yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

John Hayes

by William Morris

from the B. R. Jennings collection

My interest in the 2nd came partially from reading the Bugar Saga book. My great great grandfather, John Hayes (I think he is identified as "Big John Hayes" in the book), and his cousin, Bert Hays, are mentioned in this collection of stories. My father still owns property around Ransom's Stand also mentioned. Please understand that while the information offered in Bugar Saga sometimes has a basis in fact, it is written from a decidedly slanted point of view. For example, I have been able to track down at least some of the thefts reported in the book as being assessments made by the Federal Authorities against prominent Confederate sympathizers which this regiment (and other regiments in other areas) were ordered to collect. Where there was no money available, they collected goods of that value. On the other hand, it is very probable that Elias Thrasher, on his return to the Wayne County area, did lead an element of his company off to settle old scores (and, from what I understand, there were a number of scores to settle). I feel that Thrasher's actions lead to a substantial, but unrecorded, conflict with Major John Murphy, 5th TN Cav. USV, then commanding the post at Clifton where the 2nd was stationed. Different than his counterparts, Thrasher never rose in rank and his was the only name that did not appear on an officer's petition requesting Murphy be assigned to command the regiment. Additionally, I believe other crimes Thrasher was accused of in Bugar Saga occurred after he and others were discharged from Federal service. I guess my personal opinion of the use of the work is that it can be used as a starting point for an interested researcher.

During the regiments posting in Wayne County, they engaged in a large number of scouts and skirmishes. As the unit was, at the time, assigned to a "state" command under General A.C. Gillem, there are few reports of their actions that appear in the Official Record of the War of the Rebellion. They were more often involved in suppressing guerrilla activity and keeping the peace while they did combat with the regular Confederate cavalry forces that happened to be in their area. There was one assignment that I am trying to dig up more detailed information of that involved an attempt to capture Tennessee Confederate Governor Isham Harris in March 1864. In spite of what Bugar Saga may indicate, for the most part, these men remained very active and subject to extreme hazard during their service to the United States.

Of course the regiment rendered service in more places than Wayne County. From what I recall off hand, they were originally assigned to the Tennessee Barracks in Nashville, then moved to Waynesboro, TN where they remained for a few weeks. From there they were posted at Clifton occupying most of the area around that little town. There, they constructed a stockade and block house located generally behind and above the old Methodist Church. If you visit the place, drive up to the top of Stockade Street and you might see the country as those old soldiers saw it. At various times there were company sized detachments of the Regiment assigned to Reynoldsburg and the supply depot at Johnsonville as well as Centerville. There were also frequent patrols into Decatur, Perry and Hardin Counties. In August 1864 the regiment moved by battalions to take post at Section 54, Nashville and Northwestern Railroad (several miles east of McEwen, TN). There they conducted rather aggressive patrols against the irregular Confederate forces. When Confederate General J.B. Hood invaded Tennessee in late 1864, the regiment was moved via Clarksville to Edgefield, TN (across the river from Nashville). During the Battle of Nashville, although the Regiment was ordered to Gallitan, TN, evidence indicates that while Colonel Murphy sent a dismounted element of his command to Gallitan, he kept mounted portion of his regiment at Edgefield and they were engaged in the battle. Perhaps this disobedience of orders is why the regiment was not named in the Order of Battle for Nashville. A few weeks after this action the regiment was moved from Gallitan to Clifton where soldiers were mustered out by company. Several of these veterans re-enlisted in Company E 8th Tennessee Mounted.

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