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The Raid Of The Guerilla 1911   By: (1850-1922)

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By Charles Egbert Craddock


Judgment day was coming to Tanglefoot Cove somewhat in advance of the expectation of the rest of the world. Immediate doom impended. A certain noted guerilla, commanding a reckless troop, had declared a stern intention of raiding this secluded nook among the Great Smoky Mountains, and its denizens could but tremble at the menace.

Few and feeble folk were they. The volunteering spirit rife in the early days of the Civil War had wrought the first depletion in the number. Then came, as time wore on, the rigors of the conscription, with an extension of the limits of age from the very young to the verge of the venerable, thus robbing, as was said, both the cradle and the grave. Now only the ancient weaklings and the frail callow remained of the male population among the women and girls, who seemed mere supernumeraries in the scheme of creation, rated by the fitness to bear arms.

So feeble a community of non combatants might hardly compass a warlike affront calculated to warrant reprisal, but the predominant Union spirit of East Tennessee was all a pulse in the Cove, and the deed was no trifle.

"'T war Ethelindy's deed," her grandfather mumbled, his quivering lips close to the knob of his stick, on which his palsied, veinous hands trembled as he sat in his armchair on the broad hearth of the main room in his little log cabin.

Ethelinda Brusie glanced quickly, furtively, at his pondering, wrinkled old face under the broad brim of his white wool hat, which he still wore, though indoors and with the night well advanced. Then she fixed her anxious, excited blue eyes once more on the flare of the fire.

"Lawd! ye jes' now f 'und that out, dad?" exclaimed her widowed mother, busied in her evening task of carding wool on one side of the deep chimney, built of clay and sticks, and seeming always the imminent prey of destruction. But there it had stood for a hundred years, dispensing light and warmth and cheer, itself more inflammable than the great hickory logs that had summer still among their fibres and dripped sap odorously as they sluggishly burned.

Ethelinda cast a like agitated glance on the speaker, then her gaze reverted to the fire. She had the air of being perched up, as if to escape the clutching waves of calamity, as she sat on a high, inverted splint basket, her feet not touching the puncheons of the rude floor, one hand drawing close about her the red woollen skirt of her dress. She seemed shrunken even from her normal small size, and she listened to the reproachful recital of her political activity with a shrinking dismay on her soft, roseate face.

"Nuthin' would do Ethelindy," her granny lifted an accusatory voice, still knitting briskly, though she looked rebukingly over her spectacles at the cowering girl, "when that thar Union dee tachmint rid into Tanglefoot Cove like a rat into a trap "

"Yes," interposed Mrs. Brusie, "through mistakin' it fur Greenbrier Cove."

"Nuthin' would do Ethelindy but she mus' up an' offer to show the officer the way out by that thar cave what tunnels through the spur of the mounting down todes the bluffs, what sca'cely one o' the boys left in the Cove would know now."

"Else he'd hev been capshured," Ethelinda humbly submitted.

"Yes" the ruffles of her grandmother's cap were terrible to view as they wagged at her with the nodding vehemence of her prelection "an' you will be capshured now."

The girl visibly winced, and one of the three small boys lying about the hearth, sharing the warm flags with half a dozen dogs, whimpered aloud in sympathetic fright. The others preserved a breathless, anxious silence.

"You uns mus' be powerful keerful ter say nuthin' 'bout Ethelindy's hand in that escape of the Fed'ral cavalry" the old grandfather roused himself to a politic monition. "Mebbe the raiders won't find it out an' the folks in the Cove dun'no' who done it, nuther."

"Yes, bes' be keerful, sure," the gran dame rejoined... Continue reading book >>

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