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John Kite: The Legacy

(as given to me from Bob Bradley, writer, relic collector)

John Kite, Confederate soldier, Rebel, Spy, and all around thorn in the side as far as the Union was concerned. He was known as "the grey fox of War Valley", largely due to his uncanny ability to slip through enemy lines, ambush their guards, and escape with seemingly little or no effort. Sly and elusive, he was very much sought after by the Union forces in that area.

Kite's mother once became very ill and, knowing when John learned of her condition, he would be certain to come and see her, the Union force dispatched eight soldiers to surround her house and capture John. They entered the house and searched every nook and cranny, but no John Kite emerged. Out of respect for Mrs. Kite, old and sick, they didn't look under her bed, where John was hiding. They saw his raincoat hanging on a nail on the wall, and knew their quarry had to be close by somewhere. One of the Yanks, feeling brave in the knowledge that they had him outnumbered eight to one, stabbed the raincoat several times with his bayonet and then slashed it to ribbons. "That's what we're going to do to John Kite when we find him" he proudly boasted, not knowing that John was listening under his mother's bed. They soon gave up the search and headed on down War Valley to make camp before dark.

John left his mother's cabin around midnight and followed the trail of the Yankees. In the dark of the early morning hours, he came upon their camp and found them all asleep. He killed seven of them by crushing their skulls with the butt of his rifle; he then hung the eight, a negro. Finally, he stabbed the Negro in the heels and, seeing that he wouldn't bleed, assumed him to be dead and moved on.

Kite's elusiveness and survival instincts were the result of his mountain heritage, and most likely, just plain guts. He feared no man, and apparently, had no fear of dying. Once, while acting as scout for his Confederate Allies, he was cut off from his unit by four Union soldiers. They had him pinned down on a ridge whre, after a period of time, he ran out of food and had to forage for roots and berries. Of course, the Yanks fired at him every time he moved. Getting tired of the whole thing, Kite yelled at his tormentors, "If you damned Yankees don't hurry up and get me before I eat all the berries on this bush, I'm going to kill every last one of you." And he did just that.

Another time, he and another Confederate soldier got caught in a crossfire and took cover in a fence corner built of split rails. Shooting and sniping continued all day, and when it ended, only Kite and his buddy remained alive, and John Kite lived long enough to die of old age.

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Copyright © 1999/2000/2001/2002/2003 by Sheila Weems Johnston