Runaway Slaves in Clarke County

Source: Osceola Centennial Issue 1851-1951, section 7, page 7.

Osceola Furnished Hiding Place For Runaway Slaves During the Civil War

The Sentinel of Jan. 27, 1865 tells of a shooting between some escaped slaves and some Missourians in Osceola.

A shooting affair came off in our usually quiet town on last Monday night, in which the darkie portion of our population were one of the parties. It seems that about 10 o'clock on last Monday night two men approached a stable belonging toF.W. Johnson, of this place, in which were some horses claimed by the negroes, and endeavored to enter it.

The darkies- who had been apprised of the presence of these men in the neighborhood, and of their intention to get possession of the horses with which they (the negroes) had made their escape from slavery in Missouri-- had set a guard to watch the stable, while others of their number were in a house near by armed for fight. The guard, hearing someone trying to enter the stable began to reconnoiter, when he was halted by the intruder, and shooting commenced. This brought out the main force of the colored brigade, and a sharp engagement ensued, in which about a dozen shots were exchanged, resulting in the total rout of the intruders.

Quite early the following morning, two men made their appearance at Mr. Johnson's-- before any except a boy was up-- and demanded admission into the stable. They were advised by Mr. J's son, Frederick, who was lying sick in the room to 'go a little slow,' and finally concluded to call again which they did at a later hour. Calling the second time, they met the darkies at the wood pile, and another fight would have taken place, had not Mr. Johnson appeared, who told them that if they had business in his stable to get the proper authority and they could go in. They left, sayng they had such authority, and would produce it, but failed to do so. They shortly after left town, when the darkies, five in number, started in pursuit.

Seeing the darkies approaching, our Missourians threw their revolvers in the fence corner, which were picked up by the Samboes, and the pursued overtaken and marched back to town. Telling their story here, they admitted that they were not the owners of the horses brought from Missouri by the darkies-- that they were hunting them for the owner, by his request. In answer to the question as to whether or not the owner was a loyal man, they said 'he claimed to be loyal when with loyal men, and was a secesh when with the seceshionists.' We are told that one of these gentry admitted that he raised a squad of men for Price's army at the commencement of the war, and enlisted in the rebel service, but said he found he was in the wrong place, and left that service (?). After giving this account of themselves they were permitted to depart.

It should have been mentioned at the commencemnet of this articles, that on the morning previous to the night of the shooting, two men were discovered by one of the darkies trying to get into the above mentioned stable, and that they left on his approach. The story of the darkies is, that their master from whom they took the horses, is a notorious rabid secessionist; that the soldiers there were so provoked by his abuse that they compelled the darkies to take his horses and leave.

We have but a word to say in conclusion. We are always extremely happy to hear of a darkie's escape from a traitor, and if he can bring away his master's property, so much the better; but justice to the Union people of our neighbor State forbids that we should encourage these blacks by any means,direct or idirect, to molest the property of those who have proven themselves to be on the right side in this contest between loyalists and traitors.

We must remember that these blacks are an uneducated class of beings, and that a little license from the whites will stimulate them to do that which may provide retaliation. It may not be untrue that a darkie has earned the horse which he takes fromhis loyal master on running away fromhim; but even if we believe it just for him to do so, do we not pay dearly for the whistle when we sell the friendship of that loyal master for so small a price, by giving countenance to such business.

In the above affair, we believe the master to be a traitor, and if such is the case we say all right; but when it is evident that the property brough there by the blacks, belongs to Union men, let those blacks be advised to restore it, and much better feelings will exist between the two sections.

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