David Howard was the son of Col. Samuel Howard. The murderers were "some rebel soldiers" who were "marauding over the country, more for plunder than Southern chivalry." Slimp explains that "David was at home, suspecting no danger. . . . [He] was suddenly alarmed at the approach of the dreaded enemy and fled in the direction of the woods, across the fields, and the ill-thoughted posse without knowing who or for what reason, fired many deadly shots at him, and he fell mortally wounded, and died in a few minutes."
Then the murderers proceeded to the house of David's mother, as described.
I see that Cousin Fred had the instincts of a historical researcher: "It takes much running about to collect facts connected with the war. I am now up on Doe"--meaning up on what happened in the community of Little Doe, Tennessee.