That’s what the reporter wrote because that was what he was told.
But when the photos and story came to my desk and I saw “8th Tennessee” on the markers, a light bulb went on in my head. I checked and sure enough it was the 8th Tennessee, U.S.A., and those men were Union soldiers.
Something that you always have to remember is that just because it’s Civil War from Tennessee doesn’t mean it’s Confederate.
Tennessee sent about 50,000 men into the Union army, which included 14 cavalry regiments, 11 infantry regiments, nine artillery batteries and 14 U.S. Colored infantry regiments.
Locally, Washington County had companies in the 8th, 9th and 13th East Tennessee U.S. Cavalry, as well as men in the 4th and 8th Tennessee U.S. Infantry.
Hawkins County had men in the 8th Tennessee U.S. Cavalry, 2nd and 8th Tennessee U.S. Infantry and the 1st Tennessee Light Artillery Battalion.
Even pro-Confederate Sullivan County had men in the Federal army, mostly in the 4th, 8th, 9th and 13th East Tennessee U.S. Cavalry, but in the 8th Tennessee Infantry as well.
In fact, the 8th East Tennessee Cavalry was commanded by Kingsport’s Col. Samuel N.K. Patton who, during the Battle of Kingsport in December 1864, led his troopers across the Holston River ford in Carters Valley to attack the dug-in Confederates on the east side of the river from behind. The result was a Union victory that helped open the door for an attack of the saltworks in Saltville, Virginia.
Then there is the story of the Union soldiers from Hawkins County who survived capture and then internment in the worst prison North or South.
On Nov. 6, 1863, a brigade made up of the 7th Ohio Cavalry, 2nd East Tennessee Infantry and parts of the 2nd Illinois and 1st Tennessee artillery under the command of Col. Israel Garrard were camped east of Rogersville when the Rebels launched a surprise attack.
Confederate Gen. William E. “Grumble” Jones had divided his command of 4,000 soldiers with half attacking from the direction of Kingsport and the other half circling around and attacking from Rogersville.
Maj. Daniel Carpenter, commanding the 2nd East Tennessee, later wrote, “By this time Col. Garrard arrived; he had lost his hat and was, seemingly, very much excited. He stated the Rebels were coming from Rogersville and ordered me to move with my regiment in that direction.”
Things were not going well for the East Tennessee soldiers. With part of the artillery already overrun and their position becoming untenable, Maj. Carpenter sent an orderly to inform Col. Garrard only to be told that the colonel and the 7th Ohio Cavalry had swum their horses across the Holston River and were fleeing back to Morristown.
Greatly outnumbered and quickly surrounded, the men from East Tennessee had no choice but surrender. Twenty officers and 474 men of the 2nd East Tennessee were captured in addition to the men of the 1st Tennessee and 2nd Illinois Artillery.
Hawkins County men Newton Richards, Andrew Brummitt and John G. Brummitt of the 1st Tennessee Artillery along with Isaac Goins of the 2nd East Tennessee had been fighting on their home soil. Now they found themselves as prisoners of war on a train to Virginia.
After being processed in Richmond, they were sent to prison camps in South Carolina until early March of 1864, when they were transferred to Camp Sumter in Georgia.
A place better known as Andersonville Prison.
But not Andrew Brummitt; he escaped on March 5 while being transferred and avoided internment.
As for Richards, Goins and John G. Brummitt, it was in this hell that they would spend the rest of the war and amazingly survive.
On Aug. 17, 1864, photographer Andrew Jackson Riddle visited Andersonville Prison.
Somewhere in those images, in one of the ragged tents or standing in the filth and mud wearing ragged clothes, are those three soldiers.
Those Hawkins County men had to have been tough to survive that.
Ned Jilton II is a page designer and photographer for the Times News as well as the writer of the “Marching with the 19th” Civil War series. You can contact him at [email protected] timesnews.net .