John Thomas Knight, 39th Mississippi Infantry, was part of Sears’s Brigade, French’s Division

John Thomas Knight was an orphan who was never sent to school, could not read or write, but worked on a farm.  He told his children that his mother was of the Choctaw tribe, that he had Choctaw Indian in his family background but there is no documentation of this.

He joined the Confederate services as a private in April of 1863 at the age 15.

He fought at Franklin and at Nashville – at Nashville he was captured by the Union on 16 Dec 1864, 13 days before his 17th birthday.  He was transferred to Louisville, KY, and on to Camp Chase, Ohio where he spent four months as a prisoner of war.

Nine days after Lee surrendered, on April 21, 1865, he joined Co. E, 5th regiment of the U.S. Infantry volunteers.   He was honorably discharged on 11 Oct 1866 and returned to Mississippi.

Sears’s Brigade was part of Samuel G. French’s Division, A.P. Stewart’s Corps. The 39th MS walked over the land of the McGavock’s on their way to assaulting the Federal line.

There are seven identified 39th Mississippi boys buried at McGavock Confederate Cemetery.

Turpin Dickson Magee served in the 46th Mississippi Infantry

The following Confederate profile was recently added into the Franklin Descendants online database.

Turpin Dickson Magee

Turpin Dickson Magee, Major,  46th Mississippi Infantry

Born Covington County, Miss on February 1, 1824.

His oldest son, Lt Robert Jacob Magee was in the 4th Miss Cavalry.

Raised Co. B, Covington Rebels of 6th Miss Battalion, later to be the 46th Miss Regt.  Appointed commander on the 46th Miss upon the death of Colonel William Clark at Alatoona, Ga,  on October 6, 1864.

The 46th Miss Infantry was part of BG Claudius Sears’ Brigade, French’s Division. The 46th was one of the few regiments that officially did not lose any men at Franklin, while there were 34 men killed in their brigade at large.

Read the full profile

Several Confederate soldiers from Company K, 33rd Mississippi lost their lives at Franklin

Loring’s Division (Lt. Gen. A.P. Stewart’s Corps) lost (killed) 334 men at Franklin. Gen Scott lost 126. Featherston lost 68, and Adams lost 43.

Featherston’s Brigade consisted of:

  • 1st Battalion, Mississippi Sharpshooters ( 0 killed )
  • 1st MS Infantry ( 6 killed)
  • 3rd MS ( 14 killed )
  • 22nd MS ( 8 killed )
  • 31st MS ( 21 killed)
  • 33rd MS ( 10 killed )
  • 40th MS ( 9 killed )
Loring’s Division marched across what is now known as the Eastern Flank part of the Franklin battlefield, traversing the McGavock farm.  What these men hardly knew was that they literally walked across ground upon which so many of them would be buried following the battle.

The 33rd Mississippi Infantry, Company K, lost at least six known, and perhaps several more buried in now unknown plots.

Here are pictures of the markers of identified 33rd MS, Company K men buried at McGavock.

Regarding Shaw, Jacobson writes: ” About ‘fifteen paces from the works’ Lt. Henry Clay Shaw saw the color bearer of the 33rd Mississippi fall with the flag. Shaw picked it up and scrambled to the parapet. As he tried to shove the staff into the dirt Shaw was killed, ‘his body falling in the trench, the colors falling in the works.”

See: Jacobson (For Cause: p. 322.  Also:  OR 45, pt. 1, p. 322, 331, 338, 430.

As you can see from the map below, Featherston’s men faced the Hoosier boys from Stiles’s Brigade on the far left Union flank.

Historian Eric Jacobson talks about Loring’s advance at the Battle of Franklin.

Widow of Mathew A. Dunn, of the Amite Defenders, 33rd MS, receives condolence letter from fellow soldier

Letter of Condolence to widow of Mathew A. Dunn
John C. Wilkinson, 33rd Miss, Company K, Amite Defenders

Hamburg, Edgefield District, S.C.
February 15, 1865

Mrs. Mathew A. Dunn,
[ed. Her name was Virginia Lenorah Perkins]

My Dear Friend, I seat myself with a heart filed with sorrow to pen you a few lines to let you know that I do truly mourn and sympathize with you on account of you great irreparable loss.

On the 22nd____, I received the sad and heartrending intelligence that Mr. M. A. Dunn and J.L. Anderson [ed: probably John L. Anderson] of my mess and seven others of our Co. were killed at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee on the 30th of November 1864.

Mr. Dunn and I were only slightly acquainted when our Co. organized, but before leaving our beloved homes, we agreed to be members of the same family in Camp and drew our first rations together and continued so until I was wounded in May last.

And to me, he proved to be a true friend under all circumstances, in sickness, in health, in trials, and under all the hardships we had to undergo, he was always a patient and cheerful friend.

I am incompetent to write a eulogy upon such a character, and will only say to you that M. A. Dunn was free from the influence of the many vices and evils so common in Camp which entice so many from the path of rectitude.

But did by a well ordered walk and godly conversation make manifest to his comrades that he was a devoted Christian, true gentleman and patriotic soldier.

Being kind and obliging, he enjoyed the good will and confidence of all who had the pleasure of being acquainted with him.

By this sad bereavement of Co. lost one of its first members, Amite County a good citizen, Ebenezar [ed. referring to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Amite County where Mathew was baptized and a member] a worthy member, and you and your dear little ones, a kind and dearly beloved husband and father.

Dear Friend, though I join you in shedding a tear of grief, let us not mourn as those who are without hope, for we feel assured that our loss is his Eternal gain, that his freed spirit is now singing praises to our Blessed Savior in the Paradis above where all is joy and peace.

O, that we could truly adopt the language of Paul under this heavy affliction – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Then, how consoling would be the language of our Saviour, “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. For because I live, ye shall live also.” Then, my afflicted Sister, be admonished by the poorest of the poor to look to the fountain whence cometh all our help and strength; Jesus alone can comfort you in all your trails.

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, his ears are open unto their prayers.” We have the promise of the comforter, and Paul says, “Likewise, the spirit also helpeth our infirmities for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.”

And to give us full assurance, our Blessed savior informs us that He maketh intercession for the Saints, that according to the will of God.

And so, there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God, and we have so many sweet and precious promises. Let us therefore come boldly into the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in each time of need.

I know that the ties of nature are such that you cannot refrain from weeping and though your dear husband cannot return to you, yet you have hope that you may go where he is, and join him in singing a song of deliverance.

And may God on tender mercy remember you and your dear Little Ones. May He lead, rule, guide, and direct you safely through this life, giving you that sweet consolation which He alone can give. And finally, through the merits of his dear Son, crown you His (with your dear husband) in his kingdom above where “God will wipe away all tears from your eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither shall there be any more pain, but where all is Joy and Peace is the desire of one who wished you well.

You have no doubt seen a list of the killed, wounded and missing at the Battle of Franklin, Tenn. on the 30th November 1864. And many more mush have fallen at the Battle of Nashville on the 15th of December from which I have no news from my company.

When I left Camp I left six messmates whom I loved, four of them, J.P. [ed. probably Josiah P. Lea] and C. C. Lea [ed. probably Charles Lea], J.L Anderson [ed. probably John L. Anderson], and Mathew. A. Dunn have poured out their life’s blood in defense of their country. R.S. Capell is severely wounded and my dear son, W.H.W. [William H. Wilkinson] reported captured. Truly, we have cause to mourn but I desire not to mourner.

Not wishing to weary you with my imperfection, I close; when at the throne of grace, remember me and mine and believe me to be your friend in deep affliction.

John C. Wilkinson

[Thanks to Michael N. Pittman MD, descendant of John Cain Wilkinson, for a copy of the letter.]

33rd MS soldier – Dunn – was killed on the very land now being preserved by Save the Franklin Battlefield and the Civil War Trust.

The five acre tract – Loring’s Advance – currently being preserved by a local battlefield preservation group was the very site that a Confederate soldier named Mathew Andrew Dunn was shot and killed on November 30, 1864, during the Battle of Franklin. Dunn was a member of Company K, the Amite Defender’s, 33rd Mississippi, Featherston’s Brigade.

One of his commanding officers wrote his widow after the battle to detail the circumstances of Dunn’s demise at Franklin. He is buried in an unknown grave at McGavock Confederate Cemetery.

The Civil War Trust is leading the preservation effort at the national level.


Featherston’s Brigade

Near ____________

January 11, 1865

Mrs Dunn,

Dear Madam,

I received a note from Mr Harrell a few days ago inquiring into the circumstances of your husband’s death.

On the evening of the 30th Nov 1864, our brigade was formed in line of battle and moved through a very dense wood driving the enemy before us. On emerging from the woods we found ourselves in front of the enemy breastworks at Franklin. We were ordered to charge and at the word the Brigade moved forward your husband in the front rank. The charge was a gallant one, many of our men reached the works and fought for a while hand to hand with the enemy – but we were compelled to give way – and fell back some two or three hundred yards and there remained until next morning. Mat was killed in about 50 yards of the breastworks. He was killed instantly. During the night the enemy retreated and at daylight next morning I went immediately to the battlefield to look after my dead and wounded friends. Matt was one of the first I found. He was lying on his back. He appeared to be peacefully sleeping. A Spirit was on his countenance and everything indicated that he passed away without a struggle. He was wounded four times – two of which were sufficient to have caused instant death. One ball struck him directly in the front just below the breast bone passing through – another struck him in the right side passing through – another in the right cheek, and another in the left hand. Early as I was, others had been there before me and had taken everything of value from him. I found his testament lying near his breast and thinking of his widow far away, I put it in my pocket for you. I will be home sometime this winter and will bring it to you. My duty required my presence at other points and I left him. I saw afterwards that he received a decent burial at the hands of his friends and comrades.

_____________ has preserved a lock of his hair for you. His mess mates tell me that he had no baggage except what he had with him (his knapsack and his blanket) and these were taken by the inhuman robbers of the dead. It would certainly be a consolation to you to have received some last messages from your loved one, but the unexpectedness of the battle and the circumstances of his death precluded the possibility of such a thing. You have two strong sources of consolation Mrs Dunn, that your husband died as he had lived, a true Christian, and his death was such as becomes the true soldier, on the battlefield with his face to the foe, and followed by love and regrets of all his comrades.

Your loss is great and deeply do I sympathize with you, but you “mourn not” as one without hope,

I am respectfully

Your friend,

C.P. Neilson (1)


Mrs M.A. Dunn

Liberty. Miss

Source:  The Jonathan Dunn Kinfolks, 3rd Edition, 1987.

(1) Charles P. Neilson was Sergt-Major and A.A.G. Brigade