“I Have Nothing to Sell to the Yankees”

A Scene of the James River

After the Battle of Malvern Hill, there is a story of how a yankee wandered around Virginia until he found one rebel, a woman residing near Harrison’s Landing. It was a hot day as he followed the tracks of the retreating General McClellan retreat from Malvern Hill. He was hungry and thirsty, but saw a woman standing at the gate leading to her house, and rode up and asked: “Madam, can I get dinner here?”

She saw the yank in me quicker than scat, and instantly replied: “The yankees stole all all I had to eat.”

“I’ll pay you well.”

“But I haven’t got nothin to sell.”

“If you had some potatoes and bacon and…”

“Yanks stole ’em all,” she interrupted.

“But you can give me a drink of water, can’t you?”

“No sir! The yankees filled up the well and carried away the dipper.”

“Is there a spring around here?”

“Used to be lots of ’em, but the yanks toted ’em off.”

Below us was the muddy James (river), and the drought had lased so long that there was hardly enough water to float a catfish. Pointing to the historic stream, I asked: “Why didn’t the yankees steal the river too?”

She scratched her with a sliver pulled off the fence and never unbent a particle as she replied: “They wanted to, stranger; wanted to in the wust way, and when they discovered it would’t load up wurth a cent, they galloped their old gunboats up and down and washed so many shirts in Turkey Bend that the Jeems has been ashamed to look a cow in the face ever since! Maybe you kin git a drink down thar, but ‘ere neighborhood won’t stand by and see you carry off any of the sand bars. Be a leetie keerful how you paw around.” This story appeared in The Bourbon News, Millersburg, Kentucky on April 25, 1882.




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