in the Civil War


55th TN Infantry, Company B

55th TN Infantry, Company B (and A) Isaac Galloway Berry (1832-1864) and Samuel S. Berry (1830-1864) Sons of William L. Berry (ca 1810-ca 1878) and Lucinda Ballard Berry (ca 1806-ca1853), the brothers joined Company B, 55th Tenn. Infantry in Oct 1861. Isaac was 29 and was the father of 8 children and married to Martha Melton. Samuel was 31 and had a family of four children and was married to Martha's sister, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Melton.

Both men were older than most who joined up, were non Slave holders (according to the 1860 census) and were probably heavily influenced by very strong family ties to (and perhaps pressure from) Captain Pritcher Melton, and the desire to defend their state of Tennesee. Several younger sons and brothers were left at home to care for the farms and the families. Some of the other Berrys listed as members of Company B were also family members. It is known that Samuel (Sam), Isaac (Ike), William W. (Willie), James A. Berry, and Moses P. (Mosey) , a cousin, all enlisted in the 55th regiment at the same time. Another Berry has been mentioned, Henry H. Berry, but his enlistment has not been verified.

Isaac, along with Samuel, William, and Moses P. (a cousin), were captured on Island 10, in the Mississippi River in April 1862 and spent several months in deprivation in Camp Douglas, the Union prison camp near Chicago. William apparently died there in Camp Douglas, in 1862, and is probably buried in one of the mass graves there. James was listed as a deserter at some point before the regiment's first action, because he was not captured along with the others. In 1862, they were paroled during a prisoner exchange arranged by then Governor of Tennessee Andrew Johnson (soon to be Vice President Johnson under Abraham Lincoln). Prisoners who were paroled were required to take an oath that they would not bear arms again against the United States.

Family tradition holds that James A. (Jim) Berry went to Vicksburg to retrieve his brothers. Samuel had received a head wound during the battle for Island Ten by looking up over a sandbag wall. Isaac Berry was last seen walking north of Vicksburg and was never seen again at home. In two separate depositions, by Hosea L. Wheatley and P. Holland to the Tennessee board of pensioners, they certified that Isaac Galloway Berry died on July 28, 1864 near Atlanta, Georgia (July 28, 1864 was the date of the Battle of Ezra Church, one of the smaller skirmishes leading up to the Battle of Atlanta, The 55th Tenn Infantry was indeed involved in that battle.) Martha Melton Berry was granted a widows pension No.W867.

Samuel returned home in 1862 and at some point rejoined the regiment, and apparently was placed in Company A, of the reorganized unit. Samuel S. Berry was attached to Company A, 55th Tenn Infantry regiment, Quarles Brigade, on Nov 30, 1864 when it advanced across an open field upon the Union breastworks at the Battle of Franklin Tenn. The company advanced on the cotton gin area of the Carnton Plantation before being repulsed by heavy fire and canister from Union artillery. By the end of the battle four hours later, every officer in the brigade was dead or wounded and the only senior officer still standing was a captain. The dead were so heaped together in places that dead men stood upright where they died simply because there was nowhere to fall. Doris Berry Kozak, a descendent of Hosea L. Wheatley, says that there is a family story about the battle handed down to her in which Hosea would describe the woundings of two Berry "boys" marching ahead of him at the battle. One of them definitely was Samuel S. Berry, who died on the field that day. It is unknown who the other Berry soldier was, but he may have well been Moses P. Berry, who was not heard from after 1864. He may have been one of the unidentified soldiers that day. Samuel is buried in Section 66 of the Franklin Confederate Cemetery near Carnton Plantation, Franklin Tenn, with the rest of the over 270 Tennessee men who died that day. Overall, over 1770 Confederate dead lie in the battlefield cemetery. He is listed on his headstone as S.S. Berry, Pvt, Co. A, 55th Tn Inf. Thanks to Annie Spurgeon, of Kansas City, a genealogists doing research on the Davis family found his listing and provided me the information. Samuel's children, Phrigen (Pridge) (1856-1921), Isabella (b. 1859), Martha Berry (b. 1854) were raised by James A. Berry and Elizabeth Melton Berry, and settled in 1864 in Randolph County, Arkansas. Another daughter, Clementine Berry (Davis), born in 1861, was raised by her aunt, Phoebe Melton.

Samuel was my GGG grandfather, and I am particularly proud of him. I am interested in contacting Benton County Berrys to trade information.

Submitted by David J. Berry

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