Piedmont Passages: Quaker wouldn’t become soldier
Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2011
Editorís note: George Raynor was managing editor of the Salisbury Post for 30 years and editor for eight years before retiring in 1982. This essay appeared in the Post on April 14, 1985.
While the role of Quakers as conscientious objectors has been for the most part accepted in wars involving Americans, this is not the same as being respected. Often being accused of being traitors and reviled as cowards, Quakers cling to their uneasy roles in a warring world to this day. Louis A. Brown, the Statesville historian and author of the authoratative study of the Salisbury prison camp (1861-1865), has continued to unearth material about the prison since the publication of his study in 1980. Included among the new material is some that sheds more light on the martyr-like role of the Quaker.
In his history Brown has a short reference to the mistreatment of Solomon Frazier, a Randolph County Quaker. The reference is from a letter that David O. McRaven, one of the guards, wrote to his wife Amanda. In the letter McRaven describes the mistreatment. ěOur men often act like heathern the officers of Masses Batallion have an old fellow that calls himself a Quaker in tow they have been working with him this is the third Day, he will not carry a gun they have Strapped a Musket on his shoulder and tied a rope around his neck and three men take him by turns and Drag him around in a ring at the trot. I think they will Drag the life out of the Old Scoundril before Long but they will not make a soldier out of him.î
Brown thought that this would be the end of material about Solomon Frazier, but happily he was wrong, thanks to the collecting interests of Houston Ballard of Cleveland. Hearing that Brownís history would soon be published, Ballard, a stamp and cover collector, remembered that some letters from the prison would be sold. He went to Washington, D.C., for the auction and bought some. One happened to be from the same Solomon Frazier to Brother Hinson (a spiritual brother no doubt) and tells of the incident related by McRaven and other relevant facts. The letter follows:
ěBrother Hinson the (they) have punished me severely and this morning the sent me to Lawyer Blackburn to see if he (could) clear me but he Could not do anything for me unless I had paid the five hundred. (All Quakers who claimed to be conscientious objectors were to pay $500 to gain a Confederate deferment. This privilege was revoked at the end of 1863 so that Quakers who had not paid were in trouble with the Confederacy.) Blackburn sed get some papers from my meeting showing that I am a Cons-(member in good standing?) members of the Society of friends and pay the tax, Col Mass sed what papers I have is worth nothing and he say when I make this trial and donít come clear I have got to take arms or the will kill me for that is the orders. If their can be any thing don for me I would lik to see it quick. first they tied me down two hours afternoon the mad me Carry a pole nex morning the draw me up by my hands 2 hours (then in the) afternoon the tied a gun to me and a chunk that I could not carry, they (were) going to hold it on me and throwed me down, I feel vary com (calm?) and would lik to have sum help I am well and would lik to get som thing from home I have eate nothing or but little else that is from home. Brother Hinson I want thee to bring me som provisions and til! cup. I ever remain your brother.
(signed) Solomon Frazier
ěThis is poorly don.î
Frazier received a letter from Brother E. W. Frazier written on Jan. 4, 1865, and found in A. Earl Weatherlyís book The First Hundred Years of Historic Guilford, 1771-1871. The letter explains in an indirect way some of the problems Solomon faced at Salisbury and is as follows:
ěIn reply to thy request concerning rations we have concluded that thou cannot do better than draw Rations at present and we also think perhaps their is nothing wrong in so doing.
ěHannah (Solomonís wife) was at meeting today and she said she wrote thee that perhaps some one would bring thou something to eat the last of this week but I think it doubtful for the trains are pressed (impressed for the Confederate war effort) but the first of next week we will send or bring thee something.
ěSolomon, make thyself familiar with thy officers. Talk with them every opportunity. Thou canst get to be kind to them.
ěI would think there was nothing wrong in doing something to make thyself comfortable about thy tent and tent mates.
ěAll is well except Allen, he is confined to the house but is better. Thou has my best wish so I conclude. Write soon.
ěI remain thy sincere brother (signed) E. W. Frazier.î
Following the War, Solomon Frazier returned to his family and farm in Randolph County.