Thursday, August 27, 2020

Johnson County, Tennessee’s one Confederate Company

 Johnson County is tucked far up into the corner of east Tennessee, boarded by North Carolina to the east and Virginia to the north. In 1860, the population was just 5,018 people. If you are looking for a detailed history of Johnson County and the War, you are not going to find one. In fact, other than the Jingling Hole that I wrote about previously, the only bit of information readily available is that Johnson County, which provided a company of men to the 13th Tennessee Cavalry (US), was a pro-Union County. That may be true (much research still needs to be done. I suspect that Johnson County was more dissident that pro-Union.) However, Johnson County also supplied a company to the Confederate army as well.

Johnson County, Tennessee, in red.

Captain Thomas S. Rumbough, Company E, 16th Battalion (Neal’s) Tennessee Cavalry, was assigned to supervise and organize a new cavalry company. Rumbough appears to be from Greene County, and was killed in the fighting on November 15, 1864, at Morristown, Tennessee. Rumbough’s role in organizing the company is not exactly clear. The Johnson County cavalry company was organized on September 7, 1862, in Taylorsville, now Mountain City. Lieutenant Barton R. Brown, Company D, 1st North Carolina Cavalry, was assigned to this new company and promoted captain. Including Brown, there were eighty-five men in this company. On November 1, 1862, they were mustered into service as Company F, 7th Battalion North Carolina Cavalry.  The 7th Battalion was under the command of Col. George N. Folk.

For the next few months, the 7th Battalion was in east Tennessee, charged with breaking up bands of disloyal men and bushwhackers in Johnson and Carter counties. In December 1862, they were near Blountville, and in February, in Jonesborough. June found the battalion under the command of General John Pegram. They proceeded into Kentucky, skirmishing at Simpson’s Ford and Monticello. Later that month, they followed in the wake of destruction of Carter’s Raid above Knoxville. Following this, they rotated between garrison duty at Big Gap Creek, and participated in raids into Kentucky.

On August 3, 1863, the 7th Battalion, along with the 5th Battalion North Carolina Cavalry, were consolidated into the 6th North Carolina Cavalry, with Folk as their colonel. The Johnson County’s company became Company A, 6th North Carolina Cavalry. There was much skirmishing the following month. The regiment followed the bulk of Confederate forces from East Tennessee to North Georgia and were involved in the battle of Chickamauga. The next few months were spent in Tennessee engaging the Federals. In February 1864, Folk moved the regiment to Weldon, North Carolina. They spent the rest of the war in eastern North Carolina, picketing places along the railroad. In May, they skirmished with Federal forces advancing toward Raleigh. Instead of surrendering, the regiment was disbanded at the end of the war.

So what became of the rank and file? It appears that the company records end in November 1864. Due to the scattered condition of the regiment, only a few received their paroles at the end of the war. These included Pvt. Thomas W. Arnold (Ridgeway, NC); Pvt. E.H. Dougherty (Greensboro, NC); Pvt. James H. Floyd (Greensboro, NC); H. T. Grant (Nash County, NC); James Greene (Greensboro, NC); Isaac Hayes (Nash County, NC); Pvt. William Johnson (Nash County, NC); Daniel Mast (Nash County, NC); Pvt. Thomas A. Roberts (Greensboro, NC); Pvt. John S. Smith (Greensboro, NC); Pvt. Thomas Sutherland (Nash County, NC); Pvt. Daniel Wagner (Nash County, NC); Pvt. Jacob Wagner (Charleston, WV).

Several men were captured during various engagements. These include Lt. Wiley F. Thomas; Pvt. James B. Blair; Pvt. William B. Brown; Pvt. James F. Edwards; Cpl. William F. Elrod; Pvt. Lula Glover; Pvt. P.H. Johnson; Pvt. Hiram Jones; Sgt. J.S. Mast; Pvt. Valentine B. Mast; Pvt. William C. Mast; Pvt. James Parker; Pvt. John C. Parker; Pvt. Thomas Potter; Pvt. G.W. Robinson; Pvt. David B. Wagner;

Pvt. William Lefler, captured at Philadelphia, Tennessee, October 20, 1863, died of disease at Fort Delaware on July 28, 1864. Orderly Sergeant J.N. McQuown died in a hospital in Marietta, Georgia on October 1, 1863, of unknown causes. Pvt. James B. Smith died at Camp Chase, Ohio, February 9, 1864.

Pvt. John Lunsford was captured at Philadelphia, Tennessee, October 20, 1863, and later took the Oath and joined the 2nd United States Volunteers. Pvt. James O. Moreland was captured at Monticello, Kentucky, June 9, 18633, imprisoned at Camp Chase and Johnson’s Island, took the Oath and joined the 93rd New York Infantry.

At least two soldiers were wounded:  Joseph F. H. Johnson, bugler, was reported absent wounded. Cpl. E.C.D. McEwen was wounded during the battle of Chickamauga, and apparently never rejoined his company. Pvt. D.C. Sutherland was reported missing in action following the battle of Chickamauga.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about these men. For those who have no parole information, were they sick in some hospital? Did they desert and go home? Or maybe they joined a Federal regiment? In time, it might be possible to dig through the various census reports and family histories and build a more complete picture of the lives of the men who formed Johnson County, Tennessee’s only Confederate company.


You can read a little more about the war in this area here:

The Jingling Hole 

George N. Folk and the raid at Fish Springs.

Not that "hegemonic": Washington County, TN

Was it really Witcher's Cavalry?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Guerrilla War in Florida and North Carolina


At times we get caught up in the bigger War, epitomized by places like Chancellorsville or the Atlanta Campaign. There was, however, another war being fought while this bigger War was taking place. It was a much more personal War. Two events--the June 1864 Camp Vance Raid in western North Carolina and the July 1864 Bayport-Brooksville Raid along the Gulf Coast of Florida--are good examples of the episodes taking place in that "other" War.

Western NC, from 1865 map (LOC)

It might be argued that the Confederate conscription law hit North Carolina the hardest. Thousands of men had no desire to serve in the Confederate army. They simply wished to be left alone. Yet the law forced them into service. Two training camps were established, one in Raleigh, and eventually, one in the western part of the state near Morganton; this latter base was named Camp Vance. Once eastern Tennessee fell to Federal forces in the fall of 1863, Camp Vance became a tempting target. In the spring of 1864, a Tennessee Unionist, George W. Kirk, received permission to recruit his own regiment, and he devised a plan to capture Camp Vance. He led a force of around 120 men through the wilderness, and on June 28, surrounded and captured the Confederate base. Captured at Camp Vance were three companies of junior reserves, then in the process of organization, and an unknown number of men who had been held in the guardhouse (40-50 men, maybe). Kirk then set fire to the camp, burned a local railroad depot and train, and began his return up the mountain toward Tennessee. Along the route, he was forced to fend off several attacks by local troops. In one of these attacks, Kirk used some of the junior reserves as human shields and laughed about the Confederates shooting their own men. Upon crossing the crest of the Blue Ridge, Kirk played a part in burning the home of Col. John B. Palmer (58th NCT), and destroying the Cranberry Iron Works.  He eventually returned to east Tennessee with 150 prisoners, 40 slaves, abundant horses and mules and other plunder, and numerous recruits for his own regiment, the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry (US). The men Kirk recruited for this raid were from western North Carolina. The guides he used were dissidents who were living in the area.  The men he recruited for his regiment were also from the area.  One of the most critical points about the regiment that Kirk raised, the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry (US) is often overlooked: they did not join the United States army for some lofty goal, like preserving the Union. These men crossed over the Tennessee/North Carolina line long enough to join the Federal army, to get fed, clothed, and armed, and then slipped back across the border to raid the farms, homes, and businesses of local pro-Southern people. The 3rd NCMI (US) never functioned as a regiment until April and May 1865, when it became a part of Stoneman's Raid. Their war was much more personal, and it was almost always waged against former friends, personal enemies, and even family.

In some ways, the Brooksville-Bayport Raid bears many similarities to Kirk's Camp Vance Raid. The 2nd Florida Cavalry (US) was organized in late 1863 and early 1864 and consisted of pro-Union, or at least anti-Confederate, Florida men. Just who conceived the plan of a raid into Hernando County is unknown. On June 30, 1864, two companies of the 2nd Florida Cavalry (US) and two companies of the 2nd United States Colored Troops set out from Fort Myers. Their purpose was to disrupt the movement of cattle heading north toward the main Confederate army in Tennessee, and to the civilian market in places like Charleston. After disembarking near Anclote Key, the group moved inland. They were under the command of Capt. John F. Bartholf, 2nd USCT. There were, however, plenty of men serving in the two companies of Florida Cavalry who were from the very area through which they were marching. As in Kirk's Raid, there were several small skirmishes fought along the way.  Contesting the advance of the Federals were members of the First Battalion, Special Cavalry, at times referred to as the Cow Cavalry. At one point during the raid, Capt. Leroy G. Lesley (CS) rode out under a flag of truce and, according to a Federal officer, "induced Capt. Greene and myself [Lt. William McCullough] to desert the Union cause, and move back to Dixie." The Federals raided numerous farms along the raid route, including Lesley's, taking food and pretty much whatever else suited them. Several homes and/or outbuildings were burned, and salt works were broken up. The Federals never actually reached Brooksville, but they  turned back toward the west and, on July 11, reached the Bayport Inlet. The US Navy had arrived the day before. The Confederate cannon that could have been captured had been relocated a few days before-- to Brooksville.

While the organizers of these two raids might have stated lofty goals on paper - the capture of Camp Vance and the destruction of railroad bridges for Kirk's Raid, or the disruption of the flow of cattle for the Bayport-Brooksville Raid, what was accomplished was much more personal, more bitter. These were raids conducted by "union" men who had been run out of the areas that they called home. While the war was far from being won in the summer of 1864, these local Unionists seized upon the recent gains in east Tennessee and the lack of protection in Florida in order to exact a measure of revenge on their former neighbors.

In the long run, the raids did benefit the Union's war aims. Kirk's raid demonstrated just how open western North Carolina was to attack, while the Bayport-Brooksville Raid deprived the Southern Confederacy of much-needed supplies. Both raids further added to the demoralizing effects the war was having on the Southern people.