Major Clark Wright obtained considerable prominence as a scout and soldier. He moved from Ohio to Polk County, Missouri, in 1858, and buying a large amount of prairie, commenced the business of stock raising. He was just before married to a woman of more than ordinary intelligence and determination, who proved herself eminently fitted for the duties which their new life imposed upon them. He prospered greatly, and in a short time had erected a house, furnished in the best style possible, had two young children, an amiable wife, a good gome, and was adding rapidly to an original fortune.
In the winter of 1860, when the roar of secession came up from South Carolina, he heard it in common with others of his neighbors; but while avowing himself in favor of sustaining the Union, he determined to attend strictly to his own business. He had no hesitation in expressing his sentiments of loyalty to the Government, but he did it quietly, and with a view not to give offence. Soon after, at a Baptist meeting near his residence, a few of the brethren, after refreshing their spiritual appetites in the sanctuary, took his case into consideration, and unanimously determined that he should be made to leave the country, appointing a committee of three to inform him of their decision.
One of the party, although an ardent secessionist, happened to be a personal friend of Wright, and hastening away, informed him of the meeting, and that the committee would wait on him the next day. Wright thanked his kind friend, and then, like a dutiful husband, laid the case before his wife, and asked her advice. She pondered a few moments, and then asked if he had done anything to warrant such a proceeding. Nothing. “Then let us fight!” was the reply; and to fight was the conclusion. Wright was plentifully supplied with revolvers; he took two, and his wife another, loaded them carefully, and awaited further developments.
Monday afternoon three men rode up and inquired for Mr. Wright. He walked out, with the butt of a revolver sticking warily from his pocket, and inquired their wishes. The revolver seemed to upset their ideas. They answered nothing in particular, and proceeded to converse upon everything in general, but never alluded to their errand. Finally, after a half hour had passed, and the men still talked on without coming to their mission, Wright grew impatient, and asked if they had any special business; if not, he had a pressing engagement, and would like to be excused. Well, they had a little business, said one, with considerable hesitation, as he glanced at the revolver butt.
“Stop!” said Wright; “before you tell it, I wish to say a word. I know your business, and I just promised my wife, on my honor as a man, that I would blow h–l out of the first man who told me of it, and by the eternal God I’ll do it! Now tell me your errand!” and as he concluded he pulled out his revolver and cocked it. The fellow glanced a moment at the deadly-looking pistol, and took in a stalwart form of Wright, who was glaring at him with murder in his eye, and concluded to postpone the announcement. The three rode away, and reported the reception to their principals.
The next Sunday, after another refreshing season, the brethren again met, and took action upon the contumacy of Mr. Wright. The Captain of a company of secessionists was present, and after due deliberation, it was determined that, upon the next Thursday, he should take his command, proceed to Wright’s, and summarily eject him from the sacred soil of Missouri. Wright’s friend was again present, and he soon communicated the state of affairs to Mr. W., with a suggestion that it would save trouble and bloodshed if he got away before the day appointed.
Wright lived in a portion of the country remote from the church and the residence of those who were endeavoring to drive him out, and he determined, if possible, to prepare a surprise for the worthy Captain and his gallant force. To this end he bought a barrel of whiskey, another of crackers, a few cheeses, and some other provisions, and then mounting a black boy upon a swift horse, sent him around the country, inviting his friends to come and see him, and bring their arms. By Wednesday night he had gathered a force of about three hundred men, to whom he communicated the condition of things, and asked their assistance. They promised to back him to the death. The next day they concealed themselves in a cornfield, back of the house, and awaited the development of events.
A little after noon, the Captain and some eighty men rode up to the place, and inquired for Mr. Wright. That gentleman immediately made his appearance, when the Captain informed him that, being satisfied of his Abolitionism they had come to eject him from the State.
“Won’t you give me two days to settle up any affairs?” asked Wright.
“Two days be ——! I’ll give you just five minutes to pack up your traps and leave!”
“But I can’t get ready in five minutes! I have a fine property here, a happy home, and if you drive me off, you make me a beggar. I have done nothing. If I go, my wife and children must starve!”
“To —– with your beggars! You must travel!”
“Give me two hours!”
“I’ll give you just five minutes, not a second longer! If you arn’t out by that time (here the gallant soldier swore a most fearful oath), I’ll blow out your cursed Abolition heart!”
“Well, if I must, I must!” and Wright turned towards the house, as if in despair, gave a pre-concerted whistle, and almost instantly after, the concealed forces rushed out, and surrounded the astounded Captain and his braves.
“Ah, Captain!” said Wright, as he turned imploringly towards him, “won’t you grant me two days,–two hours, at least,–my brave friend–only two hours in which to prepare myself and family for beggary and starvation–now do–won’t you?”
The Captain could give no reply, but sat upon his horse, shaking as if ague-smitten.
“Don’t kill me!” he at length found voice to say.
“Kill you! No, you black-livered coward, I won’t dirty my hands with any such filthy work. If I kill you, I’ll have one of my niggers do it! Get down from that horse!”
The gallant Captain obeyed, imploring only for life. The result of the matter was, that the whole company dismounted, laid down their arms, and then, as they filed out, were sworn to preserve their allegiance inviolate to the United States. An hour after, Mr. Wright had organized a force of two hundred and forty men for the war, and by acclamation was elected Captain. The next Sunday, he started with his command to join the national troops under Lyon, stopping long enough on his way to surround the Hardshell Church, at which had been inaugurated all his miseries. After the service was over, he administered the oath of allegiance to every one present, including the Reverend Peeksniff who officiated, and then left them to plot treason and worship God in their own peculiarly pious and harmonious manner.
He soon after became Maj. Wright, and continued in command of the crowd he enlisted at the beginning.
Originally posted 2009-06-11 16:41:33.