The year is 1862, a Confederate unit is passing through Middletown Valley seeking assistance in preparing a meal for their regiment. A walk through of the neighborhood reveals a town seemingly deserted; doors locked, windows shut and not a person in sight. An exhaustive search precedes the discovery of a housemaid, who upon inquiry gave a most unexpected reply:
“ On seeing us, they were evidently alarmed, but we quietly asked the lady if she would cook four pounds of flour for us. She replied that she would. This assured her that we were peaceful. I inquired of her why all the houses were so tightly closed and nobody visible. She replied that the Yankees had been to the town ahead of us, and had told the people that the rebels had but one eye and a horn, both in the middle of the forehead, and that they lived on women and children. I was amazed and asked her if they believed it. She replied
- W.A. Johnson (Co. D, 2d S. C. V.) 1
that they did. ”
There are some stories too good to be true, than there are other that are just too good.
Early America was a strange place, few migrants knew exactly what to expect in such a curious, unfamiliar land and some expectations were higher than others. For good authority has it that in the Appalachian foothills near South Mountain there exists a belief that the vicinity is plagued by a bloodcurdling, flying creature of vast proportions— the “snallygaster.” An avian-reptilian miscreation, the snallygaster is said to prey on poultry and carry off children after nightfall.2
At first glance the brute is suggestive of European dragons, the major divergence being the prior is wholly hideous. The grotesque gargantua boasts a beak of iron fitted with teeth of steel, claws like scythes, an eye midway in its forehead, a pair of feathered wings and a dozen, wriggling tentacles to boot.