Hello all you fellow Jasper Newton Acree researchers. I found an interesting article in the Library of Congress. I have typed it out and I would like to share it with everyone in hopes it will give clues to his birthplace, etc. Besides the family clues, it is a great article about our ancestor. Of interest is the name of Jasper's half-brother James Roberts. Jasper is also married when he goes off to war, I assume a first wife, and has a daughter when he returns home from being captured.
Enjoy it, I certainly did.
WITH WOLFORD'S CAVALRY.
Adventures of a Tennessee Refugee.
By JASPER N ACREE, Co C, 1st KY Cav
Published in the National Tribune on Thursday, April 7, 1904
Some six months before Tennessee, my native State, resolved to withdraw from the Union (My note: June 1861 Tennessee secedes from Union) I had gone to Kentucky to reside, temporarily, with relatives. When I returned to my home in the Sequatchie Valley, many of my friends and associates had enlisted in the rebel army. My Union sentiments were well known. No man could remain neutral. Some of my neighbors declined to extend me friendly greetins; others avowed their enmity. A few urged me to leave the state. As an inducement for me to enlist with his grandson in a company of rebel cavalry, an old gentleman offered me a fine horse and equipments.
AN EXILE FROM HOME.
I realized very soon that if I should remain on my native heath and refuse to renounce my allegiance to the Union death or imprisonment would be my fate. Learning the Federal troops were being enlisted and organized at Camp Dick Robinson, in Kentucky, I determined to go thither and volunteer. Other Tennesseans, refugees, were going the same way. The roads were guarded by detachments of rebel soldiers, making it difficult and dangerous for refugees to go northward. Leaving my young wife and the home of my boyhood, I stole away under cover of night. When I reached the mountain pass on the border, I was halted by Bledsoes's cavalry. Giving evasive replies to their questions, I was permitted to resume my journey. James Roberts, my half-brother, was shot from ambush while piloting a party of Union refugees over Waldon's Ridge, the men who killed him being rebel citizens of the valley.
When I arrived at Camp Dick Robinson, early in August, 1861, I enlisted in the 1st Ky Cav., commanded by Col Frank Wolford. This regiment and its Colonel, afterwards General, became famous. It is not my intention, however, to write in detail the story of Wolford's command. Its long hard marches and innumerable engagements were exploits that have been written in history. With the exception of a term of imprisonment, I served in the 1st Ky Cav until the close of the war.
Soon after I joined Wolford's Cavalry, senator Andrew Johnson, subsequently President, visited Camp Dick Robinson to confer with the Tennessee refugees, some 400 or 500, who had assembled there. In the course of a patriotic speech he said he fully appreciated the sentiment that had prompted them to leave their homes with the intention of fighting for the supremacy of the Union. At the close of his speech he opened a canvas bag containing silver, and to each of us he gave five silver half-dollars. At that time he was the only senator from any of the seceding States serving in the Congress of the United States.
THE BATTLE OF MILL SPRING.
Early in January, 1862, Gen. Thomas moves southward from Lebanon, KY to attack Gen. Zollicoffer, who held a strong position at the mouth of Fishing Creek on the north bank of the Cumberland River.
When Thomas began his movement Wolford's Cavalry, then stationed above Neatsburg, on Green River, was ordered to join him at Webb's Crossroads. We then marched some three or four miles in advance of the main army, and went into camp at Logan's Old Fields, about seven miles from Zollicoffer's position, where we remained nearly two days, waiting for the infantry to come up. A woman named Celia Weaver came into our camp ostensibly to sell pies and milk, but really to learn our strength and position. Ignorant of the approaching force under Thomas, she hurried to the Confederate Camp and reported to Gen Zollicoffer that no other troops than a regiment of cavalry was in his front at Logan's Old Fields.
Zollicoffer knew, or thought he knew, that two Federal Regiments were at Somerset, 11 miles distant, and that Fishing Creek, intervening, was so swollen that they could not cross it without great difficulty, if at all. Thomas, he supposed, was still in Lebanon. Reasoning from false premises, he concluded that he could march out and easily capture or disperse the cavalry regiment at Logan's Old Fields.
Making a night march, the rebels attacked our outposts before daylight, Jan. 19. Instantly there was commotion in our camp, bugle calls, and much hurrying to and fro. Capt. Carr, having succeeded in forming his company sooner than the others, obtained permission to lead his men into action at once. Galloping to the front we passed our pickets, who informed us that the enemy were in force a short distance beyond. The day was dawning, and we had not proceeded much further when we confronted a rebel line of battle coming steadily on. Just then a regiment on our left flank fired a volley that admonished us to fall back on the regiment, which was rapidly forming in battle line in our rear.
Col Wolford boldly engaged the Confederates, and held them in check until Thomas arrived with the 4th KY and a regiment each from the states of Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio. With the rising of the sun the most hotly-contested battle that had yet been fought in the Mississippi Valley began. As this was our first general engagement, I was at first so nervous that my gun wobbled somewhat, making it difficult for me to take deliberate aim. After a time, however, when I had become more accustomed to the roar of battle, my agitation decreased, but whenever a bullet "zipped" close to my head I dodged "just a little bit".
When the battle opened in earnest, Wolford's regiment, dismounted, formed in line with the infantry, facing the enemy's center, but before the battle was over our regiment constituted the extreme left of the line, the other troops having been so disposed as to extend the line to our right.
Just before the firing ceased, I saw Gen. Zollicoffer and his staff on a knoll not more than 25yards distant from where I stood. Soon after he appeared on the knoll I saw him wave his hand and shout the command: "Stop shooting over there, Colonel. You are killing our own men!"
"What regiment is that I'm shooting at," he asked."
"The 16th Miss.”, he replied.
"Well, they are the en I want to kill," said the Colonel.
A moment afterward, I heard a pistol shot, and, although I did not see Gen Zollicoffer fall, I am sure that Col. Speed Fry, commanding the 4th Ky, fired that pistol, and that the shot killed the rebel General.
The death of Zollicoffer discouraged his soldiers. When the 2nd Minn. charged their center they retreated in confusion, our troops pursuing and driving them into their entrenched camp and taking some 300 prisoners. Leaving their artillery, munitions, and stores, they escaped across the river under cover of night, burning their boats behind them.
The two regiments of Schoepff's Brigade, stationed at Somerset, attracted by the firing, reached the field too late to take any part in the battle.
WOLFORD WOUNDED AND CAPTURED.
In the engagement, at Lebanon, TN Col Wolford was wounded, and fell into the enemy's hands. The Confederates respected him; Morgan and his men, especially held him in high esteem. On this occasion they treated him with distinguished consideration. As he was too painfully wounded to be removed in comfort, they left him in charge of two of their Surgeons by the wayside, where he was found by our pursuing troops.
Our regiment was in the battle of Perryville, and, later, in an engagement at Danville, where I narrowly escaped being killed. Having dismounted, I was on my knees trying to unfasten the gate, when a bullet grazed my throat, cut off a corner of my shirt collar, and buried itself in the gatepost near me.
Soon after Gen. Burnside moved from Kentucky to Tennessee to occupy Knoxville, in September, 1863, a detachment of Wolford's command, about 100 scouting in the Hiwasee Valley, encountered a heavy force of rebel cavalry, and in an ensuing skirmish seven of us were captured and send to Richmond, where we were confined in "Libby" a large tobacco warehouse with a brick floor, the windows facing one of the main business sections of the city. Standing by one of these windows I could see and hear a great deal of what was happening in the street. In the marts prices were fabulously high. People carried large rolls of money in their hands.
When I entered the prison the rebels took possession of my money, assuring me, however, that it would be returned when I should be exchanged, or otherwise released. A few of the prisoners managed to retain their money, in whole or in part. One young soldier, who had succeeded in keeping his money, was in the habit of displaying his roll of greenbacks in the presence of fellow prisoners. One day he exhibited a $10 bill, and while a group was examining it, I casually read aloud the name of the Register of Treasury. "J.E. Crittenden", engraved on the face of the bill. "J.R. Crittenden, you mean", he said. "No," said I. "The middle initial is an E, not an R."
He persisted his contention, and to settle the note the matter, I staked $20 against his $10 note that the letter was an E. the arbiter to be an old Chaplain, who knew nothing of our controversy. When the letter was pointed out to him he promptly declared it was an E. His decision made me a winner, but the good man did not know that he had decided a wager. At first my conscience forbade my taking the bill, but, reflecting that he had more money and that the $10 might "come handy in an emergency" I quieted my conscience and accepted the bill. If he had won I could not have paid him until some time in the uncertain future.
Contrary to the regulations, the guards would occasionally permit people to approach the windows and sell provisions to the prisoners who had money. In order to provide myself with convenient change, I exchanged my $10 bill for $100 in small denominations of Confederate money. My $100, however, soon vanished. When I bought provisions, I divided with the hungry fellows around me, and when in November, I was transferred to Danville I had only $2 left.
Suffering from the effects of recent vaccination, I was sent to the hospital, soon after the removal to Danville. The Government sent us some clothing, my allotment being a pair of shoes, a blanket, and a pair of pants. I exchanged the shoes and pants for food, and gave the blanket to the guard on condition that he would not seriously interfere if I should make an attempt to escape. I was to disregard his challenge, and he was to fire in the air. I did make a break for liberty, but I think he ignored his promise, as his bullet whistled dangerously close to my head.
ESCAPED FROM DANVILLE.
I ran faster than I thought my feeble condition would permit. I was bareheaded, without shoes, and my only clothing, shirt and pants, was not unlike the "ragged regimentals" that distinguished the "Continentals"/
That night I traveled about six miles, reaching the Dan River at daybreak. There I found an old colored man constructing a raft. For $2, all the money I had, he brought me a breakfast, consisting solely of cornbread and beef. I fell in with a soldier named Frymyer, who had escaped from Danville, and we traveled together, going to a northeast direction.
One morning when we had stopped to rest and sleep, I saw some colored men approach a stack of oats. I went to them for the purpose of procuring something to eat. While I was talking with them, one watchful fellow excitedly called to me: "Run, here, quick! I see de boss a-comin. Jes you jump in dis straw an' I'll kiver you up"
I obeyed with alacrity, and heard the "boss" ride up and give some commands. To my great relief he soon rode away. When I returned to the rendezvous in the wood I failed to find Frymyer. Fearing capture, he had fled. However, the rebels got him, as I subsequently learned.
After three weeks of suffering and privation, always traveling under cover of night, hiding during the day, I reached Salem, VA, where I learned from an old negro man that Gen. Averell's raiding column had retreated from the town just two hours before my arrival.
Notwithstanding my debilitated condition, having traveled 150 miles, I immediately attempted a forced march to overtake Averell's retreating column. When, at length, weary and worn, I saw a detachment of cavalry, some distance ahead of me, which I supposed to be Averell's rear guard, I rejoiced that the end of my lonely pilgrimage was in sight. So intent was I in my endeavor to overtake the cavalrymen, moving along a narrow defile, that I neglected to take a critical view to their uniform. When it was too late for me to escape, I realized that I was in the presence of Confederates instead of Federals. I had overtaken Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry, pursuing Averell. I do not think any reader can imagine my feelings. I know I cannot describe them. I was sick, tired, helpless and hopeless.
A captured prisoner, I was sent back to Richmond- to the familiar Libby Prison, where I remained until late in February. In addition to what I have written of life in "Libby", I shall relate one incident. One day I noticed that a young Irishman, who had been slowly dying, made no attempt to eat his share of the scant and unpalatable rations that had been distributed among the captives. Seeing that his death was imminent, two prisoners engaged in a nerce struggle over the body of the dying man to gain possession of the food that he could not eat.
Late in February, myself and others were ordered to Andersonville. Libby was bad, but Andersonville was worse. We felt that the order was equivalent to a death sentence. Preferring death to life in Andersonville, I determined to escape or to die in the attempt.
When we were put into box cars, and started toward Andersonville, my brain was busy devising ways and means of escape. As the cars had open doors on one side only, three guards being stationed at each door, there was no opportunity for me to jump from the train. Near Raleigh there was a change of cars. With some 50 sick and wounded prisoners, I was placed in the middle car of the train. I noticed that some on had attempted to make an opening, about two feet square, in the middle of the floor, and had abandoned the undertaking. I then noted that the walls were mad of yellow poplar. The upright planks were about eight inches wide. I noticed, also, that an attempt had been made to cut a hole through the back wall of the car, about two feet from the floor. It was natural to infer that some prisoner, probably more than one, had attempted to cut a hole through the floor and one through the wall. I resolved o do likewise. Frymyer, my former companion, was in the car. Bing a resourceful fellow, he had managed to retain a small pocketknife, and I was aware of the fact. Very cautiously I made my plan known to him and requested him to let me have the knife. He consented on condition that he should be the first to go through any opening that I might make.
CUTTING A WAY TO LIBERTY.
As the train was running steadily toward Andersonville, time was precious, and, therefore, I began operations forthwith. Very soon everyman in the car, excepting the guards, knew what I was doing, groups of them, relieved at intervals, standing between me and the unsuspecting guards. I was cutting through the back wall, trying to finish the work someone had previously begun. The plank was not more than a half inch thick, and , after working industriously some two or three hours, I succeeded in cutting a hole two feet square, large enough for a man of ordinary size to crawl through. It was then about sunset. Hanging up a blanket to conceal the opening I waited for night.
Soon after dark the train stopped at the machine shops, and the light from a passing Inspector's lantern could be discerned through my suspended blanket. Contrary to my expectation the man passed on, failing to note the hole in the wall. When the train started again it ran with increased speed, so fast that it would be extremely hazardous for anyone to jump from it; therefore I wanted to wait until the speed should be slackened when ascending a grade.
ESCAPING FROM THE TRAIN.
Notwithstanding my efforts to restrain him, Frymyer, impatient and excited, went through the aperture and disappeared in the darkness. Intending to be the next to go through, I remained at the exit until a grade checked the speed of the train. My departure was delayed, however, by a fussy Dutchman who insisted on preceding me. Fearing that his vehement language and violent gesticulation would attract the attention of the guard, I permitted him to pass out. Following him, I stood for a moment on the narrow platform and then jumped, alighting uninjured on sandy ground. Alex. Carmen, a Kentuckian of Wolford's regiment, followed me. Being old comrades we agreed to travel together. My head and feet were bare, and my shirt and pants, my only clothing were "tattered and torn" Carmen's attire being no better than mine.
GOING BACK TO TENNESSEE
It was the 27th of February, and we were 60 or 70 miles south of Raleigh. Traveling northwest, our trials and adventures were similar to those that characterized my journey to Salem, VA after I had escaped to Danville. One morning at dawn, after traveling all night we came to a narrow river that was deep and swift. Fortunately an old negro was nearby: "Uncle, how can we cross this river?" "On de log. Dat is de only way." "What log?" "Lor bless yer! dat log right up dar. Dis a cold mawnin, and de log is might slick. I 'spect you'll have ter 'coon it"
We found the log a short distance up the stream, and saw at a glance that the old man was right in his conjecture--we would have to "coon it" Carmen crawled over all right, but I was not so fortunate. I was carrying an old pillowslip containing a generous supply of "ash cakes" a donation from an old negro woman. While "cooning" the log, I inadvertently dropped the pillowslip. Jumping into the cold, swift stream, waist deep, I seized the bag by the wrong end, emptying the contents. Unwillingly I had cast my bread upon the waters.
About the middle of March a heavy snow storm drove us into a stable loft, where we remained two days and nights, a negro man supplying us with food. When we left the stable, Carmen's personal appearance was so ludicrous that I could not refrain from laughing. His shirt sleeves extended no lower than his elbows, and his long hair and beard were full of oat-chaff and hayseed. His complexion was neither fair nor rubicund. My merriment irritated him.
"What in ----- are you laughing at?" "I'm laughing at you" "What's the matter with me?" "Well you're a comical-looking fellow."
He looked me over for a moment, then exclaimed: "Great gewhillikins! If I look any worse that you the sooner the rebels shoot me the better."
One night just as each of us had taken a shirt from a clothes line, we were charged by a barking dog. We retreated in wild disorder to a distant mountain, and then examined the captured (?) garments. Mine was all right, nearly new. Carmen however, was not so fortunate, he having failed to make a judicious selection. Hearing a judicious expletive, I asked:
"What's the matter, Alex? Didn't you get a shirt?"
"Yes, I got a shirt all right, but it's the wrong kind. This ----- thing is a "feminine shirt"
April 23, we reached the Union lines at Bull's Gap, East Tennessee, and learned our regiment was at Nicholasville, KY. En route to my regiment, I stopped at Nashville, where I procured an outfit of clothing and had a barber to pay proper attention to my hair and beard, both of which were of long growth. From Nashville I went to Louisville, and thence to Nicholasville, where I reported to Col. Adams, then commanding the regiment.
The Colonel, seeing that I was unfit for service, sent me home to recuperate. My young wife, who had given up all hope of ever seeing me again, could scarcely be made to believe that I was indeed home. When she fully realized the fact, when ran to a cradle, and when returning, placed my baby girl, seven months old, in my arms. I remained at home with my wife and child until August, when I returned to my regiment.
FIGHTING CHAMP FERGUSON
One of the most exciting adventures that I can recall was an attempt of my company to capture or kill Champ Ferguson, the noted bushwhacker and guerrilla. While on detached duty scouting the vicinity of Creelsboro, KY, we learned that the redoubtable guerrilla chief was at his home about four miles from Albany. Guided by two natives who were perfectly familiar with the country, Lieut Perkins with 25 men marched to the Ferguson home, which was on Spring Creek, in a bend called "the horseshoe". It being necessary for us to cross the creek then almost overflowing its banks we left our horses near the stream and crossed over on a foot log, a half mile above the house. Very quietly we arrayed ourselves in line with the main course of the stream in the heel of the "shoe", the house being in the "toe", some 75 yards in our front. Between us and the house was a fence with a gate in the center. I was with Lieut. Carr, whose part of the line confronted the gate. Up to this time we had seen no evidence of activity in the house and supposed that Ferguson, if at home, was unaware of our presence. We had just advanced in the fence when by the light of the moon we saw a man emerge from the door. He was cautious in his movements and, when advancing, followed the meanders of the "worm fence" that joined the one which we were behind, he would frequently stop, apparently listening. Finally, he advanced boldly, without any attempt of concealment. When he was within 15 feet of the gate he halted. We were quietly lying on the ground in the shadow of the fence. Lieut. Carr challenged him. For answer, the man fired his pistol. Notwithstanding, we fired a volley at him, he ran rapidly toward the house. There was an immediate uproar within the building. From many portholes a very active and ferocious enemy fired upon us. We could hear old Champ swearing and giving commands. We opened fusillade upon the house and the inmates replied in kind. At frequent intervals we could hear the chief's voice, loudly swearing, and exhorting his men to hold the fort. The battle had raged about an hour, when seeing we could not dislodge the enemy by firing from the fence, we went over it and charged the house, using our revolvers. Ferguson and his men some 25 then evacuated the premises, leaving their horses in the lot. Going out by the rear door, they pierced the night, fleeing to the woods.
When we went into the house we found it occupied by old Champ's wife. Perfectly cool and quiet, she went about rearranging the disordered furniture, seemingly oblivious that anything extraordinary had happened in her home. Replying to a question as to her husband's whereabouts, she said:
"Oh, I suppose he has just gone a-huntin'"
So far as we could learn, we had killed but one man---the one who had come out into the yard. One of our men was slightly wounded.
That is the end of the article.
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