My 4g grandfather, John A. Arnold was born in rural Hawkins County, Tennessee to Doctor (his name, not profession) and Nancy Susannah (Mullins) Arnold around 1826. John’s parents were not wealthy. His father was a farmer and did not own his own land. Like most rural farming families the Arnolds owned no slaves. It took the whole family to work the farm and keep food on the table. John never attended school and never learned to read or write.
Doctor and Nancy had ten children: William (b.1825), John (my 4g grandfather), Emanuel (b. 1828), Frances “Franky” (b.1830), Wright (b.1833), James (b. 1835), Baker (b. 1837), Martha Jane (b. 1839), Calvin (b.1840) and Nathan (b.1844).
Tennessee seceded from the Union in June of 1861, the last state to join the Confederacy. This late decision shows how torn Tennessee citizens were over the important decision they had to make. East Tennessee was very pro-Union but there were communities who were loyal to the Confederacy. To say tension ran high in East Tennessee during the Civil War is an understatement!
Doctor was 66 years old when the war started. Eventually he and almost all his sons would enlist to fight for the Confederacy. Why would a family who had never owned slaves fight for the Confederacy? Like most rural farmers in Hawkins County slavery was not the issue that concerned them. They fought against the idea of a strong, centralized government. Many rural farmers felt that they were overly taxed and were sick of it. They felt that Lincoln was a tyrant and only looked out for northern interests. Many Southern farmers fought for the Confederacy simply to preserve their way of life.
Doctor joined a local defense troop nicknamed the “Beech Creek Jerkers”. The name came from the troop’s reputation of having “jerked a few necks”. They were also known to go after to Confederate deserters and “jerk” them back! He also sold corn to the Confederacy on a regular basis.
Doctor’s oldest son William enlisted with the Confederate States Army in the 29th Tennessee Infantry, Company K. It is believed that he he died in the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863. (It is on my list to order his widow’s pension application for more details).
Things were already complicated for my 4g grandfather John when war broke out. He was the father of five children ranging in age from 11 to 1 and had recently lost his wife. At the beginning of the war he stayed close to home and was paid by the Confederacy to ferry horses and wagons across the Holston River. According to the 1890 Veteran’s Census he enlisted in 1864 and fought until the end of the war. He remarried in 1868 and went to to have NINE more children!
Emanuel Arnold left his family for Kentucky in the 1850’s. He is the only Arnold who fought for the Union.
I’ll continue on with the other sons in the next post.