yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


The Memphis Daily Appeal
June 16, 1869

A private letter from Jackson, Tenn., informs us that Capt. John Bradford, the noted guerrilla whose arrest we chronicle a few days ago, while on his way to Henderson county jail, on Saturday was taken from the hands of the Sheriff and killed. The charges against Bradford were counterfeiting and murder. He was a bold, bad man, but that did not justify the mode of his death, or make it aught but a cowardly murder. It is said to have been done by the Loyal League, who were very much afraid of him.

The Memphis Daily Appeal
June 18, 1869

The history of Jack Bradford, the Confederate guerilla lately murdered by the Loyal League in Henderson County, is one of singular romance, and though, as we said in noticing his death, he was a bold, bad man, shows him to have been a man of no ordinary calibre, and possessed withal of many redeeming traits. He was not over twenty-six years old when he was so untimely taken off, having entered upon his career as a guerilla when only about seventeen years of age. He was a native of the neighborhood of Jackson, Tenn., and was born of very poor parents. His father died before the breaking out of the war, and he was left the sole stay of a widowed and infirm mother. Some time in ‘62 the Federals, who were then occupying Jackson, came to his mother's house, and, as was their habit, plundered it, grossly insulting her. Young Bradford was not at home at the time, but on returning and learning what they had done, he registered a vow of vengeance against the whole race. He first went round among his neighbors and got together a year's supply of wood and provisions for his mother, and then arming himself he commenced waylaying and killing the Couriers, picking off every man who straggled his way.

He was soon joined by other youths in the neighborhood, all of whom were splendidly mounted and armed with the horses and accoutrements taken from those whom they killed. His company, or band, in a short time after he took the road, numbered sixty men, he being the acknowledged leader, and so watchful, determined, and merciless were they that Bradford's "guerillas," or "scouts," became the terror of the Yankee army at Jackson. It was certain death for single men or small parties to venture outside of the lines, and at last Bradford's troop became so bold that it was unsafe for a Yankee courier to come out of Jackson with less than a regiment of men at his heels. Bradford was as cunning and crafty as he was brave and pittiless. Often and often he disguised himself as a chicken peddler, or something of that bilk, and entered the enemy's lines, remaining long enough to learn their plans sufficiently to make the arrangements to thwart them. At the close of the war, like too many kindred spirits on both sides, he became dissatisfied with the sameness of the every day life, and to gratify the craving for excitement he took to a life which eventually caused him to be hunted down and arrested as an outlaw. During the war and since, Bradford made himself very obnoxious to the "Union men" of Jackson and that country, and when he fell into the hands of the law, these cowardly hounds, who did not dare to approach him when free and able to defend himself, set upon him and murdered him. The exponent and organ in the city of the party to which his assassins belong, which is so ready to lay to the KuKlux every crime committed in the State, has been singularly reticent in this affair. How is it?

These items appeared in Family Findings, April 1990, and was submitted by Lavyn Wright Sisco, Route 5 Box 873, Sulphur Springs, Texas 75482.

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