Isaac Griffith’s Response to Confederate Veteran’s Survey
(EDITOR’S NOTE — The following is ISAAC GRIFFITH’s response to a 1915 Confederate Veteran’s Survey which was obtained from the Tennessee State Library and Archives. GRIFFITH, a native of Scott County who lived in Cleveland (Bradley County), Tennessee following the Civil War, was 79 years of age when this survey was taken).
[Isaac Griffith was the son of Fielding Griffith and Mary Reynolds.]
The chief purpose of the following questions is to bring out facts that will be of service in writing a true history of the Old South. Such a history has not yet been written. By answering these questions you will make a valuable contribution to the history of your State.
In case the space following any question is not sufficient for your answer, you may write your answer on a separate piece of paper. But when this is done, be sure to put the number of the question on the paper on which the answer is written, and number the page of the paper on which your write your answer.
Read all the questions before you answer any of them. After answering the questions here given, if you desire to make additional statements, I would be glad for you to add just as much as you desire.
1. State your full name and present post office address.
Ans. ISAAC GRIFFITH Cleveland Bradly Co. Tennessee, R.F.D. No. 5.
2. State your age now.
An.. I will be 79 the 15 day of May.
3. In what State and county were you born?
An.. I was born on Brimstone Creek, Scott Co. Tennessee.
4. In what State and county were you living when you enlisted in the service of the Confederacy?
An.. I was living in Scott Co.
5. What was your occupation before the war?
An.. All kinds of work such as black smith and raising stock horses sheep hogs and cattle.
6. What was the occupation of your father?
An.. Farm work and rang stock horses sheep hogs and cattle.
7. If you owned land or other property at the opening of the war, state what kind of property you own, and state the value of your property as near as you can.
An.. Wee own 375 acres of land wee owned horses sheep hogs and cattle wee all had lots of stock the vallew of the stock and all kinds of cattle was about 8 eight or 9 nine hundred dollars. The land was worth from 5 five to 6 six thousand dollars. Wee had took away from me 7 head of horses bye our neighbors.
8. Did your parents own slaves? if so, how many?
An.. They did not own any slaves.
9. If your parents owned land, state about how many acres.
An.. They own 375 acres of land.
10. State as near as you can the value of all property owned by your parents, including land, when the war opened.
An.. It was worth from 3 three to 4 four thousand dollars.
11. What kind of a house did your parents occupy? State whether it was a log house or frame house or built of other material, and state the number of rooms it had.
An.. 2 two log housses 2 two storries high the houses stood about 20 feet apart wee used one for a kitchen and the other was our sleeping place.
12. As a boy and young man, state what kinds of work you did. If you worked on the farm, state to what extent you plowed, work with a hoe and did all kinds of similar work. (Certain historians claim that white men wouldn’t do work of this sort before the war.)
An.. When I was a boy I worked on the farm sutch as plowing howing and any and all kinds of work that men could do on a farm, in the winter wee lots of fun making maple sugar. Wee made lots of it.
13. State clearly what kind of work your father did, and what the duties of your mother were. State all kinds of work done in the house as well as you can remember — that is, cooking; spinning, weaving, etc.
Ans. My father work on the farm. My mother work in the house sutch as baaking carding spinning and weaving. And washing for 14 in the family she did not have any servants to help her they, cook on a fireplace the fireplace was 7 feet wide they did not havy any stoves in them day.
14. Did your parents keep any servants. If so, how many?
An.. No they did not have any servants.
15. How was honest toll — as plowing, hauling and other sorts of honest work of this class — regarded in your community? Was such work considered-respectable and honorable?
An.. Ever body worked and did not consider it a disgrace to do any kind of honest labor.
16. Did the white men in your commu-
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nity generally engage in such work?
Ans. Yes the white men done there own work for their was no negro in that county at that time.
17. To what extent were there white men in your community leading lives of idleness and having others to work for them?
Ans. No the men all worked and made plenty of stuff to live on.
18. Did the men who owned slaves mingle freely with those who did not own slaves, or did slaveholders in any way show by their actions that they felt themselves better than respectable, honorable men who did not own slaves?
An.. They was but a few that had slaves there wasent any difference in them they all seem to want to help all they could in any way they were all on one equality.
19. At the churches, at the schools, at public gatherings in general, did slaveholders and non-slaveholders mingle on a footing of equality?
An.. No ther was not any difference. They were all friendly and kind to each other they all tried to help their neighbor as mutch as they could.
20. Was there a friendly feeling between slaveholder and non-slaveholder in your community, or were they antagonistic to each other?
Ans. Yes they were all friendly and good to each other they seem to take delight in helping each other sutch as log rollings cornshuckings and house raisings they triet to help each other. See they came and danced all night.
21. In a political contest in which one candidate owned slaves and the other did not, did the fact that one candidate owned slaves help him any in winning the contest?
Ans. No it did not. For all of them tryd to do right in the election time there was no buying and selling vots in them dayes.
22. Were the opportunities good on your community for a poor young man, honest and industrious, to save up enough to buy a small farm or go in business for himself?
Ans. Yes it was boyes or men could mak plenty of suff for home and plenty to sell but farm pradduck did not sell very high. A good cow could bee bought for 7 dollarrs corn was 33 1/3 cens bushel.
23. Were poor, honest, industrious young men, who were ambitious to make something of themselves, encouraged or discouraged by slave-holders?
An.. They war not discourage at all. They all help each other in any and ever thing.
24. What kind of school or schools did you attend?
Ans. It was a primary school wee did not have any thing to study but the old blue book Webster spelling book and some times we wrote a little wee had goose quills pens to write with.
25. About how long did you go to school altogether?
An.. I went to school about one year in all so you see I did not get to go mutch.
26. How far was it to the nearest school?
An.. About a half mile to 4 miles I have went 4 miles to schol.
27. What school or schools were in
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operation in your neighborhood?
An.. A primary school.
28. Was the school in your community private or public?
An.. Public School.
29. About how many months in the year did it run?
An,. From 2 to 3 three months. Wee had only the old blue back Webster spelling book.
30. Did the boys and girls in your community attend school pretty regularly?
An.. Yes as mutch as they could.
31. Was the teacher of the school you attended a man or woman?
An.. My school teather was a man wee did not have any woman teachers.
32. In what year and month and at what place did you enlist in the service of the Confederacy?
An.. First day of Januaur 1862 Jackburrow.
33. State the name of your regiment, and state the names of as many members of your company as you remember.
An. Company D 5 Tennessee Calverly, Colonel McKINSY Captain J. G. M. MONTGOMERY he became to bee Liutenant Colonel THIAS BEAGLER Captain ELLIE DAVIS First Lieutenant ROBBERT SLOAN Agitent FIELIX STONE Doctor SUNSEL DAY Doctor WILLIAM ALLEN Seckand Lieutenant J. D. GUIN Sagrent R. C. LAWSON Seckand sargent KIM LAWSON JAKE LAWSON NELSON LAWSON CALANEL LAWSON they were all brother, the sons of RUSSEL LAWSON.
34. After enlistment, where was your company sent first?
An. Kingston Tennessee
35. flow long after your enlistment before your company engaged in battle?
An.. It was about the last week of March wee had a fight with the Bush Whackers the fight was on Brimstone Creek. I lost my horse there.
36. What was the first battle you engaged in?
An.. The first fight wee had with the Yankees was at Taswill in August. Wee driven them back to Cumberland Gap.
37. State in your own way your experience in the war from the this time on to the close. State where you went after the first battle — What you did, what other battles you engaged in, how long they lasted, what the results were; state how you lived in camp, how you were clothed, how you slept what you had to eat, how you were exposed to cold, hunger and disease. If you were in hospital or prison, state your experience here.
An.. Wee besieged Cumberland Gap 30 ayes. Wee drove the Yankes through Kentucky where General BRAG had a 3 day fight. At Pearivill Ky. he retretatet back to Cumberland Gap. Wee the calverly fought for 6 dayes and nights in the rear of BRAG army. On our return through the Gap wee campd at Tasville at the last of October in the morning the snow was about 5 inceas deep, when wee was getting beakfast some fool picked up a bomb shell and had it for a day iron. It exsploed and killed three men. Wee was ordered from there through East Tennessee in to Kinkston.
38. When and where were you discharged?
Ans. Wee recevd our payroll the 3 may 1865 at Sharlet North Carlina. Wee were alowed one slack and side arms.
39. Tell me something of your trip home.
Ans. I came home after I got my discharge I left Sharlet N.C. and came through the mountains home near Cleveland Tennessee I got home on the 13 day of May 1865. I came back home with $2.00 two dollars and one horse, and part of a suit of clothes and I had been home only 2 days when som Yanky came and took my horse from me
40. What kind of work did you take up when you came home?
Ans. Well the first work I done when I came home I made Bread trayes I made 60 of them and sold them at one dollar apiece I did any and all kinds of work to make a living so you see I had a pretty hard time for I had nothing to commence on.
41. Give a sketch of your life since the close of the Civil War, stating what kind of business you have engaged in, where you have lived, your church relations, etc. if you have held any office or offices,
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state what it was. You may state here any facts connected with your lift and experiences which have not been brought out by the questions.
An.. Well I have lived in Bradly Co. since the close of the war I have done all kinds of work. I was convert the 9 of October 1869. I jonned the missionary Baptist church March 1873.1 have been a widawer for 14 years I was the father of 9 nine children they are all dead but one girl she still with me. Just her and myself is all, there is of us so I hope that ther will bee a help to you and I truly hope that I may live to read your history you are going to write. So I will close bye saying may God who does all things well give you in this Life and I trust wee will meet where there will bee no more war where wee will all be one. Amen.
Cleveland Bradly Co. Tennessee R.F.D. no. 5
An additional 10 page letter was written by ISAAC GRIFFITH and submitted with this survey form. It follows in its entirety:
April the 16, 1915
I, ISAAC GRIFFITH Cleveland Bradly Co. Tennessee. I will be 79 years old the 15 day of May. I was bornd in 1836, on Brimsstone Creek Scott Co. Tenn. I was living in Scott Co. I left home the 1 first day of January 1862 we went to Jackburrow to organse. ERNAL SMITH was the Captain but we failed so I went to Wartburg and I fell in with Co. D 5 Tennessee Calvery so in March we went to Jackburrow so there I enlisted in Company D of Bradly Co Captain J. G. M. MONTGOMERY company. When reorganized Montgomery
bee came Liutenant Colonel THEOS BEAGLES Caption ELLIE DAVIS Firt Liutenant. ROBBERT SLOAN Agitant FELIX SLOAN Doctor Doctor SAMEL DAY WILLIAM ALLEN seckant Lutenant J. P. GUINN sargent R. C. LAWSON secant sargent. Kin JAKE NELS CALLANEL there were brothers in company Dhorse. POLK JAMES EEL LOUIS Little JAKE there was 11 eleven LAWSONS in muy comapny. I was married to Miss WINNIE LAWSON daughter of RUSSEL LAWSON November the 8, 1863, so I will tell you a few things about what myself. I had when the war came up
2 horses and a wagon 7 seven head of cattle 14 head of sheep 60 head of hogs set of blacksmith tools set of carpenter tools a lot of household furniture 600 six hundred bushel of corn. I lost it all. I will tell you of my pad of the country where I lived in Scott County there were only 36 Disunion as we were called this the best of citizens. We had to get out the best we could. My Grandpa GRIFFITH was and old Revelution soldier of Virginia Collony my Pa was borned in 1774 and died in 1846 my mother died November 1859.
January 1863 wee were ordered to Big Creek Gap to scout those mountains so in August wee were sent on a raid in KY. Wee meet the eanimy at Richmond and fought. Our company in front Lietenant ALLEN commanded us wee run ito their lines wee drove them. Captured something over 600 huntrd. From thence through East Tennessee to Dalton Georgie there wee picketed and skirmished till the Chickmauga fight. It was the 19 of September 1863. Wee fought 3 days
driving them through Chattanooga. Wee were ordered up in Bradly WHEELER went on a raid through Seaquathee Valley he got kindly tore up. Company I and A few of our company was left back in Bradly under General VAUGHN. Wee skirmished with them then they made a stand at Philliledphia and wee shipp them Wee were ordrd to Dalton, Ga. untill the last of the war fighting SHERMAN through the south, to Savannie wee crost Savannie River
to South Carolina skirmishing in to North Carlina. At Bentanville wee fought SHERMAN 3 dayes that ended the
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war. WHEELER commanding the left flank on the 3 day was the hardest fighting I was ever in. Wee helt our line during day I shot over 300 hundred rounds. Late in the eaving I were releavd for four hours I started to our horses and came across a wounded Michigan soldier so I built him a fire and gave him water and took one of my blankets and covered him. I forgot his name when my time was up that I had to go
back, he wanted me to write to his mother and his intended wife, and tell them that he had died a honest and a brave soldier and he wanted to meet him in heaven where there would bee no more parting there. When I had to leave him and go back an do duty he wanted me to shake hands with him and pramis him to met in a better world where there would been no more fighting and wars so at last I gave him my hand that I would meet him in heaven I had not made any prafestion at that time but I knew he convinced me I had never got shed of that promis
untill I was converted so I will say I hope and pray that wee will all meet in heaven where there will be no more wars where all will bee peace and happiness so I have tried to tell you some few things that I went through with hoping they will bee of enterest and help to you in writing the history so please excuse bad writeing and mistakes I hope I may live to read a true history of the Old South. My daughter sayes to tell you to send her one of the historys for she would love to read one so wishing you
sucksess I am ever your friend.
Cleveland Bradky Co.
Tennessee R.F.D. No. 5
In reply to your request I will tell some names that was in my company. EL ALLEN, JO BARKSILL, DAVE McMAYAN, JOHN SUTTON, JOHN ROASE, WILL CALVILLE, JOHN and EL CARTER, JO TOM ARMS, JO SPEARS, JO BARKET, JO DAVIS, PETRIE GEORFE TUCKER, SETH WALKER, JARET WAIL, BOB SIMSON, BILL SMILLY, BEEN GRADY, JIM WARREN, JOHN PUTMAN, P. L. FOISTER, JIM WILL, FLAVIS SLOAN. All brothers JOHN, WILLIS, CREED RUSSEL, SAM MONTGOMERY, GREENBERG NELSON, MELL ARMENT, EALY RUSSEL, TABOR RUSSEL, WASH and CALL PARKS, DICK HAARRIS.
FNB Chronicle, Vol. 6, No. 2 – Winter 1995
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
(pages 5, 6, 8, 10, & 11)
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