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The Boy of Battle Ford and the Man

W. S. Blackman

Publication Year: 2012

A classic story of a young man’s journey to adulthood, The Boy of Battle Ford covers Blackman’s years growing up in early post-settlement Illinois, where he gave in to temptations such as drinking, gambling, and the lure of prostitutes before joining the army, finding God and becoming a preacher. Blackman, who notes that he is determined to “write facts” in this book,   peppers his story with the sordid details of the sinful times of his life as well as with discussions of faith and of struggling to understand his God and his beliefs.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page

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Publisher's Note

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pp. 7-9

The Boy of Battle Ford and the Man tells a true story as ancient as armies: a young person goes off to war, and an older one, changed by experience, returns. The best of these stories are usually told by enlisted personnel—the privates, corporals, and sergeants who bear the greatest hardships...

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Chapter I

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pp. 11-17

I was born on the eighth day of February, 1840, in a log dwelling on a little farm seven miles south of Harrisburg, Illinois, and one mile south of the village of Independence. In November, 1842, my family moved from the home of my birth to the Battle Ford farm on the Saline river...

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pp. 17-23

During the flrst seven years of my, life, the date of the events of which. I am writing, I saw only one wagon except the clumsy truck wagon whose wheels were sawed from black gum logs. Sleds were used generaly in moving wbat could not be carried easily on the men's shoulders. The roads of that date were...

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pp. 23-28

Our family library consisted of an old Bible. printed in italic letters, with only one letter for the f's and s s. They were f's. It was so difficult for our family to read that it was not used much. The other piece of book in the library was a part of John A. Murrell's life. It was called "The Murder Book." Everybody wanted to read...

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pp. 28-34

My mother had three sisters living near Brushy Fork creek, eight miles south of Galatia, ten miles north of our home. They and their husbands asked us to sell our claim and buy one near them. My oldest sister had died before my father, and another sister, who was born two months after my father's...

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pp. 34-38

On August 1, 1850, our uncle, who had helped to raise us, was married to Miss Julia Boatright, an excellent woman, and began housekeeping in his new house, one-fourth of a mile south of our home. We then hired our house rebuilt one-fourth of a mile east of its former location, while we resided with our uncle...

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pp. 38-45

But alas! on the 17th day of June, 1852, we saw our dear mother and William A. Harris stand on the floor and be joined in the bond of matrimony by Elder Edmon Vinson, in the presence of the relatives and friends. We could not say a word that would effect anything...

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pp. 45-57

On the 13th of the next March I went to live with my brother. Of all the years I have lived, those six years and nine months just mentioned were the most unhappy ones. I believe it to be a criminal mistake to unite two families into one, unless the parents are as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. God...

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pp. 57-62

On the Monday following, Captain Roark's company and Captain Horning's company encamped at Shawneetown, on the Ohio river. I was the orderly sergeant of the latter company. If muster-in-day had come soon I was likely to be rejected, as I had not yet recovered...

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pp. 62-68

We started to Vicksburg on the ninth of May on some boat, and landed near that place on the thirteenth of same month. The enemy, knowing where the boat would come close to the bank of the river on either side of it, ambushed us several times, but succeeded in killing...

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pp. 68-78

On July 29 we left the sickly place and landed at evening at the water's edge in Memphis, Tennessee, August 1, landed. 1863, and camped where we landed. The next day we were put off the cars, in Corinth, Miss. I suppose we were the sickest and dirtiest regiment that ever came north to recuperate. Two regiments...

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pp. 78-81

I was sent with another squad of our company to the north of the city at midnight, as an attack on the lines was expected any hour. But before noon the next day, June 1, we were relieved, and in the afternoon took the cars for Colliersville, fifty miles away, as a start in the...

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pp. 81-90

To relate the operations of those days as I saw them and felt them and knew of them I regarded as pertinent to the mission of the book, as my own turning from death and regeneration by the spirit of God to be his son was effected in time which includes everyone of the...

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pp. 90-97

Comrade Vinson passed me, with a book in his hand, which I borrowed. That was on the day of our arrival there. I read on the back, "Nelson on Infidelity." Opening the book on the title plege, I read, "The Cause and Cure of Infidelity;" I was a great lover of books and especially of those...

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pp. 97-100

Soon after our return to camp a one armed man came to our regiment and inquired for John Parks. I went in search of Parks, in company with the man. We soon met him. The man asked Parks if he remembered him. Parks said, "I have seen you somewhere, but I cannot...

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pp. 100-104

The twenty-third day of December, 1864, came, with its northwest clouds and its Arctic winds, more piercing than was common for that clime, and with them came the welcome news that Dick Davis was to be hanged in Fort Pickering that very afternoon. The reason the...

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pp. 104-109

Expeditions were made to different places and for different purposes all through the winter, but our camp was not changed. Provost and picket service was the ordinary duty, unless detailed for tramps into the country or rushed to some place to aid some army or to cut off some...

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pp. 109-119

The preacher asked those who were willing to do so, to come to the altar. With much effort I rose and gradually advanced through the mass of people, till I reached the altar. The preacher extended his hand and exclaimed (involuntarily, as it seemed to me) "Bless God!" Doubtless he was...

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pp. 119-123

Early in April, with deep sorrow, our men heard of the loss of two hundred members of the Fifty-sixth regiment, Illinois infantry. The tragedy did not occur in a battle. This narrator does not intend to note battles, except as they affected The Boy of Battle Ford directly or...

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pp. 123-130

It was early in May that I came to understand that I was already a true Christian. Four more months elapsed before my regiment was discharged and sent home. The great war was practically over. There was enough to do to keep all of us busy, in the service of the...

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pp. 131-145

About November 1, 1866, I attended a series of meetings at the South America Baptist church of evenings, but taught school each day. I was very anxious to see sinners converted and often felt like I wanted to instruct inquirers, but could not afford to try lest I be in...

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pp. 145-153

The task I had long expected to perform is done. I should here lay my pen down and rely on God to make this true and uncouth story a blessing to many whose souls weigh heavily on the author's heart but for the fact that the readers will generally wish to know if...

Sources for the Introduction

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pp. 157


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pp. 159-162

E-ISBN-13: 9780809331291
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809331284

Publication Year: 2012