The Story of Cole Younger – 6 In the Enemy’s Lines

Col. Buell, whose garrison of 600 held Independence, had ordered that every male citizen of Jackson county between 18 and 45 years of age should fight against the South.

Col. Upton Hays, who was in Jackson county in July and August, 1862, recruiting a regiment for the Confederate army, decided that it was the time to strike a decisive blow for the dislodging of Buell. In reconnoitering the vicinity he took with him Dick Yager, Boone Muir and myself, all of whom had seen service with Capt. Quantrell.

It was finally decided to make the attack August 11th. Colonel Hays wanted accurate information about the state of things inside town.

“Leave that to me,” said I.

Three days remained before the battle.

Next morning there rode up to the picket line at Independence an old apple-woman, whose gray hair and much of her face was nearly hidden by an old-fashioned and faded sun-bonnet. Spectacles half hid her eyes and a basket on her arm was laden with beets, beans and apples.

The left rein was leather but a rope replaced the right.

“Good morning, grandmother,” bantered the first picket. “Does the rebel crop need any rain out in your country?”

The sergeant at the reserve post seized her bridle, and looking up said:

“Were you younger and prettier, I might kiss you.”

“Were I younger and prettier, I might box your ears for your impudence.”

“Oh, ho! You old she-wolf, what claws you have for scratching!” he retorted, and reached for her hand.

The quick move she made started the horse suddenly, or he might have been surprised to feel that hand.

But the horse was better than apple-women usually ride, and that aroused some suspicion at Col. Buell’s headquarters, so that the ride out was interrupted by a mounted picket who galloped alongside and again her bridle was seized.

The sergeant and eight men of the guard were perhaps thirty paces back.

“What will you have?” asked the apple-woman. “I am but a poor lone woman going peaceably to my home.”

“Didn’t you hear the sergeant call for you, d—n you?” answered the sentinel.

A spurred boot under the ragged skirt pierced the horse’s flank; the hand that came from the apple basket fired the cocked pistol almost before the sentry knew it, and the picket fell dead.

The reserve stood as if stupefied.

That night I gave Quantrell, for Col. Hays, a plan showing the condition of affairs in Independence.

The morning of the 11th the attack was made and Col. Buell, his force shot to pieces, surrendered.

The apple-woman’s expedition had been a success.


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