When I quit Memphis, I knew most of my acquaintances must’ve thought my rather sudden love of the secessionist movement a rather strange turn of character.
Sadly, the reality was one of cowardice and not patriotism. I’d run up some rather serious gambling debts in the weeks before the Union took the city, and I doubted my debtors would be so lugubrious in seeking repayment once marshal law lifted.
I petitioned the Provost Marshal for a pass out of the city, claiming I had a sickly mother in Alabama that desperately needed my care. A pass was granted, and I left the next day, believing my troubles behind me.
Some time later, I came upon a wagon of men traveling along the same road. They said they were refugees fleeing the tyranny of Union occupation. Jokingly, I professed to be a kindred soul, and they promptly offered me passage on their wagon.
Once I’d settled into a free space, the men around me struck into a Confederate fighting song I had never heard before.
And promptly followed it with ten more.
A sinking feeling grew in me that I’d escaped one bad situation by leaping head-long into the next.
Special Order Number 1 was issued when the Union forces took Memphis during the Civil War. It established marshal law, and gave a window of time for men to either take the oath of loyalty to the United States, or petition for pass to leave the city. Several less than scrupulous people took this as an opportunity to flee various forms of debts by escaping to the other side of the Union lines.