John Taylor Hatchett was an elderly man in 1929, but his memory quickly transported him to a time when he was a daredevil youngster doing his part to help the Confederate allies here.

Hatchett's recollections are on file at the Henderson County Public Library, and they reveal a fellow who still – 64 years after the last shot had been fired between Northern and Southern forces – sympathized with the Gray Coats.

Those recollections also indicate that his first sight of Yankee soldiers was one that sent his blood racing and his heart booming.

On that particular day, he'd been sent by his father, Major Craighead Hatchett, into Henderson to have a sack of corn ground at the local mill. It's not clear whether the adolescent John Hatchett knew that much about the reason for the nation's conflict, but he declared himself, “a Rebel in my sympathy.”

As he wrote in 1929, “When I got to the Main Road, I saw a long line of Blue Coats coming toward me. My first impulse was to run. I was riding a young horse – his name was Jim. I knew the Blue Coats could not catch me or Jim with their old cavalry horses.

“I knew Jim could ride because I had tried him. All boys could ride in those days. But, while I knew they could not catch me, I knew they would shoot me if I ran.

“So I decided to face the music. I rode on until they passed. The captain spoke to me very friendly, and asked if I had seen any guerrillas lately. I, of course, told him no.”

The captain no doubt wouldn't have been so friendly to the youth had he known that the Hatchetts were hiding three confirmed rebels in the woods around their house and that young John was carrying meals to them.

Those rebels made names for themselves in Civil War history. They were Adam Rankin Johnson, Robert Martin and Frank Owen.

That trio managed to pull off an attack on federal headquarters in Henderson that compelled the Evansville paper of that day to report that hundreds of Confederates had converged on the headquarters.

Hatchett rejoiced in that coup, as he did when a Yankee spy in his neighborhood failed in an attempt to have a Hatchett friend captured by the Union soldiers, and, instead, received a substantial amount of buckshot in his backside.

Progress Edition, The Gleaner, Saturday, April 24, 2004


Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2005 HCH&GS