Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hang down your head…

Still not much free time around here. I did finish one major project on Monday, but wrote a proposal for a new book last night. Oh well, some people never learn.

Rob Neufeld takes a look at the story of Tom Dula (the Tom Dooley of Kingston Trio fame) in his current column in the Asheville Citizen. (You can read it here.) The Dula story is a pretty famous – Dula lives in Wilkes County before the war and has a fling with a local girl. He goes off to the war, survives, and returns home to find his girl married. Their fling continues, but on the side, Dula finds Laura Foster. At some point (maybe during the war), Dula contracts a venereal disease, and blames Foster. Someone (Dula? Ann Melton, his other girl?) kills Foster and Dula flees to Tennessee where he is captured. Neufeld’s article picks up here, with Zebulon Baird Vance defending Dula at trial. Dula loses the trial and is hanged for the murder of Foster.

So, a short summary of events. If you want to know more, check Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley by John Foster West.

However, what I want to take a few moments to examine is the service record of our Tom Dula.

According to the NPS web site, Soldiers and Sailors, there were five men by the name of Thomas Dula in Confederate service from North Carolina. These include Thomas J. Dula, from Wilkes County, who served in the 26th North Carolina Troops and as Lt. Col. Of the 58th North Carolina Troops. Some folks have tried to make this Thomas Dula, because of his service in Vance’s regiment, the Tom Dula of story and song, but he is not. Our Dula, Thomas C. Dula, served in Company K, 42nd North Carolina Troops. According to volume ten of the North Carolina Troop books published by the state department of cultural resources, our Dula resided in Wilkes County and was seventeen years old when he enlisted in April 1862. Company K was from Wilkes County, and there were two other Dulas serving in this regiment: William C. (age 20) and William L. (no age given). Tom Dula was promoted to Drummer in January – February 1864. He was captured during the battle of Wise’s Fork, North Carolina, on March 10, 1865, and sent to the prison at Point Lookout, Maryland. Dula took the oath and was released on June 11, 1865.

Next, we’ll look at Dula’s compiled service record. Dula was reported as being a patient in the Confederate States Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, from November 1 to November 24, 1862, and was then reported as a patient at the Episcopal Church Hospital in Williamsburg , Virginia, from December 3 to December 25, 1862, with a complaint of Re. Febris. [fever]. In January and February 1863, he was back with his regiment, but was reported sick in his quarters. Dula seems to have been present until August 10, 1864, when he was reported sick in a hospital in Richmond (this was at the end of October).
Well, not much to go on. Maybe Dula contracted his VD while he was a soldier. That happened frequently . But there is not enough to go upon while looking at his record. Just a couple of prolonged trips to the hospital and one record of having a fever.

What do you think?

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