The Short Brothers
John A. Short (1826-1906)
John A. Short, 3rd great-grandfather of brother Jason Fite, was born in 1826 to Willis Short, a War of 1812 veteran, and Nancy Kendrick Short. John served in the Missouri Home Guard during the war. The harrowing tale of his Civil War encounter with bushwhackers was a story later used by his grandson, U.S. Representative Dewey J. Short (1898-1979), on numerous occasions. The rendition of the tale posted below is from volume II of the 1917 publication The Ozark Region, It's History, and It's People (pages 194-196).
A BRAVE WOMAN'S DEED.
beginning the story of other members of the male side of the Coleman
family, the writer has decided that the brave act of one of the members
on the female side of the house is most emphatically worthy of a place
in these pages. In that family which had been left fatherless in the
Tennessee mountains in 1832, was the youngest daughter, Lydia E.
Coleman. This lady married John Short, and when the war broke out they
had been living for some years on a pretty little farm in one of the
valleys in the northern part of Stone county. Like his brother-in law,
of whom we have been reading, John Short was an outspoken Union man-it
did not run in that blood or any of its connections
to turn against the old flag.
Lyon marched into Springfield in the summer of 1861 John Short had been
among the first to offer his services to that Union general, and when
Lyon started south from Springfield on the 1st of August, John Short
rode along as one of his guides and scouts. Late in the afternoon on the
2d was fought the sharp skirmish that has gone into history as the
"Battle of Dug Spring." After the fight was over and night had fallen
Short asked and obtained permission to return to his home, which was
only a mile or two distant. He arrived there safely, and after supper
was sitting in his door peacefully smoking his pipe. The story of what
happened then the writer will try and give in brief form, as it was told
him by John Short and his wife ten years after the occurrences.
men came along the road in front of the house and called "hello," after
our Missouri fashion. Asked what they wanted they stated that they
wished to find the Springfield road, so that they might reach the Union
army. Without a second thought Short walked to the fence and vaulted
over, intending to give them the direction they asked. No sooner had he
struck the ground than a pair of stalwart arms were thrown around him,
pinning his arms to his sides. He threw his hand to the butt of his
revolver, but the second man grasped his wrist and attempted to wring
the pistol from his grasp. Down on his knees went Short, with one
ruffian choking him and the other grappling for the pistol, on which the
attacked man still managed to keep his grip. But the odds were too
great; Short felt his strength going fast and knew that he could hold
out but a moment longer. Then the man on his back suddenly released the
grip on his throat and fell off onto the ground, while the other rascal
also let go and started to run down the road. In an instant Short was on
his feet, his revolver cracked and the fleeing man leaped into the air
and came down with a bullet through his heart. Then Short whirled to
settle with his other antagonist, only to find that belligerent
gentleman already accounted for, for he lay flat on his face, and under
his shoulder blade Short's axe was sunk almost out of sight!
brave woman had seen the attack on her husband, and flying to his aid,
had picked up the axe from the wood pile, and with one swift, sure
stroke, had slain the man who was choking her husband to death. Then
follows what has always seemed to me the bravest part of the story. Mrs.
Short had caught some exclamations made by the dead men in the fight,
that indicated that they expected more of their comrades to arrive at
any moment. Knowing that if these men came it meant instant death to her
husband, she insisted that he take his gun and blanket, and spend the
night in the woods. At first he refused to do this, not wanting to leave
her alone to face such scoundrels if they came. But she insisted and at
length she had her way, and was left alone with those dead Scamps.
She did not dare to light a lamp, for fear of guiding her foes to the house, but in the darkness and alone, she actually took the dead men by the heels, and by main strength dragged them, one at a time, to a straw stack back of the house. There she dug a shallow grave, rolled them in, and covered them up. Then she piled straw to hide the new made grave; and there the bones of those marauders are today. About eight o'clock next morning the gang of which the dead men were members came, to the number of some twenty five or thirty. They inquired for Mr. Short, and for their two comrades. Short was, so the lady told them, in Springfield, where he had been for two weeks! As to the men they asked about she could tell them nothing! Then that gang of thieves ransacked the house, taking everything that struck their fancy, while the brave woman sat in a chair and freely told them her opinion of men who would rob a helpless woman. At last one of them turned back the feather bed, and threw a shovel full of coals from the fire place into the straw underneath the bed. That was the way many a home was burned in those days. But this home had a guardian, for Mrs. Short sprang to her feet, gathered the blazing straw tick in her arms, and cast it out over the front fence. Even as hardened a wretch as the leader of those "bushwhackers," could recognize the bravery of such an act, and he called his men and they rode away, leaving the home to stand for many a year after the war had ended.
Private Edom Braid Short (1832-1904)
Private Edom Braid Short, 3rd great-granduncle of brother Jason Fite, was born in 1832 to Willis Short and Nancy Kendrick. He was mustered into Company B, 5th Tennessee Infantry Regiment on March 6, 1862. The 5th Tennessee was active throughout the war.
Edom was court-martialed in the late fall of 1863 for being absent without leave but was acquitted and returned to his unit. He was shot in the left foot at Red Clay, Georgia on May 10, 1864 and was transferred to a military hospital in Indiana. He was mustered out of the service on July 18, 1865.
Private Jackson Short (1837-1864)
Private Jackson Short, 3rd great-granduncle of brother Jason Fite, was born in 1837. He was mustered into Company A, 2nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment on August 20, 1861. He was captured on November 6, 1863 in Rogersville, Tennessee during the Knoxville Campaign. He spent time in Andersonville before being moved to Belle Isle in Richmond, Virginia. He died on Belle Isle as a prisoner of war on March 7, 1864.
Private Standerferd Rice Short (1842-1864)
Private Standerferd Rice Short, 3rd great-granduncle of brother Jason Fite, was born in 1842 to Willis Short and Nancy Kendrick. He was mustered into Company A, 2nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment on August 20, 1861. He was captured on November 6, 1863 in Rogersville, Tennessee during the Knoxville Campaign. He died on Belle Isle as a prisoner of war on March 17, 1864.