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NEW BLOOMFIELD, lJi!L., TtJESDAY, VlPllIIi 10, 1881.
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JORDAN, JTHE SCOUT.
AMONG the many brave men who
Lave taken part in this war whose
dying embers are now being trodden out
by a "poor white man" none, perhaps,
have done more service to the country,
or won less glory for themselves, than
the "poor whites," who have acted as
scouts for the Union armies. The Issue
of battles, the result of campaigns, and
the possession of wide districts of coun
try, have often depended on the sagacity,
or been determined by the Information
they have gathered ; and yet they have
seldom been heard of in the newspapers,
and may never be read of in history.
Romantic, thrilling, and sometimes
laughable adventures have attended the
operations of the scouts of both sections ;
tut more difficulty and danger have un
boubtedly been encountered by the par
tisans of the North than of the South.
Operating mostly within the circle of
their own acquaintance, the latter have
usually been aided and harbored by the
Southern people, who, generally friendly
to secession, have themselves often acted
as spies, and conveyed dispatches across
districts occupied by our armies, and
inaccessible to any but supposed loyal
The service rendered the South by
these volunteer scouts has often been
of the most important character. One
stormy night, early in the war, a young
woman set out from a garrisoned town
to visit a sick uncle residing a short
distance in the country. The sick uncje
mounting his horse at midnight, rode
twenty miles in the rain to Forrest's
headquarters. The result was, the
important town of Murfreesboro' and a
promising major-general fell into the
hands of the confederates ; and all be
cause the said major-general permitted a
pretty woman to pass his lines on " a
mission of mercy."
At another time, a rebel citizen, pro.
fessing disgust with secession for having
the weakness to be on " its last legs,"
took the oath of allegiance and assumed
the Union uniform. Informing him
self fully of the disposition of our forces
along the Nashville railroad, he sud
denly disappeared; to re appear with
Basil Duke and ' John Morgan In a
midnight raid on our slumbering out
posts. Again, a column on the march came
upon a wretched woman, with a child
in her arms, seated by the dying embers
of a burning homestead burning, she
said, because her sole and only friend,
her uncle (these ladies seldom have any
nearer kin) "stood up stret fur the ken
try." No American soldier ever refused
a "lift" to a woman in distress. This
woman was soon lifted into an empty
saddle by the side of a staff officer, who,
with many wise winks and knowing
nods, was discussing the intended route
of the expedition with a brother simple
ton. A little further on the woman
suddenly remembered that another un
cle, who did not stand up quite so "stret
fur the kentry," and consequently, had
a bouse still standing up for him, lived
"plump up thet 'ar hill ter the right o'
the high road." She was set down, the
column moved on, and Strelght's well
planned expedition miscarried. But no
one wasted a thought on the forlorn
woman and the sallow baby whose
skinney faces were so long within ear
shot of the wooden-headed staff officer.
Means quite as ingenious and quite
as curious were often adopted to conceal
dispatches, when the messenger was in
danger of capture by an euemy. A
boot with a hollow heel, a fragment of
corn pone too stale to tempt a starving
, man, a strip of adhesive plaster over a
festering wound, or a ball of cotton-wool
stufled Into the ear to keep out the west
wind, often hid a message whose dis
covery would cost a life, and perhaps
endanger an army. The writer has
himself seen the hollow half eagle which
bore to Burnslde's beleagured force the
welcome tidings that in thirty-six hours
Sherman would relieve Knoxvllle.
The professional scout generally was a
native of the South, some Illiterate and
simple-minded, but brave and self-devoted
"poor white man," who, if be
had worn shoulder-straps, and been able
to write "interesting" dispatches, might
now be known as a hero half the world
over. Some of these men had they been
born at the North, where free schools
are open to all, would have led armies,
and left a name to live after them. But
they were born at the South, had their
minds cramped and their souls stunted
by a system which dwarfs every noble
thing; and so their humble mission
over, they have gone down unknown
and unhonored, amid the silence and
darkness of their native woods.
I hope to rescue the memory of one of
these men John Jordan, from the head
of Balne from utter oblivion by writ
ing this article. He is now beyond the
hearing of my words; but I would
record one act in his short career, that
his pure patriotism may lead some of us
to know better and love more the much
abused and misunderstood class to which
Humphrey Marshall with five thou
sand men had Invaded Kentucky. E li
ter! Dg it at Pound Gap, he had fortified
a strong natural position near Paintville,
and, with small bands, was overrunning
the whole Piedmont region. This re
gion, containing an area larger than the
whole of Massachusetts, was occupied
by about 4,000 blacks and 100,000 whites
a brave, hardy, rural population, with
few schools, scarcely any churches, and
only one newspaper, but with that sort
of patriotism which grows among moun
tains and clings to its barren hillsides as
if they were the greenest spots in the
universe. Among this simple people
Marshall was scattering firebrands.
Stump-orators were blazing away at
every cross-road, lighting fires whidh
threatened to sweep Kentucky from the
Union. That done so early in tljfi war
dissolution might have followed. To
the Ohio canal-boy was committed the
task of extinguishing this conflagration.
It was a difficult task, one which, with
the means at command, would have
appalled any man not made equal to it
by early struggles with hardship and
poverty, and entire trust in the Provi
dence that guards his country.
The means at command were 2,500
men divided into two bodies, and separ
ated by a hundred miles of mountain
country. This country was infested
with guerrillas and occupied by a dis
loyal people. The sending of dispatches
across It was next to impossible; but
communication being opened, and the
two columns set in motion, there was
danger that they would be fallen on and
beaten in detail before they could form a
junction. This was the great danger.
What remained the beating of 6,000
Bebels, posted behind lntienchments,
by half their number of Yankees, oper
ating in the open field seemed to the
young colonel less difficult of accom
Evidently the first thing to be done
was to find a trustworthy messenger to
carry dispatches between the two halves
of the Union army. To this end, the
Yankee commander applied to the
colonel of the Fourteenth Kentucky.
" Have you a man," he asked, "who
will die, rather than fall or betray us 5"'
The Kentucklan reflected a moment,
then answered : " I think I have John
Jordan, from the head of Balne."
Jordan was sent for. He was a tall,
gaunt, sallow man of about thirty, with
small gray eyes, a fine, falsetto voice,
pitched in the minor key, and his
speech the rude dialect of the mountains.
His face had as many expressions as
could be found in a regiment, and he
seemed a strange combination of cun
ning, simplicity, undaunted courage,
and undoubted faith; yet, though he
might pass for a simpleton, he talked a
quaint sort of wisdom which ought to
have given bim to history..
The young colonel sounded him thor
oughly ; for the fact of the little army
might depend on his fidelity. The
man's soul was clear as crystal, and in
ten minutes the Yankee saw through it.
His history Is stereotyped iu that region.
Born among the hills, where the crops
are stones, and the sheeps' noses, are
sharpened before they can nibble the
thin grass between them, his life had
been oue of the hardest toll and. priva
tion. He knew nothing but what
nature, the Bible, the "course of Time,"
and two or three of Shakespeare's plays
had taught him, but somehow in the
mountain air he had grown to be a man
a man as civilized nations account
" Why did you come into the war ?"
at last asked the colonel.
" To do my sheer fur the kentry,
Gin'ral," answered the man. "And I
didn't druv no barg'in wP th' Lord. I
guv Him my life equar' out; and ef
He's a mind to tuck it on this tramp
why it's a Hls'u ; I've nothin' ter say
"You mean that you've come into
the war not expecting to get out of
It V .
"That's so, Gin'ral."
" Will you die rather than let the dis
patch be taken V"
The colonel recalled what had passed
in his own mind when pour.lng over his
mother's Bible that night at his home
in Ohio; and it decided him. "Very
well," he said ; " I will trust you."
The dispatch was written on tissue
paper, rolled into the form of a bullet,
coated with warm lead, and put into
the hand of the Kentucklan. He was
given a carbine, a brace of revolvers,
and the fleetest horse in his regiment,
and, when the moon was down, started
on his perilous journey. He was to
ride at night, and hide in the woods or
in the houses of loyal men in the day
time. It was pitch-dark when he set out;
but he knew every inch of the way,
having traveled it often, driving mules
to market. He had gone twenty miles
by early dawn, and the house of a friend
was only a few miles beyond him. The
man himself was away, but his wife was
at home, and she would harbor him till
nightfall. He pushed on. and tethered
his horse in the timber; but it was
broad day when be rapped at the door,
and was admitted. The good woman
gave him breakfast, and showed him to
the guest-chamber, where, lying down
in his boots, he was soon in a deep
The house was a log cabin in the
midst of a few acres of deadening
ground from which trees have been
cleared by girdling. Dense woods were
all about it; but the nearest forest was a
quarter of a mile distant, and should the
scout be tracked, it would be hard to get
away over this open space, unless he
had warning of the approach of his
pursuers. The woman thought of this,
and sent up the road on a mule, her
whole worldly possessions, an old negro,
dark as tne night, but faithful as the
sun in the heavens. It was high noon
when the mule came back, his heels
striking fire, and his rider's eyes flash
ing, as if ignited from the sparks the
steel bad emitted.
"Dey'm com in', missus!" he cried,
"not half a mile away twenty Secesh,
rldln' as ef de Debit was arter 'em I"
She barred the door, and hastened to
the guest chamber.
"Go," she cried, "through the win
der, ter the woods ! They'll be here in
"How many is thar?" asked the
" Twenty, go, go at once, or you'll,
be taken 1"
The scout did not move; but fixing
his eyes ou her face, he said :
"Yes, I yere 'em. Thar's a sorry
chance fur my life a'ready. But Rachel,
I've thet 'bout me tbet's wuth more'n
my life thet, may-be'll save Kalmuck.
If I'm killed, wull ye tuck it ter Cunnel
Cranor, at Paris V"
"Yes, yes, I will. But go; you've
not a minnit to lose, I tell you."
"I know; but wull yeswar it, swar
ter tuck this ter Cunnel Cranor 'fore th'
Lord thet yeres us
"Yes, yes, I will," she said, taking
the bullet. But horses' hoof were
already sounding in the door-yard. "Oh,
why did you stop to parley 1"'
" Never mind, Rachel," answered the
scout. "Don't tuck on. Tuck ye keer
o' th' dispatch. Valu'ltloike yer life,
lolke Kalntuck. The Lord's callln'
fur me, and I'm a'ready."
, But the scout was mistaken. It was
not the Lord, but a dozen devils at the
"What does ye wantV" asked the
woman, going to the door.
"The man as come from Garfield's
camp at sun-up John Jordan, from the
head o' Balne," answered a voice from
"Yekarn'thevhlm fur th' axln',"
said the scout. " Go away, or I'll send
some o' ye war the weather is warm, I
"Pshaw!" said another voice from
his speech one of the chivalry. " There
are twenty of us. We'll spare your life,
if you give up the dispatch ; if you don't,
we'll hang you higher than Haman."
The reader will bear in mind that this
was in the beginning of the war, when
swarms of spies infested every Union
camp, and treason was only a gentle
manly pastime, not the serious business
it has grown to be since traitors are no
"I've nothin' but my life thet I'll
guv up," answered the scout; "and ef
ye tuck thet ye'll hev ter pay the price,
six o' yourn-."
"Fire the house!" shouted one.
" No, don't do thet,,' said another.
" I know him he's cl'ar grit, he'll die
in the ashes, and we won't git the dis
patch." This sort of talk went on for half an
hour; then there was a dead silence,
and the woman went to the loft, whence
she could see all that was passing out
side. About a dozen of the horsemen
were posted around the house ; but the
remainder, dismounted, had gone to the
woods, and were felling a. well-grown
sapling, with the evident intention of
using it as a battering-ram to break
down the front door.
The woman in a low tone explained
the situation, and the scout said :
" It'r' my only chance. I must run
fur it. Bring me yer red shawls, Rach
el." She had none, but she had a petticoat
of flaming red and yellow. Handling
it as if be knew how such articles can
be made to spread, the scout softly un
barred the door, aud grasping the hand
of the woman, said :
" Good by, Rachel. It'r' a right sorry
chance ; but I may git through. Ef I
do, I'll come ter night , ef I don't, git
ye the dispatch ter the Cunnel. Good
bye." To the right of the house, midway
between it and the woods, stood the
barn. That way led the route of the
scout. If he could elude the two mount
ed men at the doorway, he might escape
the other horsemen; for they would
have to spring the barnyard fences, and
their horses might refuse the leap. But
it was foot of man against leg of horse,
and "a right sorry chance."
Suddenly he opened the door, and
dashed at the two horses with the petti
coat. They reared, wheeled, and bound
ed away like lightning just let out of
harness. In the time that it takes to
tell it, the scout was over the first fence,
and scaling the second ; but a horse was
making the leap with him. The scout's
pistol went off, and the rider's earthly
journey was over. Another followed,
and his horse fell mortally wounded.
The reBt made the circuit of the barn
yard, and were rods behind when the
scout reached the edge of the forest.
Once among those thick laurels, no
horse nor rider can reach a man, if
he lies low, and says bis prayers in a
The Rebels bore the body of their
comrade back to the house, and said to
the woman :
"We'll be revenged for this. We
know the route he'll take, and will have
his life before to-morrow; and you
we'd burn your house over your head,
if you were not the wife of Jack
Brown was a loyal man, who was
serving his country in the ranks of
Marshall. Thereby hangs a tale, but
this 1b not the time to tell it. Soon the
men rode a way, taking the poor woman's
only wagon as a hearse for their dead
Night came, and the owls cried in the
woods in a way they had not cried for a
fortnight. "T'whoot! t'whoot!" they
went, as if they thought there was
music in hooting. The woman listened,
put on a dark mantle, and followed the
sound of their voices. Entering the .
woods, she crept in among the bushes,
and talked with tbe owls as if they h'ad
" They know Jlie road ye'll take," she
said ; "ye must change yer route. Here
ar' the bullet."
"God bless ye, Rachel," responded
the owl, "ye'r' a true 'ooman" and he
hooted louder than before, to deceive
pursuers, and keep up the music
"Ar' yer nag safe V" she asked.
" Yes, and good fur forty miles afore
" Well, here ar suthln' ter eat; ye'll
need it. Good-bye, and God be wP
"He'll go wP ye, fur He loves noble
Their hands clasped, and they parted;
he to his long ride; she t6 the quiet
sleep of those who, out of a true heart,
serve their country.
The night was dark and drizzly ; but
before morning the clouds cleared away,
leaving a thick mist hanging low on
the meadows. The scout's mare was
fleet, but the road was rough, and a
slosh of snow impeded the travel. He
had come by a strange way, and did not
know how far he had traveled by sun
rise; but lights were ahead, shivering
in the haze of the cold, gray morning.
Were they the early candles of some
sleepy village, or the camp-fires of a
band of guerrillas 1 He did not know,
and it would not be safe to go on till he
did know. The road was lined with
trees, but they would give no sudier :
for they Were far apart, and the snow
lay white between them. He was in the
blue grass region. Tethering his horse
in the timber, he climbed a tall oak by
the roadside; but the mist was too thick
to admit of his discerning anything
distinctly. It seemed, however, to be
breaking away, and he would wait until
his way was clear; so he sat there, an
hour, two hours, and ate his breakfast
from the satchel John's wife had slung
over his shoulder. At last the fog lifted
a little, and he saw clsse at hand a small
hamlet a few rude huts gathered round
a cross-road. No danger could lurk in
such a place, and he was about to de
scend, and pursue his journey, when
suddenly he heard, up the road by
which he came, the rapid tramp of a
body of horsemen.
The mist was thicker below ; so half
way down the tree he went, and awaited
their coming. They moved at an Irreg
ular pace, carrying lanterns, and paus
ing every now and then to inspect the
road, as if they had missed their way or
lost something. Soon they came near,
and were dimly outlined in tho gray
mist, so the scout could make out their
number. There were thirty of them,
the original band, and a reinforcement. .
Again they halted when abreast of the
tree, and searched the road narrowly.
" He must have come this way," said
one he of the chivalry. "The other
road is sixteen miles longer, and he
would take the shortest route. It's an
awful pity we didn't head him on both
"We kin come up with him yit, ef
we turn plump round, and -follow on
t'other road whar we lost the trail
back thar, three miles ter the dead
enin'." Now another spoke, and his voice the
scout remembered. He belonged to his
own company in the Fourteenth Ken
tucky. "It's so." he said; "he has
tvek t'other road. I tell ye, I'd know
thet mar's shoe 'mong a million. Nary
one loike it was ever seed in all Kain
tuck only a d d Yankee could ha' x
"And yere it ar'," shouted a man
with one of the lanterns, "plain as sun
up." The Fourteenth Kentucklan clutched
the light, and while a dozen dismount
ed andgatberod round, closely examined
the track. The ground was bare ou
the spot, and the print of the horse's
hoof was clearly cut in the half frozen
mud. Narrowly the man looked, and
life and death hung on his eyesight.
The scout took out the bullet, and placed
it in a crotch of the tree. If they took
him, the Devil should not take the
dispatch. Then he drew a revolver.
The mist was breaking away, and he
would surely be discovered if the men
lingered much longer; but he would