Monday, January 25, 2010

Captain Goldman Bryson and the First Tennessee National Guard

As Lee White and I were sitting at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center Information Desk on Saturday, January 23, I was approached by an individual wishing to relate a story to me about how one of his ancestors caught a miniƩ ball in the shoulder during the battle and wanted more information on the unit his ancestor fought with during Chickamauga. Well, like so many visitors, he only had a name, a name Lee and I could not specifically pinpoint for the gentleman. I believe the surname was Brannon, but that is beside the point in this case.

According to Lieutenant C.H. Taylor, a skirmish took place deep in the hills of Cherokee County, North Carolina, on November 1, 1863. Taylor was the commanding officer of a group of nineteen men who were ordered by Confederate General John C. Vaughn to pursue Captain Goldman Bryson's company of "mounted robbers." Supposedly, Taylor's band tracked the "robbers" for two days, without stopping to eat. They finally came upon Bryson and his men, which scattered. Taylor ordered Bryson to stop, and when he refused, Taylor shot him. The wound did not deter Bryson from trying to get away from the Confederates, and he was shot several more times. Taylor's men did find orders from General Ambrose Burnside on Bryson's body and turned them over to his superiors. For further information concerning this skirmish, correspondence can be found in

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Col. Newton Davis Redux

As you know I have presented pieces of letters from Col. Newton Davis of the 24th Alabama when we first started this blog, a particular favorite being his young brother-in-law, Little Newt. Anyway, I have recently come in contact with a decendent of Davis and he has shared some family information as well as some other things that will posted in the future. However, at this time I do want to post a prewar picture of Newton N. Davis. So for those of you who like to put a name to a face, here is Newton Davis.

Good News for Raymond!

Fresno, California
January 15, 2010

Western Theater Historians & West Coast Preservationists
Rally to the Support of Mississippi Battlefield

In October 2009 the 25th annual West Coast Civil War Conference convened in Clovis, California. The event, which focused on the 1863 campaign for Chattanooga, Tennessee, drew attendees from across the United States and hosted some of the most recognizable historians on the subject. The scholars turned down speaking fees to help raise additional money for historic conservation. By weekend’s end, the symposium had consummated a modest victory, earning just over $7,500 for battlefield preservation. Impressed with the model grassroots preservation achievements of the Friends of Raymond Battlefield in Mississippi, all of the proceeds have been donated to help further their continued efforts. The event was hosted by the San Joaquin Valley Civil War Round Table of central California. For more information on preservation at Raymond please contact:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son..."

The Army of Tennessee would lose four brigade commanders in the Battle of Chickamauga, Brigadier Generals Preston Smith, Ben Helm, and James Deshler, along with Colonel Peyton Colquitt. Today four stacks of cannon balls mark the locations of where they fell. Of the four, Helm, Deshler and Colquitt were all young men, Helm being the eldest at 32, Deshler being 30, and Colquitt being 31, and all three would fall in the blundered attack of Leonidas Polk on the morning of September 20th. Little attention has been given to these three as a group, Helm has always stood out for being President Lincoln's brother in law, but little has been told of Deshler and Colquitt. Of interest is that all three had attended West Point at the same time with Deshler and Colquitt being friends and displaying similar traits.

Deshler and Colquitt also had something else in common, their father's strong Fire Eater personalities that were passed along to them. David Deshler was born in Pennsylvania in 1798 and moved to Alabama in 1825 where he became quite wealthy from his involvement in the establishment and later ownership of the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad, the first railroad west of the Appalachians. By the 1850s Deshler had become quite radical in his political leanings, in February of 1861 he wrote to a friend in Philladelphia, "You don't seem to see that the Black Republican programme would be degradation, socially and politically to our section; it would be the destruction of $4,000,000,000-four thousand millions of dollars-of property to us, besides putting us down upon a platform of perfect equality with our own chattels. How can we stand the proposition? Could you agree to it, supposing that we changed places? Not at all-You would die first. Well, so will we..." David Deshler imparted these views to his son, and he would indeed die for that line of thought. David Deshler would mourn his son for the rest of his life, having already lost his wife, daughter and another son prior to the war. Upon his death in 1871, Deshler willed all of his land and money for the establishment of the Deshler Female Institute in Tuscumbia, being named for James.

Walter T. Colquitt was a legal powerhouse in the state of Georgia, making his way to the state Supreme Court. Judge Colquitt was a strong states rights advocate and urged immediate secession in 1850, at the Nashville Convention of that year, which meet to consider what the southern states should do if Congress banned slavery in the new territories. During the discussion Colquitt losing patience for the debate that was going on stood and said that the time for talking was over, action was needed and that instead of words that they should be casting bullets and preparing for war. Colquitt also passed his beliefs onto his sons, particularly Peyton, who after dropping out of West Point would become editor of the Columbus Sentinel and a state senator from 1857-58. After John Brown's Raid Colquitt would offer the services of his militia company to the State of Virginia, all of this would have made his father proud, but Walter Colquitt had died in 1855. His son would also live up to his father's expectations and go to war, and pay the ultimate price at Chickamauga. Indeed the sins of the fathers would be visited upon the sons a thousand times.

Entrepot, a Review

Entrepot: Government Imports into the Confederate States by C. Lon Webster III is one of the best material culture titles to come out in recent years. Lon tells the incredible story of the Confederate Government's efforts to procure war material abroad and the miraculous efforts that were made to get those supplies into the Confederacy. The book's chapters cover the efforts of Caleb Huse and others in London and then the Chapters deal with one of the major ports to which supplies were sent through. This book has appeal on many levels from just the story of Huse and the other purchasing officers in London to just incredible data on the massive amount of items that were being sent through, everything from cannon to mess kits. Of special interest is the author's breakdown of what items were being sent to the Army of Tennessee. So I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the material culture of the Confederate soldier and of the Army of Tennessee in particular.

The Legacy of Stones River Symposium

Put Saturday, March 20th, 2010 on your calendars. The Legacy of Stones River, a series of lectures will be presented in Murfreesboro, the topic will be, "The Legacy of Stones River: Why They Fought examines the individual motivations of men that led them to choose sides in 1861 and begin one of the bloodiest chapters in the American story. Through these individual stories we will learn more about the intellectual and emotional considerations that fed the drive to Civil War." For more information on speakers and topics as well as registration go to,

All of the topics look interesting and the three keynote speakers, Sam Elliott, Dr. Keith Bohannon, and Dr. Ken Noe are well worth the price. Dr. Noe's talk is the topic of his new book, Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861, which will be a must for those of you interested in the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee.

News from Franklin, a little late.

This is from the Dec 24, 2009 The Tennessean by Kevin Walters

FRANKLIN — The story of the Battle of Franklin is bringing historian Jennifer Esler here to lead the city's two main museums.
The story and love, that is. Esler, 53, has been named the first chief executive officer of the Battle of Franklin Trust, the organization that oversees the Carter House and Carnton Plantation. She will start work in Franklin on March 1. For years, she has been the executive director of the $20 million Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va. But she's had ties to Nashville since November 2008, when her husband, Howard Kittell, became president and chief executive officer of The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Nashville.
Esler's job in Franklin will give her a chance to follow her husband to Middle Tennessee and help spread the message of Franklin's past to new visitors.
She wants more people coming to Franklin to learn what the Battle of Franklin meant to the city and the Civil War.
"It needs to be told," Esler said. "It's a national story. It's a story of extraordinary human courage and extraordinary human kindness. These two historic houses tell that story."
The Battle of Franklin erupted between Union and Confederate troops the afternoon of Nov. 30, 1864. It left 8,000 casualties in just a few hours' time. The Carter House was the site on what is now Columbia Avenue, where troops fought in bloody hand-to-hand combat; Carnton Mansion was later a field hospital.
Coordination aimed at attracting visitors. Esler is joining the trust at what could be a propitious time for the city and the two museums. In October, Franklin again drew national attention for preservation work with the reburial of an unknown Civil War soldier that drew thousands of visitors. That comes just a few months after leaders at Carter House and Carnton Plantation created the Battle of Franklin trust to help both sites work more in concert with one another, improving the visits by tourists and raising more money. Trust leaders saw Esler's experience as the selling point to hire her. She will help lead the planning, development and construction of a newly planned Carter House interpretative center.
"While we were impressed with many of the candidates, Jenny stood out as the ideal candidate to lead us in our aggressive efforts to further enhance the visitors' experience of the historic Battle of Franklin and the sites related to the Battle," said Marianne Schroer, trust chairwoman in a prepared statement. Schroer is the wife of Franklin Mayor John Schroer. Esler said her first task will be to talk to staff and community leaders about what they want for both sites. "I'm big on building a team and so I'm hoping that we can create a sense of team between both organizations and both boards," Esler said.