yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


Wiley M. Crook




Through the efforts of Major J. W. W. J. Crook [1], a cousin my father, our ancestors were traced back to two others who came from Wales in Great Britain to this country. One of the brothers settled in what came to be New York, and it is supposed that from him sprang the Crook families of New York, Ohio and Kentucky.

General George Crook of Indian war fame in the west in an early day, was of the Ohio branch of the Crooks.

Some of the Kentucky Crooks went to Tennessee. One of them about the age of my grandfather settled in Henderson county and reared a large, interesting family, near my grandfather and his brother, Jerry Jere Crook [2].

One of the sons of this Kentucky Crook, Thomas Crook, married a daughter of Uncle Jerry Jere Crook, whose name was Eveline [3]. It was not thought that they were kin and if they were, it was very remote. In my young days I was often in the home of Cousin Tom and Eveline Crook. Their son Jerry, and daughter Mary, were near my age, as well as their entire family were strong friends. One of Cousin Tom Crook's brothers went to Lamar county, Texas, and one of his sons served as sheriff of that county.

Gen. George Crook, above referred to, was in the United States regular army, and during the American expedition in Arizona in 1882 was sent to Mexico in pursuit of Geronimo, the famous chief of the hostile Indians in the Sierra Madre mountains.

General Crook got together some of the Indian scouts of the Third United States cavalry and soldiers of the Sixth cavalry, crossed the border in pursuit of Geronimo's bandits. On May 1, 1883, General Crook began his march into Mexico; May 12th, had a fight with those hostile Indians, Geronimo surrendered and General Crook made the return march of 900 miles out of Mexico with his 400 prisoners.

The other brother from Wales is my great-great-grandfather, and settled in South Carolina. His son, James Crook, is my great-grandfather and lived in Spartanburg District, South Carolina [4]. My great-grandfather served under Gen. George Washington in the Revolutionary war [5] and was captain of a company. He had six sons, all reared in South Carolina. Jesse and James remained in that State; Joe and William went to near Dalton, Georgia; Jonathan and Jerry went to Henderson county, Tennessee, about the time the Indians were moved to the Indian Territory, now a part of the great State of Oklahoma [6]. My grandfather, Jonathan Crook, and his brother, Jerry, married sisters, Lucy and Polly Arnold, before they left South Carolina. Lucy was my grandmother [7]. They had three sons and four daughters, John, James and Willis; their daughters, Polly, who married Thos. Dodds; Sallie married Jno. Conner; Elminey, William Hopper, and Emily, Pinkney Tap. The last named son and three last named daughters, were not married until grandfather went to Tippah county, Mississippi, just after the Indians were brought out by our government [8]. My father, Uncle John Crook and Aunt Polly Dodds had already married and remained in Tennessee. Grandfather gave those three married children a home adjoining each other [9]. Uncle John Crook was a Baptist preacher and about 1860 moved to Mississippi and in later years went with some of his children to Bell county, Texas, and died there [10]. James W. Crook, my father, was born in Spartanburg District, South Carolina in 1816. His first marriage was to Sarah Thomas. From this union were born three daughters, Lucy, Mary and Sallie. This wife died about the year 1840, and in the year 1843 he and my mother married. Her maiden name was Eliza C. Hodges and they lived on the old homestead given him by his father until the death of my father in December, 1850.


John Harvey Hodges, a cousin of my mother, told me that my maternal great-great-grandfather Hodges came to the colonies of this country when there were but very few women here. At this time the ships from the old countries would bring young ladies to the colonies and accept tobacco from the young men over here in payment of passage of the girls on the ship. My great-great-grandmother, Mary Collins, came to this country this way, and her sweetheart paid her ship fare with tobacco. However, they knew each other in the old country. They settled in the old Dominion of Virginia, and when this same Mary Collins was 97 years old, she migrated to Tennessee and lived to the advanced age of 105 years.

My maternal great-grandfather. Jesse Hodges, served in the Revolutionary war under General Green, and was in the battle of Guilford, North Carolina.

My grandfather, Elijah Hodges, was born in Halifax county, Virginia, and went to Wilson county, Tennessee, while a young man, and there he married Hannah P. Hubbard, a daughter of Elder Clark Hubbard, and in the year 1824 they moved to Henderson county, Tennessee, settling near the village of Jacks Creek. Grandfather Hodges had seven brothers and three sisters. The brothers names were James, William; Elisha, Josiah, Jessie, Thomas and Harvey. The sisters, Tabitha married a Barton; Fannie married Hollis, and Polly, a Kitchens [11].

All of these people settled in Henderson and McNairy counties, Tennessee. I very well remember my Grandmother Hodges and Aunt Tabitha Barton. My mother had three brothers, Harvey, Newton and William J. Hodges; two sisters, Elizabeth Crow and Susan, that married Wiley Masingill. Uncle Wm. Hodges was a Baptist preacher of excellent ability and served as pastor of Unity church more than forty years [12].

1. See Illustration 6.

2. See Illustration 3.

3. Middlefork Crooks, Mar. 1841. Log house known as Willie Rhodes place on corner Middlefork & Brown school Rds.

4. Buried at Old Bethel Baptist Church Cem., Woodruff, Spartanburg Dist., S.C.

5. Daniel Morgan's 14th and 15th Virginia Regts wounded at Bunker Hill. See D.A.R. abstracts.

6. 1819-1820. See Gentle Past; Powers History of Henderson County; Stewart's History of Henderson County.

7. Jonathan & Lucy buried in Tippah Co., Ms., near Faulkner. Jere & Polly buried in Jack's Creek, TN, Hurt Cemetery.

8. 1826

9. Jonathan Crook Plantation is currently site of the Lavonagn[?] & Sylvia Grissom home and farm. James W. Crook is buried at the Old Frome Meeting House Cem. (Clarks Creek primitive Baptist Church) on that farm. Logs of the original house torn down for the present structure. Davy Crockett slept there, see Powers History of Henderson County.

10. Brewer Place across from Unity Baptist Church, Hwy 22A, Chester Co., north of jacks Creek. Deed on Unity Church from Rev. John Crook to Elder Jeremiah Crook, Sept. 1858. See Chester Co. Courthouse records.

11. Buried in Unity Church, Chester Co., TN.

12. Ibid. See also Tilley's Unity Church: A Patchwork of History and Humor.


At the death of my father, he owned three negroes, and the nice little home of 160 acres given him by his father. Uncle John Crook administered on the estate, and made a public sale of father's property [13]. My mother chose to take a child's part instead of widow's dowry. My half-sister, Mary, having died, father had six living children, two daughters by his first wife, two sons and two daughters by my mother, so the estate was to be divided between the six children and mother, equally. At father's sale the property was sold to the highest bidder, and I remember well how my mother bid off the negro women and then the homestead—no one bid against her. John P. Thomas, an uncle of my half-sisters, became their guardian, and Uncle John A. Crook was made guardian of myself, brother and two sisters. A cousin of mother's (John Harvey Hodges) lived with us during the year 1851, and managed the farm work under the advice and counsel of Uncle John. About the end of this year, Cousin John Harvey married Lucinda Arnold, a cousin of my father's, and Uncle John Crook secured I. J. L. Pearson, another young man of excellent qualities to come and live with us the year 1852. Mother, myself, brother, two little sisters, the two young men mentioned, and Rosa, our negro woman, were the family those two years. I recall many incidents of this time of my young life. One evening, mother went out to milk a cow. I followed her and, after mother had finished milking, leaving the little calf to suck, mother going into the house, I lingered back to play with the pretty calf, and in so doing, decided to see if I could also suck the cow, but in my attempt to push the calf away the cow turned her head and with one horn struck me in the mouth, tearing my under lip wide apart to the chin. There was no one on the place except mother and us four children, so she caught up our faithful mare, Polly, put saddle on and got on, taking little sisters in her lap, brother and myself behind. We started to Uncle John's. We met Cousin John Harvey, who at the time was living with us. He told mother to go back home, that he would go tell Uncle John and then go after Doctor Tabler. I thought I was nearly ruined. Uncle John came directly, and after looking at my wound, assured me that it would get well. In a short time Cousin John Harvey was there with Doctor Tabler. Uncle John got me in his lap, holding my head and hands while Cousin John Harvey held my feet, and the doctor proceeded to sew up my lascerated lip—an operation I thought awful to bear.

I can not remember when I thought that I was larger than brother. Mother dressed us just alike, made our clothes by the same pattern. She sent us together everywhere and to do all errands and work.

Our first day in school was together. We learned to spell in a class with Matilda and Mary Ellen Rhodes. Matilda was my sweetheart and Elijah claimed Mary Ellen. One day the four of us were guilty of some misbehavior; the teacher called us up to her and made a short investigation of our mischief; then she had the girls to sweep a clean place in the middle of the floor and all of us to sit down, boys facing girls, for the whole school to look at. That punishment cured all of us.

Miss Nancy Chappell was the teacher's name. I remember how I thought what she did not know was torn out of the book, she had my confidence and reverence. I have known but few brothers that I think were more devoted to each other than brother and I. I was and am to this day, of a quick-spoken and impulsive nature, my brother was and continued to be of a conservative, considerate disposition. I always desired to be more like him and he appeared to believe I could accomplish things better than be could.

My mother was only 18 years older than myself, and I can well recollect that I thought she was by far the prettiest woman in all the country. Oh, how proud I was of her fine, stately, appearance. She weighed about 160 pounds, went gracefully about all her affairs, ruled well her household and made lasting impressions for good on her children—a christian woman, indeed. It is also with pleasure and a grateful heart that I think of the associations with my two sisters. Susan, the elder, was somewhat like myself—of a quick temperament—but when she set her head, she did things, and always tried to do right things. She plowed, hoed and worked like a boy while brother and I were in the Confederate army, and never felt ashamed of it. Sister Nannie, the baby of my father, born only a short time before his death, and not being named when father died, mother named her Nancy James (the James for our father), and we called her Jimmie until she was quite a large girl. Sister Nannie always exhibited the utmost confidence in and respect for her two brothers and her sister. She still lives in Henderson county, Tennessee.

In the year 1853 my mother and Joel F. Hurt were married, at which time I was nine years old [14]. I hardly comprehended the reason for his visits before the marriage, and when it occurred my young heart was almost broken. I did not think there was a man living half good enough to marry my young mother, but they were very kind to me, and let me work it all out slowly. In a short time mother told me I must call him Pa. Mother had taught me that I must always obey her, but I could not get myself in shape to say "Pa," so I evaded for a time, not calling him anything. I suppose he knew my situation and he went on in a smooth, kind manner, not appearing to notice my embarrassment, treating me nicely. One day he did something about the premises that I approved and I ran in the house, telling mother of the occurrence, she asked me, "Who did it?" I answered, "He." Mother broke out in a laugh and looked so good to me that I never again attempted to evade, calling him or addressing him as "Pa." He was a generous-hearted, good man, and kind to us children.

In the summer of 1857, there was a protracted meeting at old Unity church, near the village of Jacks Creek, in Henderson county, Tennessee [16]. Brother and I were given a horse each to ride to this meeting, the first time we had ever enjoyed this proud privilege. One day, as we were passing Mr. Dick Barham's, his daughter (Miss Henrietta) called to us to wait, she was going to meeting, too. Miss Puss Arnold of Mississippi was visiting Mr. Barham ‘s family and was also going to meeting. We boys waited for the young girls. Neither of us boys had ever waited on or rode with a girl to church, but we were both willing to ride with Miss Henrietta, as she was always very nice to us and older than either of us. So I planned to lead up Henrietta's horse to the stile block and she was mounted and we rode off together, leaving Elijah to come with Puss, who was about his age. We all rode along in a bunch, Henrietta and I were talking like grown folks, but Elijah and Puss were not saying a word. So Henrietta proposed to Puss that they swap beaux. Puss and Elijah assented, and I could do nothing but acquiesce; then Henrietta and Elijah could talk, but Puss and I could not find anything to say—you can see that Henrietta was having her fun out of we younger ones. I was at this time nearly 13 years old, and it was at this meeting that I first felt the wooing of God's Holy Spirit. A speech made at one of the day meetings by Uncle John Hubbard (my maternal grandmother's brother) led my young mind to want to be a Christian. After this Miss Henrietta taught school at the Rubin Ross school house. Her youngster sister, Nanny, was my sweetheart, and one day I carried a big red apple to give her, but had no chance all day without some one seeing us. The Barham and Crook children went the same road home, so we were all playing and running and I caught a time when Nannie was in the path in the rear of all the rest, so I slowed up until I was just in front of her, when I held the apple in hand behind me and she advanced and got it; she knew I loved her and I knew she loved me, but no one else did.

In the year 1858, the Unity Baptist church built a new house of worship on a beautiful site between the homes of Uncle Willis Arnold and Uncle John A. Crook, and in September of that year the Unity Baptist Association met with Unity church [17]. Old Brother Leven Savage was the moderator of the association. At the close of business of the association the church continued in a series of meetings. Uncle Wm. J. Hodges was pastor of the church. As has been stated already, I had been convicted of my lost sinful condition at a meeting the year before. I had tried to live a better life, hoping to merit salvation, but at this meeting was the deeper convicted of sin. At one of the night services, old Brother Washburn preached from the text John 3:14-15, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." The preacher portrayed how the children of Israel had sinned; how God had directed Moses to put upon a pole the brazen serpent to cure the bite of the fiery serpent and how all that looked were healed; then he showed how Jesus Christ had died for the sins of the world and that all who believed in Him shall be saved. My young heart and mind caught the comparison and the next day on the floor of that church, while the people were bowed with me and others in prayer, I trusted in my Savior. I was then 14 years old and am at this writing 72 years of age. I still cherish the sweet memory of that day, and shall always strive to glorify the name of my Redeemer and the Savior of all who will come unto Him. After going home and telling my mother of my conversion, that night, I, with others joined the Baptist church and was baptized in Jack's Creek by Uncle Wm. J. Hodges. I believe there are only two others now living who joined the church in that meeting, R. H. Barham, now of Crenshaw, Miss., and Mrs. Matilda Thomas, in Chester county, Tennessee, whose maiden name was Matilda Rhodes. (April, 1917, my sister in Tennessee writes me that Matilda Thomas is dead.)

I recall some of my boyish aspirations at the age of 15 and 16. There were three men in the country whose ways and manners I admired. Cousin Berry Jere Crook [18], Ervin Grider and Calabe Hendrix. I did not know so much of the two last named, but every one spoke in the highest terms of them all, and I wanted to emulate their example. In fact, early in my life I was influenced to try to be a good boy and never bring sorrow to my mother or reproach on the name of my ancestry, so I tried to make a man like these worthy men just mentioned.

Right at this time Buchanan was our president, and I began to listen to men talk on political issues. The first political speaking I ever listened to was at Jack's Creek. J. D. C. Atkins, democrat, and Emerson Ethridge, whig, were making the race for Congress. I had espoused the democratic cause, as my step-father, J. F. Hurt, as well as the three men just mentioned, were all democrats, but when Ethridge got through, I thought he could make the best speech, but Atkins was on the right side. Atkins was elected. That was the then Sixth Congressional District of Tennessee.

At these times, brother Elijah and I were sent to mill with a sack of two bushels of corn across our horse's back—Mr. Stout's mill on Clark's Creek. He was a whig, and us boys would argue stoutly with the old gentleman.

Elijah, our two sisters, myself, Bob and Bill Barham, and their two sisters, were permitted to visit each other, and I was still claiming Nannie and she did me. We played "blind-fold," "snap" and "hiding hoop" together. One day I-was cutting briars in our fence corners close to Mr. Barham's orchard, and Nannie came to get some peaches. I looked through the briars at her and thought she was the prettiest girl on earth. Now, she did not know I was cutting that briar path. As I went home that evening, I passed some love vines and whirled one over my head and let it fall, and in those times as I would be out at night and see a star fall, would swish Nannie to some time by my wife. Such were the youthful days of our now old men and old women, all of which were very much enjoyed in innocency and purity of heart and purpose. I sometimes wonder if it is so now with our present boys and girls.

13. See Henderson Co. Courthouse records.

14. No note.

15. No text reference. Log house, which burned in 1990s, Lewis Jones parent's place, Hurt Cemetery Rd., Chester Co.

16. Corner of 22A & Hurt Cem. roads. Nobles house built on site, front yard graves, listed as Hubbard Cem.

17. Current site on Hwy 22A, Chester Co. Sherrill Ryals lives in front of the Willis Arnold homeplace.

18. See Illustration 6.


Early in the spring of 1861, after the Southern States had formed a government and chosen a president, a call for volunteers was made and in answer to that call two companies of infantry were made up in Henderson county, Tennessee. Grif Ross was elected captain of the first company [19], which was put into the Thirteenth Tennessee infantry regiment. Dick Barham was elected captain of the second company and formed into the Twenty-seventh Tennessee regiment of infantry [20]. Both regiments were mobilized at Columbus, Ky., and were in the battle of Bellmont, on the Mississippi river. Then followed the battles of Fort Donaldson and Bowling Green, and the retreat of the Confederate forces out of Kentucky. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston was in chief command of the Confederate army in this department and withdrew his forces from Bowling Green, marching to Nashville, Tenn. General Buell of the Federal army followed him. If Buell and Grant had united their armies, the story of Fort Donaldson would have been repeated at Tennessee's State capital, but Johnston continued his retreat to Corinth, Miss., an important Junction of the Mobile and Ohio railroad, and the railroad from Memphis to Chattanooga. While General Johnston was collecting supplies, reinforcements and organizing a formidable army at Corinth in February, 1862, the Federals overran all of West Tennessee.

This movement of our army left my country at the mercy of an invading army of the North.

At this time I was in school at Muffin, Henderson county Tennessee, 40 miles north of Corinth. A company of cavalry was being raised by Captain Henderson at Muffin. Patriotic speeches were made, urging our people to volunteer in the defense of our Southland. I was at that time in my 17th year, and loved my country's cause, and decided to enlist in this company of cavalry, but before doing so I went home on Friday evening to consult my mother about this important step. When I had told her of my wishes to join this cavalry company, she said if I was going to the war she wanted me to go to Corinth and join Cousin Jerry Jere Crook's company. This was the first company made up in Henderson county, of which Griff Ross was the first captain, but had resigned on account of his age and disabilities. W. J. Crook, a cousin of my father, and a favorite of the entire Crook family, as well as all whose fortune it was to know him, had been elected captain [21]. So I readily acquiesced in my mother's suggestion and in March, 1862, went to Corinth, Mississippi, and enlisted in Company I, Thirteenth Tennessee infantry regiment. Col. A. J. Vaughn commanded this regiment, and Brig.Gen. Preston Smith commanded our brigade of the One Hundred and Fifty-fourth, Twelfth, Thirteenth and Twenty-ninth Tennessee regiments. Maj. Gen. B. F. Cheatham commanded a division of four Tennessee brigades, of which Preston Smith brigade was one.

By the last of March, 1862, General Grant had mobilized an army of 50,000 Federals at Pittsburg Landing, on the west side of the Tennessee river, and General Buell was approaching with 45,000 soldiers to form a junction with Grant and crush General Johnston, who had only an army of 40,000 Confederates at Corinth, 23 miles from Pittsburg. Gen. Lew Wallace, with his division, was placed by Grant at Crump 's Landing, five miles down the river.

General Johnston was anxious to give battle to Grant before Buell could reach Pittsburg.

On April 3, 1862, orders were given by Johnston to march toward Shiloh church. After we were in line, Captain Crook stepped out in front of our company and detailed three men to stay in camp and care for some convalescent soldiers, stating that he would appoint me first as I had been in the army only a few days, beside being so young a boy and inexperienced as a soldier, so I was not in the great battle of Shiloh—a battle in which the loss on. both sides is placed at 40,000 men. General Johnston intended to attack Grant on the morning of April 5, but the heavy rains prevented him doing so. But in the early morning of the 6th, Johnston moved on the Federal forces, and that Sunday the fighting was a continuous roar of cannon and clash of musketry. The Federals were repulsed; Shiloh church, the key to the field, was taken by the Confederates, forcing the Federals' right and center back towards Pittsburg, but Grant's left wing was harder to drive back.

General Johnston rode down the line and told Gen. John C. Breckenridge to charge with his division and drive the enemy from his position. As General Johnston led this charge, he was wounded in the leg and died from loss of blood before medical attention could be given.

In this charge General Prentis and his division were captured, together with 17 pieces of artillery, and drove three gunboats down the Tennessee river to Pittsburg Landing, disabling another whose crew anchored on the other side of the river. General Beauregard was notified of the death of General Johnston and, being several miles up the river on our right wing and not knowing in full the situation, ordered a halt of our army. General Grant and his army were completely routed and demoralized; he was forced to take protection under the fire of their gunboats for the night. Before morning General Buell with 45,000 fresh troops reinforced Grant and renewed the battle. After eight hours of fighting, Monday General Beauregard retreated to Corinth. The Federal loss was placed at 29,000 killed and wounded and 15,00() captured.

The loss of the Confederates was about 10,700. All soldiers in our army who, like myself, were not in this battle, were mustered together and marched to Shiloh church as a rear guard, to hold back the enemy's advance until our dead were buried and wounded carried to Corinth.

Jap Stigall, myself and, I believe, George Crow and some one else of our company, were in this rear guard—an awful experience for a boy like myself, so recently from home and unaccustomed to the horrors of war. It was appalling to see the dead and wounded all over Shiloh's bloody field.

The Federal army moved out from Pittsburg against us and picket fighting continued several days. At Farmington, considerable numbers of both armies were engaged with heavy casualties.

Southern valor never rose to greater heights than at Shiloh. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston there gave his life for the South and on that field now sleep ten thousand Confederate soldiers [22]. In the midst of victory the great Sidney Johnston fell and the Confederacy staggered under the loss of his leadership. The battlefield of Shiloh lies on the west bank of the Tennessee river at Pittsburg Landing, near the State line of Tennessee and Mississippi and north of Corinth.

The battle was on an undulating tableland, triangular in shape and some four miles in length. Lick Creek on the north and Owl Creek on the south, the Tennessee river was on the east running due north, the highways leading from the river to the towns of Purdy and Hamburg crossed the ground on which the fighting took place. At the time of the battle the land was densely wooded, with an occasional cleared field. The carnage was so heavy that the water of a small lake was crimson with blood, and near where General Johnston fell the dead were piled so deep that the Confederates designated the place as the "Hornet's nest." The old log meeting house, whose walls were spattered with blood, was made a field hospital. From Shiloh church the battle took its name.


By the side of the Tennessee river, in memory let us go,
Again to Shiloh battlefield, with all its tale of woe.
The dead and dying strew the earth, their groans we seem to hear;
Lo over by the bloody pond, his lifeblood ebbing fast,
Even now our Albert Sidney Johnston breaths his last.
Oh, people of the South, bestir yourselves arid mark the spot,
For an that battle our bravest fell; let us forget it not.
Shiloh, sacred soil, with blood of heroes stained,
Here our men in gray the heights of fame attained,
In letters of gold, on a column of white,
Let the world ever know they died for the right.
On the tablets of memory their names we engrave,
Heroes of Dixie, immortal and brave.

In memory of the battle of Shiloh, April 6th and 7th, 1862, fifty-five years ago.


19. Mifflin, TN

20. Lexington, TN

21. See Illustration 6. Dr. William Jere Crook, Major, 13th Tennessee Infantry CSA. Married his 1st cousin, hattie Crook, from S.C. Their house became the 1st courthouse for Chester Co. in 1882. See Gentle Past by Patty Crook Anderson, Crooks of Old Henderson County, by W. Clay Crook, & Goodspeed History.

22. Pulled from his horse by Pvts Wadley & Stewart, 27th Tennessee Infantry CSA of Palestine, Henderson Co., TN.


In May we evacuated Corinth, retreating to Tupelo, Mississippi, losing a few of our company, among them, John Griswell. We remained at Tupelo, recruited and disciplined our army. I recall two of our company we lost by death while at Tupelo—Jas. Hendrix and Jack Smith, who died from sickness. I also remember some incidents of camp duty while our army was stationed here. One was provost guard, and Capt. Jerry Crook was officer of the day, whose duty it was to make a circuit of the guard line at night. I was on my station and became very tired walking my post and sat down to rest and fell asleep. Captain Crook came along and found me thus violating military discipline. As was usual for him in his great heart he only gave me a mild rebuke for negligence on duty and said, "Wiley, you must never again do this way." One day I was put on fatigue duty to clean p Gen. Leonidus Polk's headquarters. The general instructed us to break down and remove a brush arbor built on his premises, and in doing this work I noticed a pair of slippers in one of the forks of the arbor and put them in my shirt bosom, an act for which I afterwards felt considerable remorse, caused partly because General Polk was a Methodist Episcopal bishop, as well as my lieutenant general.

But afterwards I was put on guard duty on a road leading out of Tupelo to Memphis. My duty was to allow no one to pass out or in unless he had a proper passport. An Irish soldier came up whose papers were correctly signed by officers for a leave of absence from the army. His feet were blistered so he could not wear shoes, but he had a good pair of my size. I told this good Irishman of my slippers and made a swap which kept me from be-barefooted later. In July, we left Tupelo and went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, transported by railroad on sand in box cars. On our way many boys, both black and white, with baskets of peaches were at the stations.

Before I could get in the door of the car to hold out my hat for peaches, the train was moving and one of the boys snatched my hat and I went into Chattanooga without a hat, but more knowledge.

On arriving in Chattanooga, Captain Crook gave me money to buy a hat. R. H. Barham, who after the war, married my sister Susan, went with me to purchase the hat.

I will stop here to tell that at our reunion in Chattanooga, in 1912, Charley Barham, a son of R. H. Barham, was with me and helped me to select a hat to conform to my uniform as a Confederate veteran. I told Charley of his father helping me fifty years ago.


In August, 1862, General Bragg mobilized about 35,000 men at Chattanooga. While Bragg was doing this, General Buell of the Federal army collected his forces at Murfreesboro, thus protecting Nashville from General Bragg's capture. The Confederate army, was not sent to encounter the Federals at Nashville, but a counter movement was made by Bragg into the great State of Kentucky, August 28th.

Gen. Preston Smith's brigade of General Cheatham's division of Bragg's army was sent from Chattanooga to form a junction with Gen. Kirby Smith, at Richmond, Ky., August 29th and 30th. We won a decisive victory over the Federal General Mason. The battle of Richond, Ky., was my first one, and this is where Frank Altom was killed. Our guns were of the old musket type and, after I had shot my gun six times and was putting in the seventh cartridge, I could not ram the ball down, so I ran forward to a dead poplar tree and undertook to punch it down and stuck my ramrod so fast in the tree, I could not pull it out. This occurred in a cornfieldand in my efforts to get the ball down my gun, I got behind the other soldiers, so I ran at top speed out of the cornfield into a bluegrass meadow and began to see wounded Yankees, so I went to one and got his new Springfield rifle and ammunition, leaving my musket and ammunition. I then went forward and soon was with my company. It was a hot day to do all this. I was very exhausted. Captain Crook stirred some ground coffee in a cup of water and had me drink it as soon as I up. We captured the entire army of General Mason and went from Richmond to form a junction with General Bragg at Perryville. General Bragg with main crossed the Cumberland above Nashville, moving toward Louisville, capturing Munfordsville with several thousand prisoners. Buell gave up all thought of Chattanooga and hurried back to Louisville, recruited his forces to 58,000, and turned to confront Bragg. On October 8th the, two armies met in battle at Perryville. The Confederate loss was 3,400 men and the Federal loss 4,200. General Bragg withdrew and retreated to Chattanooga. General Buell marched his army to Nashville, when he was relieved and General Rosecrans placed in command. General Rosecrans remained inactive, while General Bragg moved his army to Murfreesboro. December 26, 1862, General Rosecrans moved on Bragg and on the 31st of December the great battle on Stone river, three miles from Murfreesboro, was fought, and was apparently a drawn battle. The casualties were a Union loss of 15,000 and a Confederate loss of 10,000. General Bragg withdrew to Shelbyville and went into winter quarters. My personal experience in the foregoing battle was haying a Minie ball shot through the top of my hat and and slight flesh wound in calf of left leg, a scar I have since carried. Jerry Hendrix was wounded on this fateful field and taken prisoner and died in a northern prison [23]. While Bragg's army was in Shelbyville, an army of 70,000 remained in Nashville and General Grant was moving on Vicksburg. General Rosecrans in June, 1863, by a flank movement forced Bragg back to Chattanooga, without a battle. General Burnside moved with a strong force from Kentucky into East Tennessee at Knoxville, and was in position to co-operate with Rosecrans. General Longstreet had been sent from Virginia and General Buckner from Kentucky to reinforce our army, so General Bragg offered battle at Chickamauga on. September 18, 1863, and both armies lay on the field that night and the battle was renewed on the 20th. Thus, one of the greatest engagements of the Civil war, resulted in a Confederate loss of 19,500 and a Federal loss of 22,500. The Federal army retreated to Chattanooga and appeared to be completely routed and demoralized. General Brags followed and fortified on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. Lincoln was alarmed. General Hooker, with 16,000 men, was sent from Virginia, and General Sherman with 35,000 from Vicksburg, and General Thomas was given command of this force and General Grant chief command of the west, and Grant ordered to Chattanooga. While all this concentration of the North's forces, the South 's army was depleted by sending General Longstreet with his army corps to Knoxville.

On November 24, 1863, Gen. Sherman crossed the Tennessee river in the early dawn and attacked our thin lines, forcing our army back on part of our position. This was the battle of Lookout Mountain. In order to cover his position, General Bragg was compelled to deploy his men to a mere skirmish line and on the 25th of November, a general charge was made by the Federals, driving our army from Chattanooga Valley up the rugged heights of Missionary Ridge General Cheathem, with his Tennessee division (to which I belonged), was stationed in :the valley east of Chattanooga. and in front of General Bragg's headquarters, south of Tunnel Hill. We retreated to the top of the ridge and held the army back until the sun was setting, when we were forced to retire. This Federal victory raised the siege of Chattanooga and forced the Confederate army out of Tennessee. General Grant's army consisted of about 72,000 men and General Bragg's 35,000. The Federal loss, 753 killed, 722 wounded and 349 missing. The Confederate loss, about 361 killed, 2,180 wounded and 4,149 missing.

The assault of the Federal army was impetuous, but Sherman's attack on the Confederate right met with a repulse by General Cleburne. About 4 p. m. Bragg's center was broken and his entire line fell back in disastrous defeat. In this battle of Missionary Ridge, on its heights just north of General Bragg's headquarters, at the close of this terrible conflict, I was wounded in my left arm and made my way to Chickamauga station, here my wound was dressed and I was instructed to get on the train and go to Atlanta to the hospital. My wound being slight I was given a thirty days' furlough.

As it may be of interest to my posterity and such of my friends as may read these personal notes, I will relate some of my trials and difficulties just here, with which I had to contend.. Before reaching Atlanta, I fell in company with three soldiers of the 154th Tennessee regiment, who, like myself, were slightly wounded. We went together to the hospital late in the evening of November 26th, and were assigned to the same ward. The surgeon could not give us attention that night. My comrades of the 154th were from Memphis, and we counseled together to try to obtain a furlough next morning when the doctor came around. But when he dressed our wounds he said he wanted us to serve as nurses, as many seriously wounded were arriving. I pleaded with the doctor to give us a furlough, as we preferred to return to our command when able to handle our arms and help hold back the invaders of our country. So the doctor recommended us for a 30 days' furlough if we had any people out of danger of Federal raids we could go to see. Although I had been taught to never tell an untruth, yet as we had no people with whom to spend our leave of absence, only in Tennessee or North Mississippi, then occupied by the Yankees, I digressed from the truth, stating that we had an uncle in Selma, Ala. Our furloughs were accordingly given. We all four traveled together without difficulty or hindrance to Selma. My three comrades wanted to go to Memphis and I was anxious to go to see my Grandfather Crook, Uncle John Crook, Aunts Emily Tap, Elmina Hopper, Sallie Conner and Uncle Willis Crook's family, all of whom lived in Tippah county, Mississippi. So we boys got on the train and beat our way to Ukolona, Mississippi. Then we walked together north of Pontotoc to where the road to Memphis turned to the left and my road to the right. Here we rested and the three comrades bade me good by. They were going into Memphis, I was determined to go within the Yankee lines to see my kinfolks. I walked alone all the way, reaching Ripley at sundown and slipped around the town into the Ruckersville road by dark and succeeded in getting to Uncle John Crook's about midnight. My relatives were glad to have me with them, but were scared all the time, fearing the Yankees would capture me. My aunts and girl cousins fitted me up with new, warm clothing and at the expiration of my furlough Uncle John went with me back to the army, then at Dalton, Ga. My three comrades never did get back, nor I never heard of them; perhaps they were captured in the effort to reach their homes, which was the fate of many Confederate soldiers whose homes were within the lines of the enemy, as was Tennessee in the last three years of the war.

23. Buried in Hendricks Cem., behind the home of Howard & Houston Meadows, on Middlefork Rd. before getting to Middlefork Church.


On November 27, 1863, a desperate fight between Hooker's corps of General Grant's army, and General C1eburne's division of Confederates, occurred at Ringgo1d, Ga. Besides a fire of musketry and artillery, the Confederates rolled huge stones down the mountain sides among the advancing assailants, causing great confusion and dismay. General Hooker was repulsed with considerable loss and the Federal pursuit of General Bragg's army was checked by the vigorous resistance of the lionhearted Cleburne and his heroic division.

Considering the disastrous defeat of the Confederate army at Missionary Ridge, two days before, this battle at Ringgold Gap was one of the gamest fights of the entire war. General Pat Cleburne, the proud production of Arkansas, was one of the most adroit and pluckiest commanders among our Confederate Generals. May the members of our Wiley Crook camp of Sons of Confederate Veterans in Lincoln county keep fresh the memory the Arkansas' patriot and hero and catch the inspiration he gave his soldiers.

After the battles around Chattanooga, the last of which was at Ringgold, Ga., both armies were exhausted and went into winter quarters, the Confederates at Dalton and the Federals at Chattanooga. On December 1, 1863, a muster roll of our company was made, which is now in my possession and from which I will give a copy as then written in this pay roll. These are the men that then belonged to our company, many more had belonged, but had been killed or disabled.

Muster Roll of Company I, of the 13th Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers, December 31, 1863.

W. J. Crook, captain; J. R. Purdy, 1st lieutenant; N. D. Collins, 2d lieutenant; J. R. Edwards, 3d lientenant; C. W. Priddy, O. Sergt.; Arch Joyner, 2d sergt.; R. D. Snow, 3s sergt.; D. M. McCollam, 4th sergt.; J. N. Stegall 5th sergt.; W. W. Houston, 1st corp.; L. D. Horton, 2d corp.; W. M. Crook, 3d corp.; R. H. Barham, 4th corp.; Anderson, A. A., Brooks, W. J., Crook, E. H., Diffie, Clark, Faucette, M. W., Fringer, W. H., Farrow, P. B., Farnsworth, W. T., Glenn, P. L., Hart, Thomas, Hart, James, Hubbard, J. L., Ivy, J. H., Joyner, J. F., Mitchell, Tom, Ozier, G. B., Ozier, J. W., Parish, J. A., Pyles, J. A., Rhodes, J. W., Rice, F. T., Stewart, W. F., Starnes, J. D., Stone, W. C., Stone, I. A., Vandyke, A. W., Winfrey, B. C.

I believe I have stated before that Capt. W. J. Crook was a cousin of my father. E. H. Crook was a brother of Captain Crook, and B. P. Farrow married their sister. The two Stones are brothers, the two Harts are brothers, and the Hart and Stone boys are cousins, the two Oziers are also brothers, the two Joyners are cousins. I may also state here that those Stone boys are brothers of Col. John Marshall Stone of Iuka, Miss., who was colonel of the First Mississippi regiment of infantry. Colonel Stone was governor of Mississippi after the war. May I also state that R. H. Barham married my elder sister after the war [24], and that .J .N. Stegall and Jno. W. Ozier were my most intimate friends and companions.

During the time we were in winter quarters at Dalton, an event occurred which justly gives to Tennessee a new right to be called the Volunteer State. The time for which our troops had enlisted would soon expire. The question was, what shall be done to prevent a depletion of our army?

On the 14th of January, 1864, the 154th Tennessee regiment of Vaughan's brigade, started a movement for re-enlistment for the war by unanimously passing resolutions declaring their willingness to tender their services to the country during the war, and was the first regiment to receive the thanks of our Congress for doing so.

On January 15, 1864, the 13th Tennessee regiment, also of Vaughan's brigade, together with Strohl's brigade, passed resolutions to the same effect as those of the 154th, tendering our services as long as the exigencies of our country needed them.

General Bates' brigade followed the example of Vaughan's and Strohl's brigades. But it was left to the 6th and 7th Tennessee regiments of Maney's brigade to be the first to actually re-enlist. All of the foregoing brigades were soldiers of Cheatham's division of Tennnesseans.

This act of patriotism, so timely begun by the 154th regiment, and so happily executed by the 6th and 7th, at once aroused a spirit of valor which ever characterized the brigades of Cheatham's division. Certainly, no of the war confers higher honor on the Confederate soldier than was here obtained by those brave Tennessee troops. There should be erected in the Capitol grounds in Nashville a monument dedicated to Tennessee valor, and inscribed on it a copy of the resolution passed for re-enlistment by those Tennessee commands in regular order.

General Bragg was relieved, and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston placed in command.

The hope of the South's cause in the west was the defense of Atlanta, which explains the action of re-enlistment of our army.

On February 29, 1864, General Grant was promoted lieutenant General and made commander-in-chief of the Federal army. The forces in Chattanooga under Sherman were 99,000 strong. With this well fed army, Sherman moved against Johnston at Dalton.

General Johnston knew how to utilize the strong defensive positions which abounded in hilly, broken country, but Sherman, with his superior numbers, could move around the Confederate army and force Johnston to retreat. This strategy continued until at Adairsville, May 17, 1864, a battle, occurred, and on the 18th another at Rome, Ga. Pickett's Mill, May 27, a battle June 4, a battle at New Hope church, June 20, at Brushy Mountain at Culp's Farm June 27 to July 3, 1864, at Kennesaw Mountain, where we were fortified, General Sherman gave battle in which his loss was 50,000 in wounded and captured. General Johnston lost only about 8,000 men in this battle. It was here that Gen. Leonidus Polk fell and I saw him when he was struck with a cannon ball. James Crook, a cousin of mine, who was a member of the 27th regiment of Tennessee infantry, was killed in this battle. Capt. R. M. Burton of the 51st Tennessee, an uncle of James, attended to burying James in the Confederate cemetery at Marietta, Ga. Sherman made another flank movement, compelling Johnston's retreat to the south bank of the Chattahoochee river. Sherman reached the north bank July 9th; the two armies at this place were only six miles apart. Although for two months no great battle had occurred, yet almost continuous skirmishing with the result of a loss of 21,800 for Sherman, and Johnston's loss of 10,500. I was in this entire campaign from Dalton to Atlanta, sometimes spoken of as the 100 days' battle.

My personal experiences were many times hazardous and sometimes funny. I will relate two of them. .Just before the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the two armies were entrenched near each other and it came my time to go on videt duty in front of our breastworks, and near the enemy's picket posts. We had to change our sentinels under cover of the darkness of night and they must stay there 24 hours. We had dug holes about four feet deep, making an embankment next to the enemy, on top of which we placed a pole or log under which the sentinel could watch the movements of the Yankees. When we came to the pit for me to get into, the soldier I was to relieve was cold in death. We lifted the corpse out and I took the post at which he was killed. The men that were relieved came back by my post and carried our dead comrade back to the rear. Here in this pit I was to stay until the next night, a solemn duty, but one from which I would not think of shirking. In the stillness of that lonely night I heard a moving or rattle of leaves of the trees in my front. Since the other soldier was killed, expected it was a Yankee slipping up to shoot me. I thought that I had to shoot him or he would get me. The suspense was of such long duration I would at times get nervous and tremble in my shoes, then I would think must surely prepare to shoot him when he advanced with in my view. So it went for quite a while, when a hog grunted near by and in my front. I was greatly relieved to find that my expected Yankee was a hog slowly moving along in the fallen leaves. That was the most horrible 24 hours I have ever spent.

I will now tell of another time in my duty as a picket sentinel. This time the two armies were not fortified but in close proximity and I was on the videt line in a dense forest; could not see very far in my front and, being an expert in climbing trees, I decided to see what I could learn of the enemy's position from a tall tree top near my post. I pulled off my haversack, cartridge box and shoes and placed them with my gun at the base of the big tree, a sapling nearby reached to the first limbs of the big tree. So up the small tree I climbed into the big tree and on to the top of this stately oak I went. Standing in the tree I could see 1,000 Yankees, which somewhat frightened me, and I immediately came to the ground in haste, knowing the Federals were not far in my front in great numbers. Many other incidents of a personal nature experienced by me in this wonderful campaign could be told, but I must refrain from taking up space in these reminiscences to tell events of a personal character.

24. Susan Crook, both buried at Ross Cem. in Chester Co.

Return to Table of Contents

top · home · yesterday's · families · schools · links · what's new · memorial · about

This site was created by David Donahue and Brenda Kirk Fiddler.
This site is currently maintained by Jerry L. Butler
Copyright © 2004 - 2010, All rights reserved