Friday, November 9, 2012

Stuff Ya Don't find in History Books

I may have posted this before, but it's a good story of what happened in camp!

(by T.J. Macon) 

THE following occurred during one of the Company's                                 marches. J . B. Lambert and myself made a 
detour from the main road, and coining to a nice- 
looking farmhouse, we determined to go in and try our 
hands at getting a good meal. Sir Ronald Gatewood, 
the owner of the place, was cold-mannered, the hardest 
man to thaw out I ever met. We tried every plan on 
him; still he remained brusque, unapproachable, and 
even peevish. We could get no satisfaction from 
him, and almost despaired of accomplishing anything. 
Finally, we said : "Sir Ronald, where is your spring  
He pointed to the locality, and we asked if he would 
at least lend us a bucket, which he brought. We re- 
marked: a You need water in cooking, of course." So 
we brought him three or four buckets full of that indis- 
pensable fluid. This moved him. Indeed, it was the 
magic "open sesame" to his heart, it was the touchstone. 
He then said : "I will see if the old lady will get you 
a good dinner," and it was just for that most desirable 
point we were maneuvering. 

In a short time dinner was announced and we en- 
joyed a good square meal. In the course of conversation, 
we found out why Sir Ronald was so hard to influence 
at first. It appears that a few days previous a party 
of infantrymen had called upon him, and while the 
meal was being prepared for them, they got a pair of 
scissors and trimmed his dog up resembling a lion in 
appearance, that is, they cut all the hair off the body 
except on his shoulders. It was a handsome shepherd 
dog and valued very highly by its owner. Of course, 
we told Sir Ronald we sympathized with him, and pro- 
nounced the act a piece of vandalism and were not sur- 
prised at his being enraged at soldiers. Before parting 
we made a firm friend of the gentleman. 

While the Company was encamped at the "Poison 
Fields" of Spottsylvania County, an incident occurred 
that occasioned some comment. W. G. Lampkin was a 
good-looking and indeed a captivating cannoneer. He 
was called emphatically a lady charmer. Whenever the 
battery went into camp, if there were any ladies near, 
he would find them out, then call upon them, and in 
the very shortest time would be on as intimate terms 
with them as if he had known and visited them for 
months. His progress with his charmed one was so 
rapid that soon he would become the custodian of her 
finger ring. 

Near the camp at Poison Fields there resided one,
Count Deaskie, and family, which consisted of the 
Count, his wife, and three daughters. They were pretty 
girls and quite attractive to the boys. William became 
well acquainted with the family. On the first day he 
called upon them, Ben Lambert, Edward Barnes and 
myself determined to play somewhat of a practical joke 
on William. 

The Count's house was an old-fashioned one, with 
porches front and rear, with a passage running through 
the house from front to rear. It was about twenty-five 
yards from the front gate to the house. We determined 
to call upon Count Deaskie and his family in the                                                               evening. William, as we expected, was sitting on the front 
porch, and as soon as he saw us enter the gate, ran to 
the back porch. We introduced ourselves and endeavored                                         to be as entertaining as possible. One of our party, 
Barnes, possessed a fine tenor voice and sang for the 
company a song that was very popular at the time, 
called Virginia. After singing it, the Count asked 
him to sing it again, and Barnes, always obliging, did 
as requested. We passed a very pleasant evening and 
bade the Count and his family good evening, leaving 
William at the house. As soon as he returned to camp, 
I sent a message to him, stating that I considered I 
had been treated rather shabbily by him, inasmuch as 
when he saw us enter the gate and advance towards the 
house, that instead of coming out to meet and introduce 
us to Count Deaskie and his daughters, he fled to the 
back porch. I expected from him the satisfaction that 
one gentleman would accord another. He wrote in 
reply that he would give any satisfaction I desired, 
whereupon I sent him a challenge to fight a duel, which 
he promptly accepted. 

J. B. Lambert was my second and Edward Barnes 
was Lampkin's second. The preliminaries of the duel 
were all arranged, and it was to come off the following 
day, but we moved away that evening. 

The next place at which we halted was Waller's 
Tavern. The battery was near my brother-in-law, A. 
L. Holloway's residence, and I had been there to dinner. 
Upon returning to the camp several cannoneers came 
to me and said this was the evening for the duel to 
come off. I told them that it was agreeable to me and 
I would be ready. 

The program of the duel was as follows : The 
combatants were to stand fifteen yards apart and to ex- 
change three shots. If neither party was wounded when 
the third shot was fired, then they were to advance with 
drawn sabers and fight until one or both fell, and thus 
end the combat, the like manner to the encounter be- 
tween Fitz James and Roderick Dhu. They took a 
horse and cut his gum, saturating a piece of sponge 
with his blood. 

I wore for the fight a brown cotton shirt. After 
firing at each other two shots neither was struck, but 
at the third fire I fell mortally wounded, having thrown 
my hand with the bloody sponge upon my breast, making a                      large splotch over the heart, indicating a death 
stroke. I was then placed upon a litter mortally 
wounded and carried to our camp. After getting there 
and going into my tent, Captain McCarthy said to my 
antagonist: "Macon is mortally wounded, and the 
chances are that he will not survive. Now, if I were 
you I would go and make up with him." He agreed with 
the Captain, and came to my quarters. I was leaning 
on my arm when he entered the tent, and he said: 
"Tom, old fellow, how are you feeling ?" I replied : 
"Very well, under the circumstances, I thank you ; how 
are you ?" Tie then realized the joke we had played on 
him. He then proposed to get a keg of gunpowder and 
each clasp hands and ignite it. He was one of the most 
furious men, when he perceived the trend of affairs, 
I ever saw. He finally got over his anger at the trick 
and we were afterwards good friends. he was a brave 
cannoneer, and his fondness for the society of ladies 
was no fault, but rather creditable to him; still it was 
the cause of his engaging in a duel that he thought 
was to be a genuine fight to the death, but which was 
only a sham battle and a joke. Some years after I was 
in company with William and his father, when he said : 
"Father, this is Mr. Macon, with whom I fought a 


  1. Isn't that book in which you took this from a history book or are you refering to a textbook?

  2. Thanks Corey, I see you haven't changed a bit. (it's spelled "referring" )
    Yes the text books we get in school have nothing like the above post.
    You being a teacher know that time is limited in the classroom, and you only have X-amount of resources to provide to your students.
    Hopefully you will dig a bit deeper and show your students the human side of the war.
    Politics, Maps and Battle Plans are one thing, but the words from the men in the field are what I feel shows the true nature and cause of the conflict.
    By putting a human touch on things I think your students will have a better understanding.

  3. OH! And just a little advice, if ya use Google Chrome and dump IE 9.0 as your browser it will spell check for ya, so when ya see a little red line under a word it means ya spelled it wrong !