Notes from the past…

Those Turner Boys From Tennessee

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I know I’m a bit late here, but here is my contribution to Bill West’s CIVIL WAR GENEALOGY BLOG CHALLENGE:

To this point, I have identified 20 ancestors who fought in the Civil War. (Yes, Randy, you can borrow a few any time you need them!)

16 fought for the Confederacy and only 4 stayed with the Union.

My Loyalists from Tennessee, all soldiers with the 4th Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment, are an interesting band of brothers. But first, a little background on Tennessee’s involvement in the bloodiest conflict in American history. This from Wikipedia:

To a large extent, the American Civil War was fought in cities and farms of Tennessee; only Virginia saw more battles. Tennessee was the last of the Southern states to declare secession from the Union, but saw more than its share of the devastation resulting from years of warring armies criss-crossing the state. Its rivers were key arteries to the Deep South, and, from the early days of the war, Union efforts focused on securing control of those transportation routes, as well as major roads and mountain passes such as the Cumberland Gap.

A large number of important battles occurred in Tennessee, including the vicious fighting at the Battle of Shiloh, which at the time, was the deadliest battle in American history (it was later surpassed by a number of other engagements). Other large battles in Tennessee included Stones River, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Franklin.

Although the state became a part of the Confederacy, pockets of strong pro-Union sentiments remained throughout the war, particularly in the mountains in East Tennessee. The Vice President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was a loyalist, as were a number of congressmen and state politicians. On the Confederate side, significant leaders included noted cavalryman Nathan B. Forrest and corps commanders Leonidas Polk and Benjamin F. Cheatham, as well as Governor Isham Harris.

Well, it looks like my Turner boys belonged to those “pockets of strong pro-Union sentiments” in Tennessee. But those must have been very difficult days. You see, my 4 Unionist Turner brothers also had 4 sisters who had 4 husbands, all of whom fought for the Confederacy. And the father of all these folks, Francis Turner, was a prominent and well-to-do planter in DeKalb County, Tennessee. A slave-owning planter! And one of the brothers, Isaac was married to Sarah Vance. Sarah’s younger brother John Hugh Vance, a member of the 18th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, CSA,  was killed at the Battle of Murfressboro. Difficult days indeed!

The 4th Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment was organized on September 29, 1864.

The first mention of this regiment in the Official Records was dated March 11, 1865. On that date the following order was issued: “The Fourth Tennessee Mounted Infantry, Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Blackburn commanding, will report to Alexandria, Tennessee, and take post at that place. Colonel Blackburn will exert himself to restore confidence to the people, and destroy the guerrillas now infesting that region. All of the latter which his forces may capture will be turned over to the civil authorities of the counties in which they are captured, provided there are such civil authorities organized; otherwise they will be tried by military commission.”On April 25, Colonel Blackburn was instructed to detach four companies to LaFayette, Tennessee, to assist the civil authorities in exterminating the guerrillas who were infesting that region. On the same date, the regiment was assigned to the 4th Subdistrict, District of Middle Tennessee. On May 25, 1865, the regiment was ordered to make an expedition “through White, Overton, Fentress and Montgomery Counties, to Morgan, Tennessee,” for the purpose of restoring quiet to that region, “now so much infested by guerrillas.” At Morgan, it was to meet a similar force sent out by Major General Stoneman, commanding in East Tennessee; and, after having met with Stoneman’s command, to return to Alexandria, and report. The order evidently should have read through Morgan County to Montgomery, Tennessee, as there was no town called Morgan, and Montgomery County is not in the same area as the other counties mentioned in the order. This was the last mention of the regiment in the Official Records.

Dyer’s Compendium states the regiment was mustered out August 25, 1865.

May I introduce my “Yankee” Turners of DeKalb County, Tennessee:

(please click on the images to enlarge)

George Turner US Army enlistment, 23 Sep 1864

George Turner (1822-1877), born in Warren County, Tennessee, enlisted at age 40 in Company E of the 4th Tennessee Mounted Regiment at Liberty in DeKalb County on 23 Sep 1854 and was promoted to Sergeant on Nov 1st. He survived his war experiences and was mustered out on 25 Aug 1865. Married in 1849, George and Talitha Cumi Forester had 8 children. He and his wife are buried at Salem Baptist Church Cemetery in Liberty, Tennessee.

Page 11

Isaac Turner (1827-1888) was my 2nd great-grandfather. He also enlisted on 23 Sep 1964 at Liberty, Tennessee. A 36-year-old private, he survived the war and was mustered out on 25 Aug 1865. Isaac married Sarah Vance in 1855 and the couple had a litter of 14 children. He died in Hill County, Texas at age 60 from Typhoid Fever. Isaac and Sarah are buried at Chatt-Jessie Cemetery in rural Hill County, Texas.

Page 11Joseph B Turner (1845-ca 1920) joined the 4th Tennessee on 5 Sep 1864 at age 19. Joseph also survived the carnage and he and wife Susy White, married in 1874, had 7 children. He is last documented in 1910 in Atoka County, Oklahoma, widowed at age 65 and living with son Percy and his family. The 1920 Federal Census enumerates the Percy Turner family living in Tarrant County, Texas with no Joseph to be seen.

Page 11

The last Turner brother to serve in the 4th Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment was William Jasper Turner (1848-1918). He joined up on 1 Nov 1864 at age 18. The luck of the Turners protected William as well, as he survived the Civil War and later became a cattleman in Texas. Marrying Eunice Roberts in 1875, the couple had 4 children. William died in Fort Worth, Texas from kidney disease and is buried in Big Spring, Texas.

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