A SHARP RIDE.–
A correspondent with General Grant’s army gives the following amusing account of a cotton broker in the neighborhood of Lagrange, Tennessee. He says:
The experience of a Mr. Cones, who was captured near Lagrange, was relieved by some flashes of humor which may be an apology for the very emphatic language which was used by the actors.
Cones, in company with two or three other buyers, had bought some cotton out at Moscow, twelve miles from Lagrange, just before our army marched from the latter place, and as General Quinby’s division had just removed from there, they thought the sooner they got the cotton into Lagrange the better; consequently four of them, besides the drivers of the teams, started out after it. Cones was the only one of the four who was not armed and was not on horseback, he riding in one of the teams. They succeeded in getting the cotton, and hurried back until they came in sight of the Union pickets at Lagrange, and then Cones’ three friends, thinking the mules were out of danger, left him, and rode on into town.
Only two or three minutes after they had left, and as the wagons went down into a hollow, out of sight of the picket-guards, five guerrillas dashed out of the wood and were alongside in an instant. “Halt!” Every one of the teams halted as though they had run against a stone wall. The next instant the muzzle of a revolver was at the ear of every one of them, Cones included, who was riding on the cotton.
“Are you armed?” said the guerrilla, who held his pistol at Cones’ head.
“Then get down and unhitch them mules, and turn ’em around devilish quick!”
It was done in the time specified.
Guerrilla.–“Have you a match? I want to touch off this cotton.”
Cones.–“No, sir. I am glad to say I haven’t.”
Guerrilla.–“Then git on to that mule, quick.”
In an instant, Cones was mounted on what he says was “a wonderful sharp-backed mule.”
Guerrilla (giving the mule a terrific slash with the wagon whip).–“Now, lick them mules up Make ’em go! Give ’em thunder!”
And away they went at a pace which, to Cones on his razor-back mule, he thought must split him in two before many miles, three guerrillas behind lishing the mule at every jump. Five miles or more they went at this pace, and not another word had been spoken by any one, when they turned out of the main road into an old and unfrequented road, that wound its zigzag through one of the densely-wooded creek bottoms. “Halt!” said the guerrilla, and he who gave the command commenced hurriedly to relieve himself of some of his accoutrements, as though he was about to go to work in earnest at some devilish deed. The place was lonely and fitting to such murderous intents, and Cones says he felt a cold sort of chill run down the full length of even his long legs.
Guerrilla (drawing the cork out of his canteen)–“You look a pretty good feller. Let’s take a drink; and for fear you might think it’s pizen, I’ll drink first!”
And suiting the action to his words, he placed the canteen to his lips, and turned his face up in the position of one making astronomical observations. After a long pull, he passed the canteen over to Cones, who thought it ‘mightn’s be pizen,’ and imbibed.
Guerrilla.–“Now, lick up them mules; give ’em thunder! Hurry up!”
At each injunction he emphasized on the rear of the flying mules with his whip.
They bivouacked in a thicket that night, but early the next morning began their journey at the same pace, and toward evening of that day they galloped into a rude-looking camp, which turned out to be the nest of Richardson and his guerrilla band, within a few miles of Fort Pillow. In a few minutes Cones was marched up before Colonel Richardson. After a number of questions as to what was his business, whether he had served against the Confederate States, &c., Richardson said:
“Well, sir. I’ll parole you.”
At the mention of “parole,” the guerrilla who had been the most prominent in the capture, and had invited Cones “to drink,” began to remonstrate.
Guerrilla.–“Why, Colonel, you ain’t a goin’to parole that infernal cotton-buyer, are you?”
Richardson.–“Well, I’ve got to parole him or shoot him; and (turning to Cones inquiringly) you’d rather be paroled than shot, hadn’t you?”
Cones.–“Yes, but I don’t want to take another ride on that mule”
The parole was soon written, and much to his astonishment, without being robbed of his money and watch, he was told that he was at liberty to walk back to Lagrange, forty miles. In an hour afterward he started, and soon after leaving the camp he was startled again by the command “Halt!” He halted, and out started the guerrilla who had been most prominent in his capture, and had gone away sulky because the Colonel would not shoot “that infernal cotton-buyer,” instead of paroling him.
Cones was unarmed, and began to have serious apprehensions of what was to follow, when the guerrilla said: “Old feller, let’s take a drink!” Cones’ heart felt lighter immediately. So did the canteen.
During the next three days he footed it back to Lagrange, but he never after looked at a lean, sharp-backed mule without a shudder.