Daniel's Tombstone

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The Savannah Courier, Thursday, August 17, 1995

Forgotten Soldiers

By Tony Hays, Historian

Living as I do now, in Kuwait, the specter of war still hovers over everything we see and do here. Newspapers constantly remind us of the conflict just four years past. Landmines are still here. Unexploded bombs are a fact of life. And a trip north toward Iraq, reveals the wreckage of war strung out along Mutlaa Ridge where the Coalition forces devastated the retreating Iraqis. Recently, I was out in the desert near Mutlaa and I stumbled across the grave of an unknown soldier. Only a simple wooden marker sits atop the spot, and only the scorching desert wind visits the grave, whipping across the sun-baked sand. It reminded me of the other graves, marked graves among the cedar hills of Hardin County. And in some of those graves lie forgotten solders of past American wars. Regretfully, due to the passage of time and human error, some veterans go for decades unheralded lying in mismarked graves. Such was the case of Daniel Adams of Hardin County Tennessee.

In the old Lebanon Cemetery between Millidgeville and Saltillo on Highway 69, there stood for many years a stone marker for a Daniel Adams Andrews, a soldier in the Tennessee Militia during the first Seminole War in 1818. The only problem this is that there was no Daniel Adams Andrews in the Tennessee Militia during the Seminole War.

The stone in question, according to some sources, is perhaps the oldest in the cemetery, so the exact cause of the mistake is lost in the dusty halls of time. But thanks to Ed Adams, great-great-grandson of Daniel Adams (the actual occupant of the grave), the error has been corrected and Private Daniel Adams can now take his rightful place in history.

In 1817, the United States was faced with a growing problem along Georgia's southern border. Runaway slaves and outlaws were fleeing Spanish-controlled Florida. Frontier dwellers in Georgia clashed with the Seminole Indians who were harboring the fugitives. The U.S. mounted an expedition in early 1818 to punish the Seminoles for their activity.

In need of a strong commander, U.S. military authorities selected the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson, to head the expedition. Jackson recruited a sizable force from Tennessee to march on Florida.

It was at this junction that Daniel Adams became involved. Adams enlisted in Tarpley Andrews company of mounted infantry around February 1, 1818 at Fayetteville, Tenn. Andrews' company was assigned to the 2nd Regiment of Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Gunmen, commanded by Thomas Williamson. The initial enlistment term was for six months.

Adams was thirty years old at the time of his enlistment. As a private, he probably was required to provide his own weapon and horse. Normal avenues of supply were not available on the Tennessee frontier so soldiers were expected to provide much of their own equipment. Settlers, providers of a whole range of goods and services, traveled with the troops, but they could supply only a fraction of the materials to outfit an army. Typically, during this period, armies lived off the land on long marches

When Andrew Jackson arrived on the Georgia border with his troops, Daniel Adams among them, he promptly pursued the Seminoles into Spanish Florida. Always the impetuous hothead, Jackson deposed the Spanish government, executed two British subjects accused of aiding and abetting the Seminoles, thus starting a movement in Congress aimed to censure him for exceeding his authority. But Jackson claimed that he had the prior approval of President James Monroe's administration and censure effort failed.

The expedition only lasted five months, and Daniel Adams emerged from the journey no worse for the wear. They returned to Tennessee in late June of 1818. Adams was honorably discharged in Columbia meriting "the applause of his country."

Bounty land was made available for veterans such as Adams in 1850, and he promptly made application for his eighty acres. His petition was granted, and in 1855 when additional land was made available, Adams applied for his second land warrant.

After Adams' death, a stone was placed on his grave at Lebanon Cemetery, and that was when the mistaken identity occurred. I have to admit that I was aware of the stone of Darnel Adams Andrews, but that it could have occurred to me. It took Ed Adams to track the problem down and set it straight. He applied for and was given a new corrected grave marker and Daniel Adams is now properly identified as a participant in one of Old Hickory's triumphant expeditions.

Daniel Adams was lucky. Hundreds, Perhaps even thousands, of unmarked graves dot the Hardin County landscape Thankfully, the Hardin County Historical Society has prepared names for many of those lying in unmarked spots. But there will always remain the unfortunate whose grave go unknown and unheralded.

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