Tall Tales and True Stories (William H. Kenyon)
by Kathryn Bowman-Parks
These four stories are about my great-grandfather William H. Kenyon who enlisted in the 18th MO Vol. Co. B & G. He enlisted on Nov. 5, 1861 and served until discharged July 18, 1865.
The Tale of the Bandana
One time my great-grandfather got into trouble, for no apparent reason, was when he was drinking with a friend in a bar. The "friend", then placed his arm around Williamís shoulders and quickly drew a razor across his neck. Bright red blood spurted from the wound and it looked like the end of the road for Grandpa. Not so! Grandpa Kenyon calmly wrapped a bandana around the wound and went on about his business as if nothing at all had happened to him. He didnít go to a doctor, but it healed quite nicely with the help of the bandana.
Many years later, my dad said that he remembered looking at his grandfather in his casket and he could still see the thin white scar across his neck where his throat had been cut.
The Confederate Soldiers
Then there was the time Grandpa Kenyon was drinking in a bar just after the Civil War had ended. Suddenly three Confederate soldiers came into the bar. One of Grandpaís friends, makes me wonder about his friends, dared him to stand on the bar and shout "Hoo-rah* for the Union! Hoo-rah* for General Grant." Grandpa was not one to turn down a dare. So he stood up, shouted for all to hear the words that were meant to anger the Confederates. It angered them all right and the fight was on. Grandpa beat up the three soldiers, took a pair of brass knuckles away from one of them, and won another battle for the Union. I remember seeing those same brass knuckles when I was a small child.
*note: I know that hoo-ray is spelled incorrectly here, but hoo-rah is the way Grandpa pronounced it when he told it to Grandma Bowman and my dad. They passed it on that way to my brothers. Brother Kenneth then passed it on to me in the same way.
I guess by now you realize that my great-grandpa really enjoyed a good fight. He could have, however, chosen some better types of friend. The next story emphasizes this point again. I call it:
The Spice of Life
Grandpa Kenyon heard from a friend that several men were wanting to pick a fight with him. I guess his reputation for fighting was well known. Grandpa knew that he was going to be out-numbered so he figured out a plan to even things up a little bit. He took out an old, Union Army cap, filled it with red pepper, placed it on his head and went on a search for the men who wanted to fight him. When he found them, the fighting started with a vengeance. The situation began to look pretty bad for Grandpa so he took off his cap and flung the red pepper into their eyes. It may not have been a fair way to end the fight, but it was the safest way for Grandpa!
The White Horse
Grandpa Kenyon fought at the Battle of Shiloh under General Sherman. During the battle, a Southern Gentleman, as Grandpa called him, was killed and Grandpa captured his large white horse. Grandpa took the horse with him to the battle of Vicksburg and other battles. When Sherman left Atlanta on his way to Savannah, Grandpa went along with his horse and scouted out supplies for the troops. General Grant had cut all supply lines from Washington to the troops and made the Union soldiers live off the land. This was one of the reasons the Union was successful in defeating the Confederacy.
After reaching Savannah,Georgia, Grandpa took the horse to his home to be used as a farm horse. The horse lived a long time and made a reliable work horse. No one knows for sure which Southern General was the Southern Gentleman who was killed. Someday we may find out. One theory is that he was Confederate General Albert Sydney Johnston who was killed at Shiloh. However, Johnstons horse was not white.
© 1996, 1997 Jo Dunne