[Memoirs of Lt. Col. William Williams Stringfield: American Civil War History]
BY W. W. STRINGFIELD, LIEUTENANT COLONEL
This command was originally intended for local defense in the mountains
of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, and was generally known as part of "Thomas' Legion of Indians and Highlanders."
Colonel W. H. Thomas, its founder, was an old-line Democrat, and a leading citizen and politician in Western North Carolina
– was a man of considerable means, and was personally well known to President Davis and Cabinet. He was born in Haywood
county and raised to manhood close by the Cherokee Indians and at an early day espoused their cause, and prevented the forced
removal to the West, of those in Western North Carolina, by General Scott in 1836 to 1838. He was adopted by the Indians and
upon the deaths of their old chiefs, Yona-gus-kee and Juna-lus-kee, he was made chief and for twenty-five years prior to the
war was also the Government Agent for these Indians.
When the war had progressed for a year and conscription had become a necessity
and a certainty, this command was organized at Knoxville, Tenn., into a regiment, and a battalion.
Several of the companies had been in service for several months, but General
E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Department of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina (an old West Point army offer), was
very much opposed to a temporizing or conservative policy, and would not allow Colonel Thomas the latitude he wanted; but
the latter being a personal friend of President Davis, generally carried his points, and often went to Richmond to consult
The organization of the regiment was completed at Knoxville, Tenn., 27 September,
1862, by the election of the following Field and Staff officers:
William H. Thomas, Colonel, Jackson county, N. C
James R. Love, Lieutenant-Colonel,
Jackson county, N. C.
William W. Stringfield, Major, Strawberry Plains, Tenn.
Luther C. May, Adjutant, Virginia.
W. Terrell, A. Q. M. Jackson county, N. C.
Lucius M. Welch, A. C. S., Haywood county, N. C.
John W. Lawing, Surgeon,
Lincoln county, N. C.
John C. Love, Assistant Surgeon, Jackson county, N. C.
Hezekiah West, Chaplain, Haywood county,
Alex R. Carmack, Sergeant Major, Pennsylvania.
Company A – Indian Company – Matthew Hale Love, Captain, Waynesville, N. C.; Wm. S. Terrell, First Lieutenant,
Sonoma, Haywood county, N. C.; John Astoo-ga Sto-ga, Peter Graybeard and David Whitaker, Second Lieutenants, all of Swain
County, N. C. Total officers and men, 113.
Company B – Indian Company – G. M. Hanks, Captain, July, 1862,
Monroe county, Tenn.; James Taylor, Captain, November, 1862; H. R. Morris, First Lieutenant; Cam. H. Taylor, Second Lieutenant,
all of Cherokee, N. C. Total officers and men, 118.
Company C – Haywood County – Dr. Elisha G. Johnson, Captain and Major; Wm. R. Trull, First Lieutenant
and Captain; John H. Smathers, First Lieutenant; W. D. Hall, E. W. Morgan and W. H. Moore, Second Lieutenants, all of Haywood
county. Total officers and men, 123.
Company D – Jackson County, N. C., and, Jefferson County, Tenn.–
Wm. B. Love, Captain, Jackson county, N. C.; Ganium C. McBee, First Lieutenant, Grainger county, Tenn.; Thomas R. Smart and
Henry Needham, Second Lieutenants, Jefferson County, Tenn.; W. W. Jones, Second Lieutenant, North Carolina. Total officers
and men, 125.
Company E – Haywood County – Julius M. Welch, Captain; Thomas
J. Ferguson, First Lieutenant and Captain; J. H. Moody, First Lieutenant, and Wm. C. Brown, Second Lieutenant, all of Haywood
county. Total officers and men, 137.
Company F – J. M. McConnell, Captain; Wm. T. Welch and Robert T. Conley,
First Lieutenants; James West and Jas. Conley, all of Jackson county. Total officers and men, 127.
Company G – Jackson County – Daniel G. Fisher, Captain; D. M.
Raby, First Lieutenant; D. J. Allen and J. B. Raby, Second Lieutenants, all of Jackson county. Officers and men, 71.
Company H – Cherokee County – Thomas J. Cooper, Captain, and
Jas. W. Cooper, Captain; Lafayette George, First Lieutenant; Eli Ingram and ______ ______, Second Lieutenants, Cherokee county.
Number of officers and men, 114.
Company I – Cherokee County – Willis Parker, Captain, and Jos.
A. Kimsey, Captain; Sol. E. Egan, First Lieutenant, all of Cherokee county; N. G. Phillips, First and Second Lieutenant, and
P. B. Gailer, Second Lieutenant, both of Graham county. Number of officers and men, 109.
Company K – T. A. Butler, Captain; Lewis Rector, First Lieutenant;
D. H. Gallahar, Second Lieutenant, all of Union county, Tenn. Number of officers and men, 91.
Total number of officers and men in the regiment, 1,125.
As above organized this regiment presented quite a formidable array –
with a muster roll of nearly 1,200 men – most of them vigorous, patriotic and gallant. The officers were representative
men in their several counties, and while unassuming to diffidence in private life and in camp, were a "lion-hearted host,"
in battle and upon the toilsome march. The officers were chosen from the ranks, but were not of necessity greatly, if at all,
superior to their men. The response to this call left few men at home, but stern duty called and its summons was obeyed.
The practical leader of this regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel James R. Love,
was a native of Jackson county, N. C., and had seen hard service in Virginia under Jackson, Hill and Lee. He was Captain of
old Company L, of the Sixteenth North Carolina, and at request of Colonel Thomas, he and his entire company was transferred
to the Legion.
Colonel Love was a graduate of Emory and Henry College, studied law and
was a member of the North Carolina Legislature, also after the war a member of the North Carolina Constitutional Convention
(1868), and later of the State Senate; also a member of the Tennessee Senate, after his marriage and removal to that State,
where he subsequently raised a family; died twelve or fifteen years since, honored and respected by all.
William W. Stringfield, the writer of this sketch, was a native of Nashville,
Tenn., and raised near Knoxville, Tenn. He was of old North Carolina stock, being a grandson of Jos. Williams, of Yadkin county.
He was a private of the First Tennessee Cavalry, 1861. Captain of Company E, Thirty-first Tennessee Infantry, 1862, and Assistant
Provost Marshal at Knoxville, 1862; elected Major of the Sixty-ninth Regiment 27 September, 1862, Lieutenant-Colonel, January,
After the war, married and located near Waynesville, N. C. – member
of the North Carolina Legislature in 1882 and 1883, and of the State Senate in 1901. In 1895 was elected commander of the
Confederate Veterans of Western North Carolina, and as a member of Military and Veteran Committee, feels and takes great pride
and interest in all that pertains to the fame, fortune, welfare and success of all his old comrades, their widows and children.
Captain Elisha G. Johnson, of Company C., was promoted to Major of the regiment
after its return from the Valley campaign in November, 1864. Major Johnson was an intelligent gentleman and a singularly brave
soldier. He moved to Florida soon after the war, was elected to the State Senate, and finally was murdered at his own home
in 1875 or 1876.
Captain James W. Terrell was Captain of Company A, succeeding William H.
Thomas and preceding M. H. Love. He was Chief Quartermaster of the regiment and faithful. He had the confidence of his neighbors,
and has represented them (Jackson county) in the Legislature. He now resides in Webster, N. C.
Dr. Lawing was a good doctor and a kind man. Nothing known of him since
the war. Dr. John Love was a kind man and good doctor. Died soon after the war from its exposures.
A. R. Carmack, Sergeant-Major, a Pennsylvanian by birth, was the son-in-law
of a strong Union man in East Tennessee. He was a man among men, cool, clear-headed and brave; was wounded and captured at
Cedar creek; lived in Kansas since driven from East Tennessee in 1860-'67, and died recently, 18 December, 1900, in Texas,
beloved by all.
Lucius M. Welch, Assistant Commissary, is a native son of Haywood county.
He was quite young in those days, but made a faithful Commissary. He now lives near Waynesville.
The Adjutant of the regiment, Captain L. M. May, was a graduate of the Naval
Academy at Annapolis, Md., a Virginian by birth and an elegant gentleman.
Aside from this the entire command was composed of citizen soldiery –
educated for peace, but not afraid of war. After the organization and equipment of the regiment the companies were scattered
throughout upper East Tennessee, between Knoxville and Bristol. The battalion of our legion whose story will hereafter be
told, was sent below Knoxville, toward Chattanooga, and Cleveland, Tenn., and Dalton, Ga., was raised to a regiment (Eightieth
North Carolina) and becoming a part of Bragg's army was never reunited to the old Legion.
About this time the enforcement of the conscript law was begun in earnest,
and consequently it was a serious time in the short life of the Southern Confederacy – and thinking men were fully alive
to the herculean (sic) task before us. East Tennessee was placed under martial law and many of the most prominent citizens
were in rebellion against the South. The celebrated Parson Brownlow, editor of the Knoxville Whig, a widely circulated paper,
who was afterwards elected Governor of Tennessee, and after the war was United States Senator, took bold grounds against the
South. His paper had some circulation in Western North Carolina, and quite an influence with the old Whig element. Brownlow
was a kind man at heart, to those that did not cross him personally. If he had been reasoned with instead of being bitterly
denounced he and numerous others would have espoused the Southern cause. But, then, as now, party passion often dethrones
reason. Brownlow, with such men as Governor Andrew Johnson, then United States Senator, and afterwards President of the United
States; Horace Maynard, member of Congress; Thos. A. R. Nelson, John Netherland, R. R. Butler, members of Congress; Rev. N.
G. Taylor, also an old Congressman, father of Governor Bob. Taylor, with scores of smaller, but equally determined men, boldly
threw themselves into the breach, openly defied the South, and in large numbers daily left Tennessee, crossing the Cumberland
mountains and joined the Federal army in Kentucky and Ohio.
The wisest statesmen of the South were divided as to the best policy to
pursue, but Southern blood was aroused and Southern men were expected to stand by the South, right or wrong. There was much
homogeneousness between these mountain people of Tennessee and North Carolina, and there is an independence of thought, speech
and action in the average mountaineer, not usually found elsewhere, superinduced perhaps by their grandly beautiful surroundings,
combining, as some think, to the development of a high type of physical, intellectual and spiritual manhood.
A great majority of the people were poor and had no interest in slavery,
present or prospective. But most of them had little mountain homes, and "be it ever so humble, there is no place like home."
So when husband, father and brother went into the army the wife, sister and daughter had largely increased home cares, and
often went into the corn field.
No grander type of womanhood is developed anywhere than in these mountains.
Neither the men or women were cowards, but when the Federal army occupied East Tennessee and threatened North Carolina, the
women in their lonesome homes naturally became restless and timid, made more so when spies and forays of the enemy penetrated
this country. Soldiers in the army would have been unnatural protectors of home, had they not become uneasy also, and oft
times desperate, especially when informed, as hundreds were, that their homes had been robbed and the country pillaged, as
was the case for two years in all the border counties along the Tennessee line from Ducktown to Watauga, a distance of near
200 miles. No people were more zealous for the South than Western Carolinians, after the rejection by the Lincoln regime of
the peace overtures made by the border States. East Tennessee and Western North Carolina had a common heritage of ancestral
heroes through the Seviers, Tiptons, Averys, Campbells, Lenoirs, Loves, McDowells, Brittons, and others, who fought at King's
Mountain, Cowpens and Guilford Court House; in later years at Lookout, Emuckfau, Horseshoe, and New Orleans, and later still
in the numerous battles of Mexico. Such an element may be easily led, but, never forced. In Tennessee this anti-war element
was fully aroused and as soon as conscription was fully determined upon, Colonel Wm. H. Thomas at once went to Richmond to
get a modification of the law. His efforts were unavailing, the law must be enforced, it was enforced and 33,000 were added
to the Federals and a few thousand fire-tried veterans to the Southern army. Colonel Thomas largely recruited his own command,
forming soon afterwards another regiment, with two companies of Sappers and Miners, and one company of artillery (Levy's Battery).
He had some unique ideas concerning these matters, and while known to be
intensely loyal to the South, he had gained the confidence of this East Tennessee disloyal element and several thousand at
various times had agreed to form companies for local defense, and for road and bridge building. Not being allowed to do this,
these men went to the Federal army and ever afterwards were troublesome enemies.
From September, 1862, to June, 1863, there was little to break the monotony
of camp life and provost duty. There was much of an unpleasant, nature to be done by men of similar characters. Enforcing
conscription – disarming the people – the impressment of property, forcing magistrates and civil authorities to
take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, was disagreeable work. Much hard work was done in building block houses and
stockades on the entire railroad line, 250 miles. This was a fine agricultural region and an indispensable line of communication
between the armies of Lee and Bragg.
President Davis consented to evacuation only as a trap for Burnside's army,
but the cowardly surrender of Cumberland Gap by General J. W. Frazer, 9 September, 1863, however, proved it a double triggered
trap for us. The Federal authorities were fully alive to the importance of grasping from us and holding this section, so fertile
for all, and so loyal to them, being urged thereto by the highest consideration of honor, duty and interest.
The Sixty-ninth Regiment was never idle, especially after current rumors
of. Federal invasion early in 1862, following the defeat and death of the noble Zollicoffer at Fishing Creek. This defeat
practically made the Cumberland Mountains our line of defense. The Union element became restless and defiant and many were
arrested and sent South to prison.
INDIANS IN BATTLE.
Several companies of the Sixty-ninth were ordered to Powell's Valley in 1862, between Jacksboro and Cumberland Gap
– one Indian company at Baptist Gap had quite a battle with some Federals, killing, wounding and driving back their
force. The Indians were led by Lieutenant Astooga Stoga, a splendid specimen of Indian manhood and warrior, who was killed
in the charge. This noble Indian is worthy of a lengthy sketch but the writer has not the data, if he had time and space.
Like most of the leading Indians of his tribe, he was a professed Christian, and largely by his efforts the New Testament
was translated into the Cherokee language by the great American Bible Society. The Indians were furious at his death and before
they could be restrained, they scalped several of the Federal wounded and dead, for which ample apology was made at the time.
In the Spring of 1863 the regiment in General A. E. Jackson's Brigade was in the Department of East Tennessee commanded by
Brigadier-General Daniel S. Donalson. In March, 1863, it was at Strawberry Plains and in April at Jonesboro, and in July;
at Zollicoffer, Tenn. 35 Official Records Union and Confederate Armies, 711, 792.
Some time afterwards Bragg's army entered Kentucky from middle Tennessee,
and after quite a campaign there, returned to Tennessee by way of Cumberland Gap to Knoxville. This campaign caused a temporary
lull in East Tennessee affairs, but the retreat of Lee from Maryland and Pennsylvania and the surrender of Vicksburg was followed
by outspoken defiance all over East Tennessee.
Spies and recruiting officers from the Union Army were almost everywhere.
Several cavalry raids burned and attempted to burn railroad bridges and depots until finally, on 4 September, General Burnside
captured Knoxville, the stronghold of East Tennessee, without firing a gun or meeting an enemy. Some time prior to this all
the white companies of the regiment and several companies, of Walker's Battalion (of our Legion) were concentrated for drill
and discipline at Greenville, Tenn., and were brigaded with the Sixtieth and Sixty-second Regiments and Twelfth Battalion,
Georgia Troops, and several Virginia, Georgia and Florida Regiments.
After Burnside's occupancy of Knoxville there was a general "On to Richmond,"
"On to Chattanooga," and "On to Atlanta" cry in the Federal army. The hopes of this cry were realized afterwards, but at very
great cost of life to the enemy. Those were gloomy days to those of us who left our homes and loved ones at the mercy of the
enemy. This territory was never reclaimed, afterwards almost every foot of it was fought over, time and again, and its occupancy
was costly to the enemy, but of great political significance to them.
Part of the Sixty-ninth and most of the Eightieth (Walker's Battalion, which
had been raised to a regiment), with detachments of the Twenty-ninth, Thirty-ninth, Sixtieth and Sixty-second North Carolina
Regiments, fell back to the gap of the Smoky Mountains, or the North Carolina line, there to guard against the invasion of
The greater part of the Sixty-ninth, with part of Singleton's, Berry's,
Whitaker's and Aikin's companies of the Eightieth, fell back towards Bristol, Va. Immediately upon his occupancy of Knoxville,
Burnside sent forces up the railroad which had been surrendered without, a struggle, or the destruction of a bridge, to Jonesboro,
Tenn., also sent cavalry to Blount, Sevier, Cocke, and Washington counties, Tennessee, guarding against surprises from that
direction, and .threatening North and. South Carolina by way of Murphy, Webster, Waynesville and Asheville, and attempting
to capture Colonel Thomas' forces, good turnpike roads penetrating these mountains. But the "fighting end" of Thomas' Legion
was not idle in upper East Tennessee, and marched and counter-marched in every county in that end of the State, and up to
Saltville, Va., leaving the bones of their comrades (since kindly gathered at Knoxville by the noble women of Tennessee) all
over that section.
When Tennessee was fully surrendered great gloom overspread the soldiers from the border States, and many Kentucky,
Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina troops returned to their homes. Bragg's army with a muster roll of 83,767, had few over
40,000 guns, and guns are all that count in battle.
General Bragg wrote to General Lee that after seven months of conscription,
not a soldier was added to his army; that Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina troops could not be depended upon, a very
unjust aspersion cast upon all, especially North Carolinians, most of whom, even after leaving their regiments in the East
and West, did good service at home. No section of the Union furnished as many soldiers to the Union Army according to the
population as East Tennessee. With such surroundings as these it is no wonder that so many were induced to desert, or more
properly stated, returned to their homes.
The same day that General Burnside occupied Knoxville, Colonel Thomas, with
several hundred men, fell back from Strawberry Plains, passing through Sevierville to the North Carolina line, taking all
the Indians and many whites. He was closely followed by the Federals and had quite a skirmish near Sevierville, on 7 or 8
September, 1863, but he crossed the Smoky Mountains and at once securely blockaded all the roads leading in that direction
from near Paint Rock to near Ducktown.
Lieutenant-Colonel Love and Major Stringfield, with 600 or 700 men, were
ordered to fortify and hold Carter's Depot at the railroad bridge across the Watauga, about twenty miles west of Bristol.
General John S. Williams, of Kentucky, since United States Senator, then
commanded the Department of East Tennessee which was abandoned to the foe, after the shameful surrender of Cumberland Gap
9 September, 1863.
CAMPAIGNING IN EAST TENNESSEE.
Burnside's forces, composed largely of native Tennesseeans, rather recklessly took charge of the country. One regiment
of troops (One Hundredth Ohio) went to Jonesboro on the cars 5 September, 1863, and several hundred ventured up to Carter's
and demanded the surrender of the fort. The next day Major Stringfield was ordered to take 200 of his men and a battalion
of cavalry (McLin) under Captain D. D. Anderson, and reconnoitre the position of the enemy. He took this force to Jonesboro
and below. On 7 September General A. E. Jackson came up with the balance of the Sixty-ninth North Carolina, the Fourth Kentucky
Cavalry and Sixteenth Georgia Cavalry and Borrough's Battery, and learning that the enemy were fortifying in and around the
old limestone blockhouse and a stone mansion near by, the Sixty-ninth was ordered up by General Jackson and at 3:00 a. m.
on the 8th, we drove them from Telford's depot to Limestone, where they made a determined stand, evidently being handled by
some veteran officers. Closing in upon them on all sides, we forced them to surrender with a loss of 20 killed, 30 wounded
and 314 prisoners, with 400 splendid small arms. Our loss was six killed and fifteen wounded. Our regiment was immediately
armed with the guns here captured (Enfield rifles). The enemy were the One Hundredth Ohio Regiment (Infantry) and were a fine
looking body of men. Knowing that this capture would arouse the enemy, we fell back towards Carter's. Ten days afterwards
the enemy approaching in force with several regiments of cavalry, battle was given them at Carter's. Our cavalry was much
weaker than theirs. Owing to the general advance movements by the enemy, the capture of Cumberland Gap, or rather its shameful
surrender by General Frazer 9 September, 1863, and advance movements all up to the Salt Works and into West Virginia –
a long line of defense – we were compelled to draw in our line and concentrate our forces.
Our position at Carter's on the east bank of the Watauga river, was impregnable,
and the enemy, after two assaults, flanked us at Devault's Ford on the north, and Taylor's on the south side, causing us to
fall back to Zollicoffer, or "Union Depot," now Bluff City. The enemy about this time hearing about our great victory over
them at Chickamauga, hastily retired towards Knoxville. We followed them to Bull's Gap, the Sixty-ninth being the only infantry
regiment. On 5 October, 1863, the cavalry had a fight at Greenville, killing seven, wounding twelve and capturing ten of the
enemy, with a loss of three killed and seven wounded, General Jno. S. Williams, of "Cerro Gordo" fame, commanding our troops.
On 15 October, after several days skirmishing with the enemy, General Williams gave battle at Blue Springs with his 1,800
dismounted men, holding in check Burnside's 7,000 veterans. The Sixty-ninth was ordered to his aid, but hearing of a flank
movement of the enemy, we were ordered to retreat towards Jonesboro, and finally to Abingdon, Va. In our retreat three miles
above Greenville, our cattle, wagons, artillery and infantry, in order named, were surrounded before we knew it. General Burnside
had thrown General Foster with 3,000 cavalry in our front, attempting our capture. The first intimation we had of their presence
was in the capture of our Adjutant, L. C. May, and Captain Tip (H. H.) Taylor, Acting Adjutant-General of our brigade. Captain
May escaped and gave us warning.
In a few moment after the presence of the enemy was known Colonel Love turned back the wagons, ordered forward the
Sixty-ninth at double quick, threw it in line of battle across the road, and bringing forward the artillery, began at the
earliest dawn of day a furious artillery fire upon the enemy in corn fields and meadows confronting us, fortunately for us,
bursting shells in their very midst. Before they could realize the sudden change of the situation, the Sixty-ninth, with the
"bear hunter's rebel yell," was upon them. Our men realized at once that quick and deadly work must be done, or we would all
be captured. The entire 600 men at sunrise dashed forward at the enemy in a heavy skirmish line, Love upon the right and Stringfield
upon the left, with company officers all in place, all cheering and directing their men. Lieutenant Welch, of Company F, afterwards
killed at Winchester, was shot through the thigh by the side of the writer; very few others hurt. This was a running fight
for ten miles. Two Federals were killed in the yard of Senator Patterson, son-in-law of President Johnson. Twelve or fifteen,
others were killed. General Williams, while slowly retreating before Burnside, heard our artillery open upon the enemy. Dashing
forward at a gallop, he materially aided us in the achievement of one of the most brilliant retreats of the war. General Williams
was profuse in his compliments, personally and in special orders, to our regiment. We retreated sixty-two miles in thirty
hours, fighting and driving the enemy much of the way towards Jonesboro, but not losing cattle or wagons and but few men.
The retreat did not stop until we reached Virginia and fortified Abingdon, and covered Saltville, where we were reinforced
by the brigades of Corse and Wharton, Virginia troops, under General Robert Ransom. We remained quietly here until 1 November,
when we began another forward movement towards Knoxville, Tenn. While here a beautiful Carolina maiden, having heard of the
heroism of our men and of complimentary orders about them, sent the following acrostic to our gallant Colonel, J. R. Love,
who several years since has "crossed over the river and is resting under the shade of the trees."
"J oined to a gallant band,
'R ound their colors sworn to stand;
egions 'gainst you, rushing came,
O you drove them back again.
V otes of thanks, so well deserved,
E ver greet such
men of nerve."
While we were waiting a few days near Blountsville, Tenn., our cavalry under William E. Jones, made a nice capture
of twelve or fifteen hundred of the enemy's cavalry at Rogersville, and near 100 wagons of the Second Tennessee (United States)
and Seventh Ohio. The citizens here-abouts were mostly our friends, something unusual in East Tennessee, and had noble kindred
in our army, mostly with Bragg.
While around Blountsville, company and regimental drill was daily enforced.
Lieutenant Thomas Ferguson, a good soldier, afterwards made Captain and captured at Piedmont, joined us here with 75 recruits.
A painful example for discipline was made here, one poor fellow of Company K, a Tennesseean, with two others of Tennessee
troops, captured at Rogersville, Tenn., by General W. E. Jones, in the uniform of the enemy, were court-martialed and shot
at the stake. The army then moved down the Rogersville and Kingsport Valley towards Knoxville, on the north side of Holston
river, wading the river and creeks in the ice.
General Robert Ransom was a fine disciplinarian and fighter. Sometimes unpopular
in camp, or upon the march, but universally popular in battle, where it was an inspiration to see him. He did not "snuff battle
from afar," but rushed into the thickest fray, to cheer and guide his men. In all this dread winter campaign the Sixty-ninth
were cheerful and obedient. Winter quarters were built near Rogersville in December, but were occupied only one week. After
this neither the men or officers had tents or houses, but faced the storms of rain and snow, mud and ice, in tramps several
miles above and below Rogersville, down towards Knoxville.
General Alfred E. Jackson was our brigade commander this winter in all our
campaigns. He was a cultivated gentleman and personally a brave man. He was a good man and always managed the men to the best
advantage in so hostile a region. He was personally and scrupulously honest, and demanded the same of his men; but he was
a little too strict for the "old soldier" ideas of those who wanted to prowl. The marches below Rogersville and down to Blaine's
Cross Roads were mostly made in bad, and very cold weather. When we met Longstreet's returning forces after his repulse at
Knoxville, and our great defeat at Missionary Ridge, the entire army fell back near Rogersville, and the Sixty-ninth, with
others crossed the Holston river and went into camp on the railroad near Russelville on 1 January, 1864. Soon afterwards the
Sixty-ninth returned to our old quarters at Carter's Depot, where with that as a base of operations we could "swing around"
the mountains on several trips, after "renegades," blockade stills and deserters.
About 1 April, 1864, Longstreet's army returned to Richmond and several of Burnside's regiments returned to their
old game of annoying us. On 26 April we were assaulted by the Third Indiana and Ninth Michigan Cavalry at Carter's, but we
nicely repulsed them. Our loss, one killed and five captured. Theirs, twenty killed and wounded – our regiment alone
engaged. At this time and place the writer, with 250 men, was ordered to cross the railroad bridge and reconnoitre the enemy.
The troops were left in the railroad cut at the end of the bridge, under Captain J. W. Cooper, a brave and gallant Southron,
while I looked ahead and around a little, taking Lieutenant Gallahar, of Company K. We walked a quarter of a mile ahead through
the fields. While here I discovered a flank movement of the enemy on the ridge, south and west, and ordered the men by a wave
of the hand into the fort. In the meanwhile, the enemy seeing their movements discovered, charged up through the fields and
woods, 1,800 strong, with yells and the huzzahs peculiar to themselves. Captains Welch, Cooper and McConnell, Lieutenants
Conley and Gallahar and the men, every one of them, acted with conspicuous bravery. Seeing ourselves outflanked on both aides
of the fort, I ordered the men back to the friendly protection of an old time saw and grist mill on the river bank, and here
in a hand-to-hand fight up to the water's edge, we fought, and finally drove the enemy back, killing a Major of the Ninth
Michigan and a Lieutenant and a number of the men at the very side of the water. We were ordered to retire to the east side
of the Watauga river, recrossing the bridge, but the enemy were too close upon us, and the river at our backs. It was "hilt
to hilt" indeed. We had the right wing of the enemy to fight – four or five to one. Their left wing was upon the north
side of the railroad and up to the railroad bridge, thus completely cutting off our route across the bridge, but our friends
on the east side of the bridge, while cut off from us, were by no means idle. With six or eight cannon and long range guns,
they materially aided us in driving back the enemy. I wish also, in addition to officers named, to add the names of Captains
Butler and Phillips, Lieutenants Peck, Raby and Sergeant-Major Carmack and others who were conspicuous for their gallantry.
After this repulse the enemy remained quiet till night, during most of which
they "shelled the woods" and our army, flanking our position next day and again forcing us to fall back to Zollicoffer (now
Bluff City) and on to Bristol.
The first week in May we were ordered to the Salt Works, Virginia, where we remained till 1 June, when we were sent
to the Valley of Virginia. While at Saltville, Va., our men were constantly drilled and disciplined. While here the enemy
in the meanwhile were making tremendous efforts to take and hold all of East Tennessee and South West Virginia. The Salt Works
were an especial object of interest and around here were raids and fights all the balance of the war. While here the railroad
having been cut and held by the enemy, we had double rations of rice, salt and water for near three weeks, and nothing else.
The Valley campaign being one of the most exciting as well as one of the
most interesting of the war, is deserving of a more extensive notice than can be given in this sketch. At the time of our
hasty departure from Southwest Virginia for the Valley, orders had been issued by the War Department for our transfer to Western
North Carolina. Colonel Thomas had manfully worked to that end. He claimed with truth and much force that troops were needed
in North Carolina to protect that section, as well as upper South Carolina and Georgia. Many of the men had joined the regiment
upon the express understanding that it was for home defense; but Hunter's raid up the Valley demanded our immediate attention
and we must go. Several East Tennessee cavalry regiments went with us. We left horses and "bag and baggage" behind, regimental
officers and all. The First, Third and Fourteenth Tennessee Cavalry, under General John C. Vaughn, Colonel James E. Carter
and Lieutenant-Colonel Key – the latter since well known as United States Senator, Postmaster-General under President
Hayes, and Federal judge at Knoxville, since dead. Colonel Carter, of the First Tennessee Cavalry, was a brave and knightly
Southron, cool, clear-headed and fearless – "Sans peur et sans reproche." The same may be said of General Vaughn. Several
Virginia infantry regiments also went with us from New River bridge – the Thirty-sixth, Forty-fifth, Fifty-first and.
Sixtieth. These were good men and had recently passed through a fiery ordeal in Southwest Virginia, where most of their regimental
and company officers were killed, wounded or captured. Colonel Thomas A. Smith, Colonel of the Thirty-sixth Virginia, was
also along, and after the killing of Colonel Brown, brigade commander, at Piedmont 5 June, Colonel Smith continued to command
us while in the Valley. He was always kind, considerate and knightly in camp or upon the march – in battle he was little
less than bridled lightning. He was a great favorite with our men.
We reached Staunton via Lynchburg, Gordonsville and Charlottesville in June, on the 2d day of the month in the afternoon.
At once drew and cooked three days rations and marched towards the enemy, brigaded with the Virginians as above. For several
days we were marched around, seemingly in circles, to get at the enemy's infantry, held back behind their cavalry, who were
desolating the country, burning houses, barns, mills, grain and frightening the poor unarmed women. About this time it was
seemingly agreed between Sheridan, Hunter, Grant and Sherman that they could not whip the men until they had desolated their
homes, insulted and driven off their families and destroyed property, as was done in Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia.
But this is a digression, warranted however, we think, by the terrible destruction
seen all around. On the morning of 5 June the enemy's infantry having been located, General Wm. E. Jones, after a march and
double quick of sixteen miles, threw his army across the valley, crossing the turnpike between the villages of Piedmont and
New Hope, eight or ten miles north of Staunton. Our cavalry in the meanwhile was holding the enemy in check till the infantry
was in position. The middle or right centre of our line ran up at right angles and eastward, and then south with the Valley
turnpike, one-fourth mile or more; thence eastward again, to the Blue Ridge, on the extreme right. The position of the Sixty-ninth
as developed in the battle, was the most perilous of any of our forces, being on an elevation facing cleared fields north,
west and east, and being at the angle on the turnpike, six companies on the line west of and two running south with the pike.
Generals Imboden and Rosser and other cavalry on our flanks, did noble service,
but as all of our general officers were killed and no one left was fully conversant with the country and troops, no one has
written any report that I have seen, nor has any special report been made by General Hunter. It is impossible, therefore,
to give an intelligent idea of the battle, but from the best, information gathered, General Jones kept the most of his troops
on his left flank up to, and probably across the Shenandoah river, and with the Sixtieth, Fifty-first, Forty-fifth and Thirty-sixth
Virginia Regiments, and such others as he had still further west held the line. Our cavalry had engaged the enemy hotly from
early dawn on both sides of the turnpike, and when our regiment got into position, and in haste, threw up breastworks of rails,
the enemy rushed upon us, but meeting so warm a reception, they retired in disorder. Coming again and again, we drove them
back nicely every time. The right wing of our line rested upon and went south with the turnpike.
The enemy's wagons, plainly visible one mile distant, turned back and began
a retreat. Our men were jubilant and wanted to pursue, but a flank movement was discovered and the enemy being reinforced
by Averill with 6,000 or 8,000 troops, our right flank was turned and we were driven back in some disorder, but with the lose
of no wagons or cannon except the small battery of four guns, at the angle of our line and immediately supported by the Sixty-ninth.
This battery was furiously fired upon and silenced in the early morning fight by thirty of the enemy's guns. Being defeated
all along our lines the enemy attempted this flank movement which was finally successful. General Jones hearing of this movement,
bravely ran his horse out between the lines and instantly comprehended the gravity of the situation. Dashing back for aid
he called out as he passed us, "Brave Carolinians, I'll bring you help." He did return very soon with the Thirty-sixth and
Sixtieth Virginia Regiments; but it was too late. He vainly attempted to repel this assault, now furiously made all along
the lines. He was killed in this action, madly dashing at the very guns of the enemy. Upon the fall of Jones, our forces retired,
a while in disorder, but soon rallied. Colonel Jones, of our brigade, was also killed, with several other valuable officers.
The Sixty-ninth lost a number of brave officers and men. Captain Julius M. Welch, of Company E, a heroic, Christian soldier,
Lieutenant James Conley, Lieutenant Adam Peck, Company D; Sergeant Welch, Company F, and several others whose names are forgotten
by the writer. Southern men seldom fought better than upon this occasion. Every officer and man seemed to imbibe the dauntless
spirit of our leaders.
Our forces retreated slowly and sullenly towards Staunton. The loss of the
enemy was very great in killed and wounded, with only two prisoners. Our loss was 100 killed, 250 wounded. and near 955 prisoners.
Loss of the Sixty-ninth, 20 killed, 30 wounded and 21 missing. Our loss in prisoners was great because of the loss of our
leaders and guides who knew the country and our men were picked up by the enemy's cavalry. Finally Brigadier-General J. C.
Vaughn, of the Tennessee troops, succeeded in taking our men off of the field with little confusion and no loss of guns or
wagons. A short while after the Tenth New York (Cavalry) charged upon our rear, with sabers glittering in the sunlight, and
the cheers of victors. General Vaughn gave them a warm reception with grape and canister in an open field. The rear guard
of the Sixty-ninth, commanded by Major Stringfield, also repulsed them in a hand-to-hand fight, and in a personal combat he
killed one and captured another of the enemy. This stopped their pursuit.
After this our army fell back to Rockfish Gap, awaiting another battle with the enemy; but they much preferred burning
houses and desolating the country, which they did at Staunton, Lexington and Lynchburg. In a day or so, General Breckinridge
assumed command of our army. We then rapidly passed down Rockfish river through Amherst Court House and to Lynchburg. There
in the breastworks we were largely reinforced by General Early. He at once assumed command and took the offensive, rapidly
following General Hunter, who being greatly pressed and, as he says, out of ammunition, dodged off into and went down the
Kanawha Valley, leaving our forces in the undisputed possession of the Shenandoah Valley.
Here began Early's celebrated campaign. The march down the valley was a triumphal one of twenty to twenty-five miles
per day. In passing through Lexington, the West Point of the South, the home of Stonewall Jackson, and where his honored remains
were buried, our entire army marched through the cemetery and around his grave with reversed arms and bowed heads, and memories
thrilled with thoughts of this world renowned hero.
The Federals also seem to have visited his grave in great numbers, and carried
off as individual trophies the flagstaff and head-board – these being literally cut into splinters. What a grand sight
to see the soldiery of two great opposing armies honoring this noble dead! Onward marched our army of 12,000 men.
"Proudly they tread, that gallant Southern host.
marched they from mountain grove and coast;
Their hearts beat high, they thunder on the foe,
And like a whirlwind
to the conflict go."
ON TO WASHINGTON.
We passed through Staunton, New Market, Harrisonburg, Strasburg and Winchester. At this last place we met an ovation
indeed. The entire populace crowded the streets and nearly wild with joy mothers, wives and sisters embraced sons, husbands
and brothers, as they marched on – none being allowed to stop. On we went. "On to Washington" was our cry, and on to
Washington we went, capturing a splendid 4 July dinner at Martinsburg. We crossed the Potomac 5 July, wading through it and
camping on the old battle ground of Antietam. On 6 and 7 July our army went near to, but did not capture Harper's Ferry. On
8 July we passed Middletown; on the 9th, Frederick City. At this place our gallant General Rodes whipped Lew Wallace and sent
him whirling a la "Ben Hur chariot race," towards Baltimore.
Our corps (Breckinridge's) camped upon the battlefield at night, although
we had no part in the battle as a regiment. On Sunday, 10 July, we marched twenty-two miles toward Washington City, forty
miles distant. On 11 July we reached the outer works, Fort Stevens. General Early demanded the surrender of the city, and
captured their outer lines. We burned the palatial mansion of Postmaster-General Blair, in retaliation for the burning, by
Hunter, of Governor Letcher's residence at Lexington, Va., one month before. It was the universal opinion of the army that
we could have taken the city, although those in General Early's confidence say that he was well posted as to the movements
of the enemy. As we neared the city and the country and village people saw our army, they were amazed, and many persons told
us we would have no trouble to capture the city. The truth is, as developed since, the Federal authorities had no idea of
our numbers until after Lew Wallace's defeat at Monocacy two days before. Up to two hours before his repulse he had sent vainglorious
dispatches to Secretary Stanton as to how he was going to thrash out "Mosby and his crowd." After that repulse, however, when
Baltimore and Washington were both at our mercy, they became really alarmed – Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania; Governor
Dix, of New York; President Lincoln, Secretary Stanton, President Garrett, of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and others,
Our men were much displeased at the tardiness of General Early, who has
been severely criticized, both North and South, but notwithstanding all the criticisms of those times, General Early had a
warm friend in General Lee, who refused to remove him. In the afternoon of 12 July our army slowly began a retreat towards
the Virginia line, taking immense supplies of horses, cattle, mules and commissary stores. On the 13th we marched to Poolsville,
Md. On the 14th we crossed the Potomac, back into Virginia, still unmolested by the boastful foe who was going to "gobble
up" the whole of us.
Thus ended one of the most remarkable "raids" of the war. General Early
deserved much credit for its success, even without the capture of Washington City. On 15 July we rested near the historic
battlefield of Leesburg and Ball's Bluff. While here the enemy tried a little "bluff game" upon us; but our regimental sharpshooters
and others, under the gallant Captain Robert Conley, drove them into the river at Snicker's Ferry. I am sorry that I cannot
recall the names of our twenty sharpshooters. Privates Thomas Love and Kimsey Collins are all whom I can now name. They were
all splendid fellows. Collins is a well-to-do merchant of Bryson City, N. C., and was last year commander of the Western North
From 16 to 24 July we leisurely moved back, to and up the Valley, passing
Berryville, Newton, Millwood, Middletown, to Strasburg, several days in line of battle.
IN THE VALLEY OF VIRGINIA.
On the 24th the enemy, 16,000 strong, under Cook, Averill and Mulligan, pressing us pretty strong, we turned upon
them, our division (Wharton's) making the flank movement and routing them, "horse, foot and dragoons," drove them "pell-mell"
through Kernstown and Winchester. General Mulligan was killed in front of the Sixty-ninth, or mortally wounded, and died a
few hours afterwards in the tent of General Rodes. He probably would not have been killed but for the persistency of his color
guard in waving a flag over his prostrate form. As we made our movements by the right flank, it threw us – in advancing
upon the enemy – touching elbows with the "Old Stonewall Brigade" on our left, and when known to our men, a shout rent,
the air. The fruit of this victory was the capturing of 1,200 or 1,500 prisoners, and several stands of arms, wagons, cannon,
etc. Generals Breckinridge, Wharton and Col. Tom Smith, our Corps, division and brigade leaders, and Colonel Love, Major McKamy
and all company officers and men did well and were conspicuous for gallantry.
On 25, 26 and 27 July, we again went down the valley to and along the Opequon.
On 1 August our cavalry went over into Maryland, where we again took a ten
days tramp from Shepherdstown around to Williamsport, etc. On 8, 9 and 10 August we fell back from Darksville, Berryville
and Bunker Hill, to Strasburg, as the enemy was largely reinforced and led by Sheridan, who gave us battle every day. Their
cavalry was daring, but their infantry were not of much force, made up of city scum and foreign mercenaries.
On 18 August we gave the enemy battle at Kernstown and again drove them two miles north of Winchester. Our regiment
led in this assault upon and capture of the fort, northwest of the town. General John C. Breckinridge, our corps commander
on foot, and wearing a linen duster, was along leading the charge, which continued till after dark, and we became separated
from the line on the east of Valley pike and the town. In this charge a cannon ball passed under the writer, tearing a great
hole in the ground.
We halted on the north side of the fort, after capturing a Dutch or Hessian
picket of thirty men, and after readjusting our line fell back a half mile to our main army.
On 21. August we had another "spat" with the enemy, our sharpshooters only
engaged. This was near the historic town of Charleston, where
"Old John Brown was hung,
The last word he sung,
Oh don't keep me
long here remaining,
So they took him up a slope
And hung him with a rope,
And cast him in the happy land of Canaan."
On 28 August we fought the battle of Leetown, losing 25 men in an ambuscade. Sheridan's entire cavalry force confronted
us. Early expecting only a small skirmish, was leisurely riding along with his staff. Our sharpshooters being severely pressed,
were reinforced by the entire Fifty-first Virginia Regiment of our division and brigade. Generals Breckinridge and Wharton,
our corps and division commanders, with their staff, were also along. This writer being that day on Breckinridge's staff as
officer of the day, was close up to the front, when suddenly a battery of several guns was unmasked close upon us, on the
pike. Several men and horses were killed and wounded in the rapid flight down the half mile lane, Generals, Colonels and other
staff officers not standing much "on the order of their going," and it would have seemed superlatively ludicrous but for the
perils of the moment. In our flight I rode along near General Breckinridge, who was one of the handsomest men I ever saw.
He was mounted on a splendid Kentucky thoroughbred and never lost his equipoise of manner or bearing, although his long linen
duster, flowing in the wind, resembled a flying kite.
General Breckinridge said to me: "Major, look out for yourself and tell
General Wharton to bring up his division and post it behind that hill," pointing to a gently rolling hill in our front, "and
hurl those fellows back over there," pointing to a brigade of Sheridan's cavalry, led by Custer, that neck and neck were advancing
through the fields north of us, only a few hundred yards off. Colonels Smith, Love and others, however, were on the alert
and at the proper moment rose to their feet and delivered a well directed and destructive fire and sent them whirling back
through the field, leaving numbers of horses and men behind them.
On 3 September Sheridan's cavalry ran over ours on the pike in the forenoon,
to be themselves hurled back soon thereafter. On 4 September at Berryville we felt the enemy and finding them well posted,
after driving them awhile, we retired.
On 5 September, we fell back to Bunker Hill and the enemy following rather
closely, our gallant Rodes whirled upon and scattered them. Private E. C. Conner, of Company F, Swain county, a bright and
brave lad of 17 years, was killed. He was carried back a half mile and buried in an open grave, all within a half an hour
and during our retreat.
WINCHESTER 19 SEPTEMBER, 1864.
On 10 September the Sixty-ninth on the Opequon skirmished with the enemy and drove them across the river. During
this period there was much rain and disagreeable weather. None of our brigade having tents, officers or men, many were made
sick. We were compelled to camp often upon the battle ground of the previous days, and. where corpses of horses and men were
often exposed and unburied, making horrid the atmosphere and water. About this time fully one-third of our army was detached
from us to go to Lee's Army and Vaughn's Tennessee Cavalry also leaving, we were entirely too weak to cope with our foxy adversary.
So on 19 September Sheridan Came at us with fully 30,000 men, all along the line from Berryville to Winchester. We repulsed
every assault, but from the force of numbers we gradually fell back upon the hills around Winchester. The enemy had three
full corps of infantry, Sixth or Eighth, Thirteenth and Nineteenth. In the afternoon on our left wing, where the Sixty-ninth
had been holding a large force in check, while most of our division had been sent to repel the final assault upon our centre,
we were again assaulted in great force and finally surrounded by Custer's and Averill's Cavalry and driven back, losing, however,
no wagons and only two cannon. Our men fought like heroes, deploying and fighting as in squad drill and holding the enemy
in check till Early could bring back his infantry line; but for this dare-devil spirit shown by our men, and their utter refusal
to surrender, great damage would have resulted. We lost numbers of our best men, killed, wounded and captured, 75 in all,
in our regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel McKamy, Captains Singleton and Young, and Lieutenants Jones, George and others captured.
In killed we lost numerous good men. Lieutenants Welch, Company F; Jones,
Company D, and George, Company K. General Ramseur was also killed. Our army was much dis-spirited by this defeat, especially
the Sixty-ninth, as our loss was greater than that of any other regiment. This was owing to our position on the extreme left
where our little brigade of a few hundred had to repel the assault of 7,000 cavalry. We made a hasty retreat up the Valley
for two days, followed by the enemy, who took most of our wagons. They attempted to run over us again on the 21st and the
22d, but with the loss of only our sick and wounded, we beat them back.
Sheridan sent wonderfully boastful dispatches back to Secretary Stanton,
claiming the capture of Early's entire army. A few days later Stanton asked: "Where are your 5,000 prisoners?" Answer: "One
thousand two hundred only, and mostly wounded; my army too exhausted to follow." See Official Records of Union and Confederate
Armies, Vol. ____, page ____.
A letter written by Colonel Love from Strasburg, 15 October, 1864, says
of this battle: "We have 600 wounded at Winchester, the enemy has 6,000." Our army fell back to, or near Staunton, and after
resting there for several days, again turned down the Valley. At this time Major Stringfield was ordered to go to Western
North Carolina and take command of that portion of the Legion there and in East Tennessee. This he did through a circuitous
route through the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, arriving at Asheville about 1 November, 1864.
CEDAR CREEK 19 OCTOBER, 1864.
After turning down the Valley towards Winchester, the Sixty-ninth now reduced to only 150 men, was in all the movements
of Early's army, including the ill-fated battle of Cedar Creek, 19 October, where its gallant men again bore testimony of
their faith in, and devotion to, the South. In that battle our position was on our left – the enemy's right –
and at early dawn we were ordered to carry the enemy's works, and before they knew of our flank movement that was then up
and in motion to drive them from behind all their works. This assault was at first unsuccessful and we left a number of our
men, killed and wounded, between the lines. Soon, however, the attack was renewed. The flank movement was a success. Our troops
bearing down upon the enemy like a Western tornado, carried everything before them. This was followed up for several miles
down the valley towards Middleton in the early forenoon, thus gaining one of the completest victories of the war. Our army
took sixteen or eighteen hundred prisoners, five or six hundred wagons and thirty-six cannon, with lots of small arms and
The prisoners were safely taken out, but all the other spoils were recaptured
with an equal amount from us. All together we only had ten or twelve thousand men, the enemy thirty thousand. It was the same
old story – somebody blundered badly and the battle was worse than vain for us. The few thousand that first drove the
enemy followed them for miles, but their rear was not properly protected. Some troops stacked their guns and had a regular
picnic for hours. Sheridan coming up with his "long range glasses," soon saw the situation. He did what 500 officers of his
army could have done, simply ordered a charge upon those "Confederate picnickers" and gained a victory out of the defeat of
The Sixty-ninth got none of the spoils; received only hard licks and lost
some of its best men. After driving the enemy all morning, we repelled their assaults all evening, and away up into the night,
protecting our wagons and guns, as best we could.
A little sober second thought would have spoiled a lot of war monuments,
mounted them differently and faced them the other way. But such is life and war. Early generally managed his retreats well
and did this after the first afternoon.
RETURN TO NORTH CAROLINA.
This was the last trip of the Sixty-ninth up the Valley. Upon reaching Staunton the long delayed order to go to Western
North Carolina was received. From seven hundred reduced to about 100, was a terrible tale to tell, a heroic record. Here the
war practically ended with these noble fellows, and while the very last to actually surrender in North Carolina (at Waynesville,
10 May, 1865) they came on to their own loved mountain homes and turned up again later on. As mentioned heretofore the writer
of this arrived at Asheville about 1 November, 1864, and took command of this part of the regiment, now largely increased
in numbers and extending from the French Broad river in the east to Notlay, beyond Murphy, in the west.
The department was under the command of General Jas. G. Martin, with Colonel
John B. Palmer in the field. I can only detail operations that connected my men with the commanding general. There had been
some friction between the head officials of the various regiments on duty in these mountains. I took no part in any of it.
I simply tried to discharge my duty, both to those above me and to those under me. That part of the regiment with Colonel
J. B. Palmer that operated in East Tennessee between Hot Springs, N. C., and Morristown, New Market, Newport and Bull's Gap,
etc., and along the foot of Smoky Mountains by Sevierville, Maryville, etc., is reported to have done faithful service under
Lieutenant-Colonel B. G. McDowell, of the Sixty-second, who had refused to surrender at Cumberland Gap and was a gallant officer.
The enemy in the meanwhile were not idle, but were not having the picnic
that they expected anywhere. Raids were made up all the rivers towards and into the North Carolina mountains. Several parties
of this kind nearly reached Asheville. Two reached Waynesville, one came to Bryson City and still others were made up the
Tennessee river, Hiawassee and Valley rivers to Murphy, but no permanent lodgment was made or held by them.
Colonel J. R. Love after recruiting up a week or so arrived at Asheville and made a trip into Yancey county, heading
off the notorious Kirk. About the same time the writer went with 300 men up into Greene and Washington counties, Tennessee,
heading off Kirk also, below the "Red Banks of Chuckey," nearly opposite, and about ten miles south of Jonesboro, Tenn., about
where the town of Unicoi is now located. This was about 1 January, 1865, and a snow fall of eighteen inches on the mountains
and near the same in the Valley, made locomotion quite difficult. It also made the pursuit of war difficult and hazardous.
This it will be remembered, was the enemy's country indeed. We were greeted with no cheers from the brave or smiles from the
fair. Meeting with neither disaster or success, I felt it my duty to retrace my snow-trodden pathway to Paint Rock and thence
soon on to Waynesville, Webster, Quallatown, near Cherokee, in Swain county, on down Tuckaseegee, passing the present site
of Bryson City at Bear's Ford, thence to the Tennessee river at the mouth of Tuckaseegee and mouth of Nantahala, up the same
crossing the Cowee Mountains and finally the Nantahala Mountains at Red Marble Gap and down the Valley river to Murphy. I
left behind me all the troops under Colonel Love, who went into winter quarters at Locust Old Field (Canton, N. C.) This was
my task the balance of the war, a lonely, perilous and desolate one, often travelling twenty, thirty to fifty miles absolutely
alone. This was then almost a pathless wilderness. Now the pathway of the Western North Carolina Railroad, it was then a wild
section, sparsely settled, especially along the route named.
Fortunately for our country, the Cherokee Indiana inhabited the wildest section and were loyal to us to the last.
These big mountains extended from the great Smoky range and the Tennessee line back to the South Carolina and Georgia line
on the Blue Ridge. The Nantahala, Cowee, Balsam and Newfound or Pisgah ranges connected these two great ranges, and cut the
water courses asunder. This route along the railroad, beautiful and grand now to behold from car windows and rear platforms
where "distance indeed lends enchantment to the view" in the hours of peace, was then my rough "field of operations" by day
In January, 1865, while I was in Cherokee county, several hundred Indiana
cavalry came up the Tennessee river and captured a small party of my men at the mouth of Deep creek, now Bryson City. This
was a surprise but was of little value to them, costing them much more than gained. Ghormley and Everett's Cavalry, of the
Eightieth North Carolina (Walker's) Regiment, followed and harrassed (sic) them greatly. Clay, Cherokee and Graham counties
were protected by that regiment mostly. Those counties were much infested. by the Union element, some very good men among
them. There were some very indiscreet and very unwise men and soldiers on our side in this section. Much bad feeling existed.
This was a sort of half-way ground between Tennessee and South Carolina and Georgia. Negroes, horses and other property were
stolen in Tennessee, carried to Georgia and South Carolina and sold. My soldiers from the Valley of Virginia did not like
this and I had plenty of help to put it down. I gave protection to such as deserved it and ordered the others to leave the
State. Several bands of "scouts" caused much of this trouble. I ordered these to their commands, took horses, cattle and other
property from them, several times at muzzles of their pistols.
Early in March, 1865, Colonel G. W. Kirk invaded Haywood county via Cataloochee. He had about 400 cavalry and 200
infantry. It had been reported in Tennessee that Federal troops would be welcomed in North Carolina. They were, but "with
bloody hands to hospitable graves." Several good citizens, however, were killed and numerous horses stolen. Colonel Love met
and fought them in Haywood county and Lieutenant Conley fought and drove them across the Balsam Mountains at Soco Gap.
On the morning of 6 March, 1865 the troops located in Jackson county and
Swain, met and fought them on Soco creek, thence driving them across Smoky Mountains towards Sevierville, Tenn., the writer
travelling all of two nights and one day to get there. This fight, insignificant within itself, was an era with the Indians
and was only noticeable from its locality. It was fought upon a historic spot. At or over an old town house there the celebrated
creek chief, "Tecumseh," held a council of war with the old Cherokee Chief Yonah-guskee, about the year 1812, when Tecumseh
tried in vain to get the Cherokee to join in this great Indian war, but this "Old Father of the Cherokees" flatly refused.
And now on the same spot both white and Indian descendants of the noble sires that fought side by side under Jackson, bravely
fought the invaders of their soil, and but for the want of ammunition would have badly worsted, if not destroyed Kirk's entire
force. It is but fair to say that some of Kirk’s men and officers refused to obey many of his beastly orders. This raid
had a good effect upon the people, drawing them more closely together and intensified Southern sentiment. The Indians themselves
were always friendly to the whites and loyal to their neighbors, which fact had a potent influence ever after in keeping out
army raids. Soon after this the enemy everywhere became more active and aggressive. The end was now rapidly approaching, as
slow as our people were to believe it.
On 10 March, 1865, General J. G. Martin reported 1,745 present for duty,
of which the fragments of the Sixty-second, Sixty-fourth and Sixty-ninth North Carolina reported 488.
MILL CREEK, 17 APRIL, 1865.
Colonel Bartlett, of New York, came up the French Broad river to near Asheville, surprising and almost capturing
that place. But for the prompt and vigorous steps taken by Colonel G. Westly Clayton, of the Sixty-second North Carolina,
the place would have been taken. This was shortly prior to its final capture. Colonel J. R. Love, of the Sixty-ninth, was
ordered to hold the gap at Swannanoa tunnel against the enemy approaching from Salisbury. He met them and drove them back
to Mill Creek, McDowell county, 17 April, 1865.
About this time rumors of the surrender of General Lee were current, although
the people discredited them. Colonel Love returned with his forces to Asheville and there with General Martin went on to Waynesville
and Balsam Gap. About 25 April, General Martin sent written directions to the writer to go with a flag of truce to Knoxville,
Tenn., to General Stoneman regarding terms of the surrender of this Department. On this very day a soldier of the Ninth North
Carolina (First Cavalry) came to my headquarters at Franklin, Macon county, and said that General Lee had surrendered. I put
him in jail till that evening or the next morning, when another soldier came in with a proper parole, showing sure enough
that Lee had surrendered. The first soldier was, of course, released. The flag of truce went directly on to Knoxville, Tenn.,
one hundred miles through the mountains, but did not return. The bearers were all thrust into jail for refusing to take the
oath after having been grossly insulted upon the streets, and our flag trampled under foot. Captain W. B. Reese, Captains
Everett, M. H. Love, Thomas Butler, John Henderson and others, twenty-three in all, were in the party.
THE LAST FIGHT IN NORTH CAROLINA, 9 MAY, 1865.
The day before out a few miles south of Maryville, we were all halted and inspected by a party of eighty-four Federals.
After quite a parley I was ordered to surrender three of my men, Captains Love, Everett and Henderson, which, of course, I
refused to do, whereupon we were severely threatened, but finally allowed to pass on. General Martin hearing nothing from
us at Franklin, went towards Waynesville with Major Gordon, of his staff, and while spending the night at John B. Love's,
near Webster, Colonel Love, his son, came in from the front and told of his fight with Federals that day, 9 May, above and
around Waynesville, and that he and Colonel Thomas had demanded the surrender of Bartlett's forces, and that next day, 10
May, was fixed for a further consultation. This was the last gun fired during the war in this State.
SURRENDER AT WAYNESVILLE, 10 MAY, 1865.
During one of these parleys Colonel Thomas, who was usually very cool and discreet, became quite boisterous, especially
when told that Bartlett's men were traversing the entire county and taking every horse and fat cow or ox. He demanded the
surrender of Bartlett's forces and went into town with twenty or twenty-five of his biggest and best warriors all painted
and feathered off in good old style. Colonel Love arrived about this time with his 250 men. Colonel Thomas and Lieutenant
Conley had three hundred more whites and 200 more Indians, all the Indians making the welkin ring with their war whoop. Terms
of surrender were suggested and soon agreed to. All the officers and men were paroled and all allowed to retain their arms,
ammunition, etc. This concession was agreed to on account of the disturbed condition of the country. Kirk was told by Bartlett
that he must control his men and by Love and Thomas that if he did not that they would.
Most, of the officers and men of the old Legion have gone to their long
home. Those still living are numbered with the best citizens of the land, loyal to their State, section and nation and not
ashamed, of their Confederate record, while there is no bitterness to our late foes.
The writer as the last field officer of the regiment, while feeling it his
duty to write, feels his entire inability to do justice to all, especially to the private soldiers, whose names even cannot
be given here, but nobly generous North Carolina has preserved these in four volumes of Moore's Roster. For ours, see Vol.
4, page 152, etc.
W. W. STRINGFIELD.
Waynesville, N C.,
10 May, 1901.
Source: Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions From North Carolina
in the Great War 1861-65, Vol. III, pp. 729-761. The Histories
of the Several Regiments and Battalions From North Carolina in the Great War 1861-65, known widely as Clark's Regiments (Walter
Clark, editor), was a massive project at the turn of the 20th century
in a statewide effort to preserve
the Confederate history of North Carolina. Beginning in 1901, its volumes were written by the respective regimental and unit historians,
and Volume III contains from sketches to more detailed histories
of the Forty-third through Sixty-ninth North Carolina regiments.
It is generally the first work that Civil War buffs absorb while trekking with the men of the Tar Heel State
as they served and bled on the nation's battlefields some 150 years ago. While it may be viewed as an introductory level
of the many units from the Old North State, no serious study of North
Carolina's regimental histories is possible without this set.
I still often reference Volume III during my studies, particularly for the mountain raised regiments and battalions.
Recommended Reading: Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate
Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers (Thomas' Legion: The Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment). Description:
Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains, dedicated an unprecedented 10
years of his life to this first yet detailed history of the Thomas Legion. But it must be said that this priceless addition has
placed into our hands the rich story of an otherwise forgotten era of the Eastern Cherokee Indians and the mountain men of
both East Tennessee and western North Carolina who would fill the ranks of the Thomas Legion during the four year Civil
War. Crow sought
out every available primary and secondary source by traveling to several states and visiting from ancestors of the
Thomas Legion to special collections, libraries, universities, museums, including the Museum of the Cherokee, to
various state archives and a host of other locales for any material on the unit in order to preserve and present
the most accurate and thorough record of the legion. Crow, during his exhaustive fact-finding, was granted access
to rare manuscripts, special collections, privately held diaries, and never before seen nor published photos and
facts of this only legion from North Carolina. Crow remains absent from the text as he gives a readable account
of each unit within the legion's organization, and he includes a full-length roster detailing each of the men who served in
its ranks, including dates of service to some interesting lesser known facts.
Storm in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and
Mountaineers is presented in a readable manner that is attractive to any student and reader of American history, Civil
War buffs, North Carolina studies, Cherokee Indians, ideologies and sectionalism, and I would be remiss without including
the lay and professional genealogist since the work contains facts from ancestors, including grandchildren, some of which
Crow spent days and overnights with, that further complement the legion's roster with the many names,
dates, commendations, transfers, battle reports, with those wounded, captured, and killed, to lesser yet
interesting facts for some of the men. Crow was motivated with the desire to preserve history
that had long since been overlooked and forgotten and by each passing decade it only sank deeper into the annals of obscurity.
Crow had spent and dedicated a 10 year span of his life to full-time research
of the Thomas Legion, and this fine work discusses much more than the unit's formation, its Cherokee
Indians, fighting history, and staff member narratives, including the legion's commander, Cherokee chief and Confederate
colonel, William Holland Thomas. Numerous maps and photos also allow the
reader to better understand and relate to the subjects. Storm
in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers is highly commended, absolutely
recommended, and to think that over the span of a decade Crow, for us, would meticulously research the unit and
present the most factual and precise story of the men, the soldiers who formed, served, and died in the famed Thomas
Also Recommended: North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (Volume XVI: Thomas's Legion) (Hardcover,
537 pages), North Carolina Office of Archives and History (June 26, 2008). Description: The volume begins with an authoritative 246-page history of Thomas's Legion. The history, including
Civil War battles and campaigns, is followed by a complete roster and service records of the field officers, staff, and
troops that served in the legion. A thorough index completes the volume.
of North Carolina Troops: A Roster contains the history and roster of the most unusual North Carolina Confederate Civil
War unit, significant because of the large number of Cherokee Indians who served in its ranks. Thomas's Legion was the creation
of William Holland Thomas, an influential businessman, state legislator, and Cherokee chief. He initially raised a small
battalion of Cherokees in April 1862, and gradually expanded his command with companies of white soldiers raised in western
eastern Tennessee, and Virginia.
By the end of 1862, Thomas's Legion comprised an infantry regiment and a battalion of infantry and cavalry. An artillery battery
was added in April 1863. Furthermore, in General Early's Army of the Valley, the Thomas Legion was well-known for its fighting
prowess. It is also known for its pivotal role in the last Civil War battle east of the Mississippi
River. The Thomas Legion mustered more than 2,500 soldiers and it closely resembled a brigade. With troop roster, muster records, and Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR) this volume
is also a must have for anyone interested in genealogy and researching Civil War ancestors. Simply stated, it is an outstanding
source for genealogists.
Recommended Viewing: The Civil War, A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The
Civil War, A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation,
reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When
people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters
and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with
still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era
he depicts. Continued below...
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew
only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller,
and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the
words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained
photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed
as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every
Recommended Reading: The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (444
pages) (Louisiana State University Press) (Updated edition: November 2007) Description: The Life of Johnny Reb does
not merely describe the battles and skirmishes fought by the Confederate foot soldier. Rather, it provides an intimate history
of a soldier's daily life--the songs he sang, the foods he ate, the hopes and fears he experienced, the reasons he fought.
Wiley examined countless letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and official records to construct this frequently poignant,
sometimes humorous account of the life of Johnny Reb. In a new foreword for this updated edition, Civil War expert James I.
Robertson, Jr., explores the exemplary career of Bell Irvin Wiley, who championed the common folk, whom he saw as ensnared
in the great conflict of the 1860s. Continued below...
About Johnny Reb:
"A Civil War classic."--Florida Historical Quarterly
"This book deserves to be on the shelf of every Civil War modeler and enthusiast."--Model
"[Wiley] has painted with skill a picture of the life of the Confederate
private. . . . It is a picture that is not only by far the most complete we have ever had but perhaps the best of its kind
we ever shall have."--Saturday Review of Literature