History of the 1st Tennessee
A History of the 1st Tennessee Regiment
Through the eyes of Company D “Williamson Grays”
Written By: Mike Hoover
Depending who is telling the story it was the end of April or beginning of May when Dr. James Park Hanner was commissioned as a captain and given permission to raise a company out of Williamson County. Hanner, was a graduate of the Western Kentucky Military Institute in 1853 and recently had moved back to Franklin and became the principal of Harpeth Academy, which stood where Mount Hope Cemetery is today. Hanner was now a man on a mission. He needed to find men to fill the ranks of his new company. On a Monday morning he walked towards Harpeth Academy to recruit those men.
A young boy at the time named John F. Campbell remembered the day Hanner walked into the classroom and announced he wanted to make a speech. He started his speech by asking the boys if they had seen the new flag flying over the courthouse the day before. This meant war and they had to be ready to fight the Yankees who were going to try to come get them. He continued that if any of the big boys wanted to join his company and their families were willing to let them go, to form a line in the main aisle of the school. Campbell was too young to go but thought he remembered 43 boys falling into line. Hanner turned to the rest of the boys not in the line, “Get your books and go home, school is out indefinitely.”
Hanner brought two musicians for the occasion to lead the new column of boys. The first was Bill Soule, a Mexican War veteran who was a fifer, and the second was a black man named Harrison Summer, who was a local drummer. The two musicians struck up the tune “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” and then Captain Hanner gave his first order, “Forward March!” The column marched down Hillsboro Road towards Five Points and then turned left down Main Street and marched two blocks to the Square downtown. As the column moved young men in stores and on the street fell into the column even Loving Woldridge who was over 60 years old. It was reported it made, “The elderly people shiver in with apprehension, for many of them remembered seeing the soldiers march away to Mexico in the ‘forties’, where so many of them lie today.”
By the time Hanner’s column reached the square it is said there were close to a hundred men. Others from different parts of the county came in over the next few days to enlist such as the Winsteads and Holts from Brentwood or William Moss from Triune. For the most part every man in the company was under the age of 30. Some were service clerks in stores, a handful were lawyers, for the most part they were farm boys. Most importantly, they were all for the most part educated. Some would later leave a wealth of knowledge on their experiences after the war.
Women gathered at the Masonic Lodge on what is now 2nd Avenue to sew uniforms. The younger girls made housewives (a sewing kit that contained thread, needles, spare buttons). The men meanwhile began drilling on the Fair Grounds on Fair Street. Civilians would gather around and watch the, “Young athletic soldiers boys, who with their blood at fever heat, responded so cheerfully to the commands of their officers.” A group of ladies began sewing a flag for the men to carry with them. On May 9, 1861 Colonel B.R. Johnson came to Franklin and the men were sworn into state service in front of Rainey’s Grocery Store opposite the Courthouse on the square. The next day at MacGavock Grove the men were presented with a finished flag for them to carry. It was a 1st National Confederate pattern with seven stars in a circle and bigger star inside the circle. Captain Hanner accepted the flag on behalf of the company.
One May evening Henry Bowden Walker and Christopher Henry “Kit” Ridley were gathered at the house of Mrs. Adalicia German with several young people. Henry looked up at the sky and remarked, “Girls if I should bite the dust, I of course will not return, but when you hear that I am dead look in the direction of that planet, for I am going to throw you a letter from there.” Both will die a month apart in 1864.
The men were soon notified that they would depart for Camp Cheatham near Springfield, TN for training on May 18th. Adelicia McEwen remembered the day very well,
“..a never to be forgotten day for mothers, sweethearts, and friends. Early in the day, the Company was drawn up in front of the Presbyterian church. After a prayer by the Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Morey, the soldiers were presented with a pocket testament. The thoughtless fellows, many of them, threw them in the mud puddles by he roadside on their way to the station, others carried them through the war, and one was sent back from Atlanta, stained with the life blood of our young relative who proved himself the ‘noblest Roman of them all.’ Three young men sacrificed their blood on their country’s altar, Richard Irvin, Henry Walker, and Kit Ridley.”
The column turned left and marched down Main Street then right down 2nd Avenue to the train station near the Harpeth River. Figuer’s Bluff overlooks this location, which in a year and a half from this point will be a garrison base for the Federal army called Fort Granger. 9 a.m. was the time scheduled for the company to leave for Springfield, TN. Adelicia continues:
“To return to the station (so many incidents crowd my memory that I continually wander off my path) the company marched to the station looking very soldierly in their black pants with gilt side stripes, grey coats trimmed with gilt braid and brass buttons, a grey cap setting off their uniforms. An immense crowd had gathered at the station to say good-bye from all parts of the country. The train blew and the hour for departure had come, brave mothers clung to their sons, fathers, overcome with emotion, shook their hands in farewell, hysterical sisters screamed, shy sweethearts tried to conceal their tears with their bonnets.
Altogether it was the most emotional and saddest scene I ever witnessed. As the train moved off, Lieut. House waved his hand from the rear platform asking that the people take care of the ones left behind, and pledging himself to do the same for their sons. Four years hard service proved the truth of his promise; the ones that came home were loyal to him as long as he lived.”
Camp Cheatham is located in Robertson County at Adams, TN. Every other company in the regiment reached the camp in the first days of May, but companies C & D reached there May 18th. Before the Company left Franklin, it designated itself as the “Williamson Grays.” Upon arriving at Camp Cheatham the companies were organized into regiments. The Williamson Grays now became Company D of the 1st Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The companies of the regiment were as follows:
Company A “Rock City Guards” of Nashville
Company B “Rock City Guards” of Nashville
Company C “Rock City Guards” of Nashville
Company D “Williamson Grays” of Franklin
Company E “Tennessee Riflemen” of Nashville
Company F “Railroad Boys” of Nashville
Company G “Brown’s Guards” of Spring Hill
Company H “Maury Grays” of Columbia
Company I “Rutherford Rifles” of MurfreesboroCompany K “Martin’s Guards” of Pulaski
As you can see, the regiment was made up of men of Middle Tennessee. Colonel George Maney was given command of the regiment. There was another 1st Tennessee Regiment during the Civil War under Colonel Turney. Each regiment is distinguished by its Colonel. Though both regiments would fight in Virginia, Maney’s would eventually return to Tennessee to continue fighting.
Though the women of Franklin had made uniforms for the company, sometime at Camp Cheatham, the 1st Tennessee was issued new uniforms. They received the first batch of uniforms created by the State of Tennessee. Records show the state purchased gray wool satinette from Baltimore, MD. They were eight button frock coats with a blue collar. What sets them apart from subsequent Tennessee State issued frocks was the lack of blue pointed cuffs. They also received matching gray pants with a blue stripe down the sides of the legs. A top their head was a gray kepi with a brass letter worn on the front stating their company. Records show the regiment received percussion rifles though it does not state which one. In the photograph of future Corporal John M. Thompson, he has in his hands an 1830's rifle though photographers of the time were known to have props available at their studios. In the same picture along with that of Private Henry H. Cook, both soldiers are wearing a thin belt with a 'C' shaped buckle and the same knife worn at the front. Private Marcus B. Toney of Company B later included a photograph of Cook to show his readers what a 1st Tennessee soldier looked like.
Before a military unit can receive and execute orders, it needs to know who to listen to. Here the first company elections were held and the first officers and non-commissioned officers were:
|Captain James Park Hanner|
|1st Lieutenant John L. House|
|2nd Lieutenant William G. Marshall|
|3rd Lieutenant Carey A. Harris|
1st Sergeant Oscar F. Atkeison
|2nd Sergeant John W. Shute|
|3rd Sergeant Thomas A. Anthony|
|4th Sergeant Kit Ridley|
|5th Sergeant William F. Hanner|
|1st Corporal James McEwen|
|2nd Corporal James H. Sweeney|
|3rd Corporal Robert I. Moore|
|4th Corporal William T. “Buck” Bailey|
With the regiment organized and
all rank positions filled drilling commenced. According to Private William
Pollard the company “was under strict discipline and heavily drilled.” Though
discipline was strict, it seems there was no deprivation among the camp. When
Sergeant Kit Ridley became ill during their stay and wrote his mother, “Lt.
House gave me some burnt whiskey, Lt. Marshall a spring chicken, and Lt. Harris
some brandy.” Kit also wrote his mother saying, “Tell father I would be so glad
to see him up here. I can store him away snugly in the straw in my tent. I
know he would enjoy the sight of the grand parades we have.” Shortly after
their arrival Jim McEwen wrote his cousin Sarah Florence McEwen stating He,
James K.P. McEwen, Robert [?] Lee Shute, Black Rozzell, Jim Roberson [not in 1st
TN], and Will Hanner had formed a mess together. As the unit
continued to train for war, more enlistments continued to filter in from the
area. A few were discharged because of
illness or age.
In June the regiment was taken to Goodlettsville, TN as a regiment to vote on secession. According to a family story Private William M. Moss of Company D was the only soldier to vote against it. Apparently, the votes were counted publicly in front of the regiment and when they came to William’s someone was supposed to exclaim, “Who is the son of a bitch that voted against it!” Even on a roster Private George Nichols created after the war, he states next to William’s name, “Republican only one in 1st Tenn.” Tennessee officially seceded June 8, 1861.
All the drilling would eventually come to an end. On July 12, 1861 what most have been a great source of excitement, the regiment was ordered to pack up, they were going to Virginia. The Federal invasion into Virginia was beginning and the 1st Tennessee was being sent to stop it, and preparations were made to leave. The regiment was sent to Nashville. Before leaving Private Henry Howe Cook went to have his picture taken with his uniform and pocket testament, this one given to all the soldiers of the regiment by Chaplin Charles Quintard. Cook carried his picture and pocket testament with him during the war in his knapsack. The regiment had a luncheon at the Female Academy in Nashville and afterwards marched away to the familiar tune “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” When the company left Captain Hanner was feeling extremely ill and did not board the train with the company.
Trains sent them east towards Knoxville. In East Tennessee they stopped shortly for a few days to join General Anderson’s Tennessee Brigade, along with the 7th and 14th Tennessee regiments. While they were here they also picked up a few more recruits like John and Levi Jackson Bailey. On July 18 they again boarded trains and moved through Lynchburg, Charlottesville, and eventually stopped Staunton, VA. They reached their last stop on July 23, 1861, the day after the Battle of 1st Bull Run/Manassas was fought. Many of them thought they had missed the war. Keep in mind most people thought the war was going tobe very short, little did they know they had plenty of war ahead of them.
Part III: Virginia
Lee’s Army Organization
Army of Western Virginia-General Robert E. Lee
Loring’s Division-General W. W. Loring
Anderson’s Tennessee Brigade-General Samuel R. Anderson
1st TN-Colonel Maney
7th TN-Colonel Hatton
14th TN-Colonel Forbes
Not long after arriving in Virginia, sickness began to plague the 1st Tennessee. As early as August men were being discharged for illness in mass. At the beginning of that month a measles outbreak swept through the camp. On August 7, Company D lost its first man when Moses Henry Farmer died of the disease while they were at Warm Springs, VA. A week later, Hiram Sweeney died at Big Springs.
The 1st Tennessee embarked on its first military campaign under an ex-U.S. Army General named Robert E. Lee. Their first military expedition was the march over Warm Springs Mountain on what William Pollard called “an awful hot August day.” Before the march the men were loaded down with every possible thing they could carry, during the march they threw away their knapsacks, knives, and pistols. Anything they did not need they did not keep with them. They made it to Warm Springs that night and continued to make their way to Huntersville, VA (Now in West Virginia). The entire time climbing mountains and wading streams waist deep.
Private William Pollard recounts another incident that happened during the campaign when at around 3 a.m., while the sky was pouring down rain, a scout reported the enemy being about 5 miles away. The regiment was formed up and marched down the road. It turned out to be a false report and the men were forced to sleep outside in the rain, using tall grass and pine bushes to comfort them. This would not be the first or last time an incident like this occurred.
The battle plan on September 12 was striking a road blocked by Federals at Elkwater, south of Huttonsville, while at the same time capturing the summit of Cheat Mountain. The problem with the operation was that almost all of the regiments engaged were inexperienced and the attack became uncoordinated.
Anderson’s Tennessee Brigade fought the 25th Ohio and a few companies of the 13th and 14th Indiana. At the end of the day they were forced to pull back. Lee’s entire command was defeated a small amount of men because of the lack of coordination of the Confederate forces. Lee maneuvered around the mountain for several days after and the regiment spent most of their time marching with skirmishes here and there. It was during this campaign that most of Company D fired their first shots in anger. General Lee was forced to withdraw from the area on September 17 when supplies ran out and the 1st Tennessee retreated west to Sewell Mountain to reinforce Generals Floyd’s army.
Before the regiment left Camp Cheatham every company brought its own flag with them. The regiment did not need eight battle flags when it went into battle and it was decided to carry the flag of the Rock City Guards into Virginia with. The Williamson Grays brought theirs with them and it was eventually returned to Franklin when Corporal James McEwen was discharged in December. On September 12, 1861 while the 1st Tennessee was a marching they walked into an ambush. This being very unexpected most of the soldiers took cover and tried to dodge fire. Captain Chauncey of the 13th Indiana seized the opportunity to grab the regiment’s colors and carried them away with him. Apparently, the color bearer of the 1st Tennessee was killed or someone near him, because the flag is still stained with blood to this day. The ambush did not last long because Captain Feild charged them with four companies, but the regiment lost its flag as well as a few men. Fortunately, for Company D no shots were directed at them and they all made it through unscathed.
In October Rosencrans advanced on Sewell Mountain, but upon reaching the area realized he could not take the position from the Confederates decided against attacking. Lee tried to counterattack the Federals who were in a bad position. Before he could get the attack moving the Federals got wind of it and retreated back towards Cheat Mountain. Again in the War Department’s eyes Lee had failed again to fight the Federals and was sent to South Carolina to inspect forts, he would return within a year and achieve greater glory.
Part IV: The Romney Campaign
In late October the regiment marched through the country again back to Huntersville, and in November the regiment went into winter quarters there on the Monterey Road. Several log cabins were thrown up preparing for a few months stay. Here along with the rest of their time in Virginia at least a third of the company was always sick. 5th Sergeant William Hanner would die here shortly after their arrival on November 5. Medical discharges and deaths continued to mount. Their time there was cut short, in December they were ordered to join General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson at Winchester, VA. However, they would have to march the two hundred or so miles there.
Since before leaving Camp Cheatham, Captain Hanner had been very ill. In fact, he never commanded or saw his company since they left their training grounds. His letter of resignation reached the ranks of Company D. Lieutenant John L. House took over command of the company and January 1 was officially promoted to Captain. Lieutenants Marshall and Harris were each promoted one rank and Loving Woldridge was promoted to 3rd Lieutenant.
Jackson wanted to strike the Federal B& O Railroad in what is now West Virginia. They struck camp at around eight in the morning on January 1, 1862 and moved forward towards Bath, VA moving eight miles that day. On January 3, Jackson reached three miles from the town. That night the weather turned terribly cold and the amount of snow on the ground began to rise. In fact, the entire campaign would be filled with snowy, cold days and nights.
On January 4 they were formed up for attack. Jackson wanted his old Virginia unit to move forward against the town and take out a battery that began opening fire on the Confederates forming for an assault. When Jackson informed Colonel Maney of his decision every men began yelling, “Let us take the battery!” The regiment surged forward, but to their disappointment they found only a handful of Federals left at the battery. In Jackson’s report of the campaign he later recalled, “it was undertaken with a patriotic enthusiasm which entitles the First Tennessee Regiment and its commander special praise.” This action had just been a distraction while the Federals retreated towards Hancock, Maryland. A cavalry unit went forward into town and routed the remaining Federals.
That night Private George Nichols recorded in his diary: “We had a very heavy skirmish. It snowed all night; had to sleep standing up; had no blankets and only scant clothing.” The next day the regiment set out north in the direction of Hancock. Private Henry Bowden Walker’s shoes by this point had worn out to the point he no longer had any use for them. Sergeant Kit Ridley remembered with bleeding feet Walker stayed with the company and never left the line, he was so anxious to be in a fight.
The next night the army reached to within view of the town of Hancock, MD. Attacking the town was impossible because a river was between them. The men had to wait in the cold weather while Confederate artillery merely bombarded the town. One night outside of Hancock, William Pollard remembers a detail going out to stand picket and by morning most of them had froze to death.
Stonewall continued to shell the town while he constructed a pontoon bridge two miles from Hancock. The bridge allowed them to make raids against the Federals, but it became apparent that the town of Hancock could not be taken without battle, which Jackson was not prepared to do. On January 6, Jackson turned back from Hancock and moved to Bath, VA and then turned west towards Romney. This march seemed to be the most cumbersome of the entire campaign for the men of the 1st Tennessee. The roads became muddy and icy and the regiment had to help get the wagons moving along. “We were marching, pushing, yelling, and prizing until at night we camped in sight of where we left the night before,” recalls William Pollard.
Romney, VA had been abandoned and then occupied by the Confederates on January 10. When the 1st Tennessee reached the town on January 16, Jackson had come to the decision to stop here and build his winter quarters for his command for one reason. Many of the men were fed up with Jackson’s campaigning in the terrible weather. George Nichols remembers an officer told the men to play sick and many of them did. For instances such as these the Romney Campaign was abandoned. The army stopped here because his soldiers refused to go any further. They had fought their environment more then the Yankees. The number of sick continued to rise and some of the NCOs in the company lost their rank because they could no longer fulfill their duties their rank required because of sickness.
To make matters worse Stonewall moved his old brigade back to Winchester and left Loring’s Division in the small town of Romney. Many officers went straight to Richmond to complain about General Jackson and the way he was running the army. To get Jackson to return his whole command to Winchester a false report was made that the Federals were in the process of flanking Jackson and the War Department wanted him to abandon Romney immediately. On February 2 the army started preparing to retreat from Romney and the Federals got wind of the evacuation and pursued them to within 21 miles of Winchester. The regiment arrived at Winchester on February 7. Upon reaching Winchester, Jackson offered his resignation to the war department. It was refused.
Part V: Going Back to Tennessee
On February 9, the regiment was informed of the invasion of Tennessee and fall of Fort Henry, Colonel Maney went to Richmond and asked that the regiment be sent back to Tennessee. His request was granted. On February 19 at around noon the 1st Tennessee boarded trains for Knoxville. During the regiment’s stay in Virginia Company D suffered three dead from disease, Moses Henry Farmer died of Measles at Warm Springs, VA on August 7, 1861; Hiram Sweeney died of Measles at Big Springs, VA August 17, 1861; William F. Hanner died of disease at Lewisburg, VA on November 5, 1861, plus almost twenty men were discharged from disease. About a quarter of the company was lost without a major battle. There was not a single combat casualty.
On the way back the 1st Tennessee made a temporary stop in Bristol, TN. When the train stopped the men unloaded and made their way around town. Private Amos White along with Dave Newsom (Company A) found a train sidetracked. Private White upon further investigation found the train to be loaded with Apple Brandy. Using an auger, Amos crawled under the boxcar and drilled a hole in the bottom and using buckets caught all of the brandy. He then bored another hole and instead of brandy found it to be molasses. That night the men drank brandy sweetened with molasses, and as George Nichols put it, “Our stay in Bristol was one long to be remembered.”
At Knoxville, the regiment found itself short of transportation and the regiment became divided. The right wing (Companies A-E) was sent to Bridgeport and Chattanooga to guard bridges over the Tennessee River. The Left Wing (Companies F-K) were sent on to Corinth, MS. For this reason, only the Left Wing would participate in the Battle of Shiloh.
In March, Sergeant Kit Ridley managed to get a furlough to return home to visit his family. While at Aspen Grove, the home of his family and where this area in Franklin got its name, someone came to the home and informed him the Yankees were marching towards the town. Over the next few days, Buell’s entire army marched down the Franklin-Nashville Pike, literally in front of his home. His family begged him to leave before he was captured, and one night he bid his family farewell and mounted his horse and rode south. They never saw him again.The Right Wing finally reached Corinth on April 7, the second day of the battle. On April 9, the Right Wing was assigned to the cavalry acting as rearguard and they stayed in some of the abandoned camps. On April 14, the two wings reunited in Corinth. There they were informed of all of the horror stories from Shiloh. During the battle Colonel Maney’s brave actions caught the eyes of generals and he was recommended for promotion and was promoted to Brigadier General. Lt. Colonel Feild took command of the regiment.
By the end of April the 1st Tennessee had suffered badly from discharges during their stay in Virginia and the left wing suffered heavily at the Battle of Shiloh. On April 30, 1862 while at Corinth, MS the regiment was reorganized, and regimental and company elections were held. Captain John L. House of Company D was elected Major of the 1st Tennessee, Private William Wylie Cunningham was promoted to Quarter Master Sergeant, and Ashley Black Rozzell was promoted to Color Sergeant and served as part of the Color Guard for the regiment. In Company D, both Lieutenants Carey A. Harris and William G. Marshall both announced their resignation. Both were still in bad health from Virginia. This combined with Captain House’s promotion left the company with only Lieutenant Woldridge as officer. Henry Walker, the boy with bleeding feet, was promoted from private. During company elections the entire rank structure changed. The new officers were:
|Captain: Oscar F. Atkeison|
|1st Lieutenant: Loving H. Woldridge|
|2nd Lieutenant: Joseph C. Brown|
|3rd Lieutenant: Thomas Carl|
|1st Sergeant: Kit Ridley|
|2nd Sergeant: Meredith P.G. Winstead|
3rd Sergeant: Henry B. Walker
4th Sergeant: James R. Hughes
|5th Sergeant: William R. Hughes|
|1st Corporal: John McNairy Thompson|
|2nd Corporal: Francis M. Womble|
3rd Corporal: William B. Campbell
4th Corporal: William M. Pollard
Henry Walker, the boy with bleeding feet, was promoted from private and the now 63-year-old Loving Woldridge was made an officer.
At the time of the elections, the 1st Tennessee’s twelve month enlistments were up. All were asked to reenlist and most did. In June and July, the men who did not sign up again were discharged. Some of the men were brought before a medical board and found to be unfit for military duty. Nathan Owen was one of these and for a while after would continue to look for other units who would accept him. He later found Kain’s battery and stuck with them through the war. Robert Scales was found to weak as well, but unlike Owen would never find a unit that would except him. Lt. Marshall joined the cavalry and would be wounded three times at the battles of Dover and Parker’s Crossroads. In any case, the men who mustered out were discharged as non-conscript, meaning they had done their time and could not be drafted or forced into service.
The regiment began several months of inactivity. At the end of May the Federals flanked the Confederates out of Corinth and the regiment retreated south to Tupelo, MS. In mid-July the regiment was moved to Camp Harris near Jackson, MS. While at this post, several new recruits came into camp from Franklin.
From Jackson, MS the newly appointed General of the Army, Braxton Bragg, came up with a grand plan to shift the army to Chattanooga, TN and then march northward into Kentucky. The regiment boarded trains for Mobile, then on to Atlanta, and finally halting at Chattanooga. Over the course of a few weeks, most of the army was moved to Chattanooga.
Part VI: Battle of Perryville
On August 19, Bragg threw his plan into effect and the Army of Tennessee moved north over Walden’s Ridge through Sparta, into Kentucky. In September they crossed the Kentucky State border north of Nashville and began a race with the Federals to Louisville on the Ohio River. They moved up through Camp Dick Robinson, a major Union Supply base, going to town with all the Federal surplus left there. They also passed through Munfordsville, a short time after the battle occurred there. The armies were nearing Louisville, but the Federals got there first, so Bragg turned the army around.
Bragg moved his army east to link up with General Smith and reached Bardstown. On October 1, the Federals move south from Louisville in pursuit of the Confederates. Bragg then moves through Danville and Harrodsburg during the first week of October. Both sides face a major problem, there has been a drought in the weather lately and both sides need water. Both sides find it at Perryville. On October 7 Bragg moves part of his army to Perryville and finds part of the Federal army camped a few miles outside the city. He decides the next day he will strike them.
For unknown reasons, many of the men in Company D were not present during the Battle of Perryville. There still should have had around 60 men on their rolls yet Corporal Pollard reports only 38 were there. George Nichols later wrote he was sick and left at Chattanooga, whether this is the case for the rest of the men is unknown. Confederate records are very lacking for most of the war, and unless a soldier recorded his experiences, it is hard to tell what he did.
On October 8, 1862 at around 7:00 a.m. the regiment is ordered to cook rations. As the day passes they are ordered to march north and then to cross the Chaplin River at Walker’s Bend. On the other side, Maney’s Brigade is drawn up (L to R) with the 6th Tennessee, 9th Tennessee, and 41st Georgia in the front line and the 1st and 27th Tennessee in the rear line. At around 3:30 p.m. Maney sends his front line in. Turner’s Battery unlimbered on a hill and blasts the Open Hill containing Terrill’s Federal Brigade, and Parson’s Battery. Meanwhile the 38 men present in Company D stand there in the ranks of the regiment and wait anxiously while a full scale assault rages just ahead of them. The Federals manage to grind the Confederates to a halt. To take the Open Hill, Maney will need his whole force.
Maney orders the 1st and 27th forward to flank the Federals. The regiment nears the fighting and only to see the front line surge over the hill and rout the Federals who flee abandoning all but one of the artillery pieces on the hill. Most of the Federals retreat through Starkweather’s Brigade on a hill about a quarter of a mile to their rear.
Perryville is a series of rolling hills. After you go over one hill, there is another one waiting on you. It is a defender’s paradise. The terrain enables brigades to fight twice their number and men can easily be hidden behind the hills. Starkweather’s Brigade stood ready to engage Maney and Stewart (who had come up on Maney’s left). Maney forms his Brigade into one line, with the 1st Tennessee on the extreme right.
The order to attack Starkweather’s Hill is given at around 4:00 p.m. and the soldiers of the 1st Tennessee push and stomp through cornstalks moving towards the Benton Road at the summit of the hill brushing aside the remnants of a beat up Federal unit. Quickly, the regiment forms with the Benton Road to their left and Lieutenant Colonel Patterson leads the regiment forward against the hill. Bush’s 4th Indiana Battery opens a barrage on the regiment and switches to canister as they draw near. One blast of canister kills most of the color guard and wounds Lt. Colonel Patterson in the hand. Another blast sends a piece of grapeshot through Patterson’s moustache tearing through his head while he bandages his hand wound with a handkerchief. 4th Sergeant James R. Hughes is struck in the thigh by grapeshot in the same attack. The regiment continues forward until the Indiana Battery can no longer depress their guns to fire on the regiment. Sensing an opportunity, they rush forward and Captain Bush quickly calls for the 1st Wisconsin’s aid, the regiment to their rear. Both the 1st Tennessee and 1st Wisconsin collide around Bush’s guns.
Federals fire into Maney's Brigade Advancing through Cornfield
The charge of the 1st Tennessee at this time succeeds in driving the 1st Wisconsin and Bush’s Artillerists away from their cannons leaving them in Confederate possession. Their success is cut short, with Patterson dead and the regiment disorganized, confusion sets in and they fall back down the hill. The 1st Wisconsin quickly moves up and recaptures the battery. Starkweather fearing Maney’s Confederates might take the hill orders all cannons to the rear. At the same time Confederate Artillery fires from the Open Hill and begins decimating Bush’s Artillery. Between the artillery and the 1st Tennessee most of Bush’s horses are dead, and he can only bring off two of his four guns.
Colonel Feild who was with General Maney during the attack rides to the 1st Tennessee and rallies them. With the words, “Follow Me,” he advances the regiment and they again move up the hill. As they near the top the 1st Wisconsin and what few men of Bush’s Artillerymen are left, retreat to a hill just behind Starkweather’s. With their adrenaline up, the 1st Tennessee charges down the other side of the hill after them in pursuit. In doing so, they isolate themselves from the rest of the Confederate forces still engaged at the hill.
As the 1st Tennessee advances, the Federals were preparing a new line on the hill behind Starkweather’s. Stone’s and what was left of Bush’s Artillery were set up there. The 24th Illinois was in the process of falling back and turns their rifles on them. The 79th Pennsylvania was in perfect firing range of the 1st Tennessee as well. The 1st Tennessee halts in the cornfield between the two hills and here they pay for advancing so far ahead. 2nd Sergeant Meredith P.G. Winstead and Private James R. Neely are both shot through the leg side by side. Sergeant Ridley had turned 20-years-old the day before the battle and as a present was shot twice. Scores of others go down. Here it is said the regiment takes most of its causalities and evidence suggests so does Company D.
The Federals seem to become inspired by the way they are butchering the regiment. John Durham, of the 1st Wisconsin, becomes motivated by the moment and grabs his regiment’s flag and runs out between the two regiments and plants the flag. He later won the Medal of Honor for his actions. By this time the 1st Tennessee is too beat up to resist. They retreat from the field in a fashion that Colonel Feild later described as, “better then could be expected.” They make their way back to the Benton Road. 4th Corporal William Pollard, 19 years old, leads Company D to the rear, every Officer and NCO above him is dead or wounded.
What is left of Maney’s Brigade and part of Stewart’s Brigade finally force the Federals to retreat from Starkweather’s Hill. The 1st Wisconsin pursues the 1st Tennessee to the hill where they grab every artillery piece that they can before the rest of the Confederates overwhelm them. During the initial attack against Starkweather’s Hill both the 27th Tennessee and 41st Georgia become so shot up they were pulled back to the Open Hill. Now with the 1st Tennessee beat up and retreating, Maney is left with just the 6th and 9th Tennessee who are nearly out of ammunition and one more attack will make them useless as fighting units like his other three regiments. Here Maney’s Brigade halts and is effectively out of the fight. Nearly, half the brigade is dead or wounded and the 1st Tennessee has suffered worst.
The ground that Maney’s Brigade actually fought on does not even cover a mile. Yet, as mentioned earlier one hill after another allowed the Federals to fight with one brigade at a time and fight elements of Maney, Stewart, and Donelson at the same time. In all, the brigade overran two hills before being halted at the third. They also paid a price for it.
The Federals pulled back later on in the day which allowed the regiment to attend to its wounded. 19 out of 38 soldiers in Company D were killed or wounded taking them out of the fight. Yet, William Pollard, William Moody, Thomas Holt, and Levi Jackson Bailey would all claim to receive slight wounds. It would appear that just about everyone was bleeding. The causality list for Company D is as follows:
Perryville Casualties (19):
|Captain Oscar Atkeison||Left Elbow|
|2nd Lieutenant Joseph C. Brown||Left Upper Arm|
|3rd Lieutenant Thomas Carl||Left Leg|
|1st Sergeant Kit Ridley||Right Hand & Left Hip|
|2nd Sergeant M.P.G. Winstead||Left Thigh, Leg Amputated|
|3rd Sergeant Henry B. Walker||Left Thigh|
|4th Sergeant James Richard Hughes||Left Thigh|
|5th Sergeant William R. Hughes||Killed|
|1st Corporal John M. Thompson||Mortally Wounded Bowels|
|3rd Corporal William B. Campbell||Mortally Wounded Lung|
|Pvt. Thomas A. Anthony||Killed|
|Pvt. James Thomas Brown||Severely Left Arm|
|Pvt. John Page Holt||Right Hip|
|Pvt. Teat Holt||Abdomen Surface|
|Pvt. James Green Moody||Slightly in Right Thigh|
|Pvt. James R. Neely||Right Lower Leg, Amputated|
|Pvt. James M. Nichols||Fractured Forearm|
|Pvt. Thomas Albert Short||Left Upper Arm & Left Side|
|Pvt. David J. Taylor||Right Side & Left Thigh|
For one reason or another 1st Lieutenant Woldridge and Corporal Womble were not present at the battle. In all the 1st Tennessee suffered 188 causalities. Only the 16th TN suffered more for the battle on the Confederate side.
Perryville Causality List for 1st Tennessee
Many of the 1st Tennessee wounded were moved to the Goodknight House near Walker’s Bend where they had crossed earlier that day. In Company D, the men who could not be moved were left in Hospitals in the area, but most were loaded into wagons and evacuated to Harrodsburg. On the two captured artillery pieces were carved the names of Lt. Colonel Patterson and J. T. Mitchell (Color Bearer), both were killed.
Though, the Confederates could honestly say they had won the battle today, they had a rude awakening. General Bragg found out he had defeated one corps of the Army of the Ohio, and to top it off it turned out almost all of Buell’s Army was poised to strike back the next day. Bragg called a retreat. With the retreat, efforts to get the 1st Tennessee wounded away from the field intensified. Colonel Feild knew he could not evacuate everyone and detailed several men to stay behind as nurses. Private Robert N. Richardson of Company D was one of those men. In the middle of the night the 1st Tennessee left Perryville.
Soon, the town of Harrodsburg a few miles distant became a hospital. Many of the 1st Tennessee wounded were deposited here. Two days later on October 10, the Federal army marched to the town and anyone who could not leave fell into Federal hands. The Federals were no way cruel to the wounded, and took care of them as long as they were in their custody.
Sergeant Winstead and Private Neely, who were hit side by side, were examined by a Federal surgeon on October 11 who found amputation necessary. Winstead would be paroled, Neely would serve in the Invalid Corps until 1865. Corporal Campbell, who had received a wound through the lungs, died a little over a week after the battle on October 17, and Corporal Thompson died at Perryville almost a month after him on Nov. 13. Total causalities for Company D at Perryville were 4 Dead 15 wounded.