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Civil War Articles, Pike County - AHGP

The Quincy Whig - Thursday, April 6, 1905, Page 2
Former Citizen of Griggsville Tells of the Intense Excitement Prevailing in That Place
The Griggsville Press tells an interesting story written by J. G. Bonnell, of Eagle, Colorado. Mr. Bonnell was formerly a resident of Griggsville.
“Not all the brave of our land enlisted in the armies of the union during the civil war and went forth to do valiant service for their country. Many, who remained at home, were as brava and dauntless as any who courageously stood on the battlefield and faced the cannon’s mouth, as the episode here recorded will attest.
After having spent a number of months in the year 1864 in pursuing studies at Garrett Biblical Institute and Northwestern University in that attractive educational center, Evanston, Illinois, I returned to Griggsville, where my parents were then residing, early in October of that year, and assumed the principalship of ‘Brush College,’ located some two and a half or three miles southeast of Griggsville in the old Dimmit neighborhood.
For purposes of health, economy, etc., I boarded with my parents, walking to and from my school mornings and nights when not stopping at the homes of some of my pupils, which upon invitation, I frequently did.
At that time three and a half years of deadly strife and carnage of the greatest fratricidal war of all history had dragged out their weary length. Thousands upon thousands of the brave ‘boys in blue’ had sacrificed their lives upon the altar of their country, falling before the deadly missiles of the equally valiant ‘boys in gray,’ or as victims of deadly disease.
The border northern states, or such portions of them as were contiguous to southern states, were ofttimes filled with direful, heart-appalling rumors of guerilla raids - raids on which banks would be looted, and farms despoiled of their finest horses. Pike county, Illinois, bordering on the state of Missouri with only the ‘father of waters’ running between during these weary, distressing years, was frequently filled with these baneful rumors. In consequence many days were filled with direst solicitude and sleepless nights were experienced.
At the time of which I write Griggsville was the proud possessor of one flourishing bank, which stood on the very summit of the hill, crowned by the beautiful town on the north side of Quincy avenue. The threatening rumors referred to had created such a state of nervousness on the part of the denizens of Griggsville that they decided something must be done, some steps must be taken to protect home interests against the intrusions of marauding bands. Accordingly, after due consideration, a company of home guards was formed, brave boys they were brave though isolated from the great armies at the front.
Captain H, a man of heroic qualities, who had in former years won renown by his fearless courage and daring deeds in California, where the gold pioneers were often assailed by hostile Indian bands, was placed in charge of the valiant company of home guards to properly drill them in military tactics, and to direct in the important work of home protection.
A hall in the second story of a building a little to the west of the bank had been secured as a place for company drilling, storage of arms and for rendezvous in case a signal of alarm should at any time be given.
Here the boys spent many evenings in acquiring a knowledge of military tactics under the skillful directions of their captain. For weeks during the fall of 1864 sentinels were nightly stationed to guard all roads, leading into the peaceful town, as a precautionary measure against any surprise by any marauding band.
One quiet Sabbath morning, bright with its genial sunshine, and with but an occasional zephyr astir, probably in early November, several suspicious looking ‘prairie schooners,’ with scarcely an occupant visible, were sent to wend their way deliberately from the east, up Quincy avenue, on past the bank and through the town taking the road leading to Pittsfield, the county seat.
It was surmised that the undiscovered occupants of these covered wagons were possibly spies, who had taken this method of acquainting themselves with the lay of the town, and especially, with the location of the bank. In some circles great was the solicitude of the day. The great body of devout worshippers of the community, by which Griggsville at that time was worthily noted, however, little dreamed of the fearfully stirring events that were to transpire before the dawning of another day.
The day sped by, and the evening guards were stationed as usual. Soon after Mr. G, a long time resident of Griggsville, who had just returned from Louisiana, Missouri, reported that there was a suspicious looking camp adjacent to the roadway in the valley of the Blue river between Griggsville and Pittsfield.
A council of war was held. Evidently this camping party must be composed of the suspicious band that had passed through the town in the early morning, and it was feared that a raid on the bank would be made that night.
What should be done? What could be done? The anxiety was growing intense.
A careful examination of the situation was decided upon. Accordingly, two members of the valiant company, who were just emerging from youth into manhood, were selected to go on horseback on a reconnoitering tour. They were to proceed cautiously through the suspected encampment, take careful observation of the location of the wagons, and of the horses if any were there, and note all items of importance. If, in their estimation, there was nothing suspicious in the situation they were to quietly retrace their journey and allay the fears of the troubled city. But, if they judged the situation as suspicious they were to take a circuitous route to town with all possible speed and give the alarm at the earliest possible moment. Imagine the fortitude and nerve that would be required on the part of two young guards, inexperienced in the art of war, to go on an expedition of this kind. But right bravely did they enter upon and prosecute their fearful task.
In due time they arrived at the encampment. Cautiously did they pursue their way with the view of carefully noting every feature of the situation. The wagons were seen, but no horses could be discovered, and no occupants of the camp appeared. Horses and riders must be off for the raid.
Just as they were passing through the camp a riderless horse, with saddle and bridle went dashing wildly by. Watch dogs were aroused from their slumbers and barked furiously. The guards put spurs to their steeds and like the wind they carried their patriotic riders on their circuitous way for miles and miles arriving at Griggsville foaming and puffing.
The endangered town was reached near the midnight hour, and the alarming information obtained was breathlessly given to the dauntless captain and his company. The church bells were immediately rung. The sleeping citizens were aroused, and all hastily made their way to the place of rendezvous.
There could be heard all sorts of hair-raising, blood-curdling stories. The principal of the public schools Mr. R, related that some one during the night had appeared at the window of one of his bedrooms and with hatchet in hand, he was ready to guard the safety of his family. Others reported seeing suspicious looking persons going through the dark alleys as if on some mischief bent. The situation was alarming indeed.
In the meantime the home guards were loading their guns in readiness for action in case of any attack. But no marauders appeared. Some way the suspense must be relieved.
Some eight or ten of the most valiant of the guards were then selected and with guns and ammunition, Captain H, in command, they made their way in a horse wagon to the vicinity of the camp. There they alighted, and right boldly did they surround the encampment and close in on it cautiously according to the captain’s orders. But when they met at the camp the solicitude of the day and the alarm of the night was all dispelled by the discovery that the occupants of the camp were a peaceable company of movers on their way to Missouri. Before the dawning of the on-coming day this courageous band had returned and quieted the alarms of the agitated town. But there is no record that shows that the adroit Captain H, was ever promoted, or that any of those brave boys were ever pensioned for their dauntless heroism on this occasion.”

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