During the Civil War a good many people living on Maple Swamp near the present town of Dillon, S.C. refused to enlist for Military service and to avoid arrest went into the bays and swamps and lived there, stealing out occasionally to get supplies by robbing the good citizens who lived nearby. Occasionally some of these men would be picked up by the enrolling officers and sent to the front, but it would not be long before they would desert and join their former companions in the swamps. The society of these people was quite low and degraded, and the most of them were not strictly white people, but what might be called mulattoes or croatans. Their chief strongholds were Maple Swamp and the bays and morasses of Little Pee Dee River, but before the war closed all the swamps of this section were their hiding places, even embracing the swamps of lower Marlborough County. Quite a number of the good citizens living near this section voluntarily assisted the officers of the Confederate Government to arrest these deserters or outlaws and send them to the front. Where the deserters became aware that aid was being given to the officers for their arrest, they posted notices at night at various public places, that they intended to kill all persons who aided the officers or who attempted to hunt them. They also mentioned in these notices certain citizens they had already marked for slaughter. The people were naturally horrified at these notices and the men began at once to take steps to protect themselves and their families. The Home Guards were formed. They embraced all the men at home, that were capable of learning arms and also the older boys of the neighborhood. They organized themselves into companies and selected officers. Rev. Charles Fladger was made captain of one of the companies and Thomas Manning of another. The writer does not know the number of companies raised but remembers that the enlistment was very general, so much so, there were very few good citizens, who did not belong to one or the other of these companies. In the neighborhood of the writer the following men were members of Capt. Fladger's company: John R. Bethea, Jas. R. Bethea, Rev. Saml J. Bethea, Rev. Joel Allen, Dr. Alfred W. Bethea, James Feimigoin, Jesse Bethea (Reedy Creek) and others the writer could name.

Charles Fladger was selected captain on account of his experience in the regular army, which was a few months only. He had never seen any fighting and knew very little about military affairs. This company was nothing more than a mob, being wholy without any discipline or military training. They were armed more or less with shotguns. Whenever they were called out for service, those that had horses rode them. The others went afoot. The only creditable traits of soldiers they possessed, was courage, they lacked everything else. The deserters on the other hand were better organized and their leaders were men who would fight at bay as long as they could stand or load a gun. They knew on account of their various robberies and pillages which they had committed that in a fight no quarter would be given them.

The main leader of the deserters was Arthur Jackson, and his brother John was trusted lieutenant. Others prominent in the deserter list were Arch Surles, Pink Surles, Hugh Price, and members of the families of Hyatt, Coward, Herring, Jackson, and others too numerous to mention.

The Home Guards would make occasional raids into Maple and Pee Dee Swamps but with very little success. The deserters always had spies on the look out and were apprised of every movement of the Home Guards. During the last years of the Civil War, the deserters grew bolder and more fearless. Persons traveling the roads would often meet them going on some of their raids. The writer remembers, very distinctly, that on one occasion, he saw Arthur Jackson and a companion fishing at an old mill near his home. They were armed but did not trouble anybody. During these perilous times the Home Guards were called out to meet near Donaho Bay in upper Marion County. (This place is near Reedy Creek Presbyterian Church). They had been informed that the band of deserters was in that bay. The Guards collected and proceeded to surround the bay with a line of Sentinels. During the first night, a sentinel reported that several deserters were seen carrying a fresh killed hog to their camp in the bay. Next morning it was learned that the premises of a Mr. McDoogal had been raided during the night and a fat hog killed and carried away. It was now certain that the camp of deserters was in the bay, and the officers of the two companies began to lay plans to capture them. The plan was to send at the same time different squads from different points to meet at their camp which in the meantime had been definitely located. Everything having been arranged, the different Squads under their leaders proceeded to advance towards the camp of the deserters, who anticipating such a movement were quickly awaiting their approach. One of the Squads led by a Thomas Manning, soon reached the camp and opened fire, expecting that the other Squads were near at hand and would soon begin attack. The deserters returned the fire killing Manning and wounding Rev. Joel Allen, Jesse Bethea and James Feirnegan. There may have been others slightly wounded but cannot now call their names. The firing was kept up by both sides for one or two rounds. The other squads failed to turn up, so the remaining men of Manning's Squad retreated to their own camp. It turned out that the other Squads became panic strickened, when they heard the firing and refused to close in and assist Manning's Squad. Alltogether it was a badly managed affair. A squad returned to get the dead body of Manning. The deserters had fled to thicker cover. No deserters were killed in this fight and they continued to commit depredations and began killing various good citizens. A few nights after the Donaho fight Capt. Charles Fladger was killed at his home near Dothan Church. He walked out on his piazza after night and was shot dying instantly. A short time after this a gang of deserters waylaid and shot Dr. Alfred W. Bethea on the public road near his home. He was riding with Cade Rogers on the way to Little Rock several miles away. Dr. Alfred was mortally wounded but Rogers escaped unhurt. Rogers drove the horse to Dr. John J. Bethea's near Little Rock. Dr. John took charge of the wounded man and cared for him until he died a few days after. About this time the deserters killed Sheriff Campbell. He went into the Maple Section looking for a man that was avoiding arrest. He found the man and was taking him as a prisoner to Marion Courthouse, and when he got near Campbell's Bridge on his way, he was shot and killed and his prisoner set free. The Sheriff was advised not to attempt to make this arrest alone, but to take a strong posse with him. He did not heed the advice and was killed. Some time after this the deserters met Malcolm Clark, and aged citizen, in the public road near Buck Swamp Bridge and killed him, leaving his dead body lying in the road. A few nights before this a party of deserters went to Clark's house and at their call, Clark's wife stepped to the door and stood outside in the dark and as she closed the door, they fired at her the load, entering the house near her head, barely missing her. They then left, thinking they had killed her.

The deserters, when they heard that Dr. Alfred was at the home of Dr. John J. Bethea and receiving medical attention, they put Dr. John on the prescribed list. He had not heretofore been very active against the deserters, but had continued to practice his profession even visiting some of their families, but when they marked him for slaughter they aroused a tiger for true. He took the warpath and with the aid of some soldiers, who were then in the community. They captured, shot and hung a good many of the band. It is related, that at one time, they captured Arch Surles, whom they decided to shoot. They arranged that the execution should be something after the manner of running the gauntlet. He was placed at a certain distance and ordered to run for his life, thinking no doubt there would be no risk of an escape. Surles began to run and when he thought they would fire, fell down., the bullets passing above him. After the firing he jumped up and got into a swamp close at hand. A few days after the death of Dr. Alfred a crowd of deserters came to the home of Dr. John looking for him. He was not at home. They broke up furniture, carried away household goods, frightened his wife and children and in common parlance, kicked up the devil generally. These various acts of murder and pillage, convinced the Home Guards that they were unable to cope with the deserters, so it was determined to ask for soldiers. A Company of cavalry was sent and, cooperating with Dr. John and R.K. Clark, succeeded in capturing and killing a good number. Those of the deserters, who were not captured lay more closely in the Swamps and their raids and pillages suddenly ceased. The Civil War was now drawing to a close. Lee's army had surrendered and that of Johnson soon followed. The old soldiers began to return home and soon a great many of them had returned. The deserters, learning that the Confederacy had collapsed, now grew bolder and again began to pillage and commit depredations. The old soldiers banded together and began a war of extermination. The families of a great many of these old soldiers had suffered at the hands of the deserters and this naturally incensed the old soldiers and they went after the deserters with a determination to shoot or hand the last one of them. The deserters soon saw that it was not safe for them to remain anywhere in this section, so they went off out of the way and stayed away until the towns of the country, began to be garrisoned by Yankee soldiers. They went to the officers of the garrison at Marion, and told that on account of their Union proclivities the people of the country were oppressing them, that their lives were in danger and that they wished protection. In the meantime Dr. John and R. K. Clark with a passing soldier, named Lark were hunting very diligently for deserters, and occasionally would capture one. They did not tell what they did with their prisoners. The deserters and their families now became terror strickened and continued to appeal to the garrison. The officers did not know but they were innocent citizens oppressed for their Union tendencies. These deserters gave to the officers the names of quite a number of old soldiers and citizens who had been active against them. The officer's sent out soldiers to arrest these men and bring them to jail. These men became apprised of the situation and easily avoided arrest and for quite awhile they were on the constant lookout for squads of Yankee soldiers. The Yankees captured several but they managed to get out of jail by bribing the officers.

Dr. John, rather than to be annoyed and harassed by these Yankee Soldiers, moved to Mississippi. Arthur Jackson and his brother John decided that another country was safer for them, notwithstanding, the Yankees were backing them, also moved to a western State. Arch Surles did not go away, but remained in hiding until the government became settled and all danger had passed. Hugh Price as a deserter did not participate in the raids and depredations to much extent, kept to himself and was rarely seen in the gang. He kept hid while the deserters were on the warpath. Robert K. Clark was very anxious to get hold of Arthur Jackson, and before Jackson fled from the State, Clark and a companion named Lark heard that Jackson had moved his family into Marlborough County. They determined to go up there and try to capture him. They located his house and watched for him to come out. After waiting for some time he came out with his child in his arms. They did not have the heart to shoot him not wishing to kill or injure the innocent babe, so they allowed him to return into the dwelling and continued to wait for another chance. They were very tired and happened to fall asleep. When they woke, the sun was up, and they saw from signs made during the night, that Jackson had become aware of their presence for his tracks were plainly visible near were they had lain. They decided not to proceed any further in attempting to capture Jackson but play quits, as Jackson had it in his power that night to kill them both. Immediately after this incident it was that Jackson went west.

When the government became established after the surrender and everything became as settled as it could under existing conditions, most of these deserters or outlaws began to gradually to show themselves and go from place to place as other good citizens did. The past in a measure seemed to be forgotten or buried.

Some of these men, who were deserters, after peace was established, accumulated a good deal of property, really because men of wealth. Some say they got their start from their raids and robberies during the war. The decent people of that section had nothing to do with them and always looked upon them with contempt and scorn. They were certainly traitors to their country and deserve to be scorned by good citizens. A few people of the better class in and around the town of Dillon endeavored to make these people respectable on account of their money, but with all their wealth they are despised and spurred by all true and patriotic citizens. It will take many generations to obliterate the past and consign to oblivion the disgraceful history of those people during the Civil War.

In addition to the above, one of the writers most intimate friends related the following incident relative to Arch Surles and some others of the deserter band. This person is most trustworthy and reliable and what he may say is worthy of the highest credit and reliability:

He tells the writer that during early part of the year 1865, the company he belong to was sent to Maple and Little Pee to arrest deserters. They went to Surles' cabin and arrested him. Capt. Sandy Ford commanded the squad. Allen Rogers, Theopilus Huggins, J. Mastin Gaddy, Armand LeGette and John Snow were some of the men. The squad decided to execute him at once for the various acts of murder, robbery and pillage, the deserters had committed at various times, Surles being a member of the band. J. Mastin Gaddy pleaded with the men to spare his life. They did so and he was taken to jail at Marion Court House, where he remained until the garrison came.

He further relates that this same company went over into Hillsboro section and surprised and captured Edward Hill, one Miller and one Grimsly. These three men went to one Barfield's. Stripped his clothes off, whipped him unmercifully and burt down his house. All these men were desperate characters and very barbarous in their acts against the good citizens. They were shot by a detail of the company and the country was rid of them for all time. The execution was between Huggins Bridge and Tabernacle Church by side of the public road.

The writer distinctly remembers, that several years ago at Marion SC at a meeting of Confederate Veterans, Arch Surles, attended the meeting claiming to be an old veteran. Some of the older ones, noticing the presence of Surles in such a meeting, politely informed him that he was in the wrong place and to get out. The old veterans were very indignant and for a time it was difficult to restrain their indignation and prevent forcibly ejecting him. He retired from the hall amid the ?usses and jeers of the assembled veterans. Surles no doubt thought that the thin veneer of respectability, some of his Dillon friends had given him at that place on account of his money, would pass him unquestionably into a body of Confederate Veterans, and that he soon would be wearing a cross of honor like the most of them. He deserved all the scorn and indignity the assembly gave him.

During Reconstruction, Arthur Jackson, returned from the west and located in Marlborough County. He affiliated with the Negroes and was for a while a sort of a leader in politics in that county. The writer remembers very distinctly the first meeting of Jackson and Robert Knox Clark. It occurred in this way: Jackson while living in Marlborough became the client of Jno. Monroe Johnson, a prominent lawyer of the Marion Bar, and in the trial of the case, it was necessary for Jackson to attend court at Marion as a witness. At that time, Clark was Clerk of Court and the writer was his deputy. Mr. Johnson was well acquainted with the circumstances, surrounding the lives of these two men. He thought if they were brought together, their might be a bloody duel and he wished to avoid anything of that character. He went to see Clark and told him what he wished to do. Clark assured him that nothing would happen unless his client started a difficulty about old scores, in that case he would be prepared for any emergency. Mr. Johnson said his client had no such attention and was willing to play quits. Clark told him to have him on hand. The day of the trial arrived and Jackson was on hand. When he was presented to be sworn as a witness, Clark repeated the oath looking him straight in the face. After he took the oath and kissed the "book" Jackson took the witness stand. He did not look Clark in the face, while administering the oath, but looked down towards the floor in a rather guilty manner. The writer never saw Jackson after this trial or did he and Clark ever meet.