Saturday, November 1, 2008

Stones River

It is has been a while since my last post and I have had alot going on. We have been enjoying the fall weather here in Middle Tennessee but longing for the even nicer fall weather of my birthplace in Western North Carolina. We recently made a trip to Stones River in Murfreesboro, TN. This site holds a special place in my memory. It has been suggested that my Great,Great,Great Uncle George Washington Young of the 58th NC Infantry may have died from illness or sickness brought on from the after effects of this battle. It was after this battle that the bulk of the Confederate Army retreated 30 miles to the southwest to Shelbyville,TN. Mainly to regain their strength and composure and to prepare for there next battle engagement.
George W Young died in this small town was buried in an unmarked grave in the town cemetery-Mt. Willow.

Unmarked Confederate Graves at Mt.Willow Cemetery-Shelbyville,TN

Both of his brothers Joseph Tarpley Young and Samuel Fleming Young would survive the war and returned home to Yancey County,NC

The battle here was brutal. Most notably was the Slaughter Pen. It was here where the rocky ground and heavy forest resulted in massive casualties and injuries to both sides . The Union Army under the command of Gen Phil Sheridan and Maj. Gen. George Thomas took a serious beating from Gen. Braxton Bragg's Confederate Troops. The Slaughter Pen would be the place of much bloodshed for the Union Army. Sheridan lost 14 Cannons during the battle and the many soldiers fought with their bare hand and knives when the ammunition was gone.
Stone's River-The Slaughter Pen(above)
All of this bloodshed was to allow Union Gen. Rosecrans troops to build a wall of protection between confederate troops and the Nashville Pike (The escape route to the north).
Eventually Union Troops were forced to retreat to higher ground.Once Rosecrans troops
had made there stronghold, Sheridan and Thomas' Troops made there retreat with the Confederate Army on there tail. Once the retreating union troops made it to the safety of Rosecrans artillery, they dug and began to fight back. The Confederate army began creeping slowly into an open field out from the protection of a small grove of trees and toward the Feds but they were decimated by the union firepower. The Confederate charge was hit with not only cannon balls but a nasty little thing called cannister shot which was particular deadly and could kill 20 or more men at a time with a single shot.Between the Union Artillery of Rosecrans the and the Confederates lay the Stones River, which had to be waded if the Confederates were to break the Union lines.

By the time what was left of the Confederate Army reached the River, daylight was fading and it began to rain.The Confederate Command made a decision to retreat to the safety of Shelbyville 30 miles to the south and the Union army made its escape up the Nashville Pike to Nashville and Fort Negley.

Notable Facts about Stones River:
Casualties 13,249 on the Union side and 10,266 for the Confederates-The Highest Percentage of Casualties in the Western Theater of the Civil War.
Dates-December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863

The battle was fought during the holiday season and all the troops on both sides missed there families and homes. Military bands on sides played anthems and song to keep up moral. The battle lines were so close together that the sounds of the opposing army's music carried through the forest. As the night wore on, the troops battled each other in another way.... as one side played a rousing rendition of "Dixie", the other band would try to drown it out with the equally loud strains of "Yankee Doodle". Finally, one of the bands struck up the chords to the song "Home, Sweet, Home" and the rival band joined in. Soldiers on both sides began to sing the familiar words and for one brief moment, the war was forgotten and the soldiers shared their mutual longings for the comforts of home.

Federal Cemetery at Stones River-Murfressboro,TN

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A great story about the Civil War in Mitchell County,NC

I was recently sent an article from the Asheville Citizens Times about the Civil War in Mitchell County NC. More specifically, The Whitson family and the loyalties towards the Union and Confederate armies at that time.

In this article there is mention of both the NC 29th Infantry and the Confederate Home Guard. My great,great great grandfather Capt. Moses Young was in both of these units.

I am glad to see some of the lost long stories of the mountains come to light. Any of us who grew up in the mountains of WNC have heard family stories similar to the one in this article that have been past on from generation to generation.

The article also sheds light on bushwhackers who ran rampantly out of control in the mountains during the Civil War.

Some may believe that WNC may have mostly non effected by the Civil War but this article shows a different side.

Click Here to read the article

Thursday, August 21, 2008

An Abondoned Family Cemetery In Western North Carolina

On January 11 2008 my parents were on there way to Spruce Pine NC to attend the birthday party of my mother’s uncle Lloyd Burleson. On there way, they decided to do some investigating into the location of the McCracken Cemetery. This cemetery is the burial site of my family members including Margaret Smith(my great,great grandmother), her parents Mathie and Juda Robinson Smith, Vianna Branch-the first wife of Margaret’s husband William Branch and several others. This cemetery was thought to lost!!!!

After no luck, They decided to just do a door to door poll as to the whereabouts of the graveyard. At the first house, no luck! No one was home. At the second home they were extremely successful. According to my mother, my dad approached the house, knocked on the door and spent what seem like a while talking to a gentlemen. The gentlemen accompanied my Dad back to the car. He said hello to my mother and she began to ponder in her mind that she may know this man. “What did you say you name was again?” she said. “Wade Stiles”he replied. Mom then realized she went to school with him and his wife Mary Jo and her younger sister Edna Earl. She also remembered that he had worked at the local Chevy dealer in Burnsville and that they had bought a car from him.

After a brief conversation, They began to explain that they were looking for the graveyard and he told them of the exact location. He indicated that it was on a steep hill behind his property and that he and Mary Jo went up there about 3 years ago to clean it up. He also stated that the grave markers were all still in good shape. According to Wade someone has left money in there will to put a fence around the cemetery but as of yet, no one has. We hope to take my grandfather James Eunia Smith there to see the graves of his grandmother and great grandparents. Since he is into his 90’s he is unable to make the walk up the steep hill but Wade has graciously offered to take him up there on his ATV.

My dad is currently petitioning some help from his cousins and other family members to help clean up the family cemetery.

This cemetery is located in the Plumtree community of Yancey County just outside of Burnsville, NC. The cemetery is located on a steep hill on private property behind the home of Wade Stiles and his wife.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fort Donelson

Me and my wife traveled up to Fort Donelson last weekend just outside Dover,TN. I must say it
was impressive. Check out the details of the battle here.

In the distance behind me and the cannon is the Confederate trenches. Beyond the trenches is a mass Confederate Grave.

Some of the Confederate Firepower at the Upper Battery

Looking down the Cumberland River from the Upper Battery

Here we have the massive 10" Columbiad Gun at the lower battery. This piece of artillery could fire a 128 pound projectile up to 3 miles down the river toward Union Ironclads. Very Impressive upclose!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Porter Alexander

Since I am still new to civil war history, I have not grasped on to alot of the history of the personalities of the conflict. I have however gravitated to a few favorites that I will share with you over the next few blogs.

The first is Confederate Gen. Edward Porter Alexander. Porter was born on May 26, 1935 in Washington, Ga(about 100 miles east of Atlanta). After his graduation from West Point in 1857,

He served as assistant professor of engineering for the Academy. In 1861 he resigned this position to join the Confederate Army
Where he was made chief of ordinance and a signal officer in the army of Northern Virginia. 1862 he was promoted Colonel and again in 1864 to Brigadier General. He served as a Chief Artillery Officer under Gen. James Longstreet at the Battles of Gettysburg.
He may be best known as the officer in charge of the massive artillery bombardment preceding Pickett's Charge on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. He also had an interest in Observation Ballooning that could be used for intelligence purposes. At Appomattox Court House, it was Alexander who made the famous proposal to Robert E. Lee that the confederate army disperse into the hills for a guerrilla war, rather than surrendering. Lee rebuked him.
After the war, Alexander was named professor of mathematics at the University of South Carolina and then served in executive positions with the Charlotte, Columbia, and Augusta Railroad (executive superintendent), the Savannah and Memphis Railroad (president), and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (president).He became friends with Grover Cleveland and spent many hours duck hunting. In May 1897, President Cleveland sent Alexander to be the arbiter of a boundary dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, in preparation for a possible canal to be dug across Central America. He spent two years surveying and supervising the boundary, completed the work to the great acclaim of the two governments, and returned to the U.S. in October 1899.His wife Bettie became ill while he was in Nicaragua and she died on November 20, 1899. In October 1901, Alexander married Mary Mason, his first wife's niece.
Alexander died in 1910 in Savannah, Ga and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Civil War Relatives

I had quite a few family members who fought for the confederacy during the civil war. While most of them survived, Several of them did not. In particular two did not. Jason Burleson and John Greene. Both are my great,great,great grandfathers. Both hailed from the Newdale and Arbuckle communities of modern Yancey County NC. They both served in the NC 58th Regiment. This regiment fought primarily with the Army of Tennessee. During the winter of 1862/1863, The 58th was called into action in Eastern Tennessee. While encamped, many of the soldiers contracted diseases which caused death. While not known for sure, It is the belief of my family that both died of illnesses.

Until recently, No one knew of the whereabouts of these two after the war. Several years ago while researching her family history, A woman came across the Delap Cemetery in Campbell County, Tn near Jacksboro. It was discovered that the 58th buried several soldiers in this family cemetery.

The Grave of Jason Burleson(above)
The Grave of John Green(above)