A company of a Confederate regiment was typically raised in a single locale. Sometimes a recruit might be added to an existing company (when it was home on leave, for instance), but generally fresh recruits were not used as replacements for existing units. Instead, new companies and regiments were raised. Casualties and other losses within existing units would eventually cause such shrinkage that a unit would become ineffective. Consequently, the army was forced to periodically reorganize and consolidate fragmentary units into new bodies.
The Confederate Army of Tennessee was severely reduced by the fighting at Shiloh. Many of the regiments involved had become too small to be effective, so units were consolidated and the army reorganized. As units were consolidated, some of the officers of the parent organizations were no longer needed. It was very common for these men to return to their homes and attempt to raise a new command suitable to their rank -- or in many cases suitable to the rank they desired. Gen. N.B. Forrest's raid in late 1862 had demonstrated the tenuous nature of Federal control of West Tennessee, and soon the region became the target of many Confederate officers seeking to raise new commands.
Three of the officers so employed were Col. T.H. Bell of Dyer County, Col. Robert M. Russell of Gibson County, and Lt. Col. Henry Clay Greer. The commands raised and led by these men were later to be formed into the 20th Tennessee Cavalry.
Col. Henry Clay Greer had put together a unit of several hundred men by 1863. This group, raised from Carroll and Henry counties and known as Greer's Regiment, was never recognized by the Adjutant General's office and was incorporated into the 20th Tennessee Cavalry in February 1864.
Greer had resigned his post with the 1st Tennessee Cavalry in June 1862, and by October of that year had assembled a band of Partisan Rangers (Tennesseans in the Civil War). An interesting light on the problems of such an organization is provided by a letter from Greer to Gen. Pemberton, the Departmental Commander, dated November 20, 1862. The letter is included along with Greer's record cards in the microfilmed service records:
Sir I deem it necessary to inform you that my command of Partisan Rangers in West Tenn. is now in a state of confusion. We have been opperating [sic] in that section of country about four months with out authority, there is not a commissioned officer in my command, & the enemy has found it out. They refuse to respect our flag of truce. Very recently they seized my Adjutant while under a flag of truce & carried him to Alton, Ill. there to remain in prison during the war. They also seized My Surgeon & Ast. Surgeon while dressing the wounds of Federal prisoners & carried them off to Fourt Donelson & locked them up in a dungeon. They have threatened to hang all the prisoners They caught belonging to My command but We have keeped them from doing that by telling Them that We would hang five for every one they hung. But we have no prisoners now & no threat that we could make would deter Them & if there is not something done to relieve the command I will not be able to hold My command together but by an order from you I think I will be able to hold it together & increase it to seven or eight hundred. But unless something is done shortly my command is lost.
Col. Greer's regiment was one of several groups of partisans active in West Tennessee and Kentucky during the fall of 1863. A reference card in the Compiled Service Records states that muster rolls are not available for Greer's Regiment; however, Tennesseans in the Civil War identifies several soldiers belonging to the unit (see the rosters page). The author of the Confederate Irregular Warfare web page indicates that a roll of the compiled service records microfilm documents Greer's command; however, this information probably was compiled from prisoner records rather than muster rolls.
Greer seems to have personally raised what later became Co. "B" of Russell's 20th -- this was probably his original partisan command. The bulk of the enlistments, as shown on the service records microfilm, date from July and September 1863, but these may represent "official" enlistments, some of the men may have been serving prior to this date.
I have found references to at least five companies in Greer's command -- Tennesseans in the Civil War lists names associated with companies A, C, D, E, and F -- although it is uncertain when these designations applied. Records also mention "Bowman's Company" and "Holmes' Company". Indications are that Henry F. Bowman commanded Co. "F" of Greer's Regiment; it seems likely that this is what later became Co. "K" of Russell's 20th Cavalry. I believe that "Holmes'" is a misreading of "Hallum's", and that this is the company that later became Co. "E" of the 20th. The Dyer County History Page states that Co. "E" of Greer's Regiment was Capt. Tom Skinner's Company; I have not seen any other reference to Capt. Skinner.
John Porter is researching Greer's Regiment. He cites a history of Duckworth's 7th TN Cav. that contains an article from a Memphis newspaper which reports the partisans of Faulkner and Porter were much involved in raids along Cumberland River, and believes that Porter's band was part of Greer's organization.
The Faulkner in question was Col. W.W. Faulkner, and his organization became the core of the 12th Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, which served with Russell's 20th in Forrest's command (Official Records, I-3902, p. 641). It appears that as many as three companies of the 12th Kentucky consisted of Tennesseans, notably from Obion and Weakley Counties. Company D of Faulkners command may have been raised in Henry County, TN. Some of Faulkner's men were merged into the 19/20 Regiment during the 1865 consolidation of Forrest's command when regiments, brigades, and divisions were organized on a geographical basis.
An October 28, 1863, letter from Col. Richardson, "commanding Northeast Mississippi" (Official Records, I-30-2, pp. 787-89) reports:
There are now several new battalions and regiments forming in my district. ... Colonel Greer has a regiment now encamped near Egypt [in north Mississippi -- rmp] of West Tennesseans, brought out since I came out [which appears to have been in August 1863 -- rmp].
Faulkner, Greer, and others were active during the early fall of 1863. Col. James Martin of the 112th Illinois describes efforts to capture them (Official Records, I-30-2, p. 656) in a report dated September 30, 1863:
I left this post on Sunday the 20th; ... The information gained from the Union men in that vicinity was that Faulkner, Bell, and Greer were at Paris, Tenn., with their forces, estimated at 800, and that they were raiding between that place and Murray.Martin's pursuit was unsuccessful and he soon returned to his base.
[On the 22nd] ... we arrived at Paris at 2 p.m. ... but the rebels had succeeded in getting away, ... also learned that their armed force was only 300, and they had between 200 and 300 conscripts, but all were mounted.
[On the 23rd] ... My scouts returned at night; one squad brought in a deserter from Newsom's command, who reported that Newsom was advancing on Huntingdon to effect a junction with Colonel Faulkner. Also got information that Bell and Greer with the conscripts had crossed the Tennessee and that Faulkner had gone in the direction of Huntingdon.
On October 25, 1863, Brig. Gen. G.M. Dodge reported (Official Records, I-31-1, p. 839):
Scout returned from Union City. Met Faulkner's command consisting of Wilson, Newsom, Greer, Bell, and Franklin near Huntingdon. They were 1000 strong and going north rapidly to attack Murray, Mayfield, and other points in that part of Kentucky and Tennessee.
When Forrest took command in November of 1863, he found Greer's regiment waiting for him. Gen. Stephen D. Lee welcomed Forrest to the department (Official Records, I-31-3, p. 646), stating: "Colonel Greer's regiment is ... at Okolona, where I ordered it to organize and be equipped."
Greer's unit apparently served as part of the covering force during the period in late 1863 when Forrest was in West Tennessee raising new units for his command, including the remainder of Russell's Regiment. This is supported by reports from men who served in Cos. B and K of the 20th describing their participation in actions at Estenaula and Somerville in late December; however, there are some indications that the companys were not in action together as a single unit.
Greer's men evidently returned to Tennessee in January, 1864, as reported by Col. Isaac R. Hawkins, commanding at Union City, on February 3, 1864 (Official Records, I-32-2, p. 321):
My secret service man has returned this evening and reports Colonel Greer, with 100 men in the northern part of Henry; Bolen, with 25, half way between Paris and Huntingdon; Captain Holmes, a few miles southeast, with 30 men. Their statements are to the effect [that] when they gather their men they are to cross the river.
In December, Nathan Bedford Forrest was assigned to command the Cavalry Department of West Tennessee and North Mississippi. He brought with him only one regiment and so had to raise additional units if he was to take action. West Tennessee seemed to be a fertile field, for many residents were "time-expired" men who had left service after their initial one year enlistment was up, were separated from their commands, or were otherwise subject to conscription. The recruiters who preceded Forrest had been successful, for "West Tennessee was full of little companies of from ten to thirty men willing to fight, but unwilling to go far from home or into the infantry service (Chalmers, 1879)." These scattered units were to become Forrest's new command.
Col. Robert M. Russell was not reelected Colonel when the 12th Tennessee Infantry was reorganized in May 1862. Subsequently, he returned to his home in Gibson County to raise a new unit.
Col. T.H. Bell had returned to Dyer County sometime in the latter half of 1863 and began to recruit men for the cavalry. Bell was Russell's successor in command of the 12th Tennessee, continuing through it's consolidation with the 22nd Tennessee, but was made supernumerary when the 12th and 47th regiments were consolidated after Shiloh. Bell did much of his recruiting from his home near Newbern, in Dyer county. As men enlisted, a recruiting camp, "Camp Bell" (Willoughby, 1995) was constructed. Service records show that most of the men in companies G, H, and I of the 20th, and I and K of the 22nd Tennessee enlisted at Newbern.
Colonel Bell also led some of his recruits as a partisan command in the fall of 1863. According to the Earl Willoughby, the author of the Dyer County History Page, "Bell's Partisans" provided Company G of the 20th.
The Goodspeed History of Obion county (p. 828, repeated in Marshall (1941), p. 20) mentions that a cavalry company was recruited in the western portion of Obion by Capt. Oliver Farris, and that this company served in Russell's Regiment. Since Farris became the commander of Co. K of Barteau's 22nd Cavalry which was itself organized at Camp Bell (Willoughby (1995)), I suspect that this Obion company was part of that regiment instead of Russell's 20th.
The newly collected companies were moved South through the Federal cordon between Memphis and Corinth. This required building bridges across flooded streams and skirmishes with pursuing troops.
Eventually, about 1800 recruits reached the camps in North Mississippi. Others infiltrated south in small groups.
The West Tennesseans had enlisted in small local commands, but after reaching Mississippi "Russell's, Wilson's, Greer's, and a portion of Newsom's regiments were consolidated into two regiments (Official Records, I-39-2, p. 647)" that eventually were designated the 20th and 21st Tennessee Cavalry Regiments. This consolidation was later to cause Forrest problems with the Adjutant General's office in Richmond and with desertion, as some of the officers displaced by the reorganization tried to leave with their recruits. (There were far more "Lieutenants" and "Captains" than the number of men required.)
In General Orders No. 3 for Forrest's Cavalry Department (Official Records, I-32-2, p. 614), dated January 25, 1864, Col. T.H. Bell is appointed to command of the Third Brigade, to be made up of "Russell's regiment, Greer's regiment, Newsom's regiment, Barteau's regiment, Wilson's regiment." General Orders No. 12 (Official Records, I-32-3, p. 593-4), dated March 7, 1864, establishes the "Fourth Brigade, Col. T.H. Bell commanding: Second Tennessee [Barteau's] Regiment, Fifteenth Tennessee Regiment, Colonel Russell; Sixteenth Tennessee Regiment, Colonel Wilson commanding" and places the brigade and one other into the "Second Division, Forrest's cavalry, Brig. Gen. A. Buford commanding".
Russell's 20th Regiment of cavalry was officially organized on February 5, 1864 (Sifakis, 1992) at Oxford, MS (Chester, 1985).
Formal organization did not resolve all irregularities. A claim to the West Tennessee regiments was made by General Pillow (Official Records, I-39-2, p. 645-6) in June of 1864, on the grounds that he had authorized the original recruiting efforts of Greer and Bell; I've not found record of any official response from Richmond. Later that year, the War Department questioned Forrest's appointment of officers (Official Records, I-39-2, pp. 760-2). Regulations required that "new" formations choose their officers by election. Forrest had acted as though all his units were created by consolidating existing elements and appointed regimental officers directly.
The new regiment had little time to prepare, for by the end of February they were to fight the battle of Okolona.
Forrest began to move men south by the middle of December 1863. A substantial group of unarmed men had left on December 13 (Official Records, I-31-3, p. 817) under Russell's command. He received orders from Forrest "not to move at all, but to keep his men together and locate where he can get forage &c., for his command" (Official Records, I-31-3, pp. 858-9), and about the 24th of December was camped near Okolona with about 1000 men (Official Records, I-31-3, p. 861).
Those that remained were to had to contend with no fewer than five Federal columns converging on them -- Mower moved northwest from Corinth, MS; Grierson northeast from LaGrange; A.J. Smith south from Columbus, KY; Wm. Sooy Smith from middle Tennessee, and Crook from Huntsville, AL; a total of some 15,000 men (Henry, 1944, p. 206). Forrest divided his command and sent various detachments to slow or divert them while the main body dealt with the swollen Hatchie and Wolf rivers.
Several skirmishes were necessary before the sanctuary of North Mississippi was attained. Porter (1899/n.d.) lists "successful combats" at Jack's Creek, Estenaula, Somerville, Lafayette, and Collierville.
The first probably occurred on December 23 when a detachment of men under Lt. Col. D.M. Wisdom met part of Mower's column near Jack's Creek.
The Corinth force of the enemy reached Jack's creek, within 25 miles of Jackson on the 23d [of December]. I sent out a force to meet and develop their strength and retard their progress. ... We drove the cavalry back to the infantry and then returned.
A detachment of men under Col. Richardson encountered part of Grierson's column 4-1/2 miles south of the Estenaula crossing of the Hatchie on December 24.
On December 26, two detachments of Federals (including the one engaged at Estenaula) were driven back in a skirmish near New Castle (Henry, 1944, p. 210). New Castle is located between Bolivar and Somerville, so I believe this is the action most sources list as Somerville, and probably also that at Bolivar mentioned in the Carter diary.
Another encounter occurred on December 27, when Col. Bell with about 200 men, drove away the guardians of the Wolf River bridge at La Fayette Station. The defenders telegraphed a warning and Federal troopers began to move from La Grange and Grand Junction. Forrest took most of the armed men and drove one group back to the fortifications at Collierville. The other column was kept in place by the larger body of mostly unarmed men, who escaped after dark.
By daylight on the 28th, the command was across the state line and into Mississippi, where they went into camp seven miles west of Holly Springs (Henry, 1944, p. 212).
A December 4, 1863 memorandum from Maj. Gen. Hurlbut (Official Records, I-31-3, p. 336) gives an idea of contemporary Federal estimates of the force being developed in West Tennessee:
Colonel Bell came to Gibson County with 575 men; brought 1000 Enfields and 60,000 rounds. Wilson has 550, Newsom has 500, Kizer has 350, Franklin has 100, and Greer has 300 -- to report to Bell.
Bell brought about 1800 men out of West Tennessee into Mississippi in December of 1863. These were organized into the various regiments of Forrest's command. By December 24, 1864, Colonel Russell was in charge of 1000 West Tennesseans camped near Okolona (Official Records, I-31-3, p. 861).
In April 1864, after the expedition to Paducah and Fort Pillow, many of the troopers were given leave to visit their families in West Tennessee and recruit additional men. Bell's Brigade was increased from 1004 to 1717 men during this time (Rennolds, 1904/61, p. 262).
On June 9, 1864, the day prior to the fighting at Brice's Crossroads, Bell's Brigade is reported to have had 950 rank and file (Morton, 1883).
In Gen. Buford's report on the fighting at Harrisburg (Official Records, I-39-1, p. 329), Bell's Brigade is said to be 1300 at the beginning of July 1864.
Tennesseans in the Civil War reports that the consolidated 19th/20th regiment reported 29 officers, 217 men present for duty, aggregate present 283, aggregate present and absent 428, at time of parole.
In the spring of 1864, Forrest led his command into West Tennessee. A portion was detached to contain the Federals at Union City, while the main body continued north to raid Paducah, Kentucky. After several weeks spent recuperating near home came the assault on Fort Pillow. The events of that day, dubbed the "Fort Pillow Massacre" by Northern newspapermen, are still the subject of controversy. By the beginning of May, Forrest's men were back in camp in north Mississippi.
When examining the compiled service records for Russell's Regiment, one of the first things noticed is the large number of cards marked "Returned to Former Command, May 23, 1864".
The background may be found in a report on the organization of Forrest's Cavalry prepared by Col. George Wm. Brent, Assistant Adjutant General, for his superior in Richmond, Gen. Samuel Cooper, the Adjutant & Inspector General (Official Records, I-39-2, p. 642):
Desertions from infantry commands to the cavalry had become a crime of a serious nature. ... An inspection of muster-rolls, compared with a list of deserters from the Army of Tennessee, showed that 654 deserters were borne on the rolls of Forrest's command. ... An order was at once given to General Forrest for their arrest, who issued orders immediately to this end, and over 300 were arrested and sent back under proper guard to their command.
There are several pieces of correspondence in the Official Records that show the events unfolding. Forrest first reports to his superior Stephen Lee (Official Records, I-39-2, p. 601) on May 15:
There are about 1,000 men in my command who left the army at its reorganization in spring of 1862. Orders are here to return these men to their command. This will break up Bell's and Neely's brigades and lead to desertion. The immediate execution of orders will be productive of harm, and I ask a suspension of their surrender for sixty days. On being furnished with rolls of their names I can hereafter safely effect their return without injury to my command and detriment to the public service.Lee then requests the extension from the Adjutant General (Official Records I-39-2, p. 602) and it is granted (Official Records I-39-2, p. 608), but Forrest apparently does not use the extra time, for General Orders No. 63 are issued on May 21, 1864 (Official Records I-39-2, p. 614):
III. Division commanders will hold a dress parade to-morrow morning of their entire commands on foot, at which time all men named in the accompanying schedule, respectively, belonging to the regiments of the two divisions, will be arrested by their division commanders, to wit: ... in Russell's regiment, 97; ... as per individual names given in list of each regiment forwarded herewith. When arrested, a guard abundantly strong will be placed over them, and they will at once be sent forward to the headquarters of the major-general commanding. Their arms and equipments will be turned over to brigade ordnance officers; their horses will be turned over to division quartermaster, who will have them appraised and give receipts for the same.All together, a total of 653 men were to have been arrested. (Note the declining numbers -- Forrest reports there are about 1000 men subject to return, orders the arrest of 653, and "over 300" are eventually sent back.) Service records indicate others deserted at this time, apparently to avoid return.
One of the major concerns of Federal commanders during the summer of 1864 was to prevent Forrest from severing the supply line supporting Sherman's army in Georgia. In order to keep Forrest pinned down, three successive invasions of Mississippi were launched from Memphis.
In June, Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis marched into Mississippi and was met and defeated by Forrest's troopers at Brice's Crossroads, or Tishomingo Creek. This battle is generally considered to be Forrest's masterpiece.
Because of Sturgis' defeat, Gen. A.J. Smith's and his command, who were returning to Sherman's main body from their service in the Red River campaign, were stopped at Memphis and sent against Forrest. Their July invasion built through fighting at the Coonewah Creek crossroads to the battle of Tupelo, or Harrisburg. The Confederate forces were badly beaten, but the Federals decided to withdraw. During the withdrawal, the 20th was engaged in the fighting at Old Town Creek.
In August, Smith again invaded Mississippi, this time along the line of the Mississippi Central railroad (the same approach Grant had attempted during his 1862 attempt on Vicksburg). After the action at Hurricane Creek mad it apparent that Forrest's command was too weak to withstand a conventional battle, the General chose another approach. A portion of his command was detached, swung east, and made a surprise raid on Memphis. Concerned about his supply lines, Smith withdrew.
The Federals had successfully kept Forrest off of Sherman's lifeline.
When the 19th and 20th Cavalry Regiments were consolidated in early 1865, command of Company E (made up of men from at least four different companies from the 20th) was assigned to Capt. A.T. "Tom" Gay. Each of the other companies was commanded by an officer associated with the men prior to consolidation (either as Captain or as a Lieutenant); yet I have been unable to find Capt. Gay recorded on any rosters prior to unit consolidation. This discrepancy may be explained if Gay had an independent command, separate from the 19th or the 20th regiment, which was also consolidated into Company E.
Evidence for this possibility can be found in the Veteran's Questionnaire completed by G.W. Taylor (Dyer and Moore, 1915-22/85, pp. 2031-32), who enlisted in July 1864, near Trenton, Gibson County, Tennessee:
Capt. A.T. Gay got orders from Gen. Forrest to rase a company of 17 year old boys also to drive all the old Soldiers back into the Army to tare up all the still houses in West Tennessee.After Taylor's July enlistment, the unit operated "all over West Tenn. taring up still houses", until in "Jan. 1865 we was ordered to Verona, Miss. then to West Point." Taylor states that his first battle occurred eight months after enlistment (March 1865), in a skirmish near Tuscaloosa, Alabama -- apparently part of the Selma campaign.
Evidently there were several such groups dedicated to gathering men subject to conscription or absent without leave from the army, some of whom were believed to be horse thieves. The units also had orders to destroy distilleries (Henry, 1944, p. 237).
September 20, 1864, Forrest left West Point, MS with three brigades totaling about 3500 men and proceeded north. He crossed the Tennessee river on the 21st with Bell's, Lyon's, and Rucker's brigades and Roddy's men. After some skirmishing on the 23rd, Forrest besieged the blockhouses at Athens, AL.
On September 25, the raiders invested the trestle at Sulfur Branch, about 10 miles north of Athens, which was defended by a fort, two blockhouses, and about 1000 men. These were captured and burned.
The blockhouse at Elk River was burned and that at Richland Creek was captured (Sept. 26). The Hollis diary (Chester (1985), p. 110) reports that 110 prisoners were taken at Richland.
On the 27th the command raided the Federal Commissary at Brown's Plantation, south of Pulaski, TN. After a skirmish about 3 miles south of the town, the Federal defenders of Pulaski retreated into their fortifications; Forrest's men then withdrew through Fayetteville.
After leaving Pulaski, the Nashville-Chattanooga rail line was cut both above and below Tullahoma, TN. A skirmish occurred near Lynchburg on the 29th. Forrest then split his command, sending about 1500 men and the artillery south to threaten Huntsville, AL where a skirmish is recorded on October 1st. According to the Hollis diary and Mathes (p.290), the 20th's brigade was with Forrest, but Hollis accompanied Buford back into Alabama.
October 1st, 1864 the blockhouse at Carter's Creek was invested and the bridge burned. On the 2nd of October, the command reached Columbia. Without artillery, Forrest chose not to assault the town, and so after some skirmishing, proceeded on the 3rd to Lawrenceburg, TN and without further incident reached Florence, AL on the 5th of October.
The command reunited to cross the Tennessee River at Florence, AL. Wilson's regiment remained on the north shore to deter the pursuit, which they did for three days. The final act of the raid occurred on October 10, when troopers from D.C. Kelley's brigade ambushed a small flotilla at Eastport, AL. Coincidentally, one of these same gunboats would be encountered a few weeks later at Paris Landing.
Russell's Regiment ... shared fully in the fighting at Athens, Sulphur Trestle, Pulaski and other places on the N&D railroad, losing some of its best men killed and wounded, Company "E" especially suffering heavily. (Rennolds, 1904/61, p. 263)
At the end of October, Forrest finally made a venture against the Federal supply lines in Tennessee. After fighting at Paris Landing, came the action against Johnsonville, where the Confederate Cavalry temporarily formed their own navy from captured Federal river craft.
Soon after their return from Johnsonville, Forrest's command was attached to the main body of the Army of Tennessee for the late 1864 invasion that culminated in the battles of Franklin and Nashville. In particular, Forrest was responsible for screening the long retreat.
Substantial portions of the 20th (most of Co. I, for example) were away from the regiment on furlough and securing remounts and so did not participate in the invasion. This is confirmed by a report of casualties in Forrest's cavalry for November and December of 1864 (Official Records, I-45-1, pp. 760-761). Russell's regiment reports 1 officer and 4 men wounded in November (these may have been occurred during the raid on Johnsonville), but is not included on the return for December.
Rennolds (1904/61) states that "the Twentieth Cavalry shared fully in all the dangers and suffering of this ill-starred campaign, and especially as part of the rear guard on the retreat to Corinth." This suggests that the Henry County companies (E, F, and K), at least, were present; however, I have to date not located any other definite records to indicate that Russell's Regiment was involved in this campaign.
In late January of 1865, Forrest reorganized his command. Many of the units raised in late 1863 had experienced significant losses from action and disenchantment. One report suggests that Company I was down to well under a dozen men:
Everybody in low spirits about the War. All talking about going home and quitting the War for it is a failure. (Chester (1988))The shrunken units made consolidation necessary.
Initially, companies were combined within the regiment. By the end of February 1865, Company E of Russell's regiment combined men from the earlier Companies C, H, and I. Company G may also have been included at this time. A "new" Company K was assembled from the Henry County companies -- E, F, and K. Companies A, B, and D remained as separate units.
Later, apparently in early March, consolidation of regiments took place. An attempt was made to group units along geographical lines, and all of the Tennessee troops were placed in a single division reporting to General W.H. Jackson (Official Records, I-49-1, p. 933).
Russell's 20th regiment was consolidated with Newsom's 19th regiment to form the 19/20th Consolidated Cavalry Regiment. Smaller bands of men were also incorporated into the consolidated unit -- notably the 1864 command raised by A.T. Gay (into Co. E, 19th/20th) -- as were Tennesseeans from Faulkner's 12th Kentucky regiment (into Co. G, 19th/20th) and Ballentine's 2nd Mississippi Partisan Rangers.
Faulkner's 12th Kentucky was composed of both Kentuckians and Tennesseans. It was formed during the late spring and summer of 1863, with the organization completed September 20, 1863.. Four companies (A,G,H,I) were principally Kentuckians, three (D,F,K) of Tennesseans, and three (B,C,E) were mixed.
Company B (Capt. W.W. Williams) was raised in Madison, Obion, and Weakley counties as were the Tennesseans in Company C (Capt. George C. Clanton). Company D (Capt. G.W. Parkinson) was mostly men from Carroll county; Company F (Capt. John M. Carroll) was from Gibson, Weakley, and Henry counties; Company E (Capt. J.Z. Lynn) from Kentucky and Henry county; and Company K (Capt. W.D. Meriwether) mostly in Obion county.
The regiment acted within Middle and West Tennessee until December 1863, when it reported to Forrest's command. Col. Faulkner was killed in January 1865, while in Dresden, TN, by some of his own men who were absent without leave and who he was trying to bring back to the army. By January, 1865:
Being without a field officer, and our numbers reduced to such an extent, we were unable to maintain an organization as a regiment; therefore Faulkner's regiment was merged into the Eighth Kentucky Cavalry, Co. A.A.R. Shacklet commander. During the month of March transfers were granted all Tennesseans in the regiment who desired transfers to Tennessee regiments, and quite a number availed themselves of this privilege ... (Lindsley, 1886, p. 781-2.)
Additional information on the unit may be found in:
At least two companies of Ballentine's Mississippi Regiment were predominantly from Tennessee. Portions of Company D were raised by T.H. Logwood in May 1861, although most enlistments were in November of 1862. This company was down to 34 men by February 1864. Company C enlisted at Memphis or Somerville in May 1862 (Rowland, 1988).
Additional information may be found in:
The companies of the consolidated regiment became:
The last campaign of Forrest's cavalry was an attempt to block Wilson's Raid into Alabama. A large portion of Forrest's command, including the 20th Cavalry, was cut off by the destruction of the Cahaba River bridges at Centerville, Alabama, on April 1, 1865; leaving Forrest undermanned in his last action at Selma the next day.
Forrest's command surrendered at Gainesville, Alabama in May 1865.
To convey a brief idea of the conditions the men of Russell's Regiment endured, I think it best to quote from some of the Tennessee Veteran's Questionnaires (Dyer and Moore, 1915-22/85).
Our rashons were generally corn bread and midling meat, not much of either, we ate the meat raw, we had no tents, slept in the open, took the weather as it came ... our clothing was made up largely of what we had captured from the Federals which we would have dyed at our first stop but occasionally would get some clothing from home. (R.Z. Taylor)
Our clothing was scant ... Our eatables were scant as we did not stay in camps long enough to collect up very much food (A.J. Killebrew).
Jerked beef was our main thing to eat and pretty rough sleeping quarters (J.T. Killen).
We gained the victory, we were well clothed, but slept out in the open, we had no tents, had corn bread and bacon to eat. (A.B. Childress)
We were exposed to all the hardships possible under Bedford Forest, scant clothings, and most of the time half rashings. (M.B. Dinwiddie)
... eat hard tack half rations sleep on the ground had no clothes to speak of ... (H.E. Frazier)
My camp life was rough and mighty rough with very few clothes and the ground was my bead and the open air my shelter. Our food was hard tack and pickle beef. (G.M.D. Ross)The lack of tents is mentioned repeatedly in the questionnaires.
Our sleeping quarters were very disagreeable as we were always on a move we slept out in the open air mostly sometimes we would stretch up our oil clothes to make a small shanty to keep off the rain and snow we suffered from cold ... (A.J. Killebrew).
[Bell's Brigade] had pitched their oil-clothes and blankets -- they had no tents -- as best they could to protect themselves from the threatening rain (Morton (1882), p. 472)
Thus far, I've found little information on the unit's equipment, although J.J. White (Dyer and Moore, 1915-22/85, pp. 2172-4) mentions that after making their way to Mississippi, his group of recruits "were armed with Austrian rifles." Many of the men seem to have brought weapons with them from home. They left Tennessee for the army
... armed with nothing but shotguns, rifles and pistols, donated by the citizens, or impressed from them. (Carter diary)R.Z. Taylor (Dyer and Moore, 1915-22/85, pp. 2037-8) tells of taking his father's pistols.
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