hockingsmith had done and was free to ride’ away in safety as he had been.
242 Opposite the main entrance to the barn lot there was an exit uncovered by the enemy and beyond this exit a stretch of heavy timber. Those who gained the timber were safe. Hockingsmith knew it when he deliberately laid down his life for his chief, and Glasscock knew it when he also turned about and hurried up to the two men struggling there—Quantrell to drag himself out from under the horse and Hockingsmith in the agonies of death.
The second volley from the gate mortally wounded Quantrell and killed Glasscock’s horse. Then a charge of fifty shouting, shooting men swept over the barn lot. Robert Hall, Payne Jones, David Helton, and Isaac Hall had gone out some time before on foot. J. B. Tooley, A. B. Southwick and C. H. Southwick, wounded badly, escaped fighting. Only the dead man lying by his wounded chief, and Glasscock, erect, splendid, and fighting to the last, remained as trophies of the desperate combat. Two balls struck Quantrell. The first, the heavy ball of a Spencer carbine, entered close to the right collar bone, ranged down along the spine, injuring it severely, and hid itself somewhere in the body. The second ball cut off the finger next to the little finger of the left hand, tearing it from its socket, and lacerating the hand itself badly. The shoulder wound did its work, however, for it was a mortal wound. All the lower portion of Quantrell’s body was paralyzed and as he was lifted and carried to Wakefield’s house his243 legs were limp and his extremities cold and totally without sensation.
At no time did he either make complaint or moan. His wonderful endurance remained unimpaired to the end. His mind, always clear in danger, seemed to recognize that his last battle had been fought and his last encounter finished. He talked very little. Terrill came to him and asked if there was any good service he might do that would be acceptable.
“Yes,” said Quantrell quietly, “have Clark Hockingsmith buried like a soldier.”
After he had been carried to the house of Wakefield and deposited upon a pallet, he spoke once more to Terrell:
“While I live let me stay here. It is useless to haul a dying man about in a wagon, jolting out what little life there is left in him.”
Terrell pledged his word that he should not be removed, and rode away in pursuit of those who had escaped.
Some of the fugitive Guerrillas soon reached the well known rendezvous at the house of Alexander Sayers, twenty-three miles from Wakefield’s, with tidings of the fight.
Frank James heard the story through with a set face, strangely white and sorrowful, and then he arose and cried out: “Volunteers to go back. Who will follow me to see our chief, living or dead?”
244 “I will go back,” said Allen Parmer, “and I,” said John Ross, and “I,” said William Hulse.
“Let us ride, then,” rejoined James, and in twenty minutes more—John Ross having exchanged his jaded horse for a fresh one—these four devoted men were galloping away to Wakefield’s.
At two o’clock in the morning they were there. Frank James dismounted and knocked low upon the door. There was the trailing of a ............
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