Jeremiah Turner’s fateful day – February 14, 1864

Posted on Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Jeremiah Turner (Co. F, 7th Tenn. Inf.) was injured in an extraordinary way. (Courtesy of Lamont Wade)

Jeremiah Turner survived all of his regiment’s battles only to be crippled by an unusual injury on February 14, 1864.

My friend and fellow 7th Tennessee Infantry historian, Lamont Wade has assembled the evidence and determined Pvt. Turner was severely injured when a tree fell upon his tent. Jeremiah Turner, though crippled for the rest of his life by this freakish event, did survive the tree’s dangers; at least one other tent occupant, Pvt. Richard Coley was killed.

Here are Lamont Wade’s findings:

For Jeremiah Turner the one day of the entire war which had the most significant physical impact upon him and upon the rest of his life was the day he was injured by a tree that fell on his tent.

In 1903 he applied for a pension to help compensate him for the effects of this injury.

In that application he stated that “My hips were badly bruised and my spine was injured…and I am unable to do manual labor.”

In post-war photos he was shown holding a cane. Since beginning this journal I have often wondered when and where this accident occurred. Based on the accumulation of evidence described below I have concluded that Jeremiah was injured on February 14, 1864, at winter quarters near Cross Keys, Virginia.

The facts-

1. Per his pension application, it occurred while John Sloan was Captain of Co F. Sloan was appointed at Gettysburg and served until April, 1865.

2. Per his pension application, it occurred while in his tent cleaning his gun for inspection. This was more likely to be in bad or cold weather, since they would clean weapons outdoors otherwise.

3. Absence of injury report on other records: The only muster cards missing in Jeremiah’s records are from January-February, 1864, and September-October, 1864. If he had received this injury at some other time it would have probably been recorded in his CMSR, so the injury was likely to have occurred during these missing months.

4. Per account of Richard O’Sullivan in 55th Virginia Infantry: During February, 1864, their winter quarters near Harrisonburg were “in a wood” where the chance of falling trees was greater than elsewhere.

5. Per CMSR, JT was sick at Staunton beginning Feb 28, the day before the regiment began the trip back to Orange Courthouse. This may have been the earliest opportunity for injured men to go to hospital since early Feb. The wounded and injured were often taken by wagon ahead of marching troops. The 7th left Harrisonburg for Orange CH by way of Staunton on March 1.

6. Per a Quarterly Return attached to the CMSR of Rufus Hester, Pvt. Richard Coley/Corley of Co F was “accidently killed” on February 14, 1864. There was no cause of death recorded and there was no enemy in the area at that time. Turner family legend has it that one or two men were in the tent with JT and were killed when the tree fell on them.

7. Day of the week: JT swore in his pension application that his injury occurred on a Sunday morning. The day Richard Coley was “accidently killed” was February 14, 1864, which was ….. a Sunday!!

Lamont Wade has chronicled the 7th Tennessee’s day-by-day movements and posted them on his blog:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Civil-War-Journal-Jeremiah-Turner-the-7th-Tennessee-Infantry/217025828317262

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