Recently, I found this piece, written in April 1863, about the Laurel War. Does it change your perspective? For a long time, the running story is that the bad Confederates kept the good Union people from getting salt. The good Union people raided the salt stores in Marshall one evening, breaking into a few stores and homes for good measure. The worst thing they did was to take blankets from the beds of sick children. Soon thereafter, Confederate forces marched into Shelton Laurel, captured fifteen men and boys and marched them toward the Tennessee line. Before they had gone far, the Confederates lined them up and executed them. The youngest was 13. While there was some outcry, justice was never served on the Confederates. (This is the short version of the story.)
However, the piece below was written in April 1863 and appeared in a Raleigh newspapers:
"By this time [winter 1863], all who had volunteered from that country [Laurel], had deserted, and brought off their guns and ammunition, and commenced organizing companies, under the command, as they declared, of a Yankee officer, sent from Lincoln's government for that purpose. A company was raised of one hundred men, and they commenced robbing and plundering private houses in a settlement called "Flag Pond," in Washington county, Tennessee, taking money, guns, clothes, meat, and every thing they could carry away, making women and children strip off their shoes, socks and clothes for them, and left many families almost destitute of clothing, bedding or provisions. I did not learn that salt was the object of the thieves. Boys from ten to fifteen years of age were engaged in these robberies, and a gentlemen told me, whose house they robbed, that they were the most active rogues in company. I did not hear of any salt being taken.
The next depredation was committed at Marshal, Madison county, N.C., where they not only took salt, but they broke open store houses and dwelling houses, and carried off everything that they could take away. They broke into A. E. Bair's dwelling house, a large, well-furnished boarding-house, and robbed it of all the blankets and other bed furniture. They also entered Col. L. M. Allen's dwelling house, and abused it at a great rate-robbing it of all its furniture, and, I have heard made Mrs. Allen even strip off her under clothes, shoes and stockings for them to carry away. I did not hear that they got any salt there. On the same night, some distance from marshall, they entered A. Farnsworth's house, robbed it of beds, furniture, and clothes, and emptied bed ticks of their contents, in order to pack their stolen goods in the ticks. I did not learn that those "independent, high minded" men packed any salt from there in the bed ticks." (Semi-Weekly Standard [Raleigh] April 17, 1863)
So, for a third time I ask, does this change your perspective on the supposed Shelton Laurel Massacre? There is so much more to this story.