This narrative is printed in pamphlet form to comply with the request of numerous friends and to meet the suggestion contained in the editorial notice of the Louisville Evening Post in its issue of May 29, 1919, as follows:
“The Evening Post has received a copy of an address delivered a short time ago before the George B. Eastin Camp of Confederate Veterans, by Col. Henry L. Stone, of the Louisville bar, general counsel of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company, the address being largely in the nature of a narrative by the speaker of his personal experiences as a soldier in the famous cavalry command of Gen. John H. Morgan.
“The Evening Post much regrets that it can not find the space for this exciting and instructive story. It covers thirty type-written pages, or seven or eight columns in our print, and the story is so well told that we feel that nothing could be eliminated, and all that is possible is to express the hope that either Colonel Stone or the local camp of veterans will later see fit to issue the address in pamphlet form. Certainly we have never seen elsewhere in so condensed a form so vivid a picture of the war-time experiences of those dashing cavalrymen that the people of the South still allude to as “Morgan’s Men.”
“Passing by this narrative as something that one who did not participate therein is incompetent even to review, the Evening Post would call attention, if only for the importance it may have relative to the soldiers now returning to civil life, to the part played in the affairs of Kentucky and the Union by these soldiers of Morgan’s command after the war was over. It was a very creditable part. No doubt there were the few exceptions that prove the rule, but, as a broad proposition, wherever one of “Morgan’s Men” settled, the community gained a good citizen. We will not attempt to call the roll of those who helped to make the history of Louisville in the past fifty years. Many of them, indeed, have passed away—Basil W. Duke, John B. Castleman, George B. Eastin, Thomas W. Bullitt and others whose names recall the best traditions of Louisville. Henry L. Stone remains with us, vigorous in body, keen in mind, always ready to fight, and fight hard, for a good cause, an ornament to the bar and a splendid specimen of that splendid manhood that the soldiers of the Confederacy furnished a reunited country.”
Comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I was asked by Col. Milton, our commander, to give a “talk” to our Camp this evening. I see, though, in his notices which he sent out—I received one—and in the newspapers, he has dignified what I am to say to you as an “address.” I will leave it to you, after I get through, whether it is one or the other, or both.
I regret that I have not had an opportunity to prepare much that would be worth while to my Comrades who are here to-night, but will deal with some of my own experiences during the Civil War and give you a narrative of them. This I will undertake to do, with the hope my account may prove somewhat interesting to you. I can only vouch for the truthfulness of what I shall detail from my own personal knowledge.
There is no tie of friendship so strong and lasting as that wrought by a common service among soldiers engaged in a common cause. Time and distance are powerless to sever such a tie or to erase from memory the vivid recollections of dangers encountered and hardships endured.
On a September night nearly fifty-eight years ago, John H. Morgan led forth from the City of Lexington his little squadron of faithful followers, who formed the nucleus of that gallant command which afterward, under his matchless leadership, executed so many brilliant military achievements and won for him and themselves imperishable renown. Gen. Morgan’s bold, original, and skillful methods of warfare attracted the admiration of thousands of young men in Kentucky, and even other States, who enthusiastically gathered under his banner.
As already stated, I propose on this occasion to give an account of some of my own experiences as one of Morgan’s Men. A native of Bath County, Ky., when a boy nine years old, I became a resident of Putnam County, Ind., to which State my father removed in the autumn of 1851. In the presidential campaign of 1860, at the age of eighteen, I canvassed my County for Breckinridge and Lane. There were three other young men representing the tickets of Abraham Lincoln, John Bell and Stephen A. Douglas, respectively. We styled ourselves: “The Hoosier Boys—All Parties Represented,” and canvassed the County, speaking on Saturday afternoons at as many as ten or a dozen points before the day of election.
When the War between the States came on, I was an earnest advocate of State rights, and determined to embrace the first opportunity offered to go South and enlist in that cause, which I believed to be right. Three of my brothers were in the Federal army, but I could not conscientiously go with them.
On September 18, 1862, after the battle of Big Hill, near Richmond, Ky., and the occupation of this State by the forces of Gens. Smith and Marshall, I put aside the study of law, bade farewell to my parents, and left Indiana to join the Confederate army. I came to Cincinnati while it was under martial law, passed the pickets above the city, in a countryman’s market wagon, took a boat at New Richmond, Ohio, and landed on a Sunday morning at Augusta, Ky. That day I attended Sunday-school in Augusta, and walked to Milton, in Bracken County, where I stayed all night. The next day I reached Cynthiana, and found there the first confederate soldiers I ever saw, being a portion of Morgan’s Men under Col. Basil W. Duke. I remember I was struck with the odd appearance of some of these soldiers, particularly observing their large rattling spurs and broad-brimmed hats, many of which were pinned up on one side with a crescent or star.
This was but a few days before Col. Duke’s desperate fight at Augusta.
An incident occurs to my mind here. Ten years later I was Democratic Elector for the Ninth Congressional District, making a campaign in behalf of Greeley and Brown, and Augusta was one of my points to speak. While at the hotel that night, a young man came to my room and that of Hon. John D. Young, who was the Democratic candidate for Congress and traveling with me, and he told us all about the fight of Col. Duke, what a bloody affair it was, and how the people had noticed a young man a few days before passing through Augusta and going to Sunday-school, and they attributed Duke’s plans to that young man’s story of how conditions were in Augusta; in other words, that he had acted as a spy for Duke. I said, “Young man, you are mistaken about that matter and your people are mistaken. I was the lad that came through your town and went to Sunday-school, but I had then no idea of Duke’s contemplated fight whatever, and did not know anything about it until after it occurred, so you are all laboring under a mistake in thinking I had anything to do with it.”
I arrived at Mount Sterling, and set foot “on my native heath,” in Bath County, within a week after my departure from Indiana.
On October 7, 1862, I enlisted at Sharpsburg in Capt. G. M. Coleman’s company, composed chiefly of my boyhood schoolmates and belonging to Maj. Robert G. Stoner’s battalion of cavalry, which was subsequently, in Middle Tennessee, consolidated with Maj. Wm. C. P. Breckinridge’s battalion, thus forming the 9th Kentucky Regiment in Morgan’s command.
I was appointed sergeant major of Maj. Stoner’s battalion, and served in that capacity until the consolidation mentioned, when I became ordnance sergeant of the regiment. Since the War I have been promoted to the position of “Colonel,” but I never was a Commissioned officer.
Sixty days after my enlistment our regiment was engaged in its first fight at Hartsville, Tenn., where Col. Morgan won his commission as brigadier general and achieved, perhaps, his most brilliant victory by killing and wounding over four hundred of the enemy and capturing two splendid Parrott guns with more than two thousand prisoners. On the day after this battle, I wrote a letter to my father and mother (the original of which has been preserved), headed as follows: “In camp two miles from Gen. Morgan’s headquarters and eight miles from Murfreesboro on the Lebanon Pike, Monday, December 8, 1862.” The fight occurred on Sunday.
Among other things, I gave in this letter the following account of our engagement at Hartsville, which may serve to illustrate the exuberance of spirits felt over that victory by a soldier of twenty years of age, after only two months’ service:
We’ve had only one battle yet, and that was on yesterday at Hartsville, in this State. I’ll give you a short description of it. Day before yesterday morning at nine o’clock we left camp with all of Morgan’s Brigade, except two regiments (Duke’s and Gano’s), and also the Ninth and Second Kentucky Regiments of Gen Roger Hanson’s brigade of infantry—in all about twenty-five hundred men, with five or six pieces of artillery. We marched through Lebanon, and went into camp after traveling thirty-four miles. Our battalion and two pieces of artillery were within four miles of the enemy. The other portions of our force took another route, crossing the Cumberland in the night and getting in the enemy’s rear. We left camp after sleeping one hour and a half, and got in position in five hundred yards of the enemy at five o’clock in the morning, before it was light. This hour was set by Morgan to begin the attack on the enemy on all sides; and well was it carried out, Morgan’s portion firing the first gun. The firing soon became general, and of all the fighting ever done that was the hottest for an hour and fifteen minutes. The bombs fell thick and fast over our heads, while Morgan’s men yelled at every step, we all closing in on the Yankees. I fired my gun only two or three times. We took the whole force prisoners, about twenty-two hundred men, the 10th Illinois, 106th and 108th Ohio, and two hundred Indiana cavalrymen, with two pieces of artillery. We took also all their small arms, wagons, etc.
Then occurs in this letter what may seem now somewhat ludicrous, but it is here and I will read it:
I captured a splendid overcoat, lined through and through, a fine black cloth coat, a pair of new woolen socks, a horse muzzle to feed in, an Enfield rifle, a lot of pewter plates, knives and forks, a good supply of smoking tobacco, an extra good cavalry saddle, a halter, and a pair of buckskin gloves, lined with lamb’s wool—all of which things I needed.
The officers of the forces captured were paroled and sent through the lines. One of them promised to see that this letter reached its destination, and in it I stated:
I’ll tell you how I’ve met with a chance to send this to you. It is by a very gentlemanly Yankee lieutenant whom we captured yesterday who says he’ll mail it to you from Nashville, and I think he’ll be as good as his word. I shall leave it unsealed, and he’ll get it through for me without trouble, I think.
But he failed to discharge the trust he had assumed. Some three weeks afterwards it was found at Camp Chase, Ohio, and sent to my father by a man named Samuel Kennedy.
On our celebrated raid into Kentucky during the Christmas holidays of 1862 we captured at Muldraugh’s Hill an Indiana regiment of about eight hundred men, who were recruited principally in Putnam County, many of whom were my old friends and acquaintances. I saw and conversed with a number of them while prisoners in our charge, and had my fellow-soldiers show them as much kindness as possible under the circumstances. This regiment had only a few months before been taken prisoners at Big Hill, Ky., and after being exchanged were armed with new Enfield rifles, all of which fell into our boys’ hands and took the place of arms much inferior.
That was my first acquaintance with the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. We burned all the trestles on Muldraugh’s Hill, and thus cut the connections of the Federal army in Tennessee.
There are doubtless some here to-night who were on Morgan’s remarkable raid into Indiana and Ohio, nearly fifty-six years ago. The first brigade crossed the Cumberland River at Burksville, Ky., July 2, 1863, when it was out of its banks, floating driftwood, and fully a quarter of a mile wide. The crossing of our twenty-four hundred men and horses was effected by unsaddling and driving the horses into the swollen stream, twenty or thirty at a time, and letting them swim to the opposite bank, where they were caught and hitched, while the men went over in two flat-boats and a couple of indifferent canoes. I shall never forget the perilous position I was in on that occasion. There were twelve of us, who crossed over between sundown and dark, with our twelve saddles in one canoe. The surging waters came lapping up to within three inches of the edges of the canoe, and on the upper side once in a while they splashed in. The two men at the oars were inexperienced, and made frequent mistakes during the passage, but finally landed us safely on this side. I breathed much freer when I got out.
On this raid, after the disastrous attack of July 4, upon the stockade at Green River bridge, where we lost so many brave officers and men, we, the next day, drove Col. Charles Hanson’s infantry regiment, the 20th Kentucky, into the brick depot at Lebanon, Ky. Our troops surrounded the building, but were greatly exposed to the enemy’s fire, and suffered under the heat of a broiling sun for four hours. Some of our men concealed themselves by lying down in or behind the tents just vacated by the Federal troops. When the order was given by Gen. Morgan to charge the enemy, I witnessed an admirable exhibition of courage on the part of Col. D. Howard Smith. He mounted his horse and led the assault himself, calling on us to follow him, in plain view of the enemy and under a terrific fire from the depot, not exceeding a hundred yards from our advancing columns. On the other side of the building, in the charge of the Second Kentucky, just before the surrender, Lieut. Thomas Morgan, a younger brother of Gen. Morgan was killed—shot through the heart. He was idolized by his regiment, and many of his comrades, infuriated by his death, in the excitement of the moment, would have shown no quarter to the Federal soldiers had it not been for the noble and magnanimous conduct of Gen. Morgan himself. Although stricken with grief over the lifeless body of his favorite brother, and with his eyes filled with tears, I saw him rush to the front inside the depot, and with drawn pistol in hand he stood between Col. Hanson’s men and his own, and declared he would shoot down the first one of his own men who molested a prisoner. And here I may venture the assertion that no officer in either army, as far as my knowledge extends, was kinder to prisoners or more considerate of their rights than Gen. Morgan.
When our command crossed the Ohio River at Brandenburg, in two steamboats we had captured, I experienced some peculiar sensations as I set foot on Indiana soil and realized that I was engaged in a hostile invasion of my adopted State. I soon got over this feeling, however, and regarded our march into the enemy’s country as one of the exigencies of war and entirely justifiable. I was in the advance guard under Capt. Thomas H. Hines (afterward one of the judges of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky) through Indiana and Ohio, and was captured at Buffington Island. I rode down eight horses on that raid, and although this number was perhaps above the average to the man, there were doubtless fifteen thousand horses ridden at different times by Morgan’s Men on the Indiana and Ohio raid.
About seven hundred of our command under Col. Richard Morgan, surrendered at Buffington Island, and we were started down the river on a boat next day in charge of some Ohio troops (the 12th Ohio Infantry, as I recall), who treated us with great courtesy. Gen. Morgan and the remainder of his troops (except four hundred of them under Col. Adam R. Johnson who crossed the Ohio river at Buffington Island and thus escaped) were not captured until a week later.
After our arrival in Cincinnati, we were shipped in box cars to Camp Morton at Indianapolis. I now began to appreciate what it was to be a prisoner of war, and that, too, within forty miles’ of the home of my parents. I was not entirely sure, either, of what would be the fate of a Rebel from the Hoosier State. I was, however, shown much kindness by one of the companies of the 71st Indiana Regiment, which constituted our prison guard. It was made up of my neighbor boys in Putnam County, and they all seemed rejoiced to see me there. Through their intervention I received clothing and other necessaries from home and obtained an interview with my brothers and some of my old friends, who had learned of my capture and came over to Indianapolis to see me.
Remaining one month at Camp Morton, we were then sent to Camp Douglas, at Chicago.
On the night of October 16, 1863, having been confined in prison three months, accompanied by one of my messmates, William L. Clay, I tied my boots around my neck and in my sock feet climbed the prison fence, twelve feet high, between two guards and made my escape. I still have the handkerchief which I tied around my neck and from which my boots swung down my back under my coat, on that occasion. I have it here in my pocket. (This handkerchief was exhibited to the audience.) I have kept it all these fifty-five years. It is a cotton handkerchief of the bandana order. I do not know whether it is still intact or not. It seems to be in fairly good condition. I have said I keep it, but the truth is my wife did so as a cherished relic. My brother, Dr. R. French Stone, who afterward practiced his profession at Indianapolis until his death, five years ago, was then attending Rush Medical College at Chicago. We found him next morning after making my escape as he was entering the college building. He showed us over the city, and during the day we dined at the Adams House, an excellent hotel. It was the first “square meal” Clay and I had eaten in several months, and I have often thought since that it was the best dinner I ate during the war.
My comrade and I left the city by the Illinois Central, going to Mattoon, thence to Terre Haute, where we tarried at a German hotel two days, most of the time playing pool, having written home to some of my family to meet me there. After seeing two of my brothers and obtaining some additional funds, we came by rail to Cincinnati, thence by boat to Foster’s Landing, Ky., and from there footed it through Bracken, Nicholas and Bourbon Counties. Clay separated from me in the latter county. He died several years ago in this city, where he practiced medicine, and is buried in our lot at Cave Hill. I attended his funeral.
I reached Bath County a few days afterward, and early one morning I was captured in the very house where I was born by a squad of home guards in charge of Dr. William S. Sharp, who was my father’s family physician when we lived in Kentucky. I was taken to Mount Sterling, and there lodged in jail—in the dungeon. To keep the rats from eating my bread I tied it up to the wall with the chains which were said to have been used in the confinement of runaway slaves before the Civil War. My imprisonment there, however, was greatly relieved by the visits of kind friends, among whom was the one destined to become my wife. I saw that old jail building every day, when at home, during the seven years I resided and practiced law in Mount Sterling from 1878 to 1885, when I removed to Louisville. It had been converted into a dwelling-house, and was then owned by Col. Thomas Johnson, an ex-Confederate Colonel, who lived to be over ninety years of age.
To make good my escape from Camp Douglas and to be again taken prisoner after getting five hundred miles on my way back to Dixie was extremely mortifying. I was confined in jail at Mount Sterling two weeks, and was then started in a covered army wagon with other prisoners to Lexington.
Having serious apprehensions as to the reception I would meet with at the hands of Gen. Burbridge (who had about that time an unpleasant way of hanging and shooting such Rebels as he caught in Kentucky, having only a short time before so disposed of Walter Ferguson, one of Morgan’s men, whom I knew quite well), I succeeded in making my escape in the nighttime at Winchester, eluding the vigilance of Lieut. Curtis and his thirty mounted guards, who fired a few harmless shots at me as I disappeared in the darkness.
That night I made my way to Alpheus Lewis’, an old gentleman who lived near our camp as we went South at the beginning of the war. We had camped there around a sulphur spring. It was an exceedingly cold evening, the latter part of November. In crossing a water-gap over Stoner Creek, I slipped and fell into the water and got pretty well soaked. I had on a suit of butternut jeans clothing, and in ten minutes after I had gotten out, the water had frozen and my clothing rattled like sheet iron. I found my way to Lewis’ home, and stayed there part of the night and then left, because I had made some inquiries on the road, and was fearful I might be caught if I remained all night.
A few days later, finding no opportunity to get South, owing to the presence of Federal troops in Eastern Kentucky, with the aid of friends I got on the train at Paris, Ky., and went to Canada via Cincinnati, Toledo, and Detroit. I went from the house of a friend, residing near Mt. Sterling. A colored boy about eighteen years old named “Wash,” was sent with me to Paris. We rode horse-back, and he was to take my horse back. He knew I was a Confederate soldier, but he was faithful to his trust. He afterward joined the Federal army.
Just before entering Paris, I saw two guards in Federal uniform, and “Wash” told me there was difficulty in getting passes out of Paris, and it was right difficult to get into Paris. As soon as I saw these soldiers—I had to make up my mind quickly—I addressed them first, before they had time to say or do anything. I said “See here, gentlemen, I have got a boy here with me that is going to take my horse back. I am going to Cincinnati with stock, and I want to know if he will need a pass to get out?” One of the guards answered “No, that will be all right. We will recognize him and let him through,” and so they did.
I stayed in Canada, at Windsor and Kingsville, four months. During that winter (1863-4) occurred cold New Year’s Day. I went to a Methodist watch meeting the night before and stayed until after midnight. When I got back to my hotel at Kingsville it was blustering and getting cold fast. The next morning by seven or eight o’clock it was so cold that neither the young man that was with me nor myself could hardly get out of bed. It was eighteen degrees below zero then, and got worse during the day. Lake Erie froze over from side to side so thick as to allow heavy teams to cross over it a distance of forty miles. Some Confederate prisoners who were confined at Johnson’s Island made their escape on the ice to Canada. One of these in making his escape was wounded by the Federal guard and was taken to a farmhouse near Kingsville. Everybody skated in that country, and I soon learned the sport. While so engaged I became acquainted with the Misses Harris, two handsome and refined young ladies, residing at Kingsville, who were the granddaughters of Simon Girty, the renegade. Their mother, the daughter of this infamous character in the pioneer days of our country, was then still living.
I learned to make cigars while I was up there in Canada, and I got short of funds before I left, and my landlady took my stock of cigars which I had left for a balance on my board-bill. It was very small,—only $1.75 a week for board and lodging.
When I went to Canada, I got to the Hirons House in Windsor and thought I would register. I looked over the register to see if I knew anybody stopping there. I knew there was a lot of Confederates who had gotten out of Camp Douglas and gone to Canada. I looked over the page, and nearly every one whose signature I saw on it—I recognized a good many of them—had registered his name, Company, Regiment, Brigade, Confederate States Army. Thinks I, if they can so register, I can too. So I wrote my name in full with Company and Regiment, Gen. John H. Morgan’s Command, C. S. A.
When I prepared to leave Canada, I knew a Confederate soldier was watched by detectives from across the Detroit River. I got on the train from the East as it slowed up and came into Windsor. I do not recall whether it was a Grand Trunk train or the Canadian Pacific, but at any rate I got off the train before we reached the depot, and some detective evidently saw me. When I got out among the other passengers and undertook to get on the ferry boat, he was following me. Thinks I, this won’t do, and I got off and mixed up with the other passengers again. After eluding him, I went down in the engine room of the ferry boat, and stayed there until I crossed over to Detroit, and he was thus unable to find me.
Another thing: I thought I had become pretty well known, and to disguise myself, I had my hair dyed before leaving Windsor. You can imagine what a sight I was. My moustache and chin whiskers were dyed a deep black with nitrate of silver or some sort of preparation. I paid five dollars for it, I know. In that way, I came on to Kentucky without being detected. I came to Covington, and at a restaurant there I sat right opposite a man that was with me and knew me well in Windsor. He had gone up there, I think, to evade the draft. He did not recognize me at all. I did not say anything to him, nor he to me. I was pretty well disguised.
It was in April, 1864, when I returned to Kentucky from Canada. While watching a chance to go back to the Confederacy, I worked on a farm three weeks near Florence, in Boone County, a town afterward celebrated, in John Uri Lloyd’s novel, as “Stringtown-on-the-Pike.” While there I visited, on Sundays, my aunt and family, who lived nearby.
On General Morgan’s last raid into the State, I joined a small portion of his forces near Mount Sterling, having made my way to them alone on horseback from Boone County. By the way, I got my horse—borrowed it, of course—from the enemy. There were a lot of Government horses in the neighborhood where I was at work. On reaching Virginia, in June, 1864, I attached myself temporarily to Capt. James E. Cantrill’s battalion, which was a remnant of Gen. Morgan’s old command, with which I remained until the following October, when after the defeat of Gen. Burbridge at the battle of Saltville I got with my old regiment, commanded by Col. Breckinridge then forming a part of Gen. John S. Williams’ Brigade. Meantime Gen. Morgan was killed at Greenville, Tenn., on September 4, 1864, where I was present as a member of Cantrill’s battalion (under the command of Gen. Duke, who had been exchanged), and a few days later was one of those who went, with a flag of truce, to recover his dead body, which was sent to Richmond, Va., for burial. After the war it was disinterred and brought to Lexington, Ky., whose beautiful cemetery is its last resting place. In that city in later years, as you know, a magnificent and life-like equestrian monument to our beloved General’s memory was dedicated in the presence of a vast throng of people, including many survivors of his old command.
We returned to Georgia in time to follow in the rear of Sherman in his “march to the sea.” Under Gen. Wheeler, as we followed in the path of desolation left by Sherman’s army, we were daily engaged with Gen. Kilpatrick’s cavalry, and for eight days were without bread or meat, living on sweet potatoes alone, the only food left from destruction by the Federal troops. The first meat we ate after this fast was some fresh beef, which we found in a camp from which we had just driven the enemy before they had had time to cook and eat it.
When the news of Gen. Lee’s surrender was received, our brigade was at Raleigh, N. C. President Davis and his Cabinet officers joined us at Greensboro, N. C., and our command escorted them from there to Washington, Ga., where it disbanded. I rode to Augusta, Ga., with Lieut. William Messick, who was from Danville, Ky., and there I surrendered to the 18th Indiana Infantry Regiment, then occupying the city, and received my parole May 9, 1865.
Before we were disbanded at Washington, Ga., the remnants of the funds of the Confederate States, in specie, that had been hauled by wagons through from Richmond, was distributed among the troops at that time. I remember the men of our brigade got $26.00 a piece. Most of it was in Mexican dollars, silver money. I brought it home with me. Fortunately, I had enough to get home on without using that money, and, after our marriage, my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to have that silver made into spoons. We took it down to Duhme & Company, at Cincinnati, and enjoined upon them to use that silver, and no other, in a set of tablespoons, and those spoons are on our table today.
No man can fully or correctly appreciate the value of personal liberty who has never been a prisoner. At least three-fourths of Morgan’s men felt what it was to endure the fearful life of a Northern military prison, and many of them were humiliated by incarceration in the loathsome dungeons and cells of penitentiaries while prisoners of war. Fortunately for me, I escaped from Camp Douglas in time to avoid the starvation policy subsequently inaugurated there, which was said to have been enforced by way of retaliation for the treatment Federal prisoners received at Andersonville, Ga. The difference between the two was that at Andersonville the Confederates did not have the food to give the prisoners, while in the North, the Federal authorities had plenty, and refused to supply it to Confederate prisoners in sufficient quantities. Of the seven members of our mess Clay and I left in Camp Douglas, three died there, one took the oath, and the other three, after twenty-one months of horrid prison life, were exchanged a few weeks before the close of the war. Only one of these three is now alive. He is living in Montgomery County, near Mount Sterling. Of the three who died there, one was James Richard Allen, who, in the presidential campaign of 1860 by the “Hoosier Boys” referred to, was the representative of Douglas; and afterward, in 1862, came South, and joined the Confederate Army as I had done. He had been captured somewhere in Virginia, as I now recall.
The same restless, daring spirit that actuated Morgan’s men in the field characterized them in prison, and out of eighteen hundred prisoners taken on the Indiana and Ohio raid not less than six hundred of them escaped from Camps Morton and Douglas. I have heard that one of the Chicago newspapers stated during the war that even if Morgan’s men had done nothing to distinguish them before their capture on the raid through Indiana and Ohio, they had immortalized themselves by their wonderfully successful escapes from prison.
The extraordinary escape of Gen. Morgan himself, together with Capts. Hines, Sheldon, Taylor, Hockersmith, Bennett and McGee, from the Ohio State Prison, stands without a parallel in military history. You cannot imagine my surprise after getting on the cars at Paris en route to Canada, on the occasion already referred to, in December, 1863, when I picked up a Cincinnati Daily Gazette, some passenger had left on the seat, and read the graphic account of this unexpected escape of our General and six of his Captains the night before. My heart leaped with joy at the news, but I dared not give expression to my delight by the utterance of a word.
Getting on the ferry boat at Covington on the Kentucky side, on my trip to Canada, just as it was landing coming over from the Cincinnati side, I saw ten or fifteen steps ahead of me my uncle, Higgins Lane, and my aunt, his wife, from Indiana. He was my mother’s brother, whom I dearly loved, but knew to be an intense Union man. And uncle as he was, I was afraid that he would expose me and have me arrested. I immediately dodged around the boat and did not see him any more. I learned afterward that I had misjudged him, and done him an injustice. He announced that he would not have thought of such a thing as having me arrested. At my home at Owingsville, in Bath County, after the war, my wife and I had the pleasure of entertaining him and my aunt as hospitably as was in our power.
I may further relate, on that trip to Canada, I stopped at the Island House in Toledo. I thought I would go into Detroit in daylight, and see where I was going when I got there, and crossed the river into Canada. I registered at the hotel mentioned as usual, and went up to supper on the next floor. After I finished and was walking out of the dining room, a fellow stepped up behind me and said: “I guess we will settle right here.” Well, one has to think pretty fast under those circumstances. He impressed me as a detective, who thought he had found his man. I said, “Settle for what?” He responded, “Settle for your supper.” I was greatly relieved. I said, “Why, my dear sir, I have registered here at this hotel and expect to stay all night.” He said, “Well, that is different. Then I will go down and see the register.” I was in the habit of registering at hotels under almost any sort of name that occurred to me at the time. I never registered under my own name, and I had to look at the register to see what it was. I knew I could tell my handwriting. When I got up to the register and saw what it was, I said, “There it is.” Said he, “That’s all right.”
Most of the survivors of Gen. Morgan’s command remember that brave and gallant soldier, Col. George St. Leger Grenfell, who came to us and was on Gen. Morgan’s staff, after long and faithful service in the British army. He did me a kindness during the war, which I have remembered with gratitude ever since. By an accident my horse’s back had become so sore he could not be ridden, and in the fall of 1862, while leading him and wearily walking in the column over a mountain road in East Tennessee, Col. Grenfell came riding by, accompanied by a subordinate, who had in charge a led horse. Observing my plight, he stopped, and asked me the cause; and when told, requested me to mount his led horse, and when mine got well to return his to him, which offer I gladly accepted.
Afterward, Col. Grenfell, for alleged complicity in the plot to release the Confederate prisoners from Camp Douglas, was arrested by the Federal authorities and sentenced to imprisonment at Fort Jefferson, Tortugas Island. In April, 1867, my brother, Maj. Valentine H. Stone, of the 5th United States Regular Artillery, who had been stationed at Fortress Monroe for eighteen months, was assigned to take command at Fort Jefferson. He was two years older than I, and he was the brother who, as one of the “Hoosier Boys,” advocated the cause of Bell and Everett in 1860. He afterward went into the Army, the 5th Regular U. S. Artillery. I will have more to say of him directly. On learning where he had been assigned, I wrote to him, giving an account of Col. Grenfell’s kindness to me on the occasion referred to, and requesting him to do all in his power, consistent with his duty, to alleviate the prison life of my old army friend, who was, as a true soldier and gentleman, worthy of such consideration. With this request there was a faithful compliance on the part of my brother, which Col. Grenfell gratefully appreciated. I was permitted to correspond with Col. Grenfell, and several letters passed between us.
In September, 1867, yellow fever broke out at Fort Jefferson. Col. Grenfell, having had large experience with this dreadful disease, faithfully nursed all who were stricken down among the garrison as well as other prisoners. My brother’s wife was one of the first victims. After her death, my brother started North with his little three-year-old boy, but, was taken ill of yellow fever while aboard the vessel, and died at Key West. In a letter written by Col. Grenfell the next day, in which he gave me an account of my brother’s death, he stated:
I deeply regret that his leaving this place prevented my nursing him throughout the malady. Care does more than doctors, and he had great confidence in my nursing. * * * I am tired and grieved, having been now twenty-one days and nights by the bedsides of the sick (last night was my first night passed in bed)—grieved on account of the death of your brother, who was the only officer that ever showed me any kindness since I first came here. I wish I could say that they had not been positively inimical and cruel. But your brother’s arrival put an end to all that. I am much afraid that the old system will soon again be in force.
From this grand old soldier I received a few months later the following interesting letter:
Fort Jefferson, January 15, 1868.
H. L. Stone, Esq.—Dear Sir: Your always welcome letter of the 22nd of December was duly received, and, believe me, I appreciate and reciprocate your kind expressions of regard. I owe to your friendship the knowledge imparted to Gen. Basil Duke that the heavy restrictions placed on me for no fault of mine by former commanders had been removed by the humanity of your poor brother, and I am happy to say that the present commander, Maj. Andrews, walks in Maj. Stone’s steps. As long as our conduct is good, we need fear no punishment. I was rather afraid when I read in your letter that you had published mine to you. I do not know what I wrote, but believe that you would not have done so if I had said anything unguardedly which might get me into trouble. This is not to be wondered at when I tell you that I was shut up in a close dungeon for ten months, every orifice carefully stopped up except one for air, denied speech with any one, light, books, or papers. I could neither write nor receive letters. I was gagged twice, tied up by the thumbs twice, three times drowned (I am not exaggerating), and all this for having written an account to a friend of some punishment inflicted on soldiers and prisoners here, and the bare truth only, which statement he (Gen. Johnson) published in the New York World. I fear, therefore, giving publicity to anything; not that I am afraid of Maj. Andrews (I have really not a fault to find with him), but tigers have claws and sometimes use them.
It was gratifying to hear that your poor little orphan nephew arrived safely at his maternal grandfather’s. I knew little of the child, but from what I heard he was a very shrewd one. He was too young to feel his loss deeply. I have two cypresses which I am taking care of (they came from Havana) and mean to place on Mrs. Stone’s grave, which is on an island about a mile from this.
Maj. Stoner’s bridal trip was nearly turned into a funeral. (I forget that instance. I wrote him something about it. Perhaps some of you remember Maj. Stoner’s bridal trip when he married Miss Rogers. He had some trouble with the conductor. I forget now what it was.)
What a savage the conductor must have been! The Major wanted two or three of his command to be near him at the time of the assault.
Basil Duke and Charlton Morgan write that they are busy enlisting in my favor all the influence that they can command—Mr. G. Pendleton and others. I have also a very good letter from a Mrs. Bell, of Garrettsville, Ky., wife of Capt. Darwin Bell, who promises that Garrett Smith and some other friends of hers will interest themselves to procure my release. She read in some local paper an extract from, I suppose, my letter to you, and she says: “My husband, who bears a kindly remembrance of you in the war, and myself, felt ashamed to sit over our happy fireside whilst his old comrade was wearing out his life in captivity, and we determined to work until we obtained your liberty.” I have also a letter from Mr. S. M. Barlow, of New York, a prominent Democrat and friend of Mr. Johnson’s. He had written to the President and to Gen. Grant, but had received no direct answer; but Montgomery Blair, whom he had commissioned to see the President, says: “I have seen the President for Grenfell. He has promised to try to pardon him, although he says there are several hard points in his case.” Yes, the case is full of hard points, but they all run into me. The hardship is mine. I do not build much on all this, and yet if a regular system of petition was gotten up by many influential parties at once the President might yield. I wish that my friends by a concerted movement, combined with the Archbishops of Ohio and Missouri, R. C., would petition His Excellency. Bishop Quintard, of Tennessee, would, I am convinced, willingly help an old friend and comrade. But, alas! I am in prison and can combine nothing.
I shall be happy to receive your scrawls, as you call them, whenever you have time to indite one, although I can offer you nothing but wails and lamentations in return.
Whilst you are blowing your fingers’ ends from cold, I keep close to an open window with one blanket only, and that oftener off than on. I have tomatoes, peppers, and melons in full bloom. Salad, radishes, and peas and beans at maturity in the open air, of course. In fact, I am obliged to use sun shades from ten to three all through the garden, for be it known to you they have turned my sword into a shovel and a rake, and I am at the head of my profession here. What I say or do (horticulturally) is law. Other changes than this are made here. A learned physician, Dr. Mudd, has descended to playing the fiddle for drunken soldiers to dance to or form part of a very miserable orchestra at a still more miserable theatrical performance. Wonders never cease, but my paper does; so I will simply wish you a happy New Year and subscribe myself your sincere friend,
G. St. L. Grenfell.
Some time after this letter was written, how long I do not remember, Col. Grenfell undertook to make his escape from the Dry Tortugas in a small boat on a stormy night, hoping to be able to reach the Cuban coast, but was never heard of afterward.
My brother, Maj. Stone, while in command at Fortress Monroe, requested and obtained from President Jefferson Davis an autograph letter addressed to myself, believing that I would prize it very highly, and delivered it to me at a family reunion at my father’s house, in Carpentersville, Putnam County, Ind., in May, 1866. I still have this original letter in my possession, having placed it in a frame for preservation. It is as follows:
Capt. Hy. L. Stone—My Dear Sir: Accept my best wishes for your welfare and happiness. It is better to deserve success than to attain it.
Here (showing it) is that autograph letter. If any of you would like to see it, I have it here for that purpose. I have preserved it since I received it fifty-three years ago from my brother.
Speaking of my brother being in charge of Fortress Monroe (which was after the cruel treatment of Jefferson Davis at the hands of his predecessor), in the book of Mrs. Davis on the life of her husband, and in the book of Dr. Cravens, I believe it was, they speak of my brother’s kindness to President Davis while he was in charge at Fortress Monroe, and before he went to the Dry Tortugas.
In February, 1868, the remains of Maj. Stone and wife were removed and re-interred in Montgomery Cemetery, overlooking the Schuylkill River, at Norristown, Penn., the home city of his father-in-law, Judge Mulvaney. Some ten years ago my brother, Dr. Stone, and I caused a monument to be erected over our brother’s grave, with the following inscription thereon:
Valentine Hughes Stone, Major Fifth Artillery, U. S. Army. Born in Bath County, Ky., December 22, 1839, and died aboard the steamer from Fort Jefferson to Key West, Fla., Sept. 24, 1867. He was enrolled April 18, and mustered into service April 22, 1861, in the 11th Indiana Infantry Volunteers, Gen. Lew Wallace’s Regiment of Zouaves, being the first Volunteer from Putnam County, Ind., to respond to the call of President Lincoln. He was appointed First Lieutenant, 5th U. S. Artillery, May 14, 1861; was the heroic defender of Jones’ Bridge across the Chickahominy in the Seven Days’ Battles about Richmond. In command of Battery No. 9 his artillery was the first to enter Petersburg, Va., March 25, 1865. He was promoted to be Captain and brevetted Major, same regiment, upon the personal request of General U. S. Grant, for gallant and meritorious services on the battle field. He died of yellow fever while in command of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Gulf of Mexico.
This monument was erected and dedicated to his memory by his brothers, Henry L. Stone, who served in the Confederate Army, and R. French Stone, who served in the Union Army, during the Civil War.
The course of ex-Confederates since the war closed deserves, as a rule, the highest commendation. As far as my observation extends, good soldiers in time of war make good citizens in time of peace. The toils and hardships of army life fit and prepare them for the battles of civil life. The success of ex-Confederates as civilians has been commensurate with their success as soldiers. Kentucky has selected from Morgan’s men some of her highest legislative, judicial and executive officers. From our ranks this and other States have been furnished mechanics, farmers, merchants, bankers, teachers, physicians, lawyers, and ministers of the gospel. There was hardly a neighborhood in Kentucky in which there did not reside after the war closed one or more ex-Confederate soldiers, while many became useful and honored citizens of other States. Coming out of the army, most of them ragged and poor, some of them crippled for life, with no Government pension to depend upon, they went to work for a living, and their labors have not gone unrewarded.
I want to say for myself, I got back from the Civil War in the summer of 1865. For four months, I clerked in a dry goods store at Ragland’s Mills, on Licking River, in the east end of Bath County. How much do you reckon my salary was? I got my board and $12.50 a month! I am glad to say I receive, in my present position, a little more than that now.
After the surrender in April, 1865, President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation, whereby the rights of citizenship were withheld from certain classes who participated in waging war against the United States Government, among whom were those who had left a loyal State and joined the Confederate Army. It became necessary, therefore, for me to obtain a special pardon from the President, which I did in the summer of 1865, through the aid of my uncle, Henry S. Lane, then United States Senator from Indiana.
Most of us have passed far beyond the meridian of life, but I trust there is much usefulness in store for us yet. We should not content ourselves with the victories and honors of the past. The present and future have demands upon us. The welfare of our respective communities and States, as well as of our common country, calls for our continued labors in their behalf.
I shall always remember a remark made by my friend, Jerry R. Morton, of Lexington (one of Morgan’s men, and, for many years after the war, Circuit Judge of that district), who has passed on ahead of us, one day while we were in Canada together. We were walking along the Detroit River, and as we took in the broad landscape view that stretched out before us, and saw the United States flag floating from a fort below the city on the other side, he stopped and, pointing across the river, exclaimed: “I tell you, Stone, that’s a great country over yonder!” I acknowledged the correctness of his estimate of the American republic. Standing on foreign soil, poor, self-exiled Rebels as we were, we did not feel at liberty to call this our country then. But all of us have the right to call it our country today. With peace and prosperity throughout the land and all sections again united in fraternal feeling, we have, even in this progressive age, beyond question the greatest country in the world.
In the world war that has practically, if not entirely, closed, we know what our country did for the cause of human liberty. The boys in khaki went across the seas,—the descendants of those who wore the gray and those who wore the blue, and they turned the tide of battle against the foe. That is conceded. We are today looked up to by all the nations of Europe to bring about a Treaty of Peace, and a League of Nations, that will prevent, as far as possible, wars for the future. We have, in my opinion, dealing with that situation and laboring with it in Paris, as great a President as this country has ever had; and if he comes back home, as I believe he will, with this League of Nations secured, and a Treaty of Peace that shall do justice to all the belligerents, including our recent foes, as well as the other nations of the world, he will go down in history, in my opinion, as the greatest statesman of all time—Woodrow Wilson. May God bless him! [Great applause.]