Friday, February 20, 2009


In preparing a talk on the 44th United States Colored Troops, a unit raised in Chattanooga in the spring of 1864, I came across three very interesting comments related to USCTs in general in the area, and one specific to the 44th. The first is from a former slave; "The N_______ was mighty glad to have the Yankees take them...they wanted to get out from under that rough treatment. Georgia was about the meanest place in the world. They would knock you and kick you around just like you was a dog."

Now the next comes from a Confederate officer, Spencer Talley, who was present when most of the 44th was captured at Dalton, GA on October 13th, 1864; "They immediately surrendered and my company was sent in to have them stack their arms and march them out. We took the white men as prisoners but the negroes were taken as livestock or other property. The separation of these white officers from their Negro commands was as interesting as well as a sickening scene to our Southern boys. The white officers in bidding farewell with their colored men showed in no uncertain way their love and devotion to the colored race. Their hearty handshakes and expressions of sorrow over their separation will never be forgotten."

The final account also concerns the 44th's capture at Dalton and published in the Macon Daily Telegraph; "The negroes were stripped of their overcoats and hats, and, under guard and lash, put to work tearing up the railroad. They will not be treated as prisoners of war, but if any of them should live long enough they will be reduced to their normal condition."
Some of them did make it home, like Hubbary Pryor, pictured above, but many did not, indeed it seemed as that those that were not sent back into bondage seemed to disappear as the army made its way across North Georgia and into North Alabama, there fait still remains unknown. The remainent of the 44th that escaped capture was joined by some men who were able to make their escape and fought in the Battle of Nashville. After Nashville they would spend their time in garrison duty in Tennessee until April of 1866 when they were mustererd out of service.

Captain John W. Carroll

John W. Carroll, the eldest child of William and Ellen Carroll of Henderson County, TN, was born November 28th, 1841. William Carroll had served both as a Tax Collector for the county and as Justice of the Peace, in 1860 he owned a farm with $4,000 in real estate and $2,000 in personal estate. William made sure that John was educated and during the last years the 1850s, John became very aware of the events spiraling toward war. In 1861 he enlisted in company that would eventually become part of the 27th Tennessee Infantry in 1861. Carroll would rise to the rank of Captain within a years time and serve until he was wounded at the Battle of Perryville, then afterwards he would be on recruiting duty and serving in the the 21st Tennessee Cavalry. In 1898 he wrote his memoirs, with a refreshing air of honesty concerning his motivation.

The following are some interesting excerpts;

"During this period of life I read the newspapers which were full of the happenings in Kansas Territory. The territorial government had applied to Congress for statehood in the Federal union. The abolitionists of the north wanted it admitted only upon the terms of a free state, while the Southern or pro- slavery people wanted it admitted as a slave state; that is, that a citizen of the United States, owning slaves, should have the right to go into Kansas and have his property and slaves protected, as any other property, which had been done under the constitution of the United States from the beginning of the government. The northern Free Soilers, as they called themselves, sent men and arms to Kansas under the name of the Secret Aid Society, for the purpose of driving out the Southern people. The other side being equally determined, it resulted in frequent collisions at arms between the contending factions. My sympathies naturally went out to the Southern people not that I owned any property in slaves, but I naturally loved the Sunny South together with all her institutions, then as now; whether right or wrong, was no question with me. I am for her and will be, I think, while I have an existence upon the earth. My patriotism began to run pretty high; so I made up my mind that if I had any way of getting over there I would go and help my people. After some reflection I frankly laid the matter before my father, telling him of my intentions. He heard me kindly through my story. When I had finished, he told me that I knew nothing of life in an army; that I had best wait, for he believed that inside of two years a fearful war would be forced upon the people of the Southland; that, when the time came, it would be our duty to aid our people to the best of our ability. After this conversation I abandoned the idea of a trip to Kansas."

"About this time came John Brown's raid into Virginia. Thus every move on the political chessboard was a move in the direction of war the most fearful in the annals of history. Thus John Brown's raid was the first shot fired and the first onslaught made upon the institutions of our country, which burst upon us in all its fury in the year 1861. I was then in my nineteenth year; full of patriotism and hope of success; anxious to take part in the struggle, I enlisted in a company being raised by Richard Barham May, 1861."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Presidential Inaugurations

Okay, So, I had to bring this to the blog's attention. On this day in 1982, a bouncing baby boy named Christopher Paul Young entered into this adventure we call life. Little known to me at the time, 121 years previous, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was being sworn in as the President of the Confederate States of America. Not only was he being sworn in on my birthday, but the ceremony took place in my home state, Alabama! I have added a photo which includes the feet of three of our four blog authors standing around a star located at the capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama. This is purportedly where Davis took the oath of office, Feb. 18, 1861.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Simple Fifth Kentucky and Appalachian Otherness

In 1914, veteran of the 4th Ky. Infantry (CS) Lewis C. Garrigus wrote a series of articles in his (then) local paper, the Portland Morning Oregander. In one of these, Garrigus recalled nicknames that each regiment was given within the brigade.
Lieutenant-Colonel Phil Lee, of the Second Kentucky, was quite a wit and something of a wag as well, and after the Fifth came to use, he characterized the five regiments as follows: The "honest ninth," the "theiving fourth," the "supple sixth," the "invincible second" and the "simple fifth." The fifth had been recruited in the mountain counties of Kentucky, and we called them "seng diggers" when they first came to us, but we soon learned to respect them for their prowess, their indomitable courage notwithstanding their want of culture.
And in so doing, Garrigus joined what was, by then, a cultural phenomenon that considered the American mountain South another America, a retarded frontier, the contemporary ancestors of the country permanently locked in their Elizabethan past. This is not surprising for 1914 as many scholars who study the evolution of the idea of Appalachia will point out. But what is most interesting is that Garrigus' claims are backed up by wartime accounts that disparage the soldiers of the Fifth as jeans wearing, uncultured, ginseng digging, persons outside the mainstream Kentucky. The development of an Appalachian other has been linked to mountain unionism during the war, but I can't help but wonder if there are also roots of an Appalachia-as-other in intra-Confederate criticism of the mountaineer as well. I have decided to start poking around this idea this semester in a seminar with Dwight Billings to see if it has legs.

My exploratory steps thus far has been to see if the 5th was really a "mountain" regiment. Using E.Porter Thompson's 1868 annotated rosters, here's where the Orphans hailed from. Update: New maps! Red counties sent a company-sized contingent, Orange counties sent a significant (~15+) group, and Yellow counties sent a small number of soldiers into the unit:

The "Simple Fifth." While there are the large groupings from Morgan and Breathitt (2 companies in that case), there are certainly large contributions from non-stigmatized Northern Ky. Certainly, though, the 5th is the most tightly grouped of any of the units.

For comparison:
The "Invincible Second"

The "Thieving Fourth"

The "Supple Sixth" (not as South-Central as I had previously assumed)

The "Honest Ninth"

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Great Things Are Expected Of Us

The new issue of the University of Tennessee Press' catalog now lists Great Things Are Expected of Us: The Letters of Colonel C. Irvine Walker, 10th South Carolina Infantry, C.S.A. which I edited. The current release date for the book is May.

Here is the description from the catalog:

Great Things Are Expected of Us is a fascinating collection of letters written by Lt. Col. Irvine Walker to his fiancĂ© as he fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War's Western Theater from May 1862 until April 1865. This correspondence offers candid, revealing insights into the mind of a man whose devotion to the Southern cause was matched only by his desire to maintain the status befitting his high station in society.A South Carolinian who fought in the Army of Tennessee, Walker was a quintessential representative of what historian Peter Carmichael has described as the “last generation of the Old South.” Walker viewed his participation in the war as the perfect opportunity to live up to the idealized sense of manhood championed by the men of his class and to defend its way of life.Not only do the letters provide firsthand accounts of the military campaigns in which Walker participated, they also show the war from a uniquely human perspective. Writing with passion and literary verve, the young officer was refreshingly open yet careful to present himself and his fellow soldiers in a positive way. He was quick to defend his friends, but he could be scathing in his criticism of others. Of particular interest is his defense of General Braxton Bragg, a commander whom many have maligned but whom Walker greatly admired.Making these letters even more fascinating are the postwar corrections and commentary that Walker added when he had his letters transcribed decades after the conflict. Also included is an appendix containing Walker's accounts of his participation in the battles of Franklin and Nashville. These various elements, along with the editors' introduction and annotations, make Great Things Are Expected of Us a significant contribution to the Voices of the Civil War series and to our understanding of the Confederate elites and the war in the West.