13th Tennessee Infantry (CSA) soldier writes several letters in October 1864, leading up to Franklin action

William Jere Crook was born to Jeremiah and Mary (Arnold) Crook on October 20, 1836. He enlisted in Company I of the 13th Tennessee Infantry (CSA) as a Corporal on May 30, 1861 and was promoted to Captain on August 14 of the same year. Crook was seriously wounded and captured in Murfreesboro on December 31, 1862 and was exchanged in early 1863. He returned to his regiment and was promoted to Major on November 18, 1863. Crook was captured again near Athens, Georgia on May 8, 1865 and apparently released at the end of the war. He returned to Tennessee, where he married his cousin, Hattie Crook. William J. Crook died on January 10, 1881.

Major Williams J. Crook, 13th Tennessee Infantry, was lucky enough to survive the Battle of Franklin.   The 13th was part of Vaughan’s Brigade, under Brig Gen George B. Gordon.  The 13th TN fought with the 11th, 12th/47th, 29th and 51st/52nd TN Infantries at Franklin.

The 13th TN was on the furthest right of the advancing Gordon Brigade, just west of the Columbia Turnpike.  Gordon’s men overtook Wagner’s (Union) men as they retreated back behind the Federal line in the opening battle sequence. Once reaching the Federal line in front of the Fountain Branch Carter farm, Gordon’s Brigade and he 13th TN met fierce resistance from Opdycke’s and Strickland’s Briagades.  There was brutal hand-to-hand fighting here.

Hat belonging to William J. Crook

Picture credit: Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy, (p. 168)

Taylors Ridge Georgia
Sunday Morning Oct. 16th 1864

Dear Hattie,

I have not had a leisure moment in the past week to write you.  If I had we have no facilities for mailing.  I wrote you a host note by the way side a few days ago.  Since simply telling you I was well.  We have been very successful thus far on this Campaign.  We have marched about 150 or 200 miles here.  Captured about 2000 prisoners a number of stores and arms and have here made rapid strides for Tenn.

Our Div. captured Dalton (GA) last Tuesday with its stores and garrison which consisted of 750 Negroes and 200 Yankees.  I felt really strange to be again at Dolton after so long an absence.  The place did not look much changed.  We remained then during the night.  The men up all night destroying the R R (railroad).

We left next day for Lafayette (via) this bridge.  Our Brigade is on Picket in rear of the entire Army and I am in charge of a detail from the Brigade in Ci? At the foot of the Ridge while the Brigade is at the top.  I was in dirt all night last night  – therefore by stupid and dull this morning.  We are now ordered to move forward with direction of Summerville the Army is distance for Middle Ten.  I must ? my… I will write again at first opportunity.

Write to…

Alpine, GA – Monday evening, October 17, 1864

Well Hattie,

We moved from where I was doing Pickett duty on Taylors Ridge at 12th yesterday and marched via Lafayette 10 miles in the direction of Summerivlle,   GA.  ? for the night.  Had ?ville at 2 this morning and began our march at 3.  We have marched 16 miles and are at a better place called Alpine near Summerville , GA and one half mile from the H GA line.  All seem anxious to get out of the Ga.  We have had a fine day for the march and nice woods through….  I had a both prepared and enjoyed my evening read and have made the necessary arrangements for the night.   It is quite cloudy and everything bespeaks rain.  I must try and sleep some tonight.  I feel by sensibly the loss of sleep for the past two night – and the fatigue which my needed duties impose.  I think we will ? a by few days make the direct move for Tenn.

Our last Campaign thus far has been directed to the breaking of Sherman’s line of communication.  I think we have been ? successful in our raidings.  4 ? ? much mistaken my letter of 16th Spt if you think it ? a ….  I sometimes think we will have a long war but I never despair of the final result.  It is getting so dark I must close for the night will unite again.  Sweet dreams to you tonight in your far off home.
W. J. C.

Tuesday evening, October 18, 1864

Well Hattie,

We had nice sleep last night.  We expected rain but was agreeably disappointed.  Left Alpine at 8 this morning have had a gay pleasant day and the road has been by fine indeed.  We have marched only 12 miles today.  We are here in Ala.  We are glad of a change.  We have been in GA since 26th last Nov.

There are many good and patriotic people in the Empire State.  They have done a good and noble part in this war.  I know there are exceptions.  They have come for our sick wounded and have given aid and encouragement in the darkest hours of our Struggle.  We have lift mountains and ?.  May she rest from her labors and peace be with her.

May no hostile America again tread her already devastated soil.   But may the ruthless war of invasion backwind swell until it reach to Northern home.

We have been in a for till? valley country for the past two days but the people seem ignorant and display no taste in their homes.     We see many answering incidents by the way in our pilgrimage.  Today a young Lad, stood beside the road and while the troops were passing sung “Homespun Dress” and “Bonney Blue Flag”.  Well she was actuated by the purest and most patriotic motives but you know hers in very bad taste.  We boys hollered and cheered a great lot.  All of which she blushingly received as app?.
A ? little incident of this kind are daily occurring.  It serves to kill the monotony.  The Army is by cheerful and hopeful everything seems to be progressing very ?  I look with confidence to the results of the Campaign.  Well I have not a word of news today not even a mermor.  I have seen but one newspaper in three weeks.  You may know I am almost lost for words.  It now dreary  … and promises to be quite cool to night.  I know I will sleep cold pleasant dreams to you in your comfortable home and a ? repose to me in my blanket on the ground.  With naught but sky above me in the mountains of North Ala.  Good Night.
W. J. C.

Gadsden, Ala. – Thursday evening Oct. 20th 1864

I intended to make a few notes for you yesterday evening as it was my birthday but we got into Camp so late I did not have the time.  Shall I celebrate my 27th anniversary on the march.  My birth day dinner consisted of corn bread and beef both cold and dry but I was as happy and cheerful as could be all the day.   I thought of the many blessings and privileges which have been bestowed upon me by kind friends and a kind and merciful Providence his ever ? me with a protecting hand in this land of ? and doth.  Then the music in the Brass Band made ? the twilight hour in the finest by strains of Sept sweet met an ? music my heart was filled with gratitude and happiness until about 9pm.

Your letter of Oct. 7 was handed me and oh how my heart leapt for joy as I recognized the familiar hand.  The thought of hearing from Dear Hattie filled me with ?  But when I opened and read through I had inadvertently said something calculated to ? your pure feelings.  I was sad beyond measure.   The transition from a feeling of joyous myrth to one of deepest sadness was so perceptible that the Col. Who was sitting near me asked me what was the matter.  What did I say.  I don’t remember to had said anything likely to give me any unhappiness.  I was disappointed in regard to our marriage but I was more than willing to consult your wishes and cheerfully again in any proposition you might make.  I have even been willing to make any sacrifice of my personal feelings or wishes to gratify you.  I feel a deeper interest in your happiness and well being tan I do in my own.  Then if you think our engagement best be defined to the will of the war I will accede.  Most cheerfully I hope you will not think my timing nine o’clock tho matters.  I am so unhappy.  All night I could not rest well.  Especially when I remembered you were in ….

If I think of you as often as you think of me …..  Not a day ? engaged in duties but I devote ever hour to thoughts of ?  I am not worthy of your love.  I am too harsh and thoughtless in my manners.  I fear I will never be able to treat you with the kindness and consideration …. You deserve.  It is getting quite late and dark.  We have marched 20 miles today.  We are now at Gadsden Ala.  ? people here I believe when you ? to ?  I don’t know what the program will be.  I will write again and ? additional notes.

Source: eBay auction, January 20, 2012

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