Monday, April 9, 2012

A Pass for a Rebel?

Alexander McCook, courtesy
This story comes from The Civil War in Song and Story 1860-1865, collected and arranged by Frank Moore, pages 70 and 71.

The following incident illustrates the character of the secessionists, and the vigorous policy pursued by General McCook in Kentucky:

A man named Buz Rowe, living near Bacon Creek, was early afflicted with the secession fever, and when the rebels occupied that portion of Kentucky, the sickness assumed a malignant form. It was his practice to lie around a tavern at Bacon Creek Station, drink whiskey, swagger, blow about Southern rights, and insult Union men. When the Union troops advanced to Nevie, and the rebels fell back to Green River, Buz changed his tune. He was not disposed to take up arms in behalf of the cause he represented. In fact, to secure peace and safety at home, he expressed his willingness to "take the oath."

On being lectured by Union men, he stated that he was only going through the form to prevent being troubled at home, and that when he could do good for the rebel cause, he would not regard the obligation in the least. it was some time before Bus could get a Union man to  go to the camp with him; but finally, in company with such, he called on General McCook, and asked for the privilege of taking the oath and obtaining a pass. The General knew his man, and addressing the Union man who accompanied him, said:

"Administer the oath to him- a ready traitor to his country! What regard do you suppose he would have for the solemn obligations of an oath? A man, sir, would would betray his country has no respect for his oath."

Buz turned pale. The truth cut him deep, and he began to see that his time had come.

The General absolutely refused to have the oath administered, or to grant a pass. he could not get out of camp without some sort of a document, and he had besought the int4erference of those whom he had so greatly abused when they were without protection. At last, General McCook agreed to pass him out of camp, and gave him a document which read something in this way:

"To the guards and pickets:

The bearer is a traitor to his country. Pass him; but, in doing so, mark him well, and if you see him hereafter prowling about our lines, shoot him at once.

This pass the brawling rebel had to show to the whole line of guards and pickets, who all marked him well before they let him pass. 

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