Brig. Gen. Roger A. Pryor, during the battle between Gen. Pope and the Confederates, near Manasses, in August, 1862, had the misfortune to be taken a prisoner, but the corresponding good fortune to escape.

He had started off on foot to call up two or three regiments for reenforcements, and on his return found his command moved from the position in which he had left it. Thinking it had gone ahead, he too went on, wondering all the time where his men were, until he suddenly encountered two Yankee soldiers, sitting at the foot of a hay-rick. His uniform being covered by a Mexican poncho, they did not observe that he was not one of their own men; nor was there any mark visible upon his person to indicate that he was an officer.

They accordingly familiarly required how everything was going on in front. He replied, “Very well,” and in the conversation which ensued, learned that he was a mile and a half within the Federal lines. They asked him numerous questions, under some of which he began to quake and grow uneasy, fearing his inability, good lawyer though he is, to cope successfully with a cross-examination of such a dangerous character. He accordingly began to look about him to discover some means of escape. There was apparently none. He observed standing near him, however, the two muskets of the men, one of them with a bayonet, and the other without.

The colloquy had not proceeded much further before one of them, looking at him keenly, asked him to what regiment, brigade, and division he belonged; and as Pryor hesitated and stammered out his reply, the Yankee sprang to his feet and exclaimed: “You are a —-rebel, and my prisoner.” In an instant, the General, who is a powerful man and as active as a squirrel, seized the gun with the bayonet, and, before his antagonist could turn, ran him through the body twice. The other now jumped to his feet, apparently as if to escape, but he also received from Pryor a lunge that left him helpless on the field. Throwing down the musket, the General moved rapidly away in the direction from whence he came, and after dodging Federal stragglers for an hour or two, had the satisfaction of finally regaining his command.

Anxious to know the fate of the two men whom he had so summarily disposed of, he sent one of his aids the next day to examine the hospitals in that neighborhood, and ascertain, if possible, whether any men were present wounded with a bayonet. The aid returned with the information that he had found one so injured. Whereupon Pryor mounted his horse, and went in person to see him. The man was asleep when he entered the hospital, but the surgeon awoke him, and the General asked if he recognized him. “Yes, sir, I do,” was the reply. “You’re the man who struck me.” The wounded man was not less surprised when he learned that the author of his misery was the redoubtable Roger A. Pryor.

Originally posted 2008-04-19 23:25:24.

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A traveller in East Tennessee gives the following graphic pictures of life in that region:

“In Dry Valley lived the Methodist preacher named Dugan, (of Brownlow notoriety,) weighing some two hundred and fifty pounds, that these devils incarnate arrested for his loyalty to the Government, making him walk some ten miles through the hot sun, and riding in his buggy themselves. The poor old man fainted time and again on the journey, but there was no relenting with them. They told him they would sweat the Lincoln fever out of him. They robbed him of all he had, and imprisoned him; but he managed in some way to escape, and is now preaching again at his old stand. What rendered the crime more heinous was the fact that his enemies (some of them) were those with whom he had taken sweet counsel in the house of God, and with whom he had knelt around the altar of prayer. What can he more appropriate to this persecuted class of men than those lines of Captain Grisham, of the 10th East Tennessee cavalry:

’They struggled, fell; their life-blood stained
The cruel murderer’s hand;
They clasped their country’s flag, and cried,
“God and our native land!”
Let angels spread their wings above;
Let flowers forever bloom;
Let bays, green bays, spring forth to mark
The martyr’s sacred tomb’

“At early dawn we left our kind friend and his family, and rode on towards Athens. It was a lonesome ride, resembling very much some of the bluff roads on the Illinois River. We passed only one house the whole distance, and that was a miserable log house situated in a clump of pines. As we rode past the house, we were astonished at the number of tow-head children at the woodpile–the tallest of whom was not over three feet in height. We commenced counting, two, four, six, eight; and to the question asked the eldest, ’Are you all here?’ ’O no,” says he, ’the two little ones are in the house.’ They hurrahed for Old Abe, and we rode on. We travelled the lonesome road a few miles farther, and came at last to the crest of the hill, some five hundred feet, directly overlooking the valley. There it lay at our feet, extending north as far as the eye could reach, and at least three miles in width–dotted with neat farm-houses, and just below us Mouse Creek Station, with its dozen or more neat white cottages, and one large brick mansion. A couplet in that beautiful hymn by Heber, as I surveyed this beautiful valley, ran through my head continually

Where every prospect pleases,
And only man is vile.

“We passed on through this valley, and, night overtaking us nine miles south of Loudon, we called at a fine farm-house, and requested permission to tarry, which was readily granted. To the question, ’Are you Union or rebel?’ the answer was, ’Both.’ ’Well,’ says I, ’that is a new stat of things, which I do not understand.’ This was the house of a widow lady, and her story was a simple statement of facts, which we listened to very attentively. When she had finished her story, she drew one long, deep sigh, and retired. I pitied the poor woman from the bottom of my heart. She said she had two sone in the rebel army, and one in the Union. Her son now at home had fled to the mountains to avoid conscription. Her two daughters now at home, young ladies, eighteen and twenty years of age, were divided, one Union and one rebel. For herself, she had nothing to say–the divisions in her family had made her prematurely gray, (holding up a lock of hair,) and the only wish she had was, that the war might speedily end in some way; and when I asked the usual question, the Union girl stepped into the other room, and returned with a beautiful silk Union flag. If a rebel officer should stay there next week, the rebel girl, no doubt, would bring out just as neat a rebel flag. Such is life in Eastern Tennessee.

Originally posted 2008-04-18 16:55:41.

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I sat in my tent-door thoughtfully, but very thoughtlessly humming “Dixie.” I had not observed “Charles,” a servant, or “contraband,” here, who sat just within the tent.

“We sop a-singin’ dat song now, massa!” said he, interrupting me.

“Why?” I inquired.

Charles was confused for a moment, but I pressed the question.

“Well,” he replied hesitatingly, “it don’t b’long to my perfession, sir; dat’s all, I s’pose.–I don’t wish I was in Dixie, I’se sure!” continued he. “None o’ de niggers does; you may bet your soul o’ dat!”

“Where is Dixie, Charles?”

“’S Norfolk–dat’s whar ’tis,” was the indignant reply. “Kills de niggers in Dixie, jist like sheep, a-working in de batteries!”

The idea of our contest is fully appreciated by the colored people. The representations at the North, that the slaves do not understand the cause for which the Federal army are moving upon the South, are utterly false. I have seen here and in Hampton scores of the fugitives, and conversed with them; and I have never found one who did not perfectly understand the issue of the war, and hand with terrible anxiety upon its success or failure.

I was particularly struck with this at Hampton, when the battle of Great Bethel was progressing. They crowded together in little squads about the streets, listening to the reports of the cannon in the distance, or the accounts of those who came in from the field. Many of them were almost insane with anxiety, and expressed themselves extravagantly.

“If the ’Unioners’ get the fight,” I said, “what will it do for you?”

“Den we’ll be free!” answered all who stood near me, almost in one breath.

“But if they lose the battle?”

“O, den it be worser for us dan ebber,” they said, shaking their heads mournfully, and in their simplicity believing that all the issue of the war hung upon the result of that day.–Letter from Fort Monroe.

Originally posted 2008-04-18 01:05:17.

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He attended a Presbyterian church. A large congregation was in attendance, but the preacher did not make his appearance. A general impatience beginning to manifest itself, the Commodore sought the elder of the church, and urged him to perform the services. The elder refusing, the Commodore, on the impulse of the moment, took the pulpit, read a chapter in the Bible, prayed, and delivered a short discourse from the text: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Ye believe in God: believe also in me.” The congregation was delighted. On coming down from the pulpit, the minister, who had arrived just after the prayer, approached and tendered his thanks; but the Commodore rebuked him for his tardiness of duty, and reproached him for his neglect to take the pulpit immediately on his arrival. This incident is illustrative of the Commodore’s energetic, earnest character and sincere piety.

Originally posted 2008-04-16 16:53:50.

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