January 10, 1916
I have a mind to drop a few lines about the last raid I was in during the war. I commenced at Montevallo, Ala., March 31, 1864 [he meant 1865], and ended at Selma, Ala. About the third day of the raid, a bomb shell bursted above my head and a piece of it came by my head and struck the bottom of one of my horse's feet, while his foot was lifted up so that the bottom was exposed to falling objects and injured it so that he could hardly bear any weight on it. I was then ordered to the rear. My horse had three good legs, and I had two good spurs. I rode him the balance of the day and until midnight. I got with my command by leaving the road and flanking around and swimming small streams. I reached there about midnight, and found brother J.A. there. He had been captured twice that day, but made his escape each time with his horse, and the last time captured another which he gave me. We were ordered to press [Union cavalry commander Brigadier] General [James H.] Wilson, who had 14,000 men. We met them and fired a few volleys, when my horse was shot, the blood spurting against my knee. He stepped back and I touched him with my spurs, and he stepped quickly in line. I said, "Captain, my horse is wounded." Major Hale [who] commanded the regiment said, "Go to the rear, we are going to fall back." Brother J.A. was by my side without a gun, having lost his the day before, I handed him mine and bade him good by. I could see the Yankees coming in a gallop. Did I cry? Yes. Do I cry yet? Yes. Oh! how sad. I though brother J.A. would be captured dead or alive. I tell you I obeyed Major Hale's order to get to the rear. I put my spurs to my horse for three quarters of a mile, when seeing he was going to fall, I dismounted. After leading him for a short didtance, I was ordered to the train about six miles distance. I took a bible, and a pair of socks out of my saddle bag pockets. I tell you I made fast time to the depot. I met General Forrest and [his] escort there, where we had two old freight trains waiting for such unfortunates as myself. I didn't wait for "all aboard", but dropped quickly on an old coal flat. General Forrest was sitting on his horse at the rear of the train, looking up the railway in the direction from which I had just come, while his escort was concealed behind some buildings. I was enjoying my rest after my hard run. While General Forrest was still sitting on his horse, I looked up the railroad and saw the Yankees coming across a field about half mile away. Forrest looked back and motioned one train to start. The Yankees saw the train leaving and opened fire. Forrest sat there some time, the balls falling around him, but he finally motioned my train to move, which it did with a jump, as I bade General Forrest good by. That was the last time I met the Yankees on the battlefield. Brother J.A. was captured the third time that day. [The Federals captured Selma, Alabama, on April 2, 1865.]
When my train stopped it was about dark. I went into a hotel and called for supper, but was afraid to take lodging there at that time. I think it was about the 4th of May, 1865 [probably April 4, 1865]. Oh! sad! After supper I left the hotel and crossed a little stream, and as I had been riding, fighting, and running, with little to eat, I decided to rest and sleep a while. About fifty yards from the road, I found a good bed and pillow. They were my good old mother earth. The starry heavens were my house, and I don't think I ever rested better in my life up to the good day, January 13, 1916, at the age of nearly 82 years. Was I thankful? I hope I was. When I arose upon my elbow next morning I saw plenty of Yankees at the depot where I got off the night before, about a quarter of a mile away. I knew it would be dangerous to jump up and run, so I crawled on my hands and knees until out of their sight. Then I walked about a mile and stopped to get breakfast. I explained my condition to the man, and asked him if he knew where I could conceal myself for a few days. He said, "Yes, and will feed you also", which he did until the Yankees left Selma, where Forrest had his last fight. I do not think the sun ever shone on a braver man than General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
I finally got back to Columbus, Miss. where the Federal authorities were paroling Confederate prisoners. I met brother J.A. there, and we paroled May 16, 1865. We immediately started home and went by rail to Florence, Alabama, and from there to the mouth of Sandy by steamboat and arrived home on May 24, 1865. I had three brothers in the war, all of whom came home. But brother M.N. came home in March 1864 and died. T.B., J.A., and I came home in May 1865.
A few questions and thoughts: Was I thankful? I trust, I hope I feel thankful to the all wise and merciful God who rules heaven and earth. I have been asked, "What were you fighting for?". I thought I was fighting for my just rights, which were local self government and against negro equality, but I find I made a mistake and came near getting negro equality; all I lacked was not getting a pension like the negroes did. If I had been given a pension, I would be nearer equal with them. This is what I think now. These are solemn thoughts to me. God works all things after the counsel of his own will, be them in heaven or on earth. I thought he was with me in the hottest battles, and the longest raids, and the coldest nights.