February 18, 1915
Confederate Army Life and Experiences
of Elkanah Brammer
Well known resident of Mabscott makes
valuable contribution to history of four years
struggle of Southern States.
Mr Elkanah Brammer of Mabscott, who is one of the comparatively few Confederate Veterans of this vicinity, who still survives, has at the solicitation of many friends written an account of his army life and experiences during the war. His narrative folllows.
In the spring of 1864, the counties of Monroe, Mercer, Giles and Bland were called upon to furnish more soldiers. This had to be done by taking men between 45 and 50 years of age and boys from 16 to 18 years of age. The men from Mercer, my home county, met at Princeton, the county seat of Mercer County and organized by electing company officers. We were then marched to what was called 'Duoblin' (Dublin) Depot, on the Virginian and Tennessee Railroad.
Monroe County furnished two companies, Mercer one, Giles one and Bland one. Those five companies formed the Fourth Battalion Virginia Reserves. I suppose the call was what moved General Grant to say, "The south has robbed the cradle and the grave to fill up her armies."
We were then marched to the narrows of New River, where it was claimed we would be drilled into efficient soldiers. Northwest of a great flat top range of mountains, bordering Wyoming and McDowell counties for miles was an almost unbroken wilderness. This was the redezvous of a gang of robbbers, murderers and horse thieves. They made many raids into Mercer County, stealing horses and cattle and causing the greatest terror among the defenseless women and children. In making this statement I am not interferring in anyway whatever to the regular soldiers of the federal army. The people begged earnestly that some protection be furnished them.
Our company was sent back to that section. We could do nothing there but scout around and watch for the enemy. However, they respected our presence well enough to stay on their side of the mountains. Our time here was anything but an easy one. Many times we were afraid to make a fire to cook something to eat or even warm ourselves. After we had been there for sometime, a 'postly' red-faced man by the name of John B___ came among us. He had been engaged in some 'brushes' with the union men, as they chose to call themselves. He said that if he could get 21 men to go with him, he would kill or capture every man, as he had them located. Well, in a bunch of fifty or sixty boys, you can always find 21 foolhardy enough for anything. So that number of us started without delay under the leadership of B___.
The plan was to move as quietly as possible. Night overtook us but we did not stop. Darkness was what we wanted. About two hours before daylight we came near the house that B___ thought they were in. We were divided into three parties, posted in as many different places, about one hundred yards from the house. We thought that when they began to stir around, after day-light by firing on them from different points, possibly killing or wounding some, the rest would surrender. About the time it was getting some light, a boy came out of the house and went up the hill and commenced to pull bark off a tree within a few feet of one bunch of the men, soon discovering them, he uttered a yell that alarmed all the home.
B___ 'holloed' to charge on the house, which was done in fine style, considering it was our first charge. The fact is there were only four men in the house. Three of them made a break through standing corn and made their escape The fourth was captured in the yard. We were well aware of the cact that we had to get out of there, and mighty quick at that. We knew that the out-laws would at once be around. That they would have enemy advantage, we well knew, not only in number but they knew the country perfectly. We moved briskly but with the greatest caution.
After traveling a few miles, B___ proposed to kill our prisoner, as he seemed to think it dangerous to be bothered with him. I am sorry to say that some of the boys took the same view. However, a majority opposed what we considered nothing less than murder. He was taken on and turned over to the authorities at Princeton. We were now ordered to join the batallion at the narrows of New River. After joining our batallion we were marched to Dublin and put on board the cars and started for richmond. Arriving in Richmond we remained two or three days in the city. We were then taken down six or eight miles below. We were encamped on the line of Breast-Works, built for the defense of the Confederate capitol. Our location was one mile North of the James River. This was in the latter part of September 1864. We were called upon to furnish a certain number of men for picket duty. We would be on picket 24 hours, then off twenty four hours.