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Tipton’s infantry soldiers in East Tennessee

The Civil War and Tipton County

In a daring operation, Grant’s forces surprised Confederate pickets and established a pontoon bridge across the Tennessee River below Chattanooga at Brown’s Ferry on Oct. 27,1863.

In conjunction, Gen. Joseph Hooker’s troops advanced to the Wauhatchie Valley at the western foot of Lookout Mountain. These movements opened the ‘cracker line’ allowing supplies to come into Chattanooga.

The Confederates siege was being loosened. Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham, called “the bravest of the brave” by Gen. Leonidas Polk, relinquished command of Polk’s corps to Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee.

On Oct. 31, Cheatham asked to be relieved from duty with the Army of Tennessee. This was due to Cheatham’s discontentment with the army’s commander, Gen. Braxton Bragg. (His resignation was not accepted and he was soon restored to command.)

On Nov. 12, Bragg reorganized the Army of Tennessee. Lt. General William J. Hardee assumed corps, and three brigades of Cheatham’s all-Tennessee division were dispersed to other divisions. O. F. Strahl’s brigade was transferred to Maj. Gen. A. P. Stewart’s division, Gen. John Breckinridge’s corps.

Hardee retained Cheatham’s former brigades of Gen. Geo. Maney’s brigade in Maj. William H. T. Walker’s division; Gen. A. J. Vaughan’s brigade was placed in Gen. Thomas Hindman’s division.

The brigade of Gen. Marcus J. Wright with Tipton’s men in the 51st Tennessee remained under Cheatham’s command. A soldier in the 9th Tennessee was disgusted with the changes:

“I am getting tired of (Gen.) Bragg as a leader. He has conducted affairs so badly. He has removed Gen. Polk and caused [Gen. William J.] Hardee to be put in his place whom the boys can never like so much as they did the former. If he wants to lose half our division let him remove Cheatham…Should Bragg cause Cheatham to be removed half the Tennesseans will go home or under some other arm of service.

“Gen. Polk was beloved by his corps and was the idol of our division. The boys would do better fighting under him than under Hardee.”

Lt. James I. Hall of Mt. Carmel, was elected captain of Company C, 9th Tennessee in November 1863. His men were frequently called upon to stand picket duty, forward outposts nearest the enemy.

Hall wrote: “As our picket lines had been facing those of the enemy for several days, the men on each side had become quite communicative. Quite a lively barter trade has sprung up between the two lines—our men swapping tobacco, of which we had an abundance, and cedar canteens, which were quite a novelty to the Yankees for gum blankets and such things as were not procurable within our lines.”

On Nov. 16, Lt. Col. John Gracey Hall of Tipton assumed command of the 51st Tennessee infantry during the colonel’s absence. Two days later, Wright’s brigade had a grand review.

On the 23rd, Misses White and Hill of Tipton visited their kin in the 51st Tennessee. John S. and Henrietta Dewese Hill lived near Bloomington (Brighton). Of their nine children, four sons served in the Confederate army, one dying of sickness. At 55, John was too old to soldier for the Confederacy, but not too old to serve. He visited his sons in the Army of Tennessee during the fall of 1863 and served as a nurse in the hospitals. In this capacity, he contracted a fever. John started for Tipton but died about thirty miles before he reached home in November 1863.

Mrs. Hill aided the war effort “in getting supplies out of Memphis while under Federal military government for the boys in the field.”

These patriots are buried in Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

Continued next week

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