Updated on Wednesday*:
The days that followed the Sycamore Skirmish were more
frightening for Private Sutton Cox of Company C, than for any other
Union soldier. Cox had been shot through the leg. He was too badly
injured to move on with his fellow soldiers, and was left at the
Afraid that he would see the same treatment from the
Moccasins that his company had dealt upon the killed ranger, Cox crawled
into the woods for cover. By nightfall, he made it to the mouth of Steer
Creek, which was the home of Mary Burrows, known as “Granny” to most.
Granny hid Cox from Ranger scouts in the shelter of
nearby cliffs. History books say that she fed him, dressed his wounds,
and cared for him for two weeks. This was a risky move for anyone at the
current stage of conflict in Calhoun. Granny was aware of the risk, but
feared more for the young man and his future. She also knew that, if
found, he would not be spared; therefore, she went to see a neighbor,
James W. Johnson.
Johnson, known as “Uncle Jimmy,” was a southern
sympathizer at heart, but Granny knew that he was a good and decent man.
The story says that the man “abhorred bloodshed.” Uncle Jimmy knew that,
if caught aiding a Union Soldier who was wanted for the bloodshed at
Sycamore, nothing would save either him or Granny from the revenge of
Risking his own welfare and property, Johnson devised a
plan to move Cox out of the county. He and Granny disguised the private
in an old poke-bonnet, Granny’s steel-bowed spectacles, and one of her
dresses. Cox was mounted on a side-saddle for the journey along the
Little Kanawha River.
Initially, it seemed that the plan would work. Johnson
stayed calm as the two traversed the road to safety. Only a few miles
out of Grantsville, they were stopped by a squad of Ranger scouts led by
Robert Wilson. Thinking quickly, Johnson urged Granny to keep moving.
Johnson is quoted in the book,
West Virginia in the Civil War, as saying, “You ride on, Granny, for
Betsy’s powerful poorly; she’s a mighty sick woman.” The lie was to
indicate that Granny had been fetched to care for Betsy, Uncle Jimmy’s
wife. Cox was permitted to ride through the scouts.
Cox and Johnson made it to a Union home, where Cox was
given more care and a safe passage into Harrisville. The private fully
recovered and spent four years with Company C. He was present at the
Battle of Appomattox Court House on Apr. 9, 1865, to see General Robert
E. Lee surrender. His commander at the time was an original Company C
recruit, Major Michael A. Ayers.
“Granny” and “Uncle Jimmy” may not be remembered by
many, but their valor and humane actions changed the course of history
for one young man.
This Week's Editorial:By Helen Morris:
Calhoun County Map