The Civil War

Giles County took a decided stand in favor secession at the breaking out of the late war, and cast an overwhelming majority vote in favor of separation from the Union and representation in the Confederate Congress. In response to the call of Gov. Harris for State volunteers early in 1861 the "Martin Guards", the first company raised in the county, was organized, placed in command of Capt. Hume R. Field, and dispatched at once to Nashville, where, upon the organization in April 1861, of the First Tennessee Regiment of Infantry, the company was mustered into service as Company K. The regiment went into camp at Alisonia, Franklin County, which was given the name of Camp Harris, thence to Camp Cheatham, in Robertson County, where the soldiers were given full instructions. On July 10, 1861, it was ordered to Virginia.

Under special orders from Gov. Harris the Third Tennessee Regiment of Infantry was organized at Lynnville, this county, on May 16, 1861. The regiment consisted of ten full companies of picked men, five of which were supplied by Giles County. The roll of field and staff officers of the regiment was as follows: Colonel, John C. Brown; lieutenant-colonel, Thomas M. Gordon; major, Nathaniel P. Cheairs; adjutant, Thomas M. Tucker; quartermasters, Benj. P. Roy and J. L. Herron; commissary, B. L. Wilkes; surgeons, Samuel H. Stout and James A. Bowers; assistant surgeon, Wiley S. Perry; chaplains, Marcus Williams and Thomas J. Davenport; sergeftnt-major, William Polk; quartermaster-sergeants, J. F. Alexander and J. W. Littleton; commissary-sergeant, John S. Wilkes; ordnance sergeants, Wallace W. Rutledge and James J. Walker, hospital steward, Eber Fry. The Giles County companies in this regiment were as follows: Company A, first captain, John C. Brown, succeeded by Calvin J. Clack, numbered 120 men; Company B, first captain, Thomas M. Gordon, succeeded by E. H. F. Gordon, 130 men; Company D, captain, William Peaton, 108 men; Company G, captain, Calvin H. Walker, 110 men; Company K, captain, F. C. Barber, 110 men.

The regiment was mustered into the State service as soon as organized, and from Lynnville went into camp near Springfield, Robertson County, where it remained until July 26, 1861, when it moved to Camp Trousdale, Sumner County, from whence they were ordered to Fort Donelson, reaching the fort on February 8, 1862. On September 26, 1862, the regiment was reorganized as follows: Colonel, Calvin H. Walker; lieutenant-colonel; Calvin J. Clack: majors, Thomas M. Tucker and F. C. Barber; adjutant, David S. Martin, Giles County companies: Company B, captain Robert A. Mitchell 105; Company G, formerly Company A, captain David Rhea, 99 men; Company I, formerly Company D, captain, D. G. Alexander, 90 men; Company H. formerly Company G, captain, James J. Walker, 101 men; Company A, formerly Company K, captain F. C. Barber, 100 men. The reorganization took place at Jackson, Miss., after the exchange of prisoners at Vicksburg, and the regiment went at once into active service, their first engagement occurring a few days afterward at Springdale, Miss.

In the summer of 1861 the Thirty-second Tennessee Regiment of Infantry was organized at Camp Trousdale, Sumner County, in which regiment Giles County was represented as follows: Winstead's company, captain, John M. Winstead; Worley's company, captain, Willis Worley; Hannah's company, captain, John W. Hannah; Hunnicutt's company, captain, W. H. Hunnicutt. The regiment upon leaving camp went into East Tennessee, and thence into Kentucky. In October, 1862, the regiment was reorganized, the reorganization affecting the Giles County companies as follows: Winstead's company, captain, Field Arrowsmith; Worley's company, captain, James Young; Hannah's company, captain, John L. Brownlow; Hunnicutt's company, captain, J. M. Bass. The reorganization of this regiment also occurred at Jackson, Miss.

Holman's battalion of partisan rangers was raised under commission from Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of War of the Confederacy; bearing date, June 27, 1862, directed to Maj. D. W. Holman. The battalion consisted of four companies, two of which were furnished by Giles County, they being those of Capt. Andrew R. Gordon, of 160 men, and of Capt. James Rivers, of 100 men.

The above is a list as near as could be obtained of the soldiers furnished to the Confederacy by Giles County. The county was continually overrun with both Federal and Confederate soldiers throughout the war, being on the line of march from Nashville to Huntsville, Ala. Pulaski, Lynnville, Elkton and Prospect were each visited by Federal troops in large numbers, and Pulaski and Lynnville were fortified, a formidable fort or earth-work was erected on Fort Hill, a high steep hill overlooking the town and surrounding country at the former place. The first Federals to visit Pulaski in any number was a detachment of Gen. Negley's brigade which was sent out from Columbia, under Col. Mark Monday, in April 1862, to drive off Gen. John Morgan, who with his cavalry, was harassing and plundering the Federal wagon trains on their way to Gen. Mitchell at Huntsville, Ala. After doing considerable damage, Gen. Morgan withdrew from Giles County in May, upon the approach of Col. Monday, going into Bedford and Wilson Counties. Col. Monday went into camp with his men at Pulaski, and remained until September 1862, when his command joined Gen. Negley's brigade and went into Kentucky after Gen. Bragg. In August 1863, Col. Hayes made a raid on Giles County with a regiment of cavalry, who made a camp of one day and night in Pulaski, and returned to Columbia. During the same year Lynnville and Elkton were both raided by the Federals, the whole county, in fact, being relieved of horses, cattle and grain. In October 1863, Gen. W. Wheeler retreated south through Giles County, pursued by Gen. Wlder, who made a short stop at Pulaski on his way south, and in the course of a few days returned and again camped for a number of days, going thence to Shelbyville.

In November, 1863, Gen. W. T. Sherman and his entire army passed through Giles County, en route to Chattanooga, making a short stop at Elkton, and Gen. William Dodge, with the Sixteenth Army Corps, went into camp at Pulaski, remaining until April, 1864. A portion of the above corps was stationed at Lynnville, where earth-works were thrown up. Gen. Starkweather, with four regiments infantry and as many regiments of cavalry, camped in Pulaski and Giles County, during the summer of 1864, engaged in guarding the Tennessee River. Gen. Starkweather was succeeded in command by Gen. R. W. Johnson, who remained at Pulaski until November of the above year. In that month Gen. Stanley was sent to Pulaski with the Fourth Army Corps, and camped for three or four days.

Gen. Schofield, in command of the Army of the Ohio, brought the Twenty-fourth Army Corps to Pulaski in the latter part 1864, and remained until Gen. Hood crossed the Tennessee River at Florence, Ala., and was approaching Columbia, when he evacuated the town and fell back to Franklin, and then to Nashville. Gen. Hood came on into Middle Tennessee. At Lawrenceburg, his advance composed of Gen. Forrest's cavalry, repulsed the Federals, who then fell back to Pulaski, and the following day quite an engagement occured at Campbellsville, this county, where the Federals were again repulsed. Gen. Forrest's Cavalry made sad havoc with the railroad, tearing up the rails and destroying all bridges in the county. At Pulaski he stationed a battery on East Hill and made a feint movement by throwing a few shells into the Federal fort on Fort Hill, to cover his move toward Shelbyville.

After the battle of Nashville, Gen. Hood retreated south through Giles County, followed by Gen. George H. Thomas, with the Twenty-third, Fourth and Sixteenth Army Corps. The retreat through Giles County was almost a continuous battle all along the Columbia & Pulaski Turnpike. At Anthony Hill, this county, Gen. Hood made a stand and repulsed the Federals, only to resume his retreat. Another stand was made at a point on Sugar Creek, where the Federals were repulsed a second time, after which they fell back to Pulaski, while Gen. Hood's army proceeded leisurely into Alabama. The command of the Twenty-third, Fourth and Sixteenth Army Corps was turned over to Gen. Johnson, who remained with them in camp at Pulaski, until the close of the war in 1865. During the stay of the Federals in Pulaski, at different times, the courthouse and Giles College building were used as quarters for the soldiers, and the different church buildings were converted into hospitals.

On November 20, 1803, Samuel Davis, a Confederate spy, was captured inside the Federal lines at Pulaski, with complete plans of the Federal fortifications at Pulaski, Franklin, Nashville and, in fact, all over Middle Tennessee, Davis was tried by a court-martial, on the charge of being a Rebel spy, and was hung on East Hill, in front of Squire James McCollum's residence, at 10 o'clock on Friday morning, November 27, 1863. Davis claimed that his plans had been furnished him by a Federal officer, high in command, whom he stated was standing in the crowd in front of the scaffold awaiting his hanging, but whose name he refused to divulge, even when offered his life and liberty as an inducement to do so. Opinion is divided as to whether the doomed man was really a brave man, and sought death rather than divulge a friend's name, or whether he was playing for glory, even in his last moments.