Reminiscences of the War Between the States in Crawford County, Arkansas

Experiences of Miss Rachael Couch

Miss Rachael Couch (later Mrs. Lake) lived in what is now Alma, opposite Farris Grove, previous to and during the War Between the States.

She was quick, impulsive and daring and a true Southerner. Her brothers were in the Confederate army.

Living near what is now the town was a John Brodie, also a Confederate soldier, who had slipped in to see his people. While on the visit he was wounded in the throat by a Federal soldier somewhere near the Ross settlement, close to the Bushmiaer farm. The news of the shooting soon spread and among those who heard it, was Miss Couch, who decided to try and learn where he was. So while riding around on her pony she came to this settlement in which a number of Federal soldiers were. When she rode up, some of the inhabitants asked her what she wanted and she replied that she was hunting her geese and asked if they had seen them. In reply, they pointed toward some woods saying she would find them there. Riding on, Miss Couch found Mr. Brodie lying on the ground.

That night he was taken to Farris Grove, which being very wooded, provided a safe retreat for him. There he was cared for by Miss Couch and some of her friends. They were afraid to have a light so had to minister to him in the dark. Silk thread was used to cleanse the wound, drawing the thread back and forth. Finally, he recovered, but never had good use of his voice.

Several times, Miss Couch made trips to Fort Smith for supplies: under her hoopskirt she wore. buckled around her waist, a pair of boots. These she would fill with medicine and other supplies and returning home she would store them in a place of safety for future use.  Sometimes it would take her two or three days to make  the trip. At times she found it difficult to get back and  forth through the lines, having to watch her opportunity  to slip through.

Sometimes during the war. Miss Couch was a member of a party who went into the Indian Territory, now  Oklahoma, for salt, a commodity very much needed and hard to obtain. Their destination must have been the  Bean Salt Works on the Illinois.

A short time before the war, her mother had lost a  favorite brother whose trunk containing his clothing was  kept sacred in her room. Included among the articles was  a handsome broadcloth suit. Mrs. Couch was ill and  was in bed when a soldier came into the house to see  what he could find. On reaching her room he tried to  move her from the bed to see what was hidden under  her, but her daughter prevented him from doing so. But  the soldier, however, discovered the trunk and began  ransacking it. When he found the suit he began doning (sic)  it Miss Couch grabbed for it and a perfect tussle ensued.  Finally the coat was torn leaving each with a piece, and  when the soldier reached the head of the stairs, Miss  Couch gave him a push and he landed at the foot, where  stood Miss Sue Hunster with a broom which she brought  down on him with much force and several times. After  managing to get up, he left with great haste.

Miss Couch had two cousins, Mary and Jemimah Couch, who were quite large and strong. Their family owned a threshing machine and as there was no one else to take it to the different farms, these two girls tool it from farm to farm so the tillers of the soil could have their grain threshed. Those who know anything in regard to the working of a threshing machine can understand the girls had quite a job.

They each owned, and played a "fiddle" so in the evening after the work was done, there would be dancing, the young ladies furnishing the music.

At different times, Miss Rachael Couch joined parties going to a water mill near Mulberry to have what corn she could obtain ground but often it would be taken away from her and the others by Federal soldiers. The northerners not only aggravated the young lady herself, but also her people. Time and time again they hung her Uncle Uriah Couch, to make him tell if there were other Confederates in the neighborhood, but each time he refused to tell.

Another time, when a young Confederate soldier was found very sick, Miss Couch and her friends carried him to Farris Grove and cared for him like they had done for Mr. Brodie. And as in the first case, they had no light at night for fear of the Union soldiers. At his death, they buried him in the Evers cemetery.

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Page last edited 06/27/2009