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NARROW ESCAPES
Interesting War Experiences No. 37

Submitted by: Shirley Reed
IRONTON REGISTER
THURSDAY, JULY 28, 1887
"D id you ever hear of Tom Charlton's capture?" asked Gen. Enoch of us one day lately.
"No, but he is in town now, and if there is anything in it, I'll try to get it," said the reporter.
"Well, sir," said the General, "it is the funniest and at the same time the most thrilling _______ I know of. Be sure and get him to tell it to you."
Mr. Charlton, with ___________, Alabama, was in town at the time, to attend the funeral of his _________ John, and the next day we met him and asked him to tell us about his capture and escape. He hesitated, at first, saying there was so much in it that looked like boasting, but we insisted, and so he related the incident substantially as follows:
"I belong to Co. H, 5th West Va. Infantry. In the spring of 1864, in the first part of May, when Crook and Averill had gone down to burn the bridge a New Bern, on the Va. And Tenn. R.R., our regiment was left at Meadow Bluff. About the __th of May a ____ arrived from Crook, giving the ___ that his army was __________ and ___________ our regiment to forage down as far as Lewisburg to get supplies for his troops, who were out of rations."
"At the same time, Blazer's Scouts came in tired and worn out ______man from such of our companies and ordered to join him and recuperate his force. I was picked from my company. Now, it wasn't a healthy thing to belong to Blazer's Scouts just then, for he had recently hung six bushwhackers and it would be death for any of his men to fall into the reb's hands. But I was in for it, so I put on my spurs and mounted my __________.
"We proceeded down the road toward Lewisburg to Tutwiler's farm, and three of us went down to poke around in his barn to see if we could scare up any provisions. It was then after dark. There being none, we returned, and a short distance further on, our company of ________ went into camp. I took a bucket and went out to a spring, a short distance when at last we stopped in an orchard, where they investigated me. The big fellow said, 'You are one of Blazer's Scouts.' I protested that I was not. He said, 'I know you are,' at the same time raising his rifle to shoot me. I thought sure it was the last of me; but the little fellow interfered and said, 'Don't shoot the boy.'" The big one kept on insisting, and I kept denying that I was one of Blazer's Scouts, and the little fellow all the time interfering to save me and finally did."
"Then we started for the mountain. Before, and on this little march, I was terribly scared lest my spurs would give me away. If the rebs would only discover those spurs, then they'd know I belonged to Blazer's Scouts, and nothing would save me. I thought as I walked, they would certainly hear the noise of the spurs; and when we climbed a fence, I felt sure the spurs would give me away. At last we stopped to rest, and all sat down, and then was my chance. When we arose from there, my spurs didn't get up with me. I had slyly taken them off and left them on the ground."
"We had gone some distance up the mountain when we stopped at a large frame house and stayed all night. The next morning we went to Muddy Creek mountain. There, at a house in an opening of the woods, we stopped. I could see Lewisburg and our camp from there. The bushwhackers came and went in squads and companies. Some poked fun at me and some threatened me. The house was occupied by an old woman and four children. Here my captors would take turns guarding me. By this time, I had learned their names; the big fellow was Bumgarner, and the little fellow, Walker. At one time I was left with Bumgarner, who had the revolver, Walker having gone away with the gun. Well, it was in the house and Bumgarner sat in a chair before the fire place. Directly he went to sleep, his revolver lying across his lap. There was an iron shovel, a rough iron handled and heavy affair, standing by the fire place. I took this, got back of Bumgarner, drew back the shovel, and aimed a blow at him. The woman looked on with wide open and horrified eyes, but did not utter a shriek. Somehow, I couldn't strike, the shovel trembled in my hands awhile, and I laid it down without even waking Bumgarner. And well I did, for just then six bushwhackers appeared at the door. Had I struck him, I would have been a dead soldier a minute after. But it was not yet safe, in my own mind. I was afraid the woman would tell on me; but she didn't. She kept the affair closely to herself. The bushwhackers wakened Bumgarner, and made great sport of him, telling him how busy it would have been for his prisoner to have killed him."
"After while, Walker returned and we moved to another house where there was an old woman and her two daughters. There were about 150 bushwhackers at the house and on the premises. Here, while being left in the house alone with the women for awhile, the old women frightened me no little by informing me that I was in the hands of a dangerous man -- that "Bumgarner had actually murdered four men."
                                                                             
"Stopping here but a while, we went further down
the mountain to another house, where an old man and his wife
lived alone. Here Bumgarner left and Walker
staid to guard me. After being here a short time,
 we went to a flax house, near by, where we laid
down and went to sleep. Walker had his rifle by
 his side. I wakened up first, slipped over to
Walker, took his gun, but just as I raised up, I
saw 25 bushwhackers approaching through the
 woods. I quickly laid down the gun and woke
up Walker. The company of bushwhackers
 passed on, and directly Walker and I went up
to the house, where Bumgarner soon joined us.
After supper, Bumgarner again left, saying as he
departed, if I gave Walker no more trouble than
I did last night, he would release me when he
 came back. He made me feel a little more
 uncomfortable by that remark, than if he hadn't
said it. Anyhow, I determined if possible to
liberate myself that night, for only at night was it
safe to attempt to escape."
"After supper, we all sat in front of the fire, for it
 was a little cool that evening. The old man and
his wife, sat directly in front of the fire place.
Walker to their left and I to their right. Walker
had his gun in his hand and close to him was a
bed. I had resolved to make a strike for freedom
 before 8 o'clock, if the slightest opportunity
 arrived. It was now after 7 o'clock. We talked
familiarly, Walker yawned and seemed sleepy.
I eyed him carelessly. He took off his powder
 flask and cap box and laid them on the bed.
We kept lazily talking on. I kept eyeing the clock.
 It was nearly 8. Walker arose from his chair,
leaned his gun against the bed and started to
 pace across the room in front of the bed, and
handy to the gun. We talked on. The old man
and woman watched the flickering flame in the
fire place. Walker paced to and fro in front of
the bed. It was within a minute or so of 8. The
 ___________________ after all, for when I
stuck the gun in his face, the cock, which was
hung on a hair trigger, went down with a crack,
but the cap failed to go off, and that saved his
life. But I had the cap box and another cap on
 before the excitement of the moment was over."

"He then began to beg me not to kill him; I told
him there was no danger -- he had treated me
well, and all I wanted was for him to pilot me
back to my camp. I told him he was to march
 before me, and if I found he was misleading me
 I would shoot him for I would myself be shot if
caught. So I opened the door and bade him
march, and I followed close behind him into the
 dark. As we left the door, I glanced back, and
saw the old man throw up his hands and exclaim.
 "My God, did you ever see anything like it?"

"It was starlight, and we proceeded through the
 woods, my prisoner in the lead and myself just
behind with my gun at a charge. We talked very
little. In an hour or so, after struggling through the
 dark woods, we struck the pike, near a big
brick house. Here some hounds set up a bowl,
and I knew that this would alarm somebody, so I
 ordered my prisoner to double-quick it down
the pike toward Lewisburg. I kept right behind
him with my gun ready. Oh my, but we got tired.
 He begged to rest, but I would not consent. We
 kept on that run for six miles. Finally, I beheld in
the distance, for I was peering ahead all the time,
 the form of a man on horseback. We slackened
 up, and as we approached he called out: "Who
 comes there?" I replied, "A friend -- a Union
 soldier," for I thought I recognized his voice.
I explained that I had a prisoner in charge and
that I could not lay down my gun, so he ordered
me to hold it high over my head, which I did and
approached him. I was elated to find it was Bill
Veasy, an old Ironton boy. He showed me
where the reserve was and I went there, where
I found Billy St. Clair and Brown Veasy. Then
my prisoner guided me to the church in Lewisburg
where my company was. They were very much
astonished at my appearance, and greeted me as
one from the dead."

"The next morning I went to regimental
headquarters where I found Col. Tomlinson and
Lieut. Col. Enochs, who laughed heartily at my
narrative. But on my way there, I met Dr. Myers,
our regimental surgeon, who gave me fits for not
shooting the rebel. Afterward, when the Doctor
found out that my prisoner was a brother of the
 __________ girl he was engaged to, he wasn't
half so bloody thirsty."

"And now to gather in the threads of this long
story; Walker and Bumgarner were in that barn
for which we poked about for provisions, but we
didn't happen to poke them up. Walker was
sent to Camp Chase, and after the war returned
to his home on the Kanawha, where he was killed
by a well that caved in on him while he was
cleaning it. Bumgarner met a slightly different fate
After the war, he with a horse trader came into
Ohio to sell some horses. He murdered his
associate, was arrested, tried and hung at
Marietta."

"And this is all of my story, except that the rifle
 which I took from Walker, and to which I owe
my liberty, is at the Ironton Water Works, in
the possession of E. Lawton.


 

 
 
 

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