Saturday, October 17, 2009

Civil War Memories of Jeremiah V. Hair

Henderson, Ky. - The thing that Jeremiah Vard Hair recalls best about the Civil War is that he was hungry most of the time.

To this starvation diet of Civil War days he attributes the fact that he now weighs but 133 pounds while he is just a fraction shy of being six feet tall.

Mr. Hair is going on 94 years old come next Sept. 14, and he was as spry up to a week ago as any of his youngsters. (These youngsters range from 50 to 65 years of age.)

“Why, he never used the front steps to get off the porch,” said Youngster Pedry Hair, age 65. “He always jumped up or down.”

The jump is about two and a quarter feet.

Jeremiah Hair was born down in the mountain country near Marion. He enlisted Sept. 14, 1861 in Company H., First Kentucky Cavalry.

He was mustered out in ’64 with nothing more serious by which to remember the war than a gnawing, hungry ache in his stomach and a burnt finger. The burnt finger came about this way:

“We were marching thru the mountains,” said Mr. Hair. “I was hungry, who-ee, but I was hungry.

“I asked the captain if I could drop out of line and go to some house along the way to get a piece of bread. He just cussed at me.

“So I asked my lieutenant. He said ‘sure, and bring me a piece.’

“I stopped at the next house and asked for water. The woman gave me a cup. Thru the open door I could see some corn bread cooking in a skillet.

“I was so hungry I didn’t even ask whether I could have a piece. I just stepped in, picked it out of the skillet, broke it in half, and walked out again.

“That’s how I got the burnt finger. That corn bread was sure hot. But it was the best I ever ate.”

The cavalry took part in many a battle. The mounted men were used hard under General Thomas. They even aided in chasing Morgan and his raiders.

“I was in so many fights that I can’t remember half of them,” complained Mr. Hair. “We did a lot of bush-whacking.”

On one occasion the mountain boy had a taste of the inside of a military “booby-hatch.”

“I had a fight with Capt. Jim Dick when he ordered me to stop whistling,” he recalled. “I licked him, but they tossed me in the guardhouse. They made me tote around a big log that it took two men to lift, on my shoulders.”

Mr. Hair retired from farming some 50 years ago and moved to Henderson, where he lives now in a little home near the old Marshall Furniture Company.

“I remember exactly when I came to Henderson,” he says. “It was in the fall of that real dry year.”

It took a bit of finger figuring on the part of his wife and two of his sons to determine that this must have been in 1874.

Mr. Hair’s hair is one of the most vigorous things about him. He’s got a thick black thatch of it and a mustache to boot.

[Jeremiah V. Hair was born 10 August 1840 Kentucky and died 17 May 1940 Henderson County, Kentucky, according to his death certificate. He is buried at Fernwood Cemetery. Marion most likely refers to Marion County, Kentucky. The article above appeared in the Sunday, 26 April 1936 issue of the Evansville, Indiana Press.]

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