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Kingsport native a good soldier in war, a hero in peace

Ned Jilton II • May 29, 2019 at 2:45 PM

In late April and early May of 1861, Tennessee put out a call for volunteers to join the Provisional Army of Tennessee.

Note I said the Provisional Army of Tennessee and not the Confederacy. At this time, Tennessee had not yet seceded from the Union.

But despite this, men from across the state were heading to their county seats to sign up to defend their families, their homes and their state.

Except Kingsport’s Jonathan W. Bachman.

Jonathan Waverly Bachman was born in 1837 at “Roseland,” his father’s home just outside of Kingsport.

Today, Roseland can be seen at the Exchange Place historic site on Orebank Road, where it was moved from the Bachman’s original property, located on what is now Shipp Street off Wilcox Drive.

Bachman was at the Union Theological Seminary in New York when the call for volunteers went out in May 1861.

However, he didn’t wait to report to the county seat in Blountville. He volunteered as a private in the 19th Tennessee by telegraph before heading home.

Once home he was promoted out of the 19th Tennessee to become the assistant of Col. D.F. Cocke, commissary department of the Provisional Army of Tennessee and made a lieutenant.

When Tennessee finally did secede, Bachman was soon detailed to special service in Virginia and served with both Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson, having personal orders from each general. He was with Gen. Lee at Sewall Mountain and with Gen. Jackson on the Romney campaign, where he suffered from exposure after going three weeks in the cold without a tent.

In 1862, he returned to Sullivan County and assisted in raising the 60th Tennessee Infantry and was made captain of Company G by Col. Crawford. The regiment was sent to Mississippi as part of Gen. J.C. Vaughn’s brigade and was engaged in the Battle of Big Black River, the last effort to stop Gen. U.S. Grant from surrounding Vicksburg.

After Grant’s forces overran the Confederates at Big Black River, Bachman took command of the regiment as it joined Gen. Pemberton in the defense of Vicksburg from May 23 until the surrender on July 4, 1863. Bachman became a prisoner of war, being paroled on July 8 and sent to wait to be exchanged at Demopolis, Ala.

In one of the more colorful moments of the war, Bachman was married while a prisoner of war waiting to be exchanged. With soldiers and guards from both sides watching, Bachman married Evalina Dulaney of Sullivan County. But the two had to wait for Jonathan to be exchanged before they could have a honeymoon.

When Bachman was finally exchanged, which was delayed when the papers for parole and exchange of all Confederates captured at Vicksburg were reported stolen and had to be reissued, he returned home and put in for a commission as a chaplain, but he was asked to wait.

Bachman resumed command of his regiment and saw plenty of action in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. In October 1864, Bachman’s forces were picketed on the right side of the line the night Gen. John H. Morgan was killed in Greeneville, and he commanded the rearguard action as Confederate forces retreated from that city.

In November 1864, Bachman commanded the 60th Tennessee in the Battle of Bulls Gap, where he clashed with another Kingsport native, Col. Samual N.K. Patton commanding the 8th East Tennessee Federal Cavalry.

The Confederates were victorious in the battle, but Capt. Bachman had his horse shot out from under him. He was unhurt, but he went to Gen. John C. Breckinridge, who commanded the Department of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, explained what happened and urged his chaplain commission be issued saying the time might be short to preach or fight.

He was appointed chaplain in December 1864 but retained command. Bachman continued in the service until the end of the war. He learned of Gen. Lee’s surrender while leading his command at Mount Airy, N.C., trying to join up with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston.

After the war, Bachman began preaching at churches in New Providence and Rogersville in Hawkins County. In 1873, he became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga.

Bachman had been a good soldier during the war, but it was in peace that he would become a hero.

During the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, most of the ministers left the Chattanooga area. But Bachman and Father John, the Catholic priest, refused to leave the people so afflicted. Bachman sent his family to safety and worked to help the sick and dying, even ministered to the dying Father John during the father’s last hours.

Seeking to heal the nation as well as the sick, Bachman, who served as chaplain general of the United Confederate Veterans for 10 years, took part in the Chickamauga Memorial Association organizational meeting in 1889 for the development of the national battlefield park that is near Chattanooga. At the start of the meeting, he led the gathered in prayer and prayed the following.

“We ask Thy blessing and Thy benediction upon the labors of Thy servants who bind themselves together in this great work of desiring and striving to make a field of strife a field of peace; to make a field of sorrow a field of joy; to make that which was once dark and gloomy, bright and cheerful. Almighty God, give thy servants who labor in this great enterprise favor in the eyes of all men, and in the government of all the states of this great land, that this matter may have success. And may it please Thee, now, gracious Father, to see order in the government of this great people, and may the things that may be done here be only emblematic of still greater things that shall bring peace, unity, harmony and fellowship unto all this great people, whose God is the Lord.”

Bachman worked for years in the Presbyterian Church, but he declined to accept an increase of salary planned by his deacons and unanimously voted by the congregation.

“My manner and habits of life are simple and plain, and it is my desire to keep them so,” said Bachman. “The salary you are giving is ample for me and mine. A greater regular stipend might create habits of ease and self-indulgence which would be hard to overcome when I get to be an old man. … So you see I am not wholly unselfish in what I am going to ask; first, that you will direct your liberality from myself to the poor, to our struggling churches and to the causes of mission at home and abroad and our aged ministry. Second, I will request my board of deacons to let my salary remain as it is and present no resolutions in regard to it to the session of the church.”

When Bachman died on Sept. 26, 1924, his death was nationally noted. More than 5,000 people attended the funeral of the man that had been given the title of “Preacher of Chattanooga.”

An editorial published later in the New York Times may have best summed up Bachman when it noted his refusal of a pay increase and said, “In these days, when graft and greed are attracting so much attention and moving so many mournfully to contrast the present with a golden age of which, curiously enough, history has no record, it is well perhaps to read with care this significant incident. Now what are we to think of a man like this?”

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 .

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