On Sept. 18, 1863, an incident occurred among a squad of soldiers from Tipton’s Company C., 9th Tennessee Infantry. The story is not one of carnage and valor; the only casualty was that of an old, probably stolen, rooster.
Thomas J. Walker of Wesley, Haywood Co., was the principal actor and author. The area south of Chattanooga was destitute of provisions; rations were scarce. Walker and his five messmates acquired an old rooster to eat. The famished squad put their bird in the pot to boil. Just before the foul was ready to eat, Walker’s squad was called to go on picket duty. Walker was a member of the regimental color guard and exempt from such duty. The five soldiers admonished Walker to eat his part of the rooster but to make sure 5/6 of the bird was left in the pot for their return.
Needless to say, young Walker ate his pro rata portion; then another and another until all the flesh of the foul was completely eaten. Walker recalled his full stomach caused him to fall sound to sleep and slumber peacefully, dreaming of home and his sweetheart. Suddenly awakened by his returning comrades, Walker’s own words narrates the unfolding drama:
“Instead of my dreams being a reality, when I fully came to myself, I was in the grasp of those five half-starved boys just off of picket duty. Four of them had hold of each one of my limbs and the fifth was slipping a large piece of wood between my teeth. Struggling and unable to articulate on account of the piece of wood that by this time he had gotten between my teeth and pried my mouth open, I said, ‘What does this mean?’ The big fellow that was looking after my head, said, ‘Be quiet, my boy, we will show you in a few minutes. He then took out of his shirt a long rubber tube about six or seven feet long about the size of my finger. It had a bulb in the center with a funnel at the end. Will you believe it, without lubricating it, he rammed half that tube down my throat and commenced pouring water into that funnel by the quart. He would pour in water and then start the pump. Chicken and bread galore would come pouring out like a never ceasing fountain until the last vestige of that rooster was out of my stomach! Then he said, ‘I will pour in a half gallon for good measure for fear that some of the gravy might be left.’ As they let me up after having removed the gag from between my teeth, the spokesman said, ‘Now, damn you, we determined if our stomachs couldn’t get part of that chicken, yours shouldn’t either!
Maney’s brigade went into action on Sept. 19 with Gen. N. B. Forrest’s cavalry on their right and Gen. O. F. Strahl’s brigade on their left. Maney’s troops included the 1st and 27th, fourth provisional, 6th and 9th regiments and the 24th sharpshooters battalion. (Tipton’s soldiers were in the consolidated 6th & 9th Tennessee commanded by Col. Geo. C. Porter). Maney reported:
“My own line numbered less than a 1,000 guns…(Forrest was forced back; he was at his battery; one or two regiments of Strahl’s Brigade charged the Federals gallantly…(Maney and Strahl was attacked) was ordered to fall back on Preston Smith’s and Jackson’s brigades in rear on a hilltop…”