January, 1862, was an intensely cold month. I was on our large farm one mile and a half southwest of Hickman Mills, in Jackson County, Missouri. My husband, James Doneghy, was in the South. I was alone save my six little boys, the oldest 11 years, the youngest Hanson Weightman, 6 months.
We were living very uncomfortably, as an attempt had been made to burn the house by Federal soldiers in October, 1861. We were among the first in the county to suffer in every way possible. I, however, saved the house till October 22, 1862.
In order to pass away the lonely evening I would read Bible stories to my children from an old family Bible, which was always in its place on a small table near one of the front windows. One cold bright night, so cold that the air seemed to snap with electricity, and a brighter moon I never saw, I remember it well, all at once there was a dash and a crash on the outside. My window shades were not lowered for the night, and I could see plainly the house surrounded by Federal cavalry, who had hitched their horses about one hundred yards from the house, walking stealthily, that we might be taken by surprise, guns and bayonets at every window, threatening to fire into the house.
I called out not to shoot, that I would open the doors and they could come in. After telling my children not to be alarmed I, with my baby in my arms, opened the doors, when the house was soon crowded with soldiers in full uniform. Oh, I see the gleam of their arms today. They were much excited, I may say, enraged, and with drawn revolver, said they came to burn the house. Imagine yourself surrounded by fifty enraged men, but Oh! how a child will quell them.
One of the soldiers said, "I will burn this house, and if you want to save anything take it out." My little boy, only 6 years old, who had been hearing all that was said, called at the top of his voice and gathered the Bible in his arms saying, "I will take the Bible; I know my mother does not want to lose her family Bible." That was enough.
Silence reigned and pistols fell to the side; they were subdued by the power of the Bible presented by the child. After a short while they left, not a word spoken; they were softened, leaving without any threats. The Bible has been rebound and willed to the one who saved it. He is a good man and lawyer in Kirksville, MO.
Those Federal soldiers had been told that my husband had returned from the South, and their object was to capture him and then burn the house. They were enraged in their disappointment, but when my little boy called and asked to take out the Bible, hugging it in his arms; they were speechless for a few minutes and stood as living monuments, all in full uniform.
Finally one of the leaders had the courage to say, "Let's go, boys." Not another word was spoken. They left peaceably; a little child led them. There was reverence for that book in their hearts that conquered.
Mrs. Kate S. Doneghy
Reminiscences of the Women of Missouri during the Sixties
Missouri Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy