This book is exactly what it’s title says. The first part is about the early settlements, the main part of the book covers the author’s experiences during the Civil War. The latter part covers a little about The Kuklus and peace times.
The author, William Monks, was born in Jackson County, Alabama. His grandparents immigrated from Ireland during the Revolutionary War.
I choose the book to learn more about the area due to researching relatives in northern Arkansas and western Tennessee. The section about early settlements in Missouri and Arkansas was informative, but not exactly captivating. However it did give good descriptions of the land and how people picked homesteads.
What was gripping was Monks’ descriptions of his service during the Civil War. He went into great detail about various treks here and there around the State line, and how the Rebels continuously tried to get the Union boys to switch sides. I didn’t realize it was as cut-throat as he described. Many of skirmishes between the two sides were pretty graphic, almost horrifying. A lot of shooting, hanging, and downright abusiveness between men that were neighbors and friends before the war.
On one occasion, when the weather was very cold and bleak, I knew of their capturing some of the Federal soldiers within one mile of the fort, kept them until the coldest part of the night, just before day, stripped them naked, turned them loose, and they were compelled to travel a mile before they could reach a fire, and they were almost frostbitten. Every Union man was driven away from his home and moved his family to different posts.
And another instance:
..there was a man by the name of Rhodes, he was about eighty years of age and had been a soldier under General Jackson. His head was perfectly white and he was very feeble….About twenty-five men, organized themselves and commanded by Dr. Nunly and William Sapp, proceeded to the house of Rhodes, where he and his aged wife resided alone, called him out and told him they wanted him to go with them. His aged wife came out, and being acquainted with a part of the men, and knowing that they had participated in the hanging and shooting of a number of Union men, talked with them and asked: “You are not going to hurt my old man?” They said: “We just want him to go a piece with us over here.” Ordering the old man to come along, they went over to a point about one quarter from the house and informed him of what he had said. There they shot him, cut his ears off and his heart out. Dr. Nunly remarked that he was going to take the heart home with him, pickle it and keep it so people could see how a black republican’s heart looked. They left him lying on the ground…
The book served it’s purpose. I learned a lot about the area of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri during the time some of my relatives settled there, and it did help me understand some of the things they may have experienced.