University of Virginia Library


Page 236


At this stage of our story, it is just as well that we
should suffer our Tennessean to put in.[1] It is here
that he claimed to be privy himself to the affair; and,
though we despair wholly of being able to give his language
exactly, and certainly shall not attempt to convey
the slightest idea of his tone and manner, yet, as a
witness on the stand, we conceive it only right that he
should speak to those parts of our narrative which he
himself beheld. “Tom hain't forgot,” said he, “that
when the Ingins in Florida, this Powell, and Wild Cat,
and Tiger Tail, and twenty more smart red skins, was
playing hide and seek with Uncle Sam's rig'lars, Old
Hickory swore a most stupendious oath that Tennessee
could find the boys who could clean them out. I reckon
I was among the first of the volunteers that turned out
when the Gov'nor said we was wanted. I won't tell
you how we made out in Florida, for that's pretty much
in the books and newspapers a'ready. It's enough to
know, as I said before, that the Tennessee boys didn't
do better than other people. Fighting we had, and
fight we did, whenever there was a chance for it; but,
Lord bless your souls, there was no more seeing your
inimy till his bullet was in your gizzard, than there was
swallowing it afterwards with a good digestion. And
when you did see the red skin, it was on a smart gallop,
on the other side of some etarnal swamp that you had
to cross, belly-deep all the way, before you could get
at him; and then you didn't get him no more than the


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man who hunted the flea. Well, it was on the 21st day
of November, 1836—I keep all the dates in black and
white—that we were ordered to push for the inimy into
the Wapoo Swamp. We had had a smart brush with the
red skins, and drove 'em famous only three days before.
We charged with a big shout into the hammocks—the
swamp—and the Ingins gave us yell for yell, and shot
for shot. They had a smart sight upon us for a good
bit, while we were trying to get at 'em, and they popt
us over, man after man, as they run from tree to tree,
making every tree speak a bullet as soon as they could
put the tongue behind it. Now, it happened that just
when I and twenty others was wading through a good
big bit of bog and water, with a pretty thick scrub in
front, where the Ingins harbored, and jest when they
were blazing away their hottest, who should we see,
ahead of us all, but a man rather under the middle size
—a white man—as ragged as a gypsy, without any hat,
and with an old musket in his hand, pushing across,
shouting his best, and full in the face of the fire of the
red skins? Jest then, when we were all beginning to
feel squeamish, he was going ahead, and whooping, without
a bit of scare in him. Well, that encouraged us.
We saw the Ingins aim at him, and I reckon his rags
had the marks of more than a dozen bullets; but he
didn't seem to mind 'em, and they sartainly never one
of them troubled him. Away he went, shouting and
shaking his musket, and away we went after him, and
away the Indians went before us all. We drove 'em,
and got the victory. We picked up some scalps, but
nothing to speak of, and lost some good fellows. But
I tell you that ragged volunteer went ahead of us all,
and he was this same Jones Barry, about whom I've
been telling you this long story. He had run all the
way from Georgy into Florida after killing Hammond,
without knowing much where he went. Never in his
life had any man so bad a scare. He had run, as I
may say, into the arms of the Ingins, without hearing
their rifles; and I do believe, as I am a free white man,


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that he scared them a great deal worse than our whole
Tennessee regiment. For, look you, he was a man to
scare people. He was, as I tell you, in rags from head
to foot. He had been living among the briers, running
into them almost at every sound. He had no
covering for his head. His eyes were bloodshot; his
face scratched over, and bleeding on all sides; and his
hair had grown half white in twenty days. He looked
for all the world like a madman. He was a madman;
and, though he fought with us, and marched with us,
and did everything pretty much as he saw us do, yet
his senses, I'm mighty sure, were, all the time, more
than a hundred miles away. Somehow, the poor fellow
got in with me. We marched together and slept together.
I reckon he saw that I was a good-natured
chap, and so he tuk to me. I soon saw that he was
miserable—that there was a scare that was gnawing in
him all the time—and after awhile I found out that he
was haunted constantly by the ghost of Randall Hammond.
One night he ran out of the tent with a terrible
fright. Another time, when standing with a sentry, he
fired his piece and gave the alarm to the whole army.
Then he'd fall upon his knees and beg for mercy, and
cover his eyes with his hands, as if to shut out some
frightful thing he couldn't bear to look upon. Sometimes
he'd run into the hammock at midnight, never
fearing the Ingins, though we all thought it as much as
one's life was worth to go near it. It was the dead he
was afraid of all the time. Now, there was a sodger
among the rig'lars to whom Jones Barry one night made
confession and eased his heart of all its secrets. But
it didn't ease him of his misery. The soldier came to
me and told me all, and I ax'd Barry; but then he was
shy, and swore that he never told the fellow any such
thing. But it wasn't more than twenty-four hours after,
when he come to me and said—

“`I can't stand it much longer. I'm almost crazy
now. Ran. Hammond comes to me every night. I'm
his murderer, and he will have my blood. I must go


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back to Georgy, and stand trial. I'll go and give myself

“`Well,' says I, `my poor fellow, if you'll only wait
till we're mustered out of sarvice, I'll go along with
you. I'm sorry for you, and I don't think you're so
much to blame. You've got a heart a little too tender;
and as you killed your man in a fair fight, I don't see
as how he should haunt you. He had as much chance
at you, as you at him.”

“`Yes! but I thirsted for his blood, and he never did
me any harm. He was a good man too! I must go
back. I will deliver myself. I see him every night,
covered with blood, and beckoning me, with his hands,
to come. It's he leads me into the hammock, and there
he leaves me. I must go back and give myself up to

“`Well, only wait till we're mustered out, and I'll go
with you.'

“He promised and did wait, and I kept my word. As
soon as I got my discharge, I said to Barry, `I'm ready.'
We bought a pair of stout Seminole ponies, on a credit
from our commissariat, and went off like gentlemen soldiers.
I mustn't forget to tell you that he killed the
mare that he made so much brag about, the `Fair Geraldine,'
in his run from Georgy, and tuk it on foot as
soon as he got near the Ingin country. How he lived,
God only knows, for I never saw a poor innocent eat
so little. But I encouraged him, and made light of
his mischief; and by little and little he began to improve.
We got him some new clothes as soon as we
struck the settlement; and, I think, when he got them
on, his appetite came back a little to him. One might,
the first night after we crossed the Georgy line, he ate
a pretty good supper of bacon and eggs. I think 'twas
all owing to his clothes. But that very night he gave
me and the whole house a most outrageous scare. He
broke out in his night-shirt, and dashed out of the room,
and down the stairs into the hall, where he squatted


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under the table. We slept in the same room, and as
soon as I could slip on my breeches I made after him.
He swore that the ghost of Hammond squatted down at
the foot of the bed, and looked over into his face, though
he tried to cover with the quilt. I told him 'twas the
hot supper that gave him the nightmare, and I made
him take a pretty deep swallow of apple-toddy, that the
landlord made for us, after we routed him up with such
a scrimmage. Well, so we went; now better, now worse;
now calm, and now stormy, till we got pretty nigh his
county, where all these things took place. Then his
scare came back to him, then his heart failed him; and
just when the ghost stopped troubling him, he began to
be troubled by the fear of the laws. But I said to him—

“`Be a man. You've come so far, see it out. Better
be hung and have it over, than to be scared to death
every night.'

“He groaned most bitterly, but he said, `You're right!
I can't stand to suffer as I have suffered. I'm only
twenty-six; and look, my head's half white! I'm an old
man in the feel as well as in the look. The ghost of
Ran. Hammond has done me worse than my pistol ever
did him. He's given me a hell upon earth, so that I
can't believe there's any half so bad for me hereafter.
Go ahead!'

“And so we went forward. It was a most sweet and
beautiful afternoon when we came into the very neighborhood
of all these doings. We had passed several
places that were famous in his recollection. There was
Hillabee race-course, where they had the gander-pulling,
and the circus, and soon we drew nigh to the great
avenue leading to the `Lodge,' where the young lady
lived that had been the cause of all the mischief. But
it wasn't there that Barry wanted to go. The first
place he wished to strike for was the farm of his friend
Nettles, and we were only a half a mile from it, according
to Barry's calculations, when we came, by a sudden
turn in the road, upon a buggy drawn by a splendid


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horse, and carrying two people. One of them was a tall
and noble-looking gentleman, and the other was a most
beautiful lady, perhaps about the most beautiful I ever
did see. They were coming right towards us at a smart
trot, and, the moment Barry laid eyes fairly upon them,
he turned pale as death, and dashed his horse into the
bushes and off the road. I followed after him as soon
as I could get a chance, but not till I had taken a good
look at the strangers that seemed to frighten him so
much. They rode by in a minute, and the gentleman
gave me a civil bow as he passed. Then I pushed into
the woods after Barry. I found him off his horse and
hiding in the bushes, all over covered with a sweat, and
trembling like a leaf in the wind.

“`Why, what on airth,' says I, `is the matter now?
What has scared you so?'

“`Didn't you see him?'


“`Hammond! 'Twas his ghost in the buggy!'

“`And what has his ghost to do in a buggy, I wonder?
and who ever saw the ghost of a buggy before?' said I.
`I don't believe much in such a notion, and if that was
Hammond's ghost, I wonder what woman's ghost it was
sitting along-side of him. If woman ghosts are so
pretty, I shouldn't be much afraid of 'em myself.'

“`Woman!' said Barry, mightily bewildered. `Was
there a woman with him?'

“`Yes, as surely as there was a buggy and a man.
Now look you, Barry; if that was Hammond in the
buggy, he's just as much alive as you and me. The
chance is, after all, that you only wounded him, and
you and your friend took a mortal scare too soon.'

“`No! no!' said he, very mournfully; `haven't I
seen him almost every night? hasn't he followed me
everywhere?—into the woods, into the swamps, into the
hammock of the Ingins? and ain't my head gray with his

“`I don't know,' says I; `but if that was Hammond
in the buggy, he's no ghost; and it's your conscience


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that's been a troubling you. But let's push on, and see
your friend Nettles; he ought to be able to tell us all
about it.'

“And so, jest as I said, we pushed forward, and I
reckon it all came out fast enough, as you shall see.”


See Introductory Narrative.