The Writing Process — Tennessee Valor (Bullets & Beans)

Posted on Friday, December 24th, 2010

The 7th Tennessee Regiment may have had as many as 17 wagons

The Writing Process — Tennessee Valor (Bullets & Beans)

I enjoyed 5 hours of research trying to determine the answer to two questions;

1) How many men supported the combat soldiers?

And 2) how many wagons did the 7th Tennessee possess as the regiment marched from Virginia to Gettysburg?

I read somewhere (I can’t remember where) that during World War II, for every G.I. who fired his weapon there were 15 others in support. This led me to wonder, what did the riflemen and the officers of the 7th Tennessee have in logistical support? I plunged back into the 7th’s personnel records seeking Tennesseans who had other duties besides standing upon the firing line. Surprisingly, I found many–48 to be exact. Mathematically, that give me a simple number to answer the question of men in support—there were 48 noncombat positions to support the 282 men who advanced into the killing zone.

As I wrestled with the wagon question, it became obvious I did not know how much a Civil War-era wagon could hold. The answer came from someone who knew how to supply an army on the march–William T. Sherman. He noted during his trek to the sea, “An ordinary army-wagon drawn by six mules may be counted on to carry three thousand pounds net, equal to the food of a full regiment [1000 men] for one day.” However, he did mention that few wagons actually carried that weight due to the poor condition of the roads, but that does give us a general idea.

It has been said that following Gettysburg, Lee’s wagon train of wounded stretched for 17 miles. The 7th Tennessee’s wagons were part of that massive convoy, and some of them contained wounded Tennesseans—27 as recorded from the Personnel Records. Again, I delved into the list of noncombat soldiers and determined there were 13 men identified as “Teamsters”, another listed as “Ambulance Driver,” and another named as “Forage Train Teamster.” There also was one soldier listed as “Wagon Master” and 2 men named as “Teamster Wagon Masters”. The wagon master would have controlled the regiment’s wagons, rather than driving a vehicle. Since it was only necessary for one teamster to handle a 4-horse or 6-mule team, and because Lee wanted every man who could carry a weapon on the battle line, that leads one to assume the 7th Tennessee had 17 vehicles.

How would 17 wagons be distributed?

One is an ambulance; that is certainly the vehicle which would carry the ambulance driver, plus Surgeon James L. Fite and his 2 assistants.

The other 16; how about one per company? That would take 10 more, leaving 6.

Another one seems apparent; a Regimental Forage wagon, driven by the forage train teamster and commanded by a regimental forage master.

We can figure Colonel John A. Fite would get one.

I’m suggesting that the Regimental Quartermaster department (led by Cpt. Marcus L. Walsh) would get another.

That leaves just three; could they have gone to the Regimental Blacksmith, the Regimental Commissary, and to the Regimental Ordnance?

I will keep searching!

One last note. When US General Kirkpatrick’s cavalry swept down upon the Confederate wagon train outside Greencastle, PA the 7th Tennessee lost two wagons and two teamsters, and five wounded soldiers to the Yanks; a total of seven men captured: Teamsters John Canary and Thomas Hatcher, and the following wounded; 3rd Lt. Thomas L. Jennings (Co. F), Cpl. J.P. Bashaw (Co. I), and Pvts. Thomas Brasnaham (Co. C), John K. Lane (Co. K), and James L. Seat (Co. K).

7th Tennessee Teamster Roster

7th Tennessean Duty
Pvt. Dejohnson Vaughn Regimental Wagon Master
Pvt. Jessie C. Gillespie Regimental Teamster (wagon master)
Pvt. John F. Cage Regimental Teamster (wagon master)
Pvt. Samuel Alexander Regimental Teamster
Pvt. Frederick Ballentine Regimental Teamster
Pvt. John Canary Regimental Teamster
Pvt. Thomas Davis Regimental Teamster
Pvt. John B. Edwards Regimental Teamster
Pvt. James Gillespie Regimental Teamster
Pvt. Thomas W. Hatcher Regimental Teamster
Pvt. Faustulus Hughes Regimental Teamster
Pvt. John B. McClain Regimental Teamster
Pvt. Daniel J. McMurtry Regimental Teamster
Pvt. Cornelius Organ Regimental Teamster
Pvt. William Taylor Regimental Teamster
Pvt. Solomon S. Williams Regimental Teamster
Pvt. James P. Sherrill Regimental Ambulance Driver
Pvt. James A. Neal Regimental Forage Master
Pvt. Lafayette Parvine Regimental Forage Train Teamster
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