Tuesday, February 21, 2012

At a standstill

Howdy - sorry for the long delay. If I were writing merely about military experiences, the book would be half done, but. . .

I've been doing some reading regarding Southern Unionists and the horrific experiences many of them had. A lot of men crossed the lines to fight for the Union, as did John, but I haven't found any accounts of anyone taking their families with them. The accounts I've read have highlighted what an onerous undertaking this would have been. Men or groups of men were actually hunted by the Confederates, shot, tortured, hanged and otherwise harmed while attempting this. The fact that John took his wife and kids, the youngest merely two years of age, is astonishing, and I have no idea how he pulled it off.

So the book is on the back burner until I can find something that might throw a light on this.

Ancestors should be REQUIRED to keep journals, don't you think?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A few more ex-Confederates

I found a cool site that listed all the soldiers in Tennessee regiments in alphabetical order, irrespective of which army they served in. Comparing the list to the the list of Company E, 26th Tennessee Cavalry, CSA, I found seven soldiers who later joined the Union Army. I did a search through the military records on Footnote to confirm that these soldiers did serve in the units stated.

So for completeness, and as a companion to my previous post about ex-Confederates in the Union Army, here's a list of those soldiers and the Union regiments they served in.

9th Tennessee Cavalry

  • George Brady (Brady served less than a week in the 26th)
  • Elijah Lewis

11th Tennessee Cavalry

  • Isham G. Crawford (Isham joined his brother Martin in this regiment)
  • F. A. Fisher

13th Tennessee Cavalry

  • John Bazel
  • Isaac Garland
  • Lewis Garland
The Garland brothers served three days in the 26th. It's apparent that they and Pvt. Brady were conscripts who jumped ship (so to speak) at the earliest opportunity.

Obviously, there's much room for further study here. A future post will concern a few former Confederates who also deserted the Union Army. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

64th North Carolina Infantry

Have you seen the movie 'Cold Mountain' or read the book? Remember the scene where the Home Guard tortured Sally to make her give up her sons who were deserters? Or the scene where the Yankee soldiers tied Sara up and exposed her baby?

Both these things actually happened in the mountains of North Carolina during the Civil War, but they were perpetrated by the men and officers of the 64th North Carolina Infantry, CSA, during what is known as the Shelton Laurel Massacre.

East Tennessee and West Virginia were not alone in being bastions of Union sentiment in Southern states - all up and down the Appalachian chain, mountaineers sided with the Union, and the Confederates fought back. Union sympathizers took to the woods and hollows, some passing through the lines and joining the Union Army, some staying close to home and becoming 'bushwhackers' or guerrillas. They stole arms or provisions, but were no real threat to military operations - their primary threat to the Confederacy was ideological rather than military.

In Madison County, the Confederate officials withheld salt from the Union sympathizers in Shelton Laurel. Now, in the days before refrigeration, salt was a  necessity, without which people could not survive the harsh mountain winter. A band of around 50 men then raided the store and liberated the salt. Many of these men were deserters from the 64th North Carolina Infantry, and they made the mistake of also attacking the home of its Colonel, Lawrence M. Allen. Col. Allen was not home, only his wife and three children, who were ill with scarlet fever.

Rumors of large bands of bushwhackers ran rampant, and the governor of North Carolina asked the 64th to investigate and round up the band who had stolen the salt. Col. Allen was not in command of the regiment at that time, having been relieved of duty for drunkenness and incompetence. In command was Lt. Col. James A. Keith, Allen's first cousin. Keith had a grudge against the inhabitants of Shelton Laurel - they had aided in the escape of the killer of a friend of his, said killer then crossing the lines and joining the Union Army. He used this opportunity to get even, with a vengeance.

Women were tortured for information - including one woman tied to a tree and made to watch her baby die. Old women were hanged and flogged. The few men in the settlement were rounded up, some as old as sixty, some boys as young as thirteen. Told they were being taken to Knoxville for trial, they were instead taken out into the woods and made to kneel down and summarily executed by the soldiers of the 64th. When some of the soldiers protested this proceeding, Keith threatened that they'd be executed in the same way themselves if they did not comply.

The men and boys were buried in a trench too shallow to contain them all, and left for their families to find.

When news of this leaked out, the governor of North Carolina called for an investigation, sending A.S. Merrimon, of the Attorney General's office. Merrimon was appalled by his findings and recommended that Keith and several others be charged with murder. Keith and a sergeant, NDB Jay, were forced to resign. Keith then turned guerrilla himself, leading a band of marauders in the North Carolina mountains until the end of the War.

Keith was finally arrested on charges of murder, arson and robbery in 1867, but he managed to escape from jail and was never tried. He was pardoned under President Johnson's amnesty in 1868.

The 64th had operated primarily in East Tennessee, which may account for the large number of East Tennesseans in its ranks. It also had an extremely high desertion rate - when captured at Cumberland Gap, it had less than 300 men out of more than 1,000 once active. Many more 'took the Oath' after capture and joined Union regiments. The remnant was sent to Camp Douglas until the end of the war.

More information on the Shelton Laurel massacre can be found here. Official documents and newspaper accounts can be found here. An extremely whitewashed regimental history, written by BT Morris, Captain of Company E, can be found here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Former Confederates

Other than John, there were at least fifty other former Confederates in Company K, 13th Tennessee Cavalry. There may be more, but here are all the ones I have records for:

12th TN Cavalry
  • James Mann

16th TN Battalion (Neal's)
  • George R. Catron
  • Samuel S. Catron
  • William Catron
  • Jesse Baker

16th TN Infantry
  • Andrew J. Moore
  • Robert C. Kirby

19th TN Infantry
  • John Preston
  • Daniel H. Parrott

25th TN Infantry
  • William Spivy

28th TN Infantry
  • Pinkney Pippins
  • Thomas Hamilton
  • Jeremiah Holloway

29th TN Infantry
  • Thomas Cotter
  • Evan Fry
  • John Nance
  • John Shipley
  • Horace Stype
  • John Crabtree

35th TN Infantry
  • William Sides

39th TN Mounted Infantry
  • Maston Moses

61st TN Mounted Infantry
  • Lycurgus Peltier

63rd TN Infantry
  • Calvin Anderson
  • James M. Fulps
  • Thomas Lype
  • Pleasant Hilton/Helton

13th GA Battalion Light Artillery
  • David Hardigree

25th NC Infantry
  • David Moss

64th NC Infantry
  • Avery C. Allen
  • James O. Payne
  • William L. Payne
  • William G. Chandler
  • David F. Foster
  • Kennedy F. Foster
  • James Hensley
  • Logan Hensley
  • Jesse Hensley
  • William Hensley
  • Jacob Kiker
  • Martin L. Kiker
  • Andrew Masoner
  • Jesse S. Rice
  • William J. Rice
  • John Russell
  • William Seay
  • William Watts
  • Jacob Willett
  • Leander Russell

Confederate Sappers & Miners
  • John Arwood

Phillips Legion, GA
  • Martin L. Hilton/Helton

Wythe County (VA) Militia
  • William G. Wyrick

I'm making this list for other researchers who might be looking for some of these men. All but a few were East Tennesseans - I suspect that the majority of them were in the Confederacy unwillingly. I particularly need to research the 64th NC Infantry - why were so many East Tennesseans in a North Carolina regiment?

The majority of these men were recruited from the Federal Military Prison at Louisville, Kentucky. The men from the 64th NC had been captured at Cumberland Gap, several others were deserters who crossed the Union lines at Chattanooga, all in early September, 1863.

Edited 7/26/2011 to add Avery C. Allen to the 64th NC Infantry.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Camp Morton and Ft Donelson, some veterans' views

I was going through the Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires, reading all those from soldiers of the 26th TN Infantry, CSA. A couple discussed their time in Camp Morton following the fall of Ft. Donelson. Mispellings and mis-punctuations are the veterans'.
Wylie Richard Bryant, Co B - "The 1st battle I was in was at Fort Donelson and was captured and 7 mos. in prison treated very nice then was exchanged."
Ark (Archimedes) Whittle, Co G - "I was captured at Ft Donaldson and taken to Camp Morton, Ind. We were well cared for, well fed, clothed. The sick were well cared for. I was in hospital (typhoid fever)."
JT Crawford, Co E, who was left sick at Bowling Green with mumps, had this to say about his father, Captain John Crawford - "died in Indianapolis after being taken out of prison by masons and Sheriff Johnson of Indianapolis in whose home he died."
I'm guessing the 'masons' were Freemasons? Anyone else have any ideas about this?

JT's brother was at Morton, although JT wasn't, but his brother(s) did not have questionnaires.
Charles Henley, Co F, had this to say about Ft. Donelson - "26th Tenn. Confederate Infantry regiment landed at Ft. Donelson as I remember now, Feb. 15th, 1862 after dark and was immediately sent to the line of battle after Gen. Pillow had made us a speech in which he predicted a Bull Run for Grants army. We remained in the trenches that night and the next day and night. Before daylight on the 17th we were marched out the trenches and after another speech by Gens. Pillow and Floyd attacked Grants right wing near the river. After fighting from daylight til nearly dark, the enemy was pushed back about two miles and the way clear for the confederate forces to evacuate Ft. Donelson as we afterwards learned had been decided upon but Pillow made another speech saying we had completely routed Grants whole army and marched us back to the trenches where we slept that night and was awakened the next morning about 8 oclock to learn to our great surprise that we had been surrendered soon that morning. This has been a mystery to me from that day to this. Why between seven and eight thousand unwhipped men flushed as they thought with victory, with both sides of the river open for their exit, should be this ignominously surrendered is incomprehensible."
He gets the dates wrong, but he's writing many years after the fact.

These are the only soldiers in that regiment who commented on these more than 'I was there,' but I only had time to look at questionnaires from John's regiments. Seems like a very good resource.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lt. WFM Hyder and son Nat

Many soldiers' families accompanied them - strange as this may seem to us today - and older sons were particularly likely to follow their fathers to war.

William F.M. Hyder was one of the organizers of the Carter County bridge burners. After the uprising, he hid out in a hollow log on a neighboring farm for several months. The neighbor, John Miller, fed his pigs in the vicinity of the log in order to disguise the tracks of the fugitives he had hidden away.

Originally a Lieutenant in Company H of the 13th Tennessee Cavalry, Lt. Hyder left the regiment to return to Carter County on a recruiting mission. Having gathered about fifty men in Gap Creek gorge, they were surprised and scattered by the Confederate forces. Lt. Hyder was forced to hide out in the mountains all that winter, finally crossing the lines and returning to the regiment in March of 1864. While he as absent, another man had been appointed in his place, so he was made 1st Lieutenant of Company K.

Why he brought his fifteen year old son, Nat, along with him is unclear, although not uncommon. Lt. Hyder and my ancestor John seem to have become particularly good friends - Nat relates that they shared a hut, and that he knew John was 'half a Indian.'

Lt. Hyder also relates that John always had something good to eat, so apparently they shared their meals together.

Although I don't believe that they saw each other again after the war, John's pension file shows that he was well remembered by the Hyders, with both respect and affection. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

A little background on Company K, 13th Tennessee Cavalry, USA

Most of the 13th Tennessee Cavalry came from the counties Johnson and Carter, in the far eastern corner of Tennessee. Eastern Tennessee was a hotbed of Union sympathizers - there was even discussion of the region seceding from Tennessee, just as West Virginia did from Virginia and for the same reasons.

There was an uprising in Carter County - railroad bridges were burned, many of the men became fugitives when the State cracked down on them, many were captured and hanged. It was from this section that the 13th was initially formed. I'll be discussing some of that more in my next post.

You can read more about it here.

Company K, however, was made of somewhat different cloth. Initially designated the 17th Tennessee Cavalry, it was recruited primarily in Kentucky and was a more motley crew. Most of its members were Tennesseans residing in Kentucky, as my great-great grandfather John was, some were from North Carolina, several of them were former Confederates - some were even in military prison at the time of their recruitment.

The unit smuggled supplies into Knoxville during the siege, preventing a sure Confederate victory over that city.

The 17th was consolidated with the 13th in December, 1863 and John was promoted to Sergeant at that time. There are no military records for the 17th, as it was never mustered in, so that part of his history is almost a total blank.