Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11, 1862 (Tuesday): In Pursuit of the Whiskey Party

Fort Snelling Minnesota (Minnesota Historical Society)

MINNEAPOLIS, November 11, 1862.
Adjutant-General of the State of Minnesota.
DEAR SIR: Learning it to be my duty to report myself to you I hasten to give you a brief account of my capture and release by a band of Morgan's men in Kentucky. On the 24th of last April I left Fort Snelling as a private in the Second Minnesota Battery, and on the 5th of October while marching through the State of Kentucky with the transportation train, which was some ten days in the rear of the main army, I was detailed by the first lieutenant of Company F, of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry, to follow Hank Gamel, a private in said cavalry, who had taken my horse and left his and gone some four miles off the road after whiskey. I mounted his (Gamel's)horse and in company with Charles L. Ward, private in the Eighth Wisconsin Battery, started in pursuit of the whiskey party. We found on arriving at the first designated place the party (six in number) had gone to another place where whiskey was sold. We accordingly followed on. At noon stopped at a farm-house for dinner and horse feed. While we were eating dinner a party of four men took the side-arms from our saddles and immediately after dinner took us prisoners and robbed us of everything in our possession. They mounted our horses and marched us between them, two horsemen following in the rear, at a quickstep fifteen miles through he hot sun and dust. We were near suffocated. I asked one of them for my handkerchief to wipe the sweat and dust from my eyes, and his answer was, "You d----d Lincolnite, you will soon be where you won't need any eyes. " I once reached my hand to take hold of the stirrup strap, but my hand was knocked off with a revolver he carried in his hand all the way. When they came to a halt I was unable to stand. They for some time refused us any water or any refreshments of any kind. During that night and the next day we were visited by twenty-five or thirty different ruffians, the object of which seemed to be a council to see how they should dispose of us. Many of the party were in favor of hanging us instanter; so unanimous were they in this decision that I did not value my life worth a copper. In fact, we were more dead than alive from their brutal treatment already. After holding their drunken revelry over us for thirty-six hours a better feeling prevailed in the breast of nine of their number. Whether a square and compass marked with indelible ink on either breast of my shirt had anything to do with it I leave for you to judge. At any rate, after signing an interesting document, of which the following is a copy, we were escorted to the Ohio River:
Military pass and parole.

Camp near Bardstown, Ky., October 7, 1862.
Pickets and guards will pass Edward T. Tillotson, a prisoner of war, through our lines to the Ohio River.
By order of Major-General Bragg:
Lieutenant, Commanding Second Texas Rangers.
Oath of allegiance.
I solemnly swear without any mental reservation or evasion that I will support the constitution of the Confederate States and the laws made in pursuance thereof. That I will not take up arms against the Confederate States or give aid or comfort or furnish information directly or indirectly to any person or persons belonging to any of the United States, who are now at war with the Confederate States, and that I will not write or speak against the Government of the said Confederate States: So help me God. It is understood that the penalty for the violation of this parole is death.

 On reaching the Indiana shore for the first time I learned of the Indian raids in Minnesota. I hastened to the home I left in Wright County eight months ago and found my family, consisting of wife and four children, nowhere to be found. After much trouble I learned they were in Minneapolis, where last night I found them, amongst other refugees, subsisting on the charity of the citizens. Everything at home has been destroyed. I am much worn from exposure and hardship, but hold myself subject to the orders of your department. The reason I have not reported myself in person I think is apparent to every husband and father.
    I am, very respectfully, yours,

    P. S. --Your early answer is respectfully solicited.

Official Records, Series II., Vol. 4, Part 1, Page 711.

Tillotson was not well received on his return home.  Rosecrans wrote of the evil of soldiers allowing themselves to be captured and paroled so as to return home to their families and recommended they be arrested on their return.  It is not clear what became of Tillotson, who alludes in his letter to the large scale Indian raids in Minnesota which were violently surpressed by General Pope.  It was undoubtedly difficult to maintain Minnesota troops in the ranks while alarming tales of destruction were coming to them from the home front.

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