June 30, 2011
I was thinking about the upcoming July 4 holiday, and it reminded me of a story in David Haworth’s Civil War diary (he’s my great-great-grandfather John Leonard Haworth’s brother).
The Haworth family lived in Jefferson County in northeast Tennessee at the beginning of the Civil War. As you probably know, Tennessee was the last state to join the Confederacy. But the residents of a few counties in the northeast corner of the state were loyal to the Union and vehemently opposed that decision. This irritated the Tennessee Confederates to no end, so they began forcibly conscripting east Tennessee men into the Confederate Army. East Tennessee was between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Surrounded by the Confederacy on three sides, the only way for Union sympathizers to escape conscription — or prison, or worse — was to flee over the Cumberland Mountains north into the border state of Kentucky. Thus began a remarkable exodus of an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 men.
From David’s diary:
April 8, 1862
Just about sundown, three of us boys, my oldest brother William C. Haworth, Isaac B. Haworth and myself left home. Bid our Mother and Father good bye and started for Kentucky for the purpose of joining the Union Army.
(The youngest brother, John, initially stayed at home, presumably because of his age, but joined his brothers later.)
April 13, 1862
After four nights of hard marching, we never traveled in a road. Just at night on the fifth day we came in to London, Kentucky where the Government had a recruiting station. There was the stars and stripes on a big flag pole. We marched around that with our hats off cheering for Uncle Sam, pretty good.
The next morning I couldn’t get my boots on and they were calling for all men that wanted to join the army to get in line. I went out in my sock feet and lined up. When the Officers came down to me and John N. Northern we told them we wanted to join the army until the southern army was whipped if it took ten years. He said he couldn’t enlist us for only three years or during the war. Every man that got in line wanted to join the army and was sworn in.
What a picture of youthful enthusiasm — these weary men, who had just finished several days hiking over the Cumberland Mountains, dancing around the flag pole!
After I read this section of the diary, I noticed the dates. The Haworth boys left home in east Tennessee on April 8, 1862. The Battle of Shiloh had just taken place at the other end of the state in Hardin County April 6-7. Hardin County is the ancestral home of my mother’s mostly Confederate family. And the very next day, my father’s Haworth ancestors were fleeing to Kentucky to join the Union Army. An interesting juxtaposition and a great example of the deep divisions within the state of Tennessee — not to mention my ancestors. It’s like half of my DNA is at war with the other half of my DNA. (Hmm, that could explain a lot …)
Have a great holiday weekend! If you have the opportunity do some dancing, flag poles and sock feet are optional.
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