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CIVIL WAR RECORDS REVEAL FAMILY'S STRUGGLE
By Marshall McClung
An earlier story published in the Graham Star, Civil War Tragic for Williams Family, covered the effect the Civil War had on that family. A closer look at war records reveals even more details of that trying time. A relative of this family, James Burchfield, helped supply additional information. As mentioned earlier, these men were the sons of William Williams and Triphena Millsaps Williams
Jesse Williams, 21, was a private in the Union Army in Company H, Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry, 100 Days Volunteers in 1864. He is listed as being killed by Confederate Guerrillas in Chilhowee Valley, Tennessee, December 4, 1864. John Burns is said to be the Confederate that shot and killed him near Tallessee Ford.
George Williams enlisted in the Confederate Army; Company A, 29th North Carolina Infantry either on January or June 17, 1361 at age 27. His brothers, Bartley, Marion, and William also joined the same Company on June 17, 1861. It is thought that they may have been forced to join the Confederate Army in Cherokee County, North Carolina. George later joined the Union Army on January 28, 1864. While living near Deals Gap, he enlisted as a Private in Company H, Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry, 100 Days Volunteers. George Williams was taken prisoner in a fight with Captain Patterson's Company of Confederates near Madisonville, Tennessee on December 7, 1864. He was taken to jail in Asheville, North Carolina, and broke out about six weeks later along with his brother Bartley Williams and Jeff Deaver. They were killed on January 10, 1365 near the Tennessee state line while trying to get back to Monroe County.
Captain Dewitt C. Ghormley of Colonel Thomas' Confederate Legion gave an account of their death. Ghormley was in charge of a post on the Tennessee River. He recalled seeing George Williams, Bartley Williams, Jefferson Deaver, and some twenty other prisoners pass through on their way to Asheville. The prisoners were under the guard of Captain Patterson and about eighty Confederate soldiers of the Third Tennessee Calvary. Ghormley said that about a month or so later, someone stole his horse and two others out of the barn. Ghormley, Dallas Dehart, and Cleveland Stephens took after the men who had taken the horses. Sometime after midnight, they caught up with the men. Ghormley was some distance behind Dehart and Stephens. Stephens rode back to him and told Ghormley they had killed the three men who had stolen the horses at the home of A.B. "Bert" Welch near the Tennessee River. The Indies of the dead men were apparently left lying in the road where they had been killed. Nearby residents buried them in the side of the road. In 1892, their bodies were exhumed and reburied in Knoxville, Tennessee.
William Williams was a private in Company A, 29th North Carolina Infantry, having enlisted on June 17, 1861. With his brothers in Cherokee County, NC. After April 30, 1863, no other military record is found. It is said that he eluded Confederate and Union forces by staying in the mountainous area of Citico in Monroe County, Tennessee. Some of his relatives later said that he operated the toll gate on the turnpike at Deals Gap and married Amanda Johnson. They said he never ventured further than four miles from there for the remainder of his life.
Marion Williams enlisted in Company C, Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry in July, 1864 at Madisonville, Tennessee. He was wounded in a baffle in North Carolina on December 4, 1864. A rifle ball shattered a bone in his leg, a wound which would eventually claim his life in 1873.
The Civil War created many divisions in this area. Many wished to stay out of the war, but were pressured into choosing sides. Friends became enemies for life. So did relatives. Many took to living off the land by bushwhacking, ambushing unsuspecting travelers, and raiding defenseless homesteads. Many did not fight until the Union Army "invaded" the South. One exchange between North Carolina Confederate prisoners and their Union captors tells ofthe Union soldiers asking them why they kept slaves. They replied, "We don't have any slaves, we are sharecroppers, we are just a notch above being slaves ourselves." To this, the Union soldiers asked, "Then why are you fighting us?" The reply, "Because you are here."
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This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina