As we came in sight of the camping ground we saw something that did not please us. The bushwhackers were there. Of necessity we camped near them. Always they were a sullen, disagreeable crowd that we avoided as much as possible, but that afternoon they were worse than ever.
Scarcely were our tents pitched when the men of the train slouched into our camp muttering threats of "shooting" and "cleaning out the train."
Mr. Daily listened to them awhile, watching them closely and in silence. They grew more and more blustering and threatening. At last he said to some of them, "Just what do you want? What is the matter with you?"
The bushwhackers crowded closer and our men, sensing trouble, drew near also. "We're goin' to clean out this train," they blustered, "Cut down our flag, ye did! You'll pay fer it. We'll beat the life out o' ye."
"We'll git a lot o' ye!" They went on with more talk of killing and shooting up the crowd. Their manner was so ugly and their threats so dreadful that I was thoroughly alarmed. We had many more men than they but I did not want any of our people to be hurt.
Mr. Daily turned to his party. "Get your guns, men, every one. We have had enough of this." Then to the bushwhackers, he added:
"We have had all we will take from you. You have gone far enough."
Our men were soon back. Armed and ready they awaited the next move. That move, however, was not the one we expected.
The bushwhackers looked at the guns. While we stared in amazement, they turned and slunk back to their wagons. Heads hanging, they sat on the wagon tongues, whipped, beaten.
Finally one man whined, "We'd fight if we had any guns."
"Any guns!" For a moment words seemed to fail Mr. Daily. "Any guns!" At last he went on: "You've held onto us all though the Indian country, safe where you could not have defended yourselves. And you! Every mean, contemptible thing you could devise to make life miserable for us! A fine sort you are! Listen to this: From now on, you get behind our train and stay out of our way. We'll have no more smartness from you!" More he said, much more, to the great delight of us all. His speech was a great satisfaction to at least a part of his audience.
The next morning we passed their train, this time silent, and we had no further trouble with them; in fact, we never saw them again. We learned later that they were a band of border ruffians who had carried on guerilla warfare until captured by Union soldiers. They had been set across the Missouri River and disarmed that they might not by joining the Indians cause more trouble. It was well for the South to be rid of them, but they were a poor type of people for the new country to which they were going.