Monday, February 14, 2011

Into E. Tennessee

I am one of those people who believes every soldier who fought in the Civil War, whether Confederate or Union, needs to have his grave marked. And over the course of time, I’ve been able to help mark quite a few of them. This past Saturday, I was in Blount County, Tennessee, with some friends, marking the grave of a member of the 58th North Carolina Troops: Elisha Gardner.

According to the North Carolina Troops roster, Elisha M. Gardner lived in Mitchell or Yancey County when he enlisted in Mitchell County at the age of 18 on May 17, 1862. On July 29, 1862, he was mustered in as a private in Company B, 58th North Carolina Troops. Gardner deserted at Bell’s Bridge, Tennessee, on July 24, 1863, and had returned to duty some time before December 31 of that year. At some point prior to August 31, 1864, Gardner transferred to Company D of the 58th regiment. Gardner was paroled on May 1, 1865. At some point, Gardner moved to east Tennessee, where he died on May 20, 1909. He is buried at the Chilhowee Primitive Baptist Church.

As I walked around this old cemetery, I came across another interesting grave – that of another Tar Heel soldier. This was the grave of Pvt. Andrew Whitehead. This is what I found in his compiled service records: Born in Carter County, Tennessee. Enlisted June 15, 1864, in Elizabethon, Tennessee. Mustered in as private in Company A, 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry. Whitehead was 19 years old, six foot, two inches, with yellow eyes and light hair. On September 16, 1864, while stationed at Bulls Gap, Tennessee, he was declared absent without leave. In February 1865, he was charged for one “Ballard Rifle and Equipment – one Knapsack one Haversack and one Canteen.” Whitehead returned to his regiment on April 30, 1865, and was discharged on August 8, 1865. At some point, Whitehead, like Gardner, moved from his home and settled in the Chilhowee area.

So there they were, two veterans, one who wore the blue and another who wore the gray, buried in the same cemetery and on the same hill, about 30 or so feet apart. I wonder what homecoming Sundays were like…..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about my great-great-grandfather, Andy Whitehead. It's remarkable how that war tore families apart, whether in the immediate family, or cousins. It is still happening in today's political climate.

Claudia Whitehead Carson, of Long Island, New York