Category Archives: Williamson County (TN)

How did Franklin area residents react to the fall of Fort Donelson?

Sallie Florence McEwen

Sallie Florence McEwen (1846-1867), daughter of John B. McEwen and Cynthia B. Graham McEwen, married Rev. W.L. Rosser in 1866 and they had one daughter, Florence Atkerson of Creek Side.

Fort Donelson fell into Union hands on February 16, 1862 as the entire fort surrendered to U.S. Grant, resulting in over 12,000 Confederate soldiers becoming prisoners of war.  Not only did this give the Union unfettered access along the Cumberland River, but it’s capture resulted in the capitulation of Nashville to the Union army without a shot being fired. Nashville was the second-largest city in the lower South, only New Orleans was larger.

The news of the fall of Fort Donelson must have stunned and terrified the local residents of Franklin and Williamson County, as this diary excerpt from Sallie Florence McEwen indicates.  The news must have traveled quickly that day as McEwen wrote this entry on Sunday the 16th, the day of the actual surrender.

“Fort Donelson has fallen. We are defeated. A great number of prisoners have been taken, among them a great number of our acquaintances. There is great panic in Nashville, the people are fleeing from there is in great numbers.”

Sunday, February 16, 1862 – The Journal of Sallie Florence McEwen. A Franklin, Tennessee resident.
Source (McEwen quote and image): Williamson County & the Civil War: As Seen Through the Female Experience. 2008.

Adelicia “Addie” McEwen German (1848-1942) was Sallie’s younger sister. She married Dr. Daniel B. German in 1869. She wrote the following related to Fort Donelson.

Addie McEwen German

“Our first sight of the Yankees was in February 1862 when Fort Donelson fell. It was on Sunday morning and we had gone to Sunday School. had finished with our lessons and were coming out of church, when unusual commotion in  the street attracted our attention. On looking down towards the Squre, it seemed as if the whole of Heavens had dropped down, so blue were the streets with the blue coated Yankees and the Starry Ground to be with them, they were so gay with gold stars and lace; the Southern Army men in full retreat, just ahead of them . . . One poor fellow, who had fired cannons at Fort Donelson three days, was intatters and barefooted. Tears ran constantly down his cheeks, and he couldn’t shut his mouth, so pitiful was he, that he was clothes from his head to his feet and bountifully fed. He expressed himself as feeling like the “prodigal son” returned.”

Source:  Williamson County & the Civil War: As Seen Through the Female Experience. Rick Warwick, 2010: 15.

John Terrill, a slave from Williamson County, served as an escort on staff of Gen Chalmers’ in Civil War

John Terrill, African-American from Williamson County

Terrill, an African-American slave from Williamson County (TN), was an escort on General Chalmer’s staff during the Civil War.

Source:  Williamson County:  Civil War Veterans. The Williamson County Historical Society, 2007: 94.

Presently, it is not known when Terrill began his service on Chalmers’ staff.  The following excerpts from Confederate Military History, vol. IX, p. 244 excerpts some of the service of  Gen Chalmers, therefore, Terrill would have likely seen some of this action, depending when he joined the staff.

Brigadier-General James Ronald Chalmers was born in Halifax county, Virginia, January 11, 1831.

He entered the Confederate army as colonel of the Ninth Mississippi regiment of infantry in 1861.

On February 13, 1862, he became a brigadier-general in the Confederate army, and on April 6th was assigned to the command of the Second brigade of Withers’ division, army of the Mississippi.

He and his command did splendid fighting in the battle of Shiloh.

When Bragg advanced into Kentucky in the summer of 1862 Chalmers’ command was a part of his force, performing its duties with courage and zeal.

In the battle of Murfreesboro he and his men again rendered brilliant service.  In April, 1863, General Chalmers was placed in command of the military district of Mississippi and East Louisiana.

In 1864 he was assigned to the command of the cavalry brigades of Jeffrey Forrest and McCulloch, forming the First division of Forrest’s cavalry.

General Chalmers bore a conspicuous part in the battle of Fort Pillow and in all the brilliant campaigns of Forrest in north Mississippi, west Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as in the Tennessee campaign of Hood.

February 18, 1865, he was put in command of all the Mississippi cavalry in the Confederate service in Mississippi and west Tennessee.

Is there a list of African-Americans from Williamson County (TN) who served in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War?

Henry Church, 48th TN Infantry

The following is a list of African-American slaves from Williamson County (TN) who served in the Confederate Army alongside their respective masters as body servants.

Bob Battle | 20th TN Infantry, Co B

Reuben Battle | 20th TN, Co B

John Briggs | 4th TN Cav (McLemore’s)

William Buford | 9th TN Infantry

Charles Cannon | 154th TN Infantry

Green Carothers | 20th TN, Co H

Henry Church | 48th TN Infantry

Sytephen Claybrooke | 20th TN Infantry

Jack Crutcher | 20th TN Infantry, Co D

Mark Dabney | 3rd TN Infantry

John M. Fitzgerald | 48th TN Infantry | Voorhies

James Gentry | 17th TN Inf

Charles House | 4th TN Cav (McLemore’s)

Sol House | 22nd TN Cav (Barteau’s)

Booker Hunter | Gen Preston Smith’s staff

Peter Hyde | 45th TN Infantry, Co D

Tom Johnson | 49th TN Infantry

William Johnson | White’s Batterty

Bill King | 20th TN, Co B

Taylor Kinnard | 54th TN Infantry | Co K

Daniel McLemore | 4th TN Cav (McLemore’s)

Silas Newcome | 20th TN Infantry

Ike Norris | 4th TN Cav (McLemore’s)

Ephiram Otey | 154th TN Infantry

Robert Patton | 4th TN Cav (McLemore’s), Co F

Frank Russell | Jacksons Cav Co (Forrest’s Escort)

Hardin Starnes | 4th TN Cav (McLemore’s)

John Terrell | Gen. Chalmer’s Escort

Green Carothers | 20th TN, Co H

John Parish | 2nd TN Cav

African-Americans in the Confederate Army typically served as body servants to officers or as general laborers.

Source:  Williamson County:  Civil War Veterans. The Williamson County Historical Society, 2007: 94-95.

Is there a list of African-Americans from Williamson County (TN) who served in the United States Army during the American Civil War?

Burton Bostick* | U.S. Navy – fireman on U.S.S. Bragg

Dudley Bostick | U.S. Navy – fireman on U.S.S. Bragg

Harding Bostick | U.S. Navy – fireman on U.S.S. Bragg

Stephen Bostick | U.S. Navy – fireman on U.S.S. Bragg

W.J. Bostick | U.S. Navy – fireman on U.S.S. Bragg

John Dubison | U.S. Army 100th Colored Infantry, Co C.

William Holmes | U.S. Army 102nd Colored Infantry

James Moore | U.S. Army 111th Colored Infantry

*The Bostick family was from Williamson County (4 brothers and a cousin).

Source:  Williamson County:  Civil War Veterans. The Williamson County Historical Society, 2007: 95.