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Home-made Yankees

As Dyer County was the most pro-southern county in the state, one might think that virtually all Dyer Countians fought for the South. Though it is true that the vast majority of men did fight for the Confederacy, there were those that remained loyal to the Union. The only noticeable stronghold of Union sentiment in Dyer County was located North of Newbern. The Unionist movement was so strong in this neighborhood that it became known as “Blue America” and a voting precinct by that name was established there during reconstruction. The core of Union activity in this part of the state however, was centered in another part of West Tennessee. This area, around McNairy County, was known as the “Hurst Nation” and was controlled by Col. Fielding Hurst. Hurst Command became a focal point for Southern hatred and animosity. Every foul deed committed or reported was blamed upon his unit and from the overwhelming evidence it seems that much of it was deserved. Despite this fact however as in any command there were those who deserved the title more than others. I am equally certain that some members of his outfit were undeserving of the epitaphs being avowed against them. Only a few Dyer Countians actually served under Hurst immediate command. The taint of the Hurst reputation would however eventually bring down the wrath of General Forrest and his cavalry upon all Federal units of Western District of the state. This was especially true of those units made up of Tennesseans. The Hurst group wandered throughout West Tennessee and on at least one occasion passed through Dyer county. The Colonel’s men often acted as scouts or spies for the regular federal army and were acting in the capacity of spies on this patrol. One of the men traveling with this group was disguised as a Confederate prisoner. When they came to a Southern household they would ask for food. The man disguised as a Confederate would be ordered to stay outside while they ate. This would give the spy an opportunity to engage the family in a somewhat secluded conversation and pump them for information. When they stopped in Dyer County near the Millsfield area a young daugher of a local family struck up a conversation with the disguised man and asked him why he did not escape. He replied that he probably could. The young girl then informed him that they had a small arsenal of weapons hidden underneath their house. Upon hearing this he passed the information on to the troopers who then quickly confiscated the arms. They weapons were then loaded on a wagon and dumped in the nearby Obion River. It was said that this same man was in a party that captured a fellow that he had known back in McNairy County. While in captivity the soldier admitted that he had earlier taken the subject's spurs from him and wanted him to have them back as he would not need them in prison. Hurst overheard the conversation and laughed stating that “you mean you won’t need them in Hell” and then shot the man dead on the spot. Later, as the party was at a ferry crossing, Hurst pointed to a southern woman on the ferry and said “watch her spread her wings” and with that shot her in the back as she was crossing the river. Hurst was rumored to have committed many such atrocities. At one point he killed a number of rebel prisoners and buried them along a road at 1 mile intervals, using them as mile markers.

The outrages were not confined to the Union side, however. When Hurst's nephew was captured by the confederates they tied him to a tree and shot him between the eyes. The Confederate then rousted the boys ill mother out of bed, causing her to fall and break her hip as she hit the floor.

Neither did all Confederate troops did not meet a violent end when captured by units under Hurst. In 1863 James W. Siler was reported to have been captured by some of these troops while he was getting married at the small community of Medon, just south of Jackson. Though the wedding dinner was devoured by the troops and Mr. Siler dragged off to Jackson, he was later ordered released by the local Federal commander.

While the Hurst activities were going on, other outfits were beginning to form and some local men joined passing Federal Units. In the early part of 1863, the 11th Illinois Cavalry was active in the area and on January 28th some of the command were involved in a skirmish with Col. Bill Dawson’s Partisans at Yorkville. On the 30th of the month the 11th would meet Dawson again at in an engagement at Dyersburg. Less than a week later two Dyer Countians would enlisted in Company B of the Illinois regiment.

In Northern part of West Tennessee the rendezvous for the 14th Tennessee Cavalry (U.S.) was at Union City in Obion County. The Name Union City is not a product of the war however, but instead was derives its name from the junction or union of two important rail lines that occurred before the war. The 14th Cavalry Regiment, was more often referred to as the 13th Tennessee Cavalry. The unit's history is even more confused in that it was sometimes referred to as Bradford’s Tennessee Cavalry Battalion. The majority of Dyer County Union troops enlisted in this unit and to a lesser degree in the 6th Tennessee Cavalry, that was merged with the Bradford’s Battalion late in the war. The 14th Tennessee Cavalry was commanded by Major W.F. Bradford who had at one time been a lawyer at Dyersburg. Other officers of the command were his brother Capt.Theodorick F. Bradford and Capt. John Cooter, both of Dyersburg. I have been unable to find any information on Capt. Cooter other than the county he is attributed to, but some information does survive on the Bradford’s, specially Theodorick. Next week we will discuss more on the Bradford’s and other Dyer Countians in the battle of Fort Pillow and will present a list Union Veterans that moved into Dyer County after the end of the war.

I would like to thank Mr. James Ozment for supplying me with some of my information Fielding Hurst’s Command.

6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment (U.S.)
Joseph Cozart Company E
Alfred B. Eason Company I *
Adam A. Jones Company E
Anderson Jones Company E *
Frederick N. Kelso Company E *
Sgt. William B. Little Company M
John C. Miller Company L
Calvin Ozment Company G
C.J. Murphy Company G
Mariduke Murphy Company A *
Sgt. Joseph B. Pate Company I *
Miles M. Woodside Company J *

7th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment (U.S.)
Dodson R. Ingram Company A *
2nd Lt. James Jackson Company L
Manuel Johnson Company A
Alexander H. Manuel Company D
Ely A. Moody Company E
Joseph B. Pate Company G *
Sgt. James W. Pulley Company C *
Nathaniel C. Pritchard Company A *
A.J. Slater Company G *
Cpl. James M. Woods Company I
Miles M. Woodside Company G *

14th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment (U.S.)
James W. Antwine Company E *
Issac A. Baker Company B *
Capt. Theodrick F. Bradford Company A *
David D. Chambers Company A *
William E. Doak Company C *
Fifer, James D. Eason Company B *
Com. Sgt. Leonidas Gwaltney Company B *
Charles W. Huguely Company D *
Samuel E. Huguely Company D *
Issac Jackson Company A *
Humphrey S. Jones Company E *
Frederick B. Kelso Company C *
Henry Kirk Company Unknown
Johh H. Lanier Company E
Thomas H. Lanier Company E *
W.J. McCoy Company E *
William R. Nail Company E *
Sgt. Wiley G. Poston Company E *
Sgt. James Pulley Company B *
Lott G. Rasberry Company G *
John H. Scarburrough Company E *
Solomon N. Scarburrough Company E *
William G. Scarburrough Company E *
David J. Scoby Company D *
John A.H. Scoby Company B *
Joseph R. Scoby Company C *
Peter L. Scoby Company B *
Willie B. Scoby Company D *
Henry H. Thompson Company D & E *
4th Cpl. M.C. Wiggs Company A *
J.S. Wiggs Company D *
Boaz Wise Company A *
Miles M. Woodsides Company E & F *
William Wright Company D
2nd Cpl. Calvin A. Vandike Company E *

4th Tennessee Infantry (U.S.)
William C. Chronister*

11th Illinois Cavalry Regiment
Green T. Winberry Company B*
John D. Flowers Company B*

* Living in Dyer County upon enlistment

By Earl L. Willoughby, Jr.

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