Co. H, 11th Tennessee

Interesting Sketch of One of Old Hickman's Companies in the War.

(The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, January 28, 1887)

Written by, J. Coleman Gardner

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I will give the readers of "Tales of the War" a brief sketch of Co. H. Eleventh Tennessee Infantry, C. S. A.  I may say by way of parenthesis that I had a brother, brother-in-law and seventeen cousins in that company.  The work of raising it was begun by T. P. Bateman about April 20, 1861.  The company was organized in Centreville, Tenn., May 1, 1861, electing T. P. Bateman, captain; Van Weems, first lieutenant; Alex Vaughn, second lieutenant; R. C. Gordon, third lieutenant; W. C. Jones, first sergeant; E. A. Dean, second sergeant; T. D. Thompson, third sergeant; W. J. D. Spence, fourth sergeant; James A. Brown, first corporal; J. H. Johnson, second corporal; Eli Hornbeak, third corporal; W. K. White, fourth corporal.

 

The company left Centreville May 10, and were sworn into service the 20th of May and received our flag from the hands of Miss Bradford of Nashville, Tenn.  It was received by James E. Rains of Nashville (afterwards brigadier-general), who delivered an eloquent and patriotic speech.  We then went to camp Cheatham, Robertson county, Tenn., where we were organized as a regiment, composed of three companies from Nashville, Rains', Godhill's and McCann's; one from Robertson county, Long's; two from Humphrey's county, Lucas' and Pitt's; one from Hickman county, Bateman's; three from Dickson county, Malory's, Green's, and Hedford's.  In the organization of the regiment James E. Rains of Nashville was elected colonel; T. P. Bateman of Hickman lieutenant-colonel, and Hugh Lucas of Humphreys company major of the regiment.  Previous to our organization we had been under the orders of Co. Sevier of the First Tennessee regiment, and all the regiments at Camp Cheatham under command of Gen. R. C. Foster.  July 15 we struck tents at Camp Cheatham and started for Virginia, but were stopped at Camp Bradford, near Jonesboro, Tenn.

 

My brother, G. W. F. Gardner writes me: "The regiment, at its organization, had 1,100 men, and was engaged in sixty-two battles, beginning at Wildcat, Crab Orchard, Barboursville, Cumberland Ford, Goose Creek, Perryville, Cumberland Gap, Waldron's Ridge, Murfreesboro, etc.  We were in several hard fights around Chattanooga.  Then began the every day fights for nearly two years.  Some of the most prominent were Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Sand Mountain, Dalton, New Hope Church, Lost Mountain, Resaca, Dead Angle and others.  Then came the battle at the crossing of the Chattahoochee.   (note: paper is damaged where I have put the blanks)  We were next ___________ -tree creek July 22, 1863, ____________.   Van Weems and Lieut. Jacob Ayer's son were both killed.  Here quite a number of our company (H) fell with their face to the foe.  We then had those two hard-fought battles of Jonesboro and Lovejoy's Station, in which Co. H sustained a heavy loss in both killed and wounded.   Then began Hood's movement for Tennessee, out of Georgia, through Alabama to Tuscumbia, across the Tennessee river where we rested a few days.  Hungry, tired and worn out, many of us without shoes and thinly clad for December's wintry storm, yet eager for the onward march to Nashville, the home of our birth and youthful joys, our family and friends.  The night before we started from here (Tuscumbia) it rained, sleeted and snowed.  There was a general order for every one that had no shoes to make them a pair of rawhide moccasins.  So I, being one of that number, went to work at my moccasins, having nothing to work with but an old pocket knife.  I cut, measured, and cut again.  Finally, after working half the night, I got them sewed up and put them on ----- just a fit.  I told the boys that I had got my feet into winter quarters; I was ready for the march to Nashville.  Next morning we started.  But, lo to my horror, before we had gone a mile those terrible moccasins had stretched and grown to twice their original size, lapping around my legs as I tried to walk, and the boy hallooing; 'Come out of those winter quarters.'  I did come and staid out; so barefooted we marched in the direction of Columbia, Tenn., going around that place while the federals fell back to Franklin.  We moved on and met the enemy at Franklin where we had one of the bloodiest battles of the war.  We then moved on to Nashville where we had another hard-fought battle, as all can testify from either side who were engaged in it.  Here I was captured and Hood had to fall back.  This ended my fighting, as I was sent North and was not exchanged until about the time of Lee's surrender."

 

By the gallantry of this grand old regiment many of its officers were promoted to higher rank; Col. Rains to brigadier-general, Capt. Gordon to colonel and then to brigadier-general, Capt. Bateman to colonel, with a host of promotions among the minor positions.

 

I have a copy of the original muster roll of Co. H. which organized with 132 men; about fifty returned home.  A few yet survive and are among the honored citizens of their respective localities.

 

J. Coleman Gardner