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Civil War and Reconstruction
The North During the Civil War
Bushwackers in Southern Illinois

Mr. L.A. Sherman was interviewed in Hastings, Nebraska, during the 1930s. In the following excerpt from that American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940, interview, he recalls the dangers posed by bushwackers around his home of Quincy, Illinois, during the Civil War. Why would war, especially a civil war, produce bushwacking?

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We lived at Quincy, Ill., and during the war Dad had many experiences with bushwackers. He always carried a musket when he [went] anywhere with his wagon and during the war days the river bottom was full of bushwachers and they would [shoot] a man from behind the bushes and rob him. For that reason we had to be constantly on the lookout for these miserable bushwackers.

One night it was dark, a man ran into our house and crawled under the table. Dad wasn't home. The man under the table was full of blood. Mother and us kids was scart stiff. Thru the window we saw two [men?] ride up. We kids hid under the bed until they drove off. They were rebel soldiers. They wanted to catch the Union soldier hiding there. Before these men came, this Union man told us the rebels wanted to kill him and had already wounded him. He wanted Dad to hid him in his house so rebels wouldn't get him. Dad said "Don't worry we'll keep you." He washed him and bandaged his wounds and put him to bed after the rebels left. We crawled out from under the bed after the rebels left and watched the Union man being taken care of.

We were afraid the rebels would come back but the [fellows] never came back. Dad and brother got their muskets out. Dad watched in front of the house and brother watched in back of the house, but no one came back. The next morning the union soldier put his uniform in a suitcase. We gave him a suit to put on. He wanted to go to his brother in Illinois. So dad took him to the station and he left. Dad came home. We never saw him again. After 6 months we got a card from him. He got home. A year later dad got a letter. He sent money, a roll of money and thanked dad.
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View the entire interview with Mr. L. A. Sherman from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.