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Friday, October 28, 2011

Skirmish at Campbellsville, or a Hard Fight?

On September 5, 1864, as Wheeler's Cavalry retreated out of Middle Tennessee toward Alabama, a rearguard action was fought at Campbellsville, near Pulaski. The history of the 12th Alabama Cav is terse, saying that the regiment repulsed Brownlow, losing 45 men at Campbellsville. In Dodson's 1899 work on Wheeler's Cavalry, the place is mistakenly called Campbellton. Finally, the 1st Tenn Cav (US) under Brownlow, produced a regimental a history which claims they charged with sabers across an open field in this action, routing Wheeler's troopers from their cover in the woods. That the 12th Ala lost 45 men certainly indicates a severe fight. We are not told how many were taken prisoner. Wheeler claimed to have lost no men captured on this raid, and if true, this means most of these 45 men were killed or wounded. Confederate sources claim the Federals halted their pursuit of Wheeler after this sharp engagement, while Brownlow's reports claimed they pursued Wheeler all the way to the Tennessee River, where he escaped, leading his worn-out troopers and horses deeper into Alabama. Wheeler crossed at Muscle Shoals without opposition, thus it seems more reasonable to believe that there was no pursuit of him by Rousseaus's forces beyond Campbellsville. John W. DuBose wrote that Wheeler repulsed all attempts to bring him to ground, including at Campbellsville.

Given the aggregate strength of the 12th in November, amounting to just over 450 men, of whom about 350 may have gone on this raid, we can conclude that the loss of 45 men would be no less than 10 percent. Normally, such a percentage of combat casualties does in fact indicate a hard fight, rather than mere skirmishing.

General Wheeler's personal records contain this interesting note: "Lieutenant John Bellinger. Shot three times in leg, side and arm while by General Wheeler's side. Sept. 4th, 1864 at Campbellsville." However, "at Campbellsville" is so faint as to have possibly been erased.

One man certainly taken prisoner on the 5th, and probably in this fight, was Col. Reuben R. Ross, a Tennessean and graduate of West Point, class of 1853. His records show that he was the adjutant of Davidson's Brigade, Humes' Division. While en route to Johnson's Island, a prison camp for officers near Sandusky, Ohio, Ross escaped around October 24. Unfortunately, in December of that year, Confederate General Hood ordered cavalry from Paris, Tennessee, to make trouble in Kentucky in preparation for his invasion of Tennessee. Col. Ross had made it back to Confederate lines, where his old friend General H.B. Lyon talked him into going on the last raid. Ross, an intelligence officer, was mortally wounded on December 16 near Hopkinsville, overpowered in hand-to-hand combat in a skirmish with the Union forces of General McCook. A photo of Ross in uniform can be seen in Confederate Veteran Magazine for 1896, page 393.

One account states that he was killed resisting capture, but he seems to have lingered on until the 21st. Gen. H.B. Lyon made no mention of Ross in his lengthy report, possibly because of his intelligence activities. However, Union Gen. McCook's report does mention that Col. Ross was among the killed at Hopkinsville.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Colonel Pointer's Civil War Timeline

The photo above shows some members of Old Company B, 9th Miss Inf at Pensacola, Fla. 
March 27, 1861: Joins what became known as Old Company B, 9th Miss Inf. Regt was sent to Pensacola, Fla., where it took part in a raid on a Union camp at Santa Rosa, Island on Oct. 9, 1861.

June 3, 1862: 12 month Confederate enlistment expires. No evidence that he fought at Shiloh. Last date he is present in Old Co. B was March 31, 1862. Shiloh was one week later. 

July 20, 1862: Joins staff of Gen. Joe Wheeler at Holly Springs, Miss., as a volunteer ADC.

Sept-Oct, 1862: Wheeler mentions that he took part in the cavalry charges around the Battle of Perryville, Ky. Wounded near Little Rock Castle, Ky., on or about Oct. 18. Wound was a rifle bullet to the leg. Hospitalized. Relieved of duty Oct .31, 1862.

Jan. 29, 1863: Promotion to1st lieutenant by request of Gen. Wheeler. Confirmed on Apr. 30, 1863, and back-dated to Jan. 29. Date of acceptance, June 13, 1863.

June 27, 1863. Participates in Wheeler's defense of Duck River bridge, Shelbyville, Tenn. Made the leap into the river and possibly wounded.

July1-Nov.1,1863: Draws rations for two horses. "In the field." Near Chattanooga, Tenn. In Nov., a voucher shows he was reimbursed $600.00 for the price of a horse, at Cleveland, Tenn.

Sept.-Oct., 1863: Took part in the cavalry fighting around Chickamauga, and the raid  known as Wheeler and Roddy'sRaid, which ended up in Lawrence County, Ala. Captured a flag from a fleeing Union cavalry trooper after killing the man. Mentioned in the diary of Ellen Virginia Saunders, Oct., 1863. 

Nov. 14, 1863. Takes part in attack on Union forces at Maryville, Tenn. Possibly wounded. Was cut off, but managed to shoot his way out by riding through a Union regiment coming to the support of a Kentucky regiment that Wheeler had scattered and captured.

Dec. 28, 1863: Nearly captured, wounded and escaped his captors at Charleston, Tenn., during Wheeler's attempt to capture a Union supply train.

Modern map of Hiawassee River at Charleston, Tennessee


Jan. 31, 1864: Records show him on leave. Most likely at home recuperating from the wound to his chest.

Apr. 23, 1864: Skirmish at Nickajack Trace, Ga. Appears to have been in charge of conducting the prisoners to Wheeler's HQ at Tunnel Hill. Allegations made after the war that he shot two prisoners for not running fast enough to keep up with the mounted Confederates. No proof ever offered and no action ever taken.Wheeler conducted an investigation which showed none of his staff officers had acted improperly.

There are no records until July 1864, a gap which may be explained by the wound received at Charleston, Tenn., in December 1863.

July 7, 1864: Recommended  for promotion to major of a cavalry battalion, but no action was taken by the Confederate government.

July 11, 1864: Delivers a dispatch to one of Wheeler's division commanders near Atlanta, Ga.

Aug-Sept., 1864: Most likely participated in Wheeler's raid into Tennessee.

Nov., 1864: Promoted to lieutenant colonel of 12th Ala Cav. Col. Warren Reese was named colonel of the regiment, but seems never to have reported back to Wheeler's HQ in South Carolina. Major Ingram was captured at LaVergne, Tenn., on or about Sept. 1, 1864 during Wheeler's Middele Tennessee Raid. This left Pointer in virtual command of the regiment, which was approved on April 1, 1865, with his promotion to full colonel.

Dec. 24, 1864: Reports with 12th Ala Cav to Gen. R.H. Anderson at Hardeeville, SC.

Feb 9, 1865: Wounded near Blackville, SC, most likely in the skirmish at Holman's Bridge on the South Fork Edisto River. 

See Branchville, lower center, then move to the left to find Blackville. Bamberg, between the two, has a street named after Holman's Bridge.


April 1, 1865: Promoted to full colonel.

April 23, 1865: Surrenders at home in Holly Springs, Miss.

July 9, 1865: Paroled.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Overlooked Info on a Pension Claim

Perhaps the best source to shed light on Marcellus Pointer's term of service with the 9th Miss Inf is his widow Willie's pension claim filed in Texarkana, (Bowie County) Texas, a few months after he died. Two witnesses who knew Marcellus while he was in that regiment deposed that he was in it for a period of one year, from March (27) 1861 to March 1862. One of those witnesses was the company commander of Old Company B. Willie Pointer deposed that Marcellus remained home less than ten days after that enlistment expired, then joined Wheeler's staff.

Relevant to this is the questionable service expiration date of June 3, 1862, on Pointer's records for the 9th Miss. Since no record of him serving with Wheeler covers the period before July 20 of that year, the gap is still a problem, whether he ended his enlistment in late March or early June. One unanswered question is, since the 9th Miss fought at Shiloh, could Marcellus have really sat at home during that great battle, given his martial ardor? We may never know for certain, still it seems likely that Marcellus was at home and not actively in the Confederate service from late March until late July 1862. It's also likely that some attempt was made by him and others, including General Wheeler, to make it seem as if he joined Wheeler within ten days of his 12 month enlistment's expiration. As a colonel of the 19th Ala Inf, Wheeler was allowed a staff, but there is no solid evidence that Pointer went with him to Shiloh in that capacity. It would not be until July 20, 1862, at Holly Springs, Miss., that Wheeler took command of a cavalry brigade.