Sunday, June 24, 2007

Memoirs of a Private in the 8th

Here is a great memoir furnished by Jim McGhee (thanks much!) that shows a little glimpse into the life of those who laid their lives on the line in defense of their country from the 8th Missouri Cavalry Regiment. I'm surely glad that Private Autrey survived the ordeal of surviving near death due to sickness. It was great that their were kind folks nearby. This story must have likely occurred in early November 1864. At any rate, here is his memoir...

Memoir of Private Richard Jacob Autrey, Co. K,

8th Missouri Cavalry Regiment, C.S.A.

My greatest suffering during the war was Price’s raid from Arkansas up thru Missouri and back thru eastern Kansas down thru the Indian Nation into Texas. I was taken sick in the mountains between Little Rock, Ark. and Dardenell on the Arkansas River and was reported dead by one of my comrades by the name of Galafa Horrell of my regiment who found me on the side of the road as he was passing after he had got able to travel as he had been left behind sick also. He went and got me some water and then left me and went on until he came to a house and got the lady who lived there and a Negro man and the three came back and got me, put me on my mule, one walking on each side of the mule; and the lady led the mule until we got to her house, when they began to doctor me. Her husband, who was a doctor in the Confederate Army at the time, took care of me. I stayed at her house until I was able to ride and she was afraid the Mountain Boomers would find out I was there and come and kill me and burn her house. She told me she was afraid I would never reach the Army – that if I fell into their hands they would certainly killed me, but I escaped meeting any of them and overtook the Army at Dardenell where they were waiting to cross the Arkansas River. When the Army moved they put me in one of the Headquarters wagons and hauled me over the mountains, which were so rough that they had to take the wagons down by hand in some places. Our doctor dosed me with calomel and I was salivating so bad that I was unable to eat, if there had been anything to eat, which was not the case most of the time. These are a few of the trials I had during the days I was trying to win our lost cause and feel I am fortunate to be here today and able to meet the few remaining comrades that have been spared to meet together this day.

Records of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri.

Dardanelle is just south of Russelville, AR Northwest of Little Rock along Interstate 40. They left him for dead...just amazing that he survived. Can you imagine the rigors of laying on the side of the road with little to no aid during early November?!

On a lighter note, It reminds me a bit of the Monty Python skit from The Holy Grail where the old man says, "I'm not dead yet." I guess his buddy just figured he was close enough. Thankfully he didn't club him on the head like in the movie!


Nathaniel said...

That's pretty crazy. I don't think anyone would have begrudged him for just going home after that (at least for a few weeks of recovery time), but instead he hooked back up with the army.

CSA Brent said...

Yea, no doubt. But I'm sure, at this point, that he was firmly dedicated to the Cause, all the way to the end.

Pretty impressive though, eh?!

Anonymous said...

Quite a story. Tell Jim thanks for providing the opportunity to read it.
One of the Autry's married into the Harty family. I believe that their family probably came from North Carolina, as that name is highly visible out here and there is even a local town named after them. Men that truly believed in the Confederacy, like Joseph Guild Lewis, were so dedicated that they would endure anything for their country. Ask any dedicated soldier or military folks that are truly committed, and you will find the same commitment, even today. Great story. Thanks Brent.