MRS. AMANDA SPEAR
TRIBUTE TO SOUTHERN HEROISM
Story of A Woman who Rode 300 Miles on Horseback with Year Old Baby to Visit
The following story was written by Mrs. Amanda Spear, now nearly 80 years of age and is a true recital of some of her experiences during the time of the Civil War. The Ride of Paul Revere has been heralded in song and story as an act of patriotic heroism, and so it was, but greater by far was the Ride of Amanda Spear, who rode 300 miles on horseback in the dead of winter, crossing swollen streams and traveling over the roughest roads, through dense wilderness, and carrying with her a babe of only a year--braving everything, overcoming obstacles that seemed insurmountable--and all that she might reach the bedside of her husband, who was at the point of death, and whom she feared would loose his mind even if he regained his bodily strength.
The editor of this paper heard this remarkable story from the lips of Mrs. Spear several months ago, and now that she has written it herself at the request of the J.A Barker Camp of Jacksonville, we are glad to give it to our readers.
Mr. and Mrs. Spear still live at the old homestead one mile north of this City, where they have passed many happy years since the cruel war ended, and where they raised to manhood the baby who made the trip with his heroic mother.
TO THE CONFEDERATE VETERANS
When the war between the States broke out Cicero Spear and I had been married
four years. We had two small children. We were poor, but happy. In March, 1862,
my husband enlisted in Capt. J. C. Maples' company at the town of Old
Jacksonville, and in June following, he with many others, mostly young men with
small families, was called to the front.
Many of those poor fellows never returned. After a long and weary march they reached Camp Nelson, which was 30 miles east of Little Rock, Ark. There my husband was stricken down with typhoid pneumonia on the 4th of October. He had an uncle living seven miles from the camp who found him there sick and moved him to his home. Quite a number of my husband's company visited him there and through their letters to their people here at home I heard from him at times. There were no mails and it was only when a soldier got to come home that we could get letters. About Christmas Wood Pierce wrote to his wife that he had been to see my husband and that he thought there was a chance for him to get well, but he did not think that he would ever recover his mind. On receipt of this news I could not restrain myself from attempting to go to him and get him home if possible. My brother-in-law, M.R. Pearson, was at home at the time and had to return to his command, so I decided to go with him. There were no railroads and very few vehicles of any kind except wagons drawn by oxen, and if I went, I must go horseback and carry with me my year-old boy in my arms. I left my little girl with my sister and we started on our long journey from near Old Jacksonville on the 4th day of January, 1863. The weather was good the firs week out and all went well. Then my baby got sick but I got medicine, but next day it began to rain and we stopped with a family named Ebbs. The rain came in torrents for twenty hours and then it began to snow and it continued snowing as it had rained, which was a much greater snowfall than I had ever seen in Texas, and wet as the ground was the snow was knee deep on a level when it quit falling and the sun came out. By this time the baby was well and we started on our journey, but had only gone eight miles and were in one mile of the Sabine River when we learned that the ferry boat had washed away; but the next morning it had been brought back and we crossed near Benton and after two days travel over heavy roads reached Little Rock. Continuing our journey east we found a low level country with a creek every few miles; we found the roads almost covered in water and some bridges gone, some we had to swim across and the second day we passed through Camp Nelson. There were no soldiers then and that evening we reached the home of my husband's uncle, Mr. Sam Hill. We found my husband still in bed, but improving. The fever had settled in one of his legs and it had risen and had been lanced and was badly drawn so that he could not walk a step. He was the most emaciated person I ever seen; his bones had cut through at almost every joint, but was healing. He was regaining his mind and as soon as he could get around a little on crutches we began to think about starting home, more than 300 miles away, but our good kind uncle and aunt begged us to stay with them until spring opened. While there I saw the first Yankee since the war had begun and more than I have ever seen since. They were deserters from the northern army, and Uncle Sam said he would give shelter to every one that was going North and some nights the floors were literally covered with them. I wonder now that we were not afraid of them, but I never slept sounder than I did with those blue coated fellows sleeping a few feet of us. The snow had not all melted when we bad good-bye to the dear ones who had so tenderly cared for my husband for more than four months. There had been a change in the military officers, and they did not want Mr. Pearson then, so he decided to return with us to Texas. This good man walked all the way home, and permitted my husband to ride his horse, saying he could walk as far as Cicero could ride. The first night on the return trip we had to stay were the water stood about a foot deep everywhere. They had large hewn foot logs to walk on everywhere about the premises. I did not know where they put Mr. Pearson to sleep. Myself and husband had to sleep in a shack in the yard that had only one sill under the floor, and when we walked the planks sunk down and the water would come up through the cracks. The bed was made of long moss, and was as hard as a grindstone, and so damp that I thought it would kill us to remain there until morning. Had it not been for the blankets we had with us, we could not have stayed there at all, but with the help of these, we slept but little through the long night. We crossed the Arkansas river at Little Rock and went down the river to Pine Bluff so that my husband could get his discharge. On the way it rained and we stayed with a family named Hawk two nights and one day. There were several girls in the family, but only one boy, and he was getting ready to go into the army, and his sisters thought they could not do enough for him. He was also of the some opinion. They requested me to knit a woolen comforter for him, like the one my husband had, and I worked all day and half the night to get it done for the conceited puppy. Our next stop was with a family named Hitt near Pine Bluff. It was ten days before my husband's discharge was made out, when we turned our faces homeward. We journeyed on again until we reached the Caddo river. It was nearly dark, and we tried to stay with a family living on the river bank, but there were some army officials there drying a lot of Confederate money they were taking some where to pay the soldiers which they got wet crossing the river, which was a raging torrent. These officials would not permit the family to take anyone in while they were there with the money, so we had to go on. The ford was awful rocky and the water ran very swift. A boy rode my pony over. My husband also rode over, while Mr. Pearson and myself stood on the bank and expected to see the horses' feet swept from under them and my husband drowned. A few yards below the ford the water fell over a precipice, and below this it did not run so fast, and was Deep, and not so wide. Another boy offered to take Mr. Pearson and myself across in a small boat that was so narrow at the bottom that we were afraid to draw a long breath as it would tip from side to side and dip water. However he landed us on the south side, and we resumed our journey through the mud in the darkness for about a mile further, to a large brick house, and asked to be taken in for the night. The gentleman of the house, whose name was Arnold, gave us a kindly greeting as though we were not bespattered with mud, and had the appearance of tramps; he had a good supper prepared and showed us to a nice warm room and clean soft bed where we enjoyed a splendid night's rest after so many ups and downs during the day. Mr. Arnold, on learning where we lived, asked us if we knew a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher at Larissa named Crawford. On being told that we knew him quite well, he informed us that Mrs. Crawford was his sister, and turning to me requested me to tell Mrs. Crawford that we had staid with him. On reaching home, I sent Mrs. Crawford word and she came the next day to hear from her brother. He was a good man and treated us to the best he had, but it seems she never heard from he or his family except through us, neither did we ever hear from them again after we left their hospitable roof. It is strange indeed that in the fifty years that have passed since I made this memorable journey, I have never met a single person whom I met at that time except the widow of Billy Bradford who lived near where Troup is now located and who lives at Troup at this time. We crossed the Red River going and coming at the old town of Fulton where it is said Davy Crockett crossed before he fell in defense of the Alamo. We remained two days at Lindon in Cass county with some friends and a Coffeville in Upshur county with the Newburys and on night with a Mr. Moss, a substantial farmer near Jimtown in Smith county, then Omen, and next evening, the 4th of March, 1863, we came in sight of my sister's hours. The trees were green and her children were playing near the road and our little Helen that I had not heard one word from in just two months was there too, and they and the dogs set up such a shout of welcome that they brought my sister out, and permit me to say that words cannot express and describe the feeling of joy on that occasion, for after passing through dangers seen and unseen we were at home at last. I would like to make mention of many good people I met while on this perilous journey and of some places of interest but it would make my story to long, besides after a lapse of so many years I have forgotten many thing though not strange that I have for I am nearly eighty years old. But I must tell you that the baby boy I carried on the long journey grew to manhood here at Jacksonville and at this time is an honored citizen of Clarksville, Texas, whom most of you know as Woody Spear. I will close this narrative by saying to the Confederate Veterans, those were indeed trying days, but the women did their whole duty in the Titanic struggle and I am proud of my record.
January 15, 1913
This is an article from Jacksonville Texas News Paper February 7, 1913
Information provided by Sue Neely