Ltr #42a Newspaper Piece about Refugees mentioned by H. B. Talbert
- [After Harrison Talbert returned to Springfield from furlough he wrote:]Springfield Mo May 10th / 63
Dear Brother & Sister
[.....]. Since I left here [Springfield, on furlough] refugees have come in by the hundreds from Arkansas and the S. W. part of Mo. [.....]. I will cut a peice out of the Daily St Louis Democrat and send in this letter which gives a small sketch of them down at Cassville Mo etc. [.....].[The following newspaper piece may be what Harrison sent home.]
DAILY MISSOURI DEMOCRAT
MAY 7, 1863
FROM SOUTHWEST MISSOURI
Arrival of Troops at Cassville
The Arkansas Brigade
The Camp of the Refugees, &c. &c.
Cassville, Mo., April 29, 1863
Editors Missouri Democrat:
For the past few days our little town has presented quite a lively appearance. Troops have arrived from both above and below [Cassville], while now the town is quite full of soldiers. Major Campbell with four companies of the 18th Iowa arrived from Springfield on Thursday last. Colonel Cloud came down on Monday with a section of Robb's Indiana battery [2nd Indiana Battery] and an escort of 2d Kansas.
But by far the most interesting and noticeable sight of the week has been the arrival of the Arkansas brigade, from Fayetteville, with a refugee train of 2000 citizens. Early yesterday morning Col. Harrison who the last three months has commanded the post of Fayetteville, came into town accompanied by a few officers and men. He was warmly welcomed by Col. Cloud, and I noticed an expression of gratification and pride on his countenance [facial appearance] when the latter told him how well and ably his command had conducted themselves on the extreme outpost of the U. S. army, and especially how nobly his loyal Arkansians had acquitted [conducted] themselves in the recent battle at Fayetteville. About noon the [citizens, ox-cart, and carriage] train came into town followed by the 1st Cavalry, who are nearly all dismounted, but [???]amyed along like old veterans; the 1st Arkansas infantry in their ragged and tattered "butternuts," and a portion of 1st battery and light artillery. They passed on through town and camped out three fourths of a mile. The large train of refugees numbering over one hundred and fifty vehicles from the splendid family carriages to the rough huge ox-cart stopped west of town. On riding through their camp you realize what one so often reads of ---"Union refugees" in a suffering condition. There are old gray haired men whose only crime is the honor of standing by the flag they fought for in 1812. Old mothers whose only sons are in the Federal army. Young married women whose husband are fighting to make free homes for the little children that plod wearily along over the rough stony road; contrabands [escaped slaves] also follow singly, by families and in squads all going North where Uncle Abe [Lincoln] has promised freedom. Not only the contrabands but citizens and soldiers were in a starving condition. The train which should have reached Fayetteville on the 20th, never left this post, consequently the command were without supplies until the 25th, the day they started and received none until the evening before they reached here.
Large as is the number of refugees, it would have been much larger but for the short time given to prepare in. I learn that only three hours' notice of the movement was known to the citizens in Fayetteville, and then a double chain of pickets was thrown out so no person was allowed to pass out before they came away. Col. Harrison kept constantly a strong mounted escort in rear of the citizen train, and not one was injured on the trip up. He constituted Chaplain North, of the cavalry, commander-in-chief, and detailed Lieutenants of his command as wagon-masters, thereby securing some show of discipline and order among them. Many of them regret the necessity of having to leave their homes and property, but are pleased to get away from danger of rebel rule and marauding bands of bushwhackers.
Their destination is to them a scaled book. Kansas and Missouri will receive most of them: a few will go to Illinois and Iowa. Thousands have left the State of Arkansas since the Federal army entered last fall, and thousands more will be compelled to leave unless our troops take permanent possession. There were many sorrowful countenances [faces] among the Arkansas troops at leaving their native State, but, like true soldiers, they go wherever ordered. After having held Northern Arkansas alone for over three months, and gaining such a signal victory over double their number in the recent battle at Fayetteville, it is not to be wondered at that they thought themselves capable of holding all Arkansas. But when the time comes again for them to re-enter the State, we can assure you they will prove the same valor, patriotism and bravery shown during eight months of severe service.
At present the brigade is commanded by Col. M. La Rue Harrison, of 1st Cavalry, a young, energetic and efficient officer. Besides raising his own regiment he has nearly filled a battery, and fully filled and equipped the 1st Infantry. A second infantry was just in process of formation, to be commanded by Hon. W. M. Fishback, of Fort Smith, but in consequence of this movement it will be somewhat delayed. We hope though, for the good of Southwest Missouri, that Col. Harrison will soon be allowed to return and finish the work he has so ably begun; and if sustained by Government he will not only form an Arkansas division, but will raise a brigade of loyal men from Texas. May the time soon come when our banner shall wave victorious over the States of Arkansas and Texas, sustained and protected by loyal troops from their own borders.