Thursday, July 30, 2015

A New Bernian speaks her mind.

A tale from the Union Occupation

Carolina and the Southern Cross, November 1912, p.11.

Mrs. Polly Chadwick, an original character with a keen sense of humor, was an elderly widow who had to use her wit as well as her common sense to help herself over many a rough place.  She could cajole Gen. Burnside and obtain her point.  For instance, she would say, "Well, General, if you will guess my riddle it will show you what a time I have had chasing your thieves around."  Then the riddle:  "Through a rock, and through a reel, through an old spinning wheel, though a sheep's shank bone, such a riddle never was known."  Burnside generally gave it up and gave up anything else that Mrs. Polly requested.

One day Mrs. Polly saw Foster's soldiers drumming a man out of the army with great ceremony.  A huge board showing the word "Thief," was strapped to the man's back.  "Hoity toity!" said Mrs. Polly, "what has the poor fellow done?"  "He has been stealing," replied the soldier, "he is a thief."  "Why, man alive," exclaimed Mrs. Polly with admiration, "You have undertaken a mighty big task, for if you drum all the thieves out of your army you'll not be able to find trees enough in North Carolina to furnish the boards to their backs."

[Note: Although the exact identity of Mrs. Polly Chadwick is not known, she may have been the Mrs. Mary "Polly" Chadwick, widow of John Chadwick, who died in New Bern on April 7, 1884, aged 83 years.  Her obituary reads in part, "Mrs. Polly Chadwick, as she was familiarly known, was a universal favorite with the citizens of this city.  Her genial nature, frank and candid demeanor, and jovial disposition claimed the admiration of all who were brought in contact with her, and it may be truly said that, none knew her but to love her."  Sounds to this blogger like someone who may have been able to stand up to a Union general. - John B. Green III]