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Savannah Courier Article

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I stumbled across this interesting article on the internet. C.D., Grandpa, Ron, anyone else... how does this fit with your knowledge of civilians?

Thanks,

John

History Articles: The Civil War comes to Hardin County, TN

Posted by: Dr. James Jones on Jul 01, 2003 - 06:00 AM

 

The Civil War comes to Hardin County, TN

Families saw their farmlands become a battleground

Tony Hays

Staff writer, Savannah Courier

(This is copyright materiel. It may not be used in any form without consent of the author.)

Civil War historians tend to be far more tunnel-visioned than they would like to admit. They write volumes about military movements and great generals; they chronicle the simple soldier and his version of "seeing the elephant," his initiation into battle. But characteristically, they tend to ignore the civilian populace, the landowners who called the battlefields home, the parents who soldiers left behind, and the folks that merely peopled the landscape. Yet, it was Wilmer McLean whose houses saw the beginning of the war- Manassas and the end of the war- Appomattox. And, let us never forget grand old Barbara Frietchie, whose gray head was not to be touched—if you, believed the poem. The life of the Southern civilian was often just as dangerous and as full of despair as any soldier’s. With many goods in short supply, with invading armies scavenging the countryside, the war on the homefront was not measured by battles and skirmishes, but by the grueling, heartbreaking, day-to-day chore of simple survival. One group of Hardin County civilians saw their own special breed of the "elephant" very early in the war, before the rest of the country realized the tragedy ahead. They were among the first to witness the carnage of war, among the first to have their innocence shattered. They were the people who called Shiloh "home."

Some historians have dismissed the battle’s impact on. the civilian populace with a simple, "most of the inhabitants found some place else to be before the battle." Their names are immortalized now, in labels applied to fields on maps. Perry Field, where the battle started, Cloud Field, Wicker Field. But who were they? Who were Perry and Wicker, and Cloud? Let’s take a walk down the old Savannah-Hamburg road and try to reconstruct one small neighborhood.

One correspondent noted that Pittsburgh Landing itself had been deserted by its original inhabitant’s weeks before the bullets started flying. The landing took its name from one of the, three Tucker men-Amaldo; said to be the father, Pitts M., and, William. Originally from Virginia, they settled at the landing sometime previous to 1850 and operated a family-owned business. Arnaldo described himself as a merchant, Pitts as a grocer, and William as a clerk.

By 1860 only Pitts could be found with one lot and 62 acres, presumably in the vicinity of the landing, which was already known by his name. Contemporary accounts tell us that there were three cabins located on the hill above the landing. A battery of Louisiana artillery occupied the point in February 1862, taking fire and some casualties from Union gunboats. History doesn’t record whether the Tucker family had departed by that time.

As you moved inland from the landing, headed along the main western road, you’d pass through a mostly wooded area, a few fields, and then the road deadended into the Savannah Hamburg Road, south of James A. Perry’s farm. Perry owned a sizable tract, over 1,100 acres according to one record.

Heading south towards Hamburg, the forest stretched for a good bit, finally opening into a large field. On the left, you’d see a large, double pen log cabin and some outbuildings. This was the Josiah P. Cloud farm. Josiah and his wife Sarah hailed from North Carolina. Along with their six children, mostly boys, the Clouds managed a small farm, only 159 acres. At the time of the battle, the Clouds could stand on their porch and look off to the north, seeing the camps of two Kentucky and two Indiana regiments.

Just past the Cloud farm, on the left, was the home of the Widow Wicker, probably Flora Wicker, wife of the late Lewis Wicker. Like the Clouds and many of their other neighbors the Wickers came from North Carolina. They had a large family, some 10 children. Lewis was dead by the time of the war and records are uncertain as to the number of children still at home, in 1862. The Wicker cabins--there appear to have been two-- lay just north of Bloody Pond and the Peach Orchard.

Much has been said and written over the years about Sarah Bell, living as she did in the vicinity of some of the toughest fighting and within sight of where Albert Sidney Johnston was mortally wounded. The 54 year old Bell had, been a widow for over a decade by the time of the battle. She is believed to have had some six children, four boys, and two girls. Larkin F. Bell, one of her sons, lived some distance south of the main Bell farm and just across the road from Lenoir Cantrell, brother-in-law of Confederate captain Burt Hayes. Cantrell is known to have written a letter to General P.G.T. Beauregard asking his assistance in obtaining salt for Confederate supporters in Hardin County. Although the names of a few men are appended to the letter, the bulk of the civilians listed are the wives and widows of Confederate soldiers. It is not known whether Cantrell’s pleas produced any salt.

Just past the Cantrell and Bell farms was that of David McCullers a 54 year old Georgia native. The McCullers field lay very nearly on the banks of Lick Creek at what is now the southern edge of the battlefield property. McCullers and his wife, Mary, had seven children. One chunk of real estate within the park ground bears the mysterious tag, "The Russian Tenant Field." The tract actually lies north of the Perry farm on the old Savannah-Hamburg road. Little is known about the so-called Russian tenant. Park rangers can’t say with certainty who this person might have been. And if he was truly a tenant, land records would be of little use. There was one man named King Potomis (or something like that) that historians speculate could have been the tenant. This tiny sliver of a mystery is probably destined to remain as such for some time to come.

This has been just one trip down a single road on what became the Shiloh battlefield. Many other civilians called those acres home: the Fraleys, Hagys, Duncans, Howells, Seays, Reas, Joneses. A more exhaustive study of the civilians of Shiloh would require far more space than is available here. But the war’s impact on the South’s civilians should not be ignored.

Probably no movie before or since has better captured the "other" side of the war than Jimmy Sewart’s masterpiece, Shenandoah. Stewart plays the stubborn patriarch of a Virginia clan that eventually is ripped apart by the war. Although determined to remain neutral, Stewart’s character is finally pulled into the conflict when his youngest son is swept away by one of the competing armies. In the end, the bullheaded Virginian is forced to take sides to protect his farm, his land. Southerners have a special bond with the land; it is as much a part of them as a hand or a foot. Remember Scarlett O’Hara’s father and his admonition to his wayward daughter? Land was the most important thing. But the war ripped the land away from many families, a and their loss has been grossly understated. The civilians who lived on what became the battlefield at Shiloh have suffered much the, same fate.

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Hello John

Thanks for posting this excellent article. It puts to shame my little knowledge of the Shiloh civilians just recently acquired with your help. I need to read this article about three more times to get the impact of the information. A few notes, Sarah Bell had omly three children living at home at the time of the battle, all sons. All three of the Tuckers had left the area, Pitts was the last and he fled at the time of the March gunboat action. James A Perry was deceased by the time of the battle. His son owned the land. The widow Wicker was Flora Wicker, wife of Lewis. The only Wicker child living at home with Flora was the daughter Elzina and two female slaves. Elzina is believed to have hidden on the banks of Owl Creek with three small children. John, correct me if I'm wrong with above info. Go ahead, chop away.

Ron

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John, just read this don't know how I missed this. the Tuckers are a mystery can't find any record where he owned any land at the landing, there are no land grants in the Shiloh district there was a grant in the southern part of the county to him and in 1860 I can find no account of him around the Shiloh area. Tony wrote many good books on Hardin county, this article was no good because he depended on family stories that were not accurate. the clouds had left the area long before the battle.

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PITSNER M TUCKER CAME TO THE LANDING IN THE 1840'S WITH HIS MOTHER STEP-FATHER,TWO BROTHERS RINALDO,AND WILLIAM, AND THREE STEP SIBLINGS. RINALDO AND PITS WERE BORN IN VIRGINIA AND WILLIAM WAS BORN IN EAST TN. THEIR STEPFATHER CAREY ALLEN ARMSTRONG OWNED QUITE A BIT OF LAND IN TN. BUT NOT MUCH AT SHILOH. THE BROTHERS LIVED WITH THEIR MOTHER AND STEPFATHER UNTIL THE MIDDLE OF THE 1850'S WHEN RINALDO MOVED SOUTH OF LICK CREEK. IN 1858 PITS AND THOMAS MAXWELL BOUGHT THE ESTATE OF MARSHALL SPAIN FROM THE HEIRS AND PITS BOUGHT A SLAVE MOMAN WITH TWO CHILDREN. AFTER THIS PITS DISAPPEARS FROM SHILOH AND SHOWS UP IN TEXAS, WHERE HE DIED.

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John, I have been talking with Tony Hays recently and have come away with the impression that about 75% of what he writes is unreliable. looking at the same information he has I wonder just where he came up with these stories.

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I have enjoyed this post and the discussion about the families.  However, I find I must agree with CD about the writer Tony Hays and the accuracy of his information.  I have compared the info with my notes and I cannot match his information.  Example is I can not find Pits Tucker in the 1860 census for Hardin County, it does not show him as a resident of Pittsburg Landing or the store nor does he appear as the owner of the old Spain estate.  I think he is listed in McNairy County.  Another example, Lenoir Cantrell was not the Cantrell son that lived just below the Cantrell house, Lenoir lived in civil district #8.  Does anybody know who was living on the Spain estate in 1860 or 1862?  I sure would like to know. 

CD  you mention that Pits tucker and Thomas Maxwell bought the Spain property from the estate but I can't find this in the 1860 census.  Pits is not listed as a resident of Hardin county and Thomas Maxwell is listed in civil district #4, page 040, residense P055-33.  Do you have any other information on this purchase?  Who owned the Spain property?  We have not talked recently about the Shiloh civilians but I'm still interested in them.  I have compiled a file on them and I would like to compare notes. 

Ron 

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Ron, I found a deed on record dated in 1858 where Thomas Maxwell and Pits bought the Spain Estate from the Spain heirs, this is the only deed on record for Pits except the one dated the same year for a female slave and her two children. Pits brother Rinaldo lived in the 10th district in 1860,south of Lick Creek but Pits is nowhere to be found in Tn. Pits died in the 1880's in Texas.

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