Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fighting on Both Sides in the Civil War

My Thornton family of northwest Alabama has the distinction of having fought on both sides in the Civil War. For those who don't know, there was pocket in northwest Alabama's hill country that shared sentiments with the Union during this period. They fought secession. Many persons who did not want to fight for the Confederacy were forced to do so or imprisoned. Some of them complied with the Confederates and took the first opportunity to escape and eventually go sign up with the other side as possible. Whether that is the case with my Thorntons or if their sympathies just changed, I do not know, but I do know that there is evidence of two of my great great grandfather's brothers having changed sides.

The brothers were the sons of Richard Thornton and his wife Agga (although sometimes it is seen as Agnes). We do not know her surname, but the family was closely allied with the Aldridge and Johnson families of the area, and it is possible that she belonged to one of those. It is unfortunate that the Thorntons lived in an area which suffered so many courthouse fires. I've often joked and said that they personally set those courthouses afire to make it difficult for their descendants to find out anything about them.

Three sons of Richard served with the 43rd Alabama Regiment, Company H, CSA. These were Henry Marshall Thornton, Martin V. Thornton, and David Franklin Thornton. All the brothers were mustered in on May 10, 1862 in Walker County by W. H. Lawrence and were to serve for 3 years. Less than one month later, on June 6, 1862, David F. and Martin V. are reported to have deserted at "Tusk, Ala." which I interpret to be an abbreviation for Tuscaloosa. Henry was left at Lexington, Ky. on October 5, 1862. He is listed as a prisoner who was arrested Oct. or Nov. 17, 1862 and shipped Nov. 18, 1862 to Louisville, Kentucky. The confusion over his arrest date is because two documents differ on the date. He was sent from Louisville aboard the Steamboat Mary Crane on November 29, 1862 via Cairo, Illinois to Vicksburg, Mississippi as part of an exchange of prisoners. He is said to be 5 ft. 10 in. and 27 years of age. He was given furlough from Jackson, Mississippi on Christmas Day 1862 and presumably never returned to his post as he joined the 1st Alabama Cavalry USA in March 1863.

Henry Marshall Thornton, Martin V. Thornton, and their brother James M. Thornton all enlisted in the 1st Alabama Cavalry USA. Martin V. actually joined in Decatur, Alabama on July 8, 1862. (It was actually a Tennessee unit comprised of Alabama members at the time it was organized and when Martin joined. It later became the 1st Alabama.) He died on November 10, 1862 and is buried in the Nashville National Cemetery. Henry M. and brother James M. travelled to Glendale, Mississippi where they joined the 1st Alabama on March 23, 1863. Henry was promoted to Sergeant on July 1, 1863 and died 3 December 1863 in Corinth, Mississippi. His effects were sent home with his brother which would have been James M. James M. (my great great grandfather) was mustered out on December 22, 1863 in Memphis, Tennessee. He served as a teamster during his enlistment.

It is interesting that Henry M. did not desert the Confederate ranks when Martin and David did. He is the only one who was married and had children, so he may have feared for their safety if he were to leave. It is also possible that he did not have the same opportunity for escape that his brothers had. It is interesting that David managed to avoid arrest by the Confederates without joining the Union. James M. was probably not around when the others were forced into service with the Confederates or managed to escape to some of the hiding places in the area.

Henry's widow married a gentleman named Moses L. Johnson who was the son of Price M. Johnson and Nancy Kizziah Aldridge in 1869. Moses filed a claim (for a mule for which he received $140) with the Southern Claims Commission that indicates he was arrested by the Confederates in October 1862 and imprisoned in Columbus, Mississippi. After 5 months, he escaped and made his way home by cutting through the floor of the prison. He joined the 1st Alabama Cavalry USA around September 1863 when he and others from the area made their way to Glendale, Mississippi to join. He served until 1867 where he received an honorable discharge from the Union Army.

Sources:
David F. Thornton, compiled military record (private, company H, 43rd Alabama Regiment, Infantry), Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Alabama, available online by subscription at Footnote.com, accessed 31 May 2007.

Henry M. Thornton, compiled military record (sergeant, company A, 1st Alabama, Cavalry), Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers who Served in Organizations from the State of Alabama, micropublication M276. (Washington, DC: National Archives.) [photocopy ordered from National Archives and in my personal files]

Henry Marshall Thornton, compiled military record (private, company H, 43rd Alabama Regiment, Infantry), Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Alabama, available online by subscription at Footnote.com, accessed 31 May 2007.

James M. Thornton, compiled military record (private, company A, 1st Alabama, Cavalry), Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers who Served in Organizations from the State of Alabama, micropublication M276. (Washington, DC: National Archives.) [photocopy ordered from National Archives and in my personal files]

James M. Thornton file, no. 606.498, pension file. (Washington, DC: National Archives). [photocopy ordered from National Archives and in my personal files]

Martin V. Thornton, compiled military record (private, company A, 1st Alabama, Cavalry), Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers who Served in Organizations from the State of Alabama, micropublication M276. (Washington, DC: National Archives.) [photocopy ordered from National Archives and in my personal files]

Morton V. Thornton, compiled military record (private, company H, 43rd Alabama Regiment, Infantry), Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Alabama, available online by subscription at Footnote.com, accessed 31 May 2007.

Moses L. Johnson, Southern Claims Commission Approved Claims, 1871-1880: Alabama, micropublication M2062. (Washington, DC: National Archives), roll 9. Available online via subscription at Footnote.com, accessed 31 May 2007.

Nancy J. Thornton file, no. 774214, widow's pension file, (Washington, DC: National Archives). [Photocopy ordered from National Archives and in my personal files]

Todd, Glenda McWhirter. First Alabama Cavalry, U.S.A: Homage to Patriotism. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1999.

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3 Comments:

  • There is a marriage record for Price M. Johnson and Kezziah Alred for 10 October 1822, in Jefferson Co., Alabama. Kezziah was probably the daughter of Moses Allred, who lived in Jefferson County at that time. There was also a Thomas Allred in Blount Co., one county over. I believe he and Moses were probably brothers.

    By Blogger VJ, at 9:28 PM  

  • There is a marriage record for Price M. Johnson and Kezziah Alred for 10 October 1822, in Jefferson Co., Alabama. Kezziah was probably the daughter of Moses Allred, who lived in Jefferson County at that time. There was also a Thomas Allred in Blount Co., one county over. I believe he and Moses were probably brothers.

    By Blogger VJ, at 9:29 PM  

  • I do have that marriage recorded; however, I'll have to look up what made me (and other Aldridge researchers) believe that it was really an Aldridge instead of an Allred. I've got it in some folders, but I recorded some of that information on an old computer program that wasn't as fully functional as my present software so some of the documentation is only in my files.

    By Blogger Lori Thornton, at 9:49 PM  

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