From Rolla to Lebanon the roads were bad—muddy in the valleys of the streams, and on the higher ground frozen into inequalities like a gigantic rasp.
Over this route our army of sixteen thousand men had slowly made its way, accomplishing what was then thought next to impossible. I found the country had changed much in appearance since I passed through on my way to join General Lyon. Many houses had been burned and others deserted. The few people that remained confessed themselves almost destitute of food. Frequently we could not obtain entertainment for ourselves and horses, particularly the latter. The natives were suspicious of our character, as there was nothing in our dress indicating to which side we belonged. At such times the cross-questioning we underwent was exceedingly amusing, though coupled with the knowledge that our lives were not entirely free from danger.
From Lebanon we pushed on to Springfield, through a keen, piercing wind, that swept from the northwest with unremitting steadiness. The night between those points was passed in a log-house with a single room, where ourselves and the family of six persons were lodged. In the bitter cold morning that followed, it was necessary to open the door to give us sufficient light to take breakfast, as the house could not boast of a window. The owner of the establishment said he had lived there eighteen years, and found it very comfortable. He tilled a small farm, and had earned sufficient money to purchase three slaves, who dwelt in a similar cabin, close beside his own, but not joining it. One of these slaves was cook and housemaid, and another found the care of four children enough for her attention. The third was a man upward of fifty years old, who acted as stable-keeper, and manager of the out-door work of the establishment.
The situation of this landholder struck me as peculiar, though his case was not a solitary one. A house of one room and with no window, a similar house for his human property, and a stable rudely constructed of small poles, with its sides offering as little protection against the wind and storms as an ordinary fence, were the only buildings he possessed. His furniture was in keeping with the buildings. Beds without sheets, a table without a cloth, some of the plates of tin and others of crockery—the former battered and the latter cracked—a less number of knives and forks than there were persons to be supplied, tin cups for drinking coffee, an old fruit-can for a sugar-bowl, and two teaspoons for the use of a large family, formed the most noticeable features. With such surroundings he had invested three thousand dollars in negro property, and considered himself comfortably situated.