The Civil War and Tipton County

Governor’s Island, N.Y., where Confederate soldiers were held as prisoners of war was reported to be the most “comfortable” of the prisons built to house soldiers during the Civil War. 


Prisoners of war

Fort Morgan’s surrender closed the port of Mobile as port city but the city itself remained under Confederate occupation. The men of the First Tennessee Heavy Artillery had witnessed Farragut’s ships passing Fort Morgan on the 5th. Bravely withstanding the siege and bombardment, the luckless rebels became prisoners again, some for the second and third time.  16-year-old P. A. Skeen, in Captain T. N. Johnston’s Co. A. wrote:  “(I) was in the siege of Fort Morgan 18 days…was taken prisoner (and)…sent first to the New Orelans Cotton Press No. 4 then to Governor’s Island, New York.” 

  Twenty-eight-year-old Tipton native Alfred A. Myers of Captain James A. Fisher’s Company B. missed imprisonment and was discharged at Mobile Aug. 27.  His Tipton neighbors were not so fortunate.  They were sent to the Union prison at Elmira, N.Y.  Most were exchanged in February 1865.  Benjamin H. Ferrell was paroled at Memphis May 25, 1865.  Employed as a carpenter, Ben joined the Joe Brown Bivouac, United Confederate Veterans. He became an inmate of the Confederate Soldier’s Home at the Hermitage near Nashville on March 5, 1908 and where he died Feb. 29, 1912.  The old soldier was buried in Home Cemetery Grave #246.

Sergeant James Hughlett is buried in Covington’s Munford Cemetery.  He was released from Elmira Feb. 13, 1865 and refused to be exchanged.

G. J. Hutchison was ordered to be exchanged but apparently sent to a Union hospital at Baltimore, Md.  He survived, was active in the United Confederate Veterans and received a Confederate soldier’s pension from the State of Tennessee in 1927.  He died at Ripley Dec. 5, 1933. 

William W. Lea died of pneumonia at Elmira February 6, 1865 and was buried in the prison cemetery, grave #1870.

William F. McGuire died of pneumonia March 25, 1865 and buried in the Elmira prison cemetery in Grave #1625. 

Frank A. St. Sure had served the Confederacy in the army, infantry, artillery and cavalry.  After being exchanged, Frank joined his comrades of Co. I, 7th Tennessee Cavalry; his service ended in May; paroled at Tuskegee, Ala. on the May 6.

John Peter Townsend was exchanged Feb. 13, 1865.  He died at Covington in 1882.

Former cavalry lieutenant Peter Townsend Winn, had enlisted in the First Tennessee in January 1864. He wrote:

“I was detailed for ordnance service at Fort Morgan about the last of July or 1st of August 1864 and while in the shell room handling a 128-pound solid shot with my feet down between shells and in a standing position I wrenched my back and rupturing or otherwise injuring my left kidney and have never regained my health.  In a few days I was taken prisoner and held a prisoner but was released from Elmira, New York at the time of the surrender.” 

Arriving at Richmond, Lt. Winn was hospitalized and later furloughed for 30 days beginning March 1, 1865.  Following the war, he farmed near Covington and joined the Joe Brown Bivouac in 1899.  Winn received an indigent soldier’s pension from the State of Tennessee and died Aug. 28, 1904 with burial buried in Covington’s Munford Cemetery.

Hamilton H. Wiseman was ordered to be exchanged Feb. 13, but two days later was in a hospital at Baltimore suffering with chronic dysentery. He may have died there.

Mobile remained under Confederate control.  In March 1865, Major General Edward S. Canby led nearly 50,000 Federal troops, in a campaign to capture the city.  Mobile was finally captured on April 12, three days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, Va.

Continued next week.

Lisa DeLancey is a staff writer for The Leader, focusing on education. She is a 2016 graduate of The University of Memphis.