Finding Their Footprints – Nashville and Decatur Railroad

Ed. Note – This post is as much about the maps as it is about the detail behind them. Eric and Richard don’t need me to retell stories.

Where did your ancestor walk?

One of my later life thrills has been being able to walk where my Civil War ancestor walked 150 years ago. Think of where you stand at this very moment. Who stood there before you; a president, a Native American, your great-grandfather? Our (my wife’s and my) great-grandfathers’ were in Columbia, Tennessee in 1864 and one of them, with the 175th OVI Co. K, may well have been assigned to help protect an important Union Army supply railroad in middle Tennessee. We find that if he was so assigned he was able to come out from that duty assignment to continue on with his regiment and their future assignments. What of your great-grandfather?

No official records exist regarding the Blockhouses, camps, and, or stockades that were built and manned to protect the Nashville to Decatur Railroad before and after Hood’s Tennessee operations. General Grenville Dodge had been put in charge of building these defenses prior to 1864. Records that he kept with locations and a series of corresponding numbers do not match up with what we now know. The latter is, in large part, attributed to Eric Jacobson and Richard Rupp and their exhaustive research for their book Baptism of Fire. Thanks to them we are able to better follow our ancestor-soldier’s foot-steps through Tennessee’s landscape.

Apparently there were as many as thirty-six of these posts manned between Nashville and Decatur, twenty-five in the state of Tennessee. For the purpose of this article we concentrate on those between southern-most Pulaski and Spring Hill to its north. Again, thanks to Eric and Richard for doing what they do so well; telling history.

When the 175th Ohio Volunteer Regiment arrived in Tennessee in October, 1864 they were immediately tasked with helping protect Columbia and some of those rail-line posts nearby. The following is what we know, or don’t – the names listed are known to have been at these locations. Obviously they are but a small few of those that were actually there. History, in most cases their deaths’ or capture, has written their names into its pages.

#5, Carter’s Station; On Oct. 1, 1864, in a raid by Nathen Bedford Forrest’s Cavalry the blockhouses at #5, 4, and 3 were burned to the ground.* Soon after Forrest withdrew and men from the 175th Co. C were assigned to #5, replacing Pennsylvania’s 7th Cavalry there. Google Map address 2998 Carters Creek Station Rd., Columbia Tennessee. The old blockhouse, saw mill and water tank were at this intersection, likely near the creek. Cross the railroad tracks and Carters Creek is at the small bridge…..Pvt. Garner Hinshaw.

*report A. Kramer 68th NY Regt. Or. Ser. I, Vol. 39, pt. I, pp 507-508

#6 Carter’s Trestle; Thirteen men from the 175th Co. G were posted at #6 in April, 1865. Located north of Columbia where Carter’s Creek crosses the rail-line – there are about four such locations so the exact place cannot be determined. Google Map address 282 Carters Creek Pike, Tennessee and you are at one of the intersections – the southern-most and most likely….Lt. Samuel Jolly (it seems that Lt. Jolly was in charge of at least #6 and #8).

#7. Unable to determine and not mentioned. Again there are about four track crossings that could be the location.

#8. Unable to determine, but somewhere near #6, and before the Rutherford Creek posts #9 through #12 that follow. Again, there are a few possible locations. Thirteen men from the 175th Co. E, along with men from Co. G, were posted at #8 in April, 1865….Lt. Samuel Jolly, in charge, Pvt. Silas Wardlow (Co. G).

#9. Men from the 175th Ohio were posted at #9, #10, #11, and #12. In some cases the companies are not known. Google Map address 723 Theta Pike, Columbia, TN and you will be in the midst of these Blockhouses which were located north to south on the four twists of Rutherford Creek where they cross the rail tracks…..Capt. William P. Wolf, age 35, of Co. G was put in charge of these four posts. William mustered in as a Private with Co. A and was promoted to Captain in September.

#10. Men from the 175th Ohio were posted at #10. Google Map address 723 Theta Pike, Columbia, TN and you will be in the midst of the four Blockhouses, #9, #10, #11, #12 which were located north to south on the four twists of the creek (Rutherford Creek) where they cross the rail tracks.

#11. Men from the 175th Ohio were posted here before and during Hood’s operations in Tennessee. Also, Capt. William Wolf’s headquarters was here at #11. Then on Dec. 28, 1864 “what remained of” the 175th Co. G was sent here for duty. Also at some time after the main battles in the area were over men from Co. H were also posted at #11. Google Map address 723 Theta Pike, Columbia, TN and you will be in the midst of the four Blockhouses, #9, #10, #11, #12 which were located north to south on the four twists of the creek (Rutherford Creek) where they cross the rail tracks.

#12. Men from the 175th Ohio were posted here before and during Hood’s operations in TN. Also after, on Dec. 27, 1864 Capt. Jon Hill took thirty-eight men from the 175th Co. H and occupied #12. Google Map address 723 Theta Pike, Columbia, TN and you will be in the midst of the four Blockhouses, #9, #10, #11, #12 which were located north to south on the four twists of the Rutherford Creek where they cross the rail tracks. It was also here that the 44th Missouri and 183rd Ohio Regiment unloaded upon arriving near Columbia on Nov. 28, 1864.

Duck River Station, Google Map 915 Tennessee 7, Columbia, Tennessee. Looking west toward the industrial complex we are as close as we can get to the spot where the old station was, assuming it was even on the river.

Lynnville Station; Lt. George W. Henderson and thirty-nine of his men from the 175th Co. F were posted at a stockade built to protect the rail station there. Google Maps address Church Street / Tennessee 129, Lynnville, Tennessee.

  • Here, a paragraph of “exasperation” is in order. As mentioned earlier, there exists confusion over the locations of some of the posts we are writing about. The author admits some confusion here despite Eric and Richard’s hard work. There is mention of four “blockhouses” south of Columbia, the first through the fourth of many more to the south. The names were Harris, Culleoka, Graces, and Robertson. If I am to take these names in order north to south and also apply some other research I am unable to locate Harris. Twenty-one men from the 175th Co. A were assigned to Harris. There is mention of a post “just south of Lynnville Station” and it is possible that is Harris. There is also mention that this post was at Robertson Trestle – barely one-quarter mile south of Lynnville is a crossing of the rail and Robertson Fork Creek. Possibly the list should read south to north, which would make #15 Harris. I will continue to look and hope that I can find Company A someday.
  • It has been established that the four above mentioned locations were not blockhouses, but in fact all were camps of other sorts.

#13. Also identified as Culleoka, twenty-two men of the 175th Co. E were posted here on Oct 25, 1864. Google Map address Columbia Highway / Milky Way Rd., Pulaski, TN. Just to the east #13 is located where the creek and rail track cross. Just to the south of that is #14, where again the cross…..Pvt. Lee Carl Donley, Zeno Donley, Jacob Lafery (wounded and possibly later died). The men here were barely able to escape capture.

Fifty-four men from the 175th Co. I were also assigned to #13.

#14. Also identified as Graces, twenty-two men from the 175th Co. G were posted here on Oct. 25, 1864. Google Map address Columbia Highway / Milky Way Rd., Pulaski, TN. Just to the east #13 is located where the creek and rail track cross. Just to the south of that is #14, where again they cross. On Nov. 25, 1864 these 22 men plus a wagoner named Cusick were all captured……..Lt. William Barrere, Sgt. Matthew Van Eman, Cpl. Perry Hoss, Cpl. Joseph E. Winters and Private’s Benton B. Badgeley, Alva Laymen, Courtland C. Cusick, James H. Shank, Pvt. George W. Eakins, John W. Eakins, Norman Bercaw, George W. Boyd, James H. Burroughs, James Casto, Edward Crossen, Carey Easter, Morris Greeley, James Hudson, Benjamin Monce, Stacy Morris, William H. Oliver. Israel Sidles, Trimble Strain .

Twenty-seven men from the 175th Co. K were also assigned to #14.

#15. Twenty-one men from the 175th Co. B were assigned to #15. On Nov. 24 thirteen of the men were captured and taken prisoner. Also men from the 175th Co. E were assigned there and six of them were taken prisoner. Google Map address 5662 Columbia Highway, TN. Just to the west #15 is located where the rail-line crosses Richland Creek……..Co. B; Lt. Thomas J. McKeehan, Sgt. Joseph Tener, Pvt. Lewis Fry, Pvt. Sommers Conover, Pvt. George W. Conover, Cpl. William Beekman, Cpl. Luther McClelland, Pvt. Henry Butler, Pvt. William Earhart, Pvt. George E. Mattox, Pvt. Charles Moberly, Pvt. Jacob R. Slagle.

From Co. E; Private’s John Barnes, Thomas J. Gray, John Marconette, Thomas Easton Hemings*, John Moore, and George H. Washburn were captured. Pvt. Lee Donley was able to escape.

*Thomas Hemings grandmother has been identified as Sally Hemings who lived at Jefferson’s Monticello. A story for another time. (E, Jacobson – Baptism of Fire)

#16. Twenty-one men from the 175th Co. D were assigned to #16. We are unable to determine exactly where, but the post is “a few miles south of Pulaski at Richland Creek Trestle.” The railroad seems to now run parallel with the creek here. Google Map address 1195 U.S. 64, Pulaski, TN and follow the rail-line and Richland Creek as they run south. Commended by Lt. Francis M. Harover, the post was very isolated. At least twenty of the men were captured and taken prisoner on Nov. 24, 1864……Harover, Cpl. Jerimiah Paul, Pvt. James Reed, Pvt. John Hetherman, Pvt. Lawrence Schlitz, Pvt. James D. Howard, 1st Sgt. David Flagher, Sgt. James Graham, Cpl. Timothy Pancoast, Privates’ James Bayne, Benjamin Botts, William Carroll, Samuel Holmes, William Little, Timothy Mahaney, John Rains, William J. Richmond, William Shelton, Joseph C. Sroufe, Othello Timmons.

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One thought on “Finding Their Footprints – Nashville and Decatur Railroad

  1. My great grandfather was James Daniel Howard, captured at blockhouse #16. His story is in Eric’s book. So thankful for Eric’s hard work, as well as your article. Chet Howard

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