History of the 3rd TN Mtd Inf Regt, USA

A History of the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment, USA

by Robert A. Barker

[Editor's note: Robert A. "Bob" Barker, deceased, was a well-known local historian and researcher in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. He resided in both Andrews, NC and Washington, DC where he was employed by the Veteran's Administration.]

In the mid-summer of 1864, Brigadier-General Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee, issued commissions to R. A. Crawford as Colonel and Joseph Divine as Lt. Colonel and authorized them to raise a regiment of Union Volunteers in East Tennessee to be mustered in to serve one hundred days. R. A. Crawford never reported or accepted his commission and the regiment was never fully organized. Company A was raised by Captain Robert C. Carter in Greene, Cocke and Jefferson Counties and was mustered in at Strawberry Plains on 30 June 1864 to serve 100 days.

Company A at the Muster Out in Knoxville, December 1864, showed the following on the muster out roll:
Officers: 3; Sergeants: 5; Corporals: 7; Privates: 49; Deserters: 34.

Company B was raised by Captain Benson M. Bailey in Hawkins and Greene Counties.
Officers: 3; Sergeants: 5; Corporals: 3; Privates: 36; Deserters: 55

Company E was raised by Captain Joseph M. Green in Blount County, and this company appears to have had no deserters from 8 August 1864 to 23 December 1864, when this Company was mustered out of the service.
Officers: 3; Sergeants: 5; Corporals: 8; Privates: 82

Companies A, B and E were stationed in East Tennessee and not under the command of Lt. Col. Joe Divine. Companies C, D, G and H were organized in Monroe County and vicinity and were mustered in at Loudon, Monroe County, Tennessee in August 1864 to serve one hundred days. These companies were known as Lt. Col. Joe Divine's Battalion. None of the companies had authorized strength of 100 men. Lt. Col. Joe Divine seems to have had his Headquarters about Loudon and Madisonville in the summer and fall of 1864. There is but a Muster In and a Muster Out Roll on each Company in the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry; and this constitutes the sole military history of the organization, but scraps of information have been picked up from pension files of survivors and deceased members of the organization. There is no record of the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry being in action against Confederate Troops at any time; however, it appears that companies C and G had a skirmish with some Indians from Colonel Thomas' Legion near the site of present Robbinsville, then known as Ft. Montgomery and then in Cherokee but now in Graham County, NC in November 1864, both sides retiring after firing some shots at random.

Private Benson T. Tilson or Wilson of Company B refused to be arrested at Greeneville and was shot dead by order of Brigadier-General Alvan Cullen Gillam, West-Pointer commander of expedition and operations in East Tennessee from August 1864 to March 1865, during which time the famous Confederate raider, General John Hunt Morgan, was surprised and killed while attempting escape at Greeneville, 4 September 1864.

John H. Cagle of Company E. was killed in action by Confederates at Lee's Ferry in Anderson County on 6 September 1864. Tom Boyd of Sweetwater obtained a pension for his widow and then, when the substitute muster roll of Captain Goldman Bryson's Company was made up by Tom Boyd, he fraudulently entered the name of Cagle on the roll; but changed his first name to James. However, an alert clerk in the pension office prevented any payment of duplicate pension in this case.

Captain James L. Pearson of Company D was killed on 22 October 1864. He was shot by 2nd Lt. James M. Giles of the same company who then deserted.

Enoch Farmer of Company G was killed in Madisonville on 14 November 1864, but he was engaged in horseplay with G. Westerly Carringer also known as Daniel Nathan Carringer, Wes Carringer, G. Westerly Carringer and Daniel W. Carringer of present Graham County. The killing was an accident.

Benjamin Mull and John Cottrell, both of Company D, are listed on the Muster Out Roll of the Company as killed by guerrillas in Monroe County, Tennessee, 7 December 1864.

Richard Mills and Jesse Williams are listed on the Muster Out Roll of Company H as killed by guerillas, with Mills in Monroe County 5 December 1864, and Williams in Chilhowee Valley 4 December 1864.

The same Muster Out Roll lists David Ohr (Dave Orr), Miles Gray, Bartlett Williams and George Williams, brothers of Jesse Williams, as captured in Monroe County 4 December 1864. The same Muster Out Roll lists Marion Williams, also a brother of Jesse Williams, as wounded in a skirmish in North Carolina and left there. George Williams, Bartlett Williams, and Jeff Deavers (not listed on any Muster Roll) broke jail in Asheville, NC and were killed for stealing horses in North Carolina 10 January 1865 near the Tennessee line.

Several officers of the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry were killed within a few days or a week or so after the Muster Out of the regiment at Knoxville in December 1864 and Field and Staff in early January 1865. Among those killed were Lt. Col. Joe Divine, Captain Joseph C. Gray, and Lts. Anderson C. Dean and John Bowers. All were killed in Monroe County, except Divine, who was captured in Monroe County by Confederates and killed in McMinn County a few days later. Captain Joseph C. Gray was reported killed by Bushwhackers near his home on the Monroe-Blount County line.

There seems to have been some delay at Knoxville in the Muster Out of the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry in December 1864 and when the regiment was finally disbanded and the men sent home. The effective date was recorded as 30 November 1864.

Some thirty years later, the Adjutant General of the Army, with the approval of the Secretary of War, corrected the records of the War Department as follows:

It has been determined this day, 5 March 1897, by this department that Companies A, B, C, D, E, G, and Field and Staff, 3rd Tenn Mtd Inf were mustered out of service, as follows:
Companies A & B 13 December 1864
Companies C, D, & G 22 December 1864
Company E 23 December 1864
and the Field and Staff 4 January 1865
and so much of the rolls on which they were mustered out of service as purports to fix 30 November 1864 as date of discharge is void.
by authority of the Secretary of War, 26 April 1897
F. C. Ainsworth, Colonel, US Army

It appears from memoranda in file of Louis M. Harris that it had been previously determined, on 1 February 1897, by the Adjutant General, that the correct muster out date of Company H was 23 December 1864, not 30 November 1864 as previously reported.

The correction of the date of muster out of the regiment gave several officers and a majority of the enlisted men of the regiment ninety days service, thereby making them eligible for pensions by act of Congress 27 June 1890 to which they would not have been otherwise entitled.

The Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry Union Volunteers appears to have been irregular in many respects, not only in organization but in operation and conduct of officers and men. The majority of the enlisted men appear to have been deserters from the Confederate Army and a few from the Union Army. In one or more instances, deserters from both Confederate and Union Armies joined the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry. Three deserters from the First Wisconsin Cavalry were commissioned as officers in the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry. Lt. Col. Divine's son-in-law, James L. J. Pearson, a deserter from the Union Eighth Tennessee Infantry was commissioned Captain of Company D. He had served as such only a short time when he was shot and killed by 2nd Lt. James M. Giles of the same company, who then deserted.

Several of the notorious Kirkland Bushwhackers joined the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry as volunteers including the brothers of blood-thirsty Bushwhacking John Kirkland, Confederate deserter and recognized leader of the band. A younger brother of Bushwhacking John, Jesse Kirkland, Jr., Rebel deserter and bushwhacker, was shot and killed at the Stump Ford in North Carolina by members of Tim Lyons' Company C, Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry on 3 October 1864!

In 1871, following discovery of fraud in the substitute muster roll of Captain Bryson's Union Volunteers, who were wiped out by Confederates in 1863, the Secretary of War sent 1st Lt. W. H. Clapp, Sixteenth Infantry, to investigate. In his report, Clapp never mentioned the killing of Lt. Col. Divine in 1865 but did frequently refer to many members of Captain Bryson's Company as having subsequently served in "Maj. Devine's Batt."

Lt. Clapp, who spent several weeks in Monroe County, Tennessee during the summer of 1871, seems to have had no difficulty in establishing wholesale fraud in the Bryson substitute muster roll, prepared by former Confederate Lieutenant Thomas Glenn Boyd of Sweetwater and in many other pension frauds, etc. in Monroe County, including veterans of the War of 1812. Boyd was subsequently indicted some thirty times in Federal Court at Knoxville for multiple frauds against the United States, faked his own murder by burning the body of a dead Negro to substitute for his own, and then fled to Canada in a vain effort to escape trial! Clapp, for some reason, not apparent in the records, never mentioned the case of Lt. Col. Joseph Divine, Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry.

Tom Boyd had, by a series of clever forgeries, obtained a pension for the widow of Lt. Col. Joe Divine, based on the allegation that Divine had died of smallpox before the muster out of the regiment at Knoxville, whereas Joe Divine was actually captured in Dr. Upton's cellar on the main street of Madisonville by Confederate Troops and beaten to death with clubs at Good Springs in McMinn County on 28 January 1865, twenty-four days after his discharge from the Union Army! The capture and killing of Joe Divine had been published in the newspapers at the time and the circumstances apparently were well-known in Monroe County and vicinity, but it was not until March 1876, long after Tom Boyd had been sent to the penitentiary, that the fraud in the Divine case was finally discovered officially by the government! Muster Out Roll of the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry at Knoxville, Field and Staff, shows Lt. Col. Joseph Divine, age 48, commissioned from civil life by Brig. Gen. Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee, 5 August 1864 at Loudon, Tennessee, to serve 100 days, mustered out at Knoxville, 4 January 1865, effective 30 November 1864.

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