Lewis Cass Payseur


The following article by L. C. Payseur, called “Cass”, was clipped from an unknown newspaper and had been pasted into a scrap book that was put together either by Lewis Cass Payseur (1850-1939) or by his wife, Mary Alice (Hudson) Payseur (1856-1934).  At the death of my grandmother, Iola M. (Payseur) (1) Gatling (2) Fulghum, middle daughter of the L. C. Payseur’s, my mother, Mary Alice (Gatling) Beatty, an only child, asked her three children what they wished to select to inherit from their grandmother, for Mother had received it all through my grandmother’s Will.  My request was for “the things in the attic, the library, and the portraits”  and my request was granted.  These old scrapbooks were part of the things stored in my grandmother’s attic.  In the last years of my great-grandparent’s lives, they moved from Lancaster, SC to Birmingham, AL and lived with my grandparents until their deaths.


File: \payseur.lc\1915-rem.war; Some Reminiscences of the Great Confederate War




(By L. C. Payseur, 1915)


I was just a boy of twelve to fourteen years of age when the unpleasantness began.  When the news of the fall of Fort Sumpter, S. C., [April, 1861] arrived, it seemed to make everybody wild with the war spirit. The town was illuminated — windows full of candles, this was before the days of kerosene lamps shade trees were filled with lanterns, bon fires in the streets, and on the Court square were large piles of boxes and barrels; in fact, anything to make a big illumination.  We burned barrels of turpentine and kept up the celebration until a late hour at night; in fact, until all material to burn gave out.  We had one old iron cannon — it was mounted on two wheels, the wheels had only spokes, the rims had been lost off.  I think we got it from a Mr. Stubbs, who had a foundry and machine shop located about a block or two below the Hoke house, on the right side of the street going towards Newton.  We got the old gun up on the square and loaded it full to the muzzle — put in the powder and rammed in paper and brick bats; in fact anything to fill it full, but just as we were ready to fire the first salute, the Sheriff, I think it was, came up and poured a bucket of water on it and filled up the tuck hole, so our fun with the cannon ended.  I think the Sheriff’s name was Anthony, or probably, Mr. Miller.


The first soldiers that went from Lincolnton was a company called “Southern Stars.”  Their uniforms were made by the ladies of the town, who met and sewed in the Odd Fellows Hall on Main Street.  There is where I saw the first sewing machine.  When the boys left for the war they looked fine, and I, as a boy, thought they could wipe up the Yankees in short order.  They volunteered for six months and all thought that quite long enough to do the job in hand.  At the end of six months they returned and that was a great time, though they came a day before we expected them, there was no telegraph line in Lincolnton then.  Anyway, a great crowd of men and women were at the depot building, a long arch covered with flowers and evergreens.  I think the soldiers were to march through, but when the train arrived the soldiers were aboard, and we did not expect them until the next day, so that part of [t]he program was spoiled, then they decided to have a general big dinner, which came off in about a week.  It was in the depot, at the then called Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherfordton Railway.  They took everything out of the depot and had four tables, full length of the building, and such a crowd, and the abundance of dinner was worth seeing.


Lincolnton at this time was the head of the railroad, and the soldiers from Cleveland, Rutherfordton, Polk and other counties would come there to take the train, and it was a great saying then, “all aboard for High Pint.”  High Point, N.C., was a drilling camp.  It was a sad sight to see a Company leave for war — they came in wagons, buggies, etc., a great string of vehicles — the wives and children to see their husbands and fathers off, and probably it would be the last time they ever saw each other — the young girls come to see their brothers and sweethearts off and Oh, the affectionate parting!  the caressing and teas that were shed on these occasions makes me weep to this day.


About the second year of the war the old Male Academy (now Memorial Hall) was used for a hospital for a short time — sick and wounded soldiers came home — some probably lived in Cleveland or Burke county, they were taken care of until some one came for them.  Then the railroads was completed to Cherryville, and that took the sick and wounded for the Western counties that much nearer their home and loved ones.  Then there was a temporary hospital in a large shop or carriage or buggy factory, on Main street opposite the Macoy place.  I think it was  called the Shuford Shops, anyway, it stood, I think, adjoining Judge Schenck’s old place.  I have carried  bandages and socks to this place, the ladies in the western end of town would make bandages to bind up wounds.  They would tear up old sheets and other soft cotton or linen cloth, about two inches wide, and sew the ends together and roll it up in ribbon style, they would send this to bind wounds.  They would also knit socks, and sent any other clothing, such as underwear for men; also some dainty morsel such as would tempt a sick man, and i do not think it took much coaxing to get some of those poor starved out “Rebs” to eat.


The Confederate Government had quite a lot of sugar molasses, rice, etc., stored up there in warehouses, and the hogsheads of brown sugar were stuck about under the depot platform.  The boys made many trips there and would drive in a knot and eat sugar with a wo[o]den spoon. Lee Houser and myself hauled flour from Killian’s mill for the Government.  We took empty sacks and cloth to make them.  G. R. Harding seemed to have this in charge.  For a while they had a considerable packing house for beef below town, then called the Child’s place, they brought beeves from the mountains and about to this slaughter pen, and packed the meat in barrels.  They called it pickled beef.  Feeling ran very high during these times and it was worth almost your life to express any Union sentiment.  I remember a Bill Cody and a man named Carpenter, who were in jail for some crime, I think, for deserting.  Anyway, they broke jail — Carpenter was captured about High Shoals and was hanged at Dallas.  I was there, and the poor man said on the gallows that he had never committed a worse crime than stealing a small quantity of leather.  He said he had deserted the Confederate army and would do so again if taken back.  I have heard said that Cody was the same Capt. Bill Cody as “Buffalo Bill,” though I doubt this.


The Yankee raid came rather unexpected — they came in from towards Newton.  I stood at the Court House [Continued] and saw them come in — they filled up the town pretty quick.  Quite a lot pitched tents on the square and the foraging parties hauled in and emptied on the ground, corn, wheat, potatoes, chickens, preserves, etc., etc., there seemed to be no order about distributing a kind of “free lunch.”  They took everything they wanted and destroyed things just for the doing. The Confederate Government had a laboratory below town where  Child’s Cotton Mill was burned.  I believe Mr. Rhyne has a cotton mill there now.  We boys used to sell the laboratory roots and herbs.  When the Yankees came in town there was quite a lot of whiskey at the depot for the laboratory.  Some of Wheeler’s or Butler’s Confederate troops knocked the heads of the barrels in so the Yankees could not get it. I noticed they filled their own canteens of the stuff.


I saw a Yankee, in fact, three or four of them, at the jail —  some fellow in jail kept calling to them to let him out.  One asked him what he was in for and he replied that he had deserted from the Confederate army — they told him to stay in as they had no time to bother with deserters.


One of Wheeler’s men was getting out of town by a lane back of the Methodist church, and one of the Yankees at the jail shot at him and killed his horse.  The Confederate got up and shot several shots at the Yankee, who sat still on his horse in front of the jail.  He did not shoot at the Confederate any more, and the Confederate went running on towards the woods.  The next morning Fan DeLane, and I think another boy, John Caldwell, and myself, went over to look at the Confederate’s horse, to see if he was dead.  He was dead, having been shot through the neck.  We took the saddle and hunt it on the rail fence.  There was also a haversack in which was some bread made out of rice, two ears of corn, a tin plate, and a few other articles.  The Confederate left his gun — it was a Spencer Carbine, loaded in the breech and the magazine held about seven metallic cartridges of about 60 calibre.  I have one of the cartridges, and I will give it to your memorial Museum.


The Yankees would let us boys ride horses and mules to water all day, as they had hundreds of them.  Some of the boys would ride to Rocky Branch, which was outside the guard line.  They would ride the horses off in the country and hide them and walk back.  The Yankees, I do not think ever found it out, as they had so many horses and the foraging parties were bringing in new ones every day.  Some of the Yankees were very cruel to the horses and mules.  When one had a very sore back and would not want to go, as we call it, “take the studs” as apt as not a soldier would cut the horses and mules throats.  I have seen old cavalry horses with sores as large as the saddle and some of the horses would lie down when the man attempted to mount.  The saddles were large and stiff — they called them McClellan Cavalry saddles.


I was like most boys — on the lookout to see and hear everything. All was excitement, as a Yankee army was a big novelty.  A Yankee gave me a ten cent shin plaster for a Charlotte Daily Bulletin — this was the first small greenback I had ever had.  The soldier stood on the Court House steps and read the news aloud to the crowd, as this was probably the first daily paper they had had for some time.  The crowd cheered at some of the news one item I remember, which brought loud cheers was to the effect that there were no Yankees south of Boon.


When the shooting occurred at the jail, an old gentleman, named Ferrer, a very nice clean dressy man, I rather think he was a Frenchman, anyway, he lived next to the jail, and came out to see what was going on, as shooting in the street was something exciting.  One of the soldiers asked him, “what time it was,” and when Mr. Ferrer got his nice gold watch out, the Yankee said, “that is a nice watch,” and took it apparently to look at it.  He said “it will just fit my pocket,” and so he did pocket it.  Then another soldier proposed to trade boots and he made Mr. Ferrer pull his boots off and the soldier gave him in exchange his old cavalry boots, and told him he would give him his spurs to boot.  Mr. Ferrer protested and said “Why, you would not make a gentleman pull his boots off in the street?”  Another Yankee tried to make one of the negroes who was with them, take Mr. Ferrer’s silk beaver hat and give him an old greasy army cap in exchange, to the negro’s credit, he said a beaver hat would not look well on him as long as his mule was scary.  Mr. Ferrer was so disgusted that he left the old cavalry boots in the streets and went home and he would never talk about it as it made him mad ever afterwards to refer to it.


Some of our soldiers in Virginia used to send little things home that they got on the battle fields from dead Yankees pockets.  I remember some affectionate love letters written by some poor fellow’s sweetheart.  Also some very beautiful, sweet letters written by mothers and wives to their loved ones at the front — some were very patriotic, with messages from friends and relatives.  I remember one that spoke of some things the “boys” had sent as mementos [sic] of a raid in the South — said the rebels had left the houses just like they had been getting up and left everything and “we picked up what we wanted.”  some of the places were “bon ton”, and it looked like a pity to burn the beautiful homes filled with everything beautiful and valuable, but they went up in smoke.


For several years during the war there was a boarding school in what is called the North State Hotel.  The President was Rev. Samuel Lander — the school was a pretty large one — quite a lot of young ladies (students) were from the Eastern part of the State, that part of the State was overrun and devastated by the Yankees, and the citizens had to refugee, and quite a lot of them came to Lincolnton and lived until the war was over, some sent their girls to this college.


It was a hard job to hide anything from that crowd, though I had a small keg of sorghum molasses in our barn in a hole in the ground.  I also took off some weatherboarding on the back porch and put some hams between the floor and ceiling.  One day a tall fellow came in and asked mother where the hams were, mother replied that the soldiers the day before had taken them all, so he left without getting ham.  I had bad luck with three jars of lard which I put in the ash hopper — I emptied the ashes and put the jars in and put some straw and boards on top and filled it up with ashes.  One fellow had his mule hitched to the hopper, by sawing the  bridle or rope between the staves.  he had him there a day or two and just before they left there was still one old chicken left, and it was scratching where the mule had been fed, and the soldier shot at the chicken and this made the mule pull over the lye hopper, and lo, there sit my lard, he laughed, then punched his mule in the side with his gun and mixed lard and ashes together.


A few days after the raid, there came a regiment going towards Rutherford.  About night I was on the street, Near Mr. John Phifer’s barn, a Yankee rode up to the gate at the barn and said to Mr. Phifer, “I heard there are some fine horses in there and I want to trade.” Mr. Phifer told him there was some fine stock but not for sale or trade.  The Yankee said, “Well I will make the trade myself.” and ordered Mr. Phifer to get out of the way.  Mr. Phifer would not get out of the gate and the Yankee said he would shoot him out, and when he pointed the pistol at Mr. Phifer, he grabbed it by the muzzle, and when it fired it shot him in the hand, and came out, I think, about the elbow.  I was the only one there at this time.  Mr. Phifer ran to one or two houses and asked for a gun, but could find none, so I went home with him and ran for the doctor.  I went below what was then Johnson’s Hotel, and got Dr. Rudisill.  The Yankee did not take the horse, but rode off on his own, I think a black mule.


There were several Yankees stood around there during the first raid. I remember attending the burial of an officer who was shot about the river.  Anyway, he was buried at the Episcopal church at Lincolnton. They made quite a to do about it as he was an officer, they took the town horses, had a Corporal in full dress to lead the dead man’s horse just behind the hearse — they had the officer’s sword and pistols buckled on the saddle and his big shiny boots with bright spurs fastened in the stirrups.  The rain coat and officer’s cap fastened to saddle, then a squad of soldiers followed.  They fired a salute at the grave.


The garrison which came some time after the surrender stayed all the winter, and had their quarters in what we called Child’s woods — Southwestern part of town.  They used the Memorial Hall for a hospital.  My mother sent me with milk for the sick Yankees and the man in charge would give me coffee or sugar to pay for my milk — coffee and sugar was a treat then.


At the latter part of the war things to eat and wear were scarce and high. and many things could not be had for love nor money, and the people had to do all kinds of ways.  For instance, make coffee out of rye or barley, dried sweet potatoes, parched corn and many other substitutes.  I have often wondered how the poor mothers fed their children, with father in the army, mother at home with no income except a little confederate money and its value was very little as far as buying went.  Mother had seven children to feed and clothe — no one to earn anything — she had her household to look after and do the sewing, etc.  I was only thirteen to fourteen, though I helped in many ways.  Lee Houser, a boy of my age, had an old mule or two, and we hauled wood and helped in various ways.


I also helped the young ladies to plat straw for making hats; also helped them to prepare bamboo briar or vine to make hoop skirts — this style of dress was fashionable then, and they made tucks in their skirts and put white oak splits, bamboo and various thinks to hold the skirt out.  Some of the skirts were as large around as a wagon wheel, and the larger kind they called “tiltoreens” and it required some practice to walk with such a skirt and to sit down nicely was an art, for if one were not careful the skirt would kick up and embarrass the wearer.


Phifer’s Cotton Mill ran night and day and the wagon came from the mountains after yarn, and the demand was so great that the wagons often had to wait several days before they could get a few pounds of yarn.  The wagons brought all kinds of country produce to trade for yarn.  Salt was quite an item — the only supply that I remember was in the mountains of Tennessee, and it was not an unusual sight to see wagons pass though Lincolnton, going to the “Salt Works.”  A great many dug up the earth in their smoke or meat house, dripped the earth in a hopper and boiled the drippings and got quite a lot of sale in this way.


While the raiding army was in Lincolnton they sent out raiding parties in different directions.  One party commanded by Col. Betts raided the Eastern part of the county, and I heard they burned the railroad bridge between Lincolnton and Charlotte at the Catawba river — another party went South, as far probably as Rock Hill, S. C.  I heard they destroyed the railroad bridge across Catawba River on the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta railroad.  This party was commanded by Major Moderell.  Another party raided the north-eastern part of the county, commanded by an officer named Bentley — still another party commanded by Trowbridge.  After the railroad bridge between Lincolnton and Charlotte was destroyed there was no locomotive west of the river and very few, if any, cars of any kind.  They brought the mail and a passenger on a handcar from the river.  They took a locomotive apart and brought it across the river on a flat car and then had a schedule from the river to Cherryville.  They transferred everything at the river for quite a while, until the bridge was rebuilt.


The Confederate Government had the Armory and machinery moved to Lincolnton from Columbia, S. C., to keep Sherman from destroying it — the cars on which it was loaded, six or eight, stood on a side tract at Lincolnton for several weeks, then they carried the cars to Cherryville, and there the yankees destroyed everything.  Several of us boys went up there after the destruction to get old brass and we brought quite a lot back.


There was a Gen. Ramseur of the Confederate army killed in Virginia, or Eastern North Carolina.  They brought the remains on a special train, on a Sunday, and carried it to the Presbyterian Church near the jail, and the casket was opened for view — he was nicely dressed and was in a metallic casket, and I heard that after he was wounded he fell into the hands of the enemy and died a prisoner and the yankees fixed up the body for burial and sent it across the line under a flag of truce.


End of article


In 1968 his daughter, Ola P. (“Lolo”) Fulghum in a conversation with her grand-daughter, Mary Alice (Beatty) Carmichael, said:


“And my grandfather, Papa’s father, he wasn’t in the War.  Well, he was in the War, but collected, went all through the country all the time and collected food for the army.


They had a big commissary there in Lincolnton where they stored all the food for the army in that section.  And Papa was a little boy, about 10 years old, and so he would go with his father, let him ride.”


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