Saturday, March 2, 2013

Company E, Arkansas 4th Infantry Battalion: The Nowell Brothers, my 2nd cousins 5x removed

Battle Flag Design for the Arkansas 4th 

The Arkansas 4th Infantry Battalion was originally organized at Little Rock, Arkansas, on November 10, 1861, with five companies from Clark, Prairie, Pulaski and White counties.  Company E was comprised of men from Pulaski and White counties.  J. M. Moore was elected Captain of the Company.  Originally, the Battalion was ordered to the defenses of Columbus, Kentucky.  By early 1862, the Battalion was assigned to protect a small island at the base of a tight double turn in the course of the Mississippi River near New Madrid, Missouri, simply referred to as Island No. 10.

Bombardment and Capture of Island Number Ten on the Mississippi River, April 7, 1862

The Federal bombardment of Island No.10 lasted from February 28 - April 8, 1862.  Due to the island's location on the bend of the River, it was an ideal place to block Union efforts to invade the South from the Mississippi River.  Federal vessels had to slow their approach in order to make the turn in the bend, effectively making them "sitting ducks".   The downside to the strategic Confederate location was that it depended on a single road for supplies and reinforcements.  If an enemy was to block the road, the Garrison would be trapped.

Following Federal Brigadier General John Pope's overland march through Missiouri, his force occupied the town of Point Pleasant, which was situated west of the island and south of New Madrid.  From their position at Point Pleasant, the Federals transported heavy siege guns towards New Madrid.  After only one day of Federal bombardment, Brigadier General John Porter McCown, the Confederate commander of the Garrison at New Madrid, gave the order to evacuate the town.  McCown removed most of his command to Island No. 10.  With Union forces now occupying New Madrid, they began to send Federal gunboats down river to attack Island No. 10.  For three weeks, the defenders of the island, were subject to heavy mortar bombardment from the Federal ships.  During this time, the Federal Army at New Madrid began digging a Canal across the neck of land to the east of the town.  Once the canal was finished, it provided the Federal Army a means of crossing the river and attacking Confederate troops on the Tennessee side. 

On April 4, 1862, Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote sent forth the USS Carondelet, under the command of Commander Henry Walke to supress the Confederate Artillery Batteries at their point of attack.  Two nights later the USS Pittsburg, under the command of Lieutenant Egbert Thompson, also made its way past the Confederate Battery.  With the support of the two Federal Gunboats, Pope was able to send his Army across the river and trap the outnumbered Confederates.  The Confederate Garrison was surrendered to Flag Officer Foote on April 8, 1862.  This was the first instance in the Civil War where the Confederate Army lost its position on the Mississippi River.  It wouldn't be the last. 

Following the Confederate defeat, the Arkansas 4th Infantry Battalion was sent to Fort Pillow, Tennessee, where they remained for only a short time.  Following the Battle of Shiloh, the Arkansas 4th Infantry Battalion was sent to Cornith, Mississippi, where the unit was assigned to Colonel Evander McNair's Brigade.  McNair had assumed command so the Brigade following General Benjamin McCulloch's death at the Battle of Pea Ridge. 

Colonel, later Brigadier General Evander McNair

On November 4, 1862, Colonel Evander McNair was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.  His Brigade included 1st and 2nd Arkansas Mounted Rifles (dismounted), the 4th Arkansas Infantry Regiment, 30th Arkansas Infantry Regiment, 4th Arkansas Infantry Battalion, and Humphrey's Arkansas Artillery Battery.

Brigadier General Thomas James Churchill

The 4th Arkansas was reorganized again at Camp Churchill Clark, Cornith, Mississippi on May 8, 1862.  McNair's Brigade was assigned to Brigadier General Thomas James Churchill's Division in General Edmund Kirby Smith's Army of Kentucky just in time to participate in the Kentucky Campaign, also known as the Confederate Heartland Offensive. 

Army of Kentucky Battle Flag

In the Fall of 1862, two Confederate Armies traversed on separate paths into Kentucky.  Their goal was to restore the power of the Confederate government in the State and to recruit its men into the service of the Confederate Army.  General Edmund Kirby Smith's newly formed Army of Kentucky moved first, departing from Knoxville, Tennessee on August 13th.  General Braxton Bragg's Army of Mississippi traveled on a parallel path through the western part of the state, departing Chattanooga, Tennessee on August 27th.  It was Smith's idea to spearhead the attack. 

On August 29, 1862, Brigadier General Patrick Cleburne led Smith's advance with Colonel John S. Scott's Cavalry in front.  The Confederates soon encountered a force of Federal Cavalry and began skirmishing.  By noon, Federal Artillery and Infantry had arrived and joined in the fighting.   The additionl Federal units forced Scott's Cavalry to retreat to Big Hill, Kentucky.   Brigadier General Mahlon D. Manson commanded the Federal forces in the area and ordered a Brigade to march towards Rogersville, Kentucky and pursue the retreating Confederates.  The Federals caught up with Cleburne's force just in time for a brief skirmish before daylight was exhausted.  That evening, Manson informed his superior, Federal Major General William "Bull" Nelson of his situation.  Nelson advised Manson to prepare another Brigade for support. 

Edmund Kirby Smith was determined to get the jump on the Yankees on the morning of August 30th.  At daylight he ordered Cleburne to attack, promising that General Thomas J. Churchill's Division would soon reinforce his troops.  Cleburne's men marched rapidly through Kingston, Kentucky, making light work of a small force of Federal skirmishers.  Cleburne finally approached Manson's line of battle near Zion Church and commenced his attack.   As the day progressed, Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill led his men along a narrow ravine that would be later referred to as "Churchill's Draw" to deliver a surprise and successful flanking attack on the Federal Position. 

As Confederates concentrated their attack on the Union right, the Federal line began to crumble.  Union troops began to retreated towards Rogersville, Kentucky, where they made a futile stand at the site of their old camp.   Bull Nelson arrived on the field in time to try to rally the Federals in the cemetery outside of Richmond, Kentucky, but it was too little, too late.  Smith's Confederates completed their rout of the Federals.  Before the battle, Smith's Confederate Army of Kentucky was comprised of roughly 6,800 men, while Nelson's Union Army of Kentucky had about 6,500.   The total number of casualties for each army was quite staggering.  The Union had suffered a staggering 5,353 casualties, 206 killed, 844 wounded, 4,303 captured or missing.  The Confederate's only suffered 451 casualties, 78 killed, 372 wounded, 1 missing.

Major General John Porter McCown

In December of 1862, McNair's Brigade was assigned to Major General John Porter McCown's Division just in time to participate in the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee which was also known as the Battle of Stones River.  On December 31, 1862, McNair's Brigade took part in a brilliant charge by McCown's Division which drove the Federal right back a distance of 3 - 4 miles, bending it back upon the Federal center, until the line was at a right angle to its original position.  This was one of the only instances that favored the Confederates during the Battle.  The Federal victory at Stones River, was costly to the Arkansas 4th Infantry Battalion.  Severely understrength due to battle losses, the Arkansas 4th Infantry Battalion was consolidated with the Arkansas 4th Infantry Regiment. 

In June of 1863, McNair's Brigade was again reassigned, this time to the Division commanded by Major General Samuel Gibbs French in Joseph E. Johnston's Department of the West.  Ulysses S. Grant was now threatening to lay Siege to Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Johnston's Department of the West was tasked with relieving Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton's beleaguered garrison at Vicksburg.  Pemberton's men had been fending for themselves since early May.  The Confederates had successfully driven off two separate Federal attacks on May 19th and 22nd, repulsing the Yankees with heavy casualties.  On May 25, 1863, Grant decided to besiege the City. 

Siege of Vicksburg, by Kurz and Allison

Meanwhile, Johnston had amassed a large Confederate force at Jackson, Mississippi and began a cautious march toward the Grant's position at Vicksburg with roughly 30,000 troops.  Grant dispatched William Tecumsah Sherman to deal with Johnston's threatening force.   By July 1, 1863, Johnston's force was in position along the Big Black River.  Three days later, Vicksburg was officially surrendered to U. S. Grant's Federal Force.  The Confederates held out for more than 40 days, however with no reinforcements and virtually no supplies, the Garrison finally surrendered on July 4, 1863.  The surrender came one day after Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg.  The combination of these two events is considered the turning point of the Civil War by many historians.

On July 5th, following the Confederate defeat at Vicksburg, General Sherman was finally free to move against Johnston.  Johnston withdrew his force back across the Big Black River with Sherman in pursuit.  By July 10, 1863, both Armies had taken up positions near Jackson, Mississippi.  Heavy fighting commenced on July 11th with an unsuccessful Federal attack.  Union Colonel Isaac C. Pugh was ordered to attack the Confederate works occupied by Confederate Brigadier General Daniel W. Adams Brigade and was repulsed with heavy casualties.  As the Federals increased pressure on the Confederates, Johnston chose to evacuate the State capital and withdraw from Jackson on July 16, 1863, rather than risk entrapment for his Army.

Following the defeat at Vicksburg, McNair's Brigade was transferred back the Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee.  The Arkansas 4th Infantry Regiment was again consolidated, this time the Regiment took on the remaining elements of the Arkansas 31st Infantry Regiment.  Three full Regiments had begun the war, now they barely filled up one Regiment.  Colonel Henry Gaston Bunn, of the Arkansas 4th Infantry Regiment commanded the consolidated Regiment.  The Regiment would end the war as the Arkansas 4th Infantry Regiment. 

Henry Gaston Bunn

The Arkansas 4th Infantry Regiment participated in the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19 - 20, 1863.  This battle pitted General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee with strength of roughly 65,000 effectives against Federal General William Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland, which contained approximately 60,000 soldiers.  The battle was named for the Chickamauga Creek, which streams near the battlefield in Northwest Georgia and flows into the Tennessee River. 

Battle of Chickamauga by Kurz and Allison, 1890

In early September of 1863, Rosecrans consolidated his scattered forces in Tennessee and Georgia.  This move put pressure on Braxton Bragg and forced his army out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, moving them south into Georgia.  Federal troops pursued Bragg's Confederates and briefly engaged them at the Battle of Davis's Crossroads on September 10th - 11th.  Bragg was determined to reoccupy Chattanooga and began advancing his troops northward on September 17, 1863. 

On the morning of September 19th, The Army of Tennessee encountered Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland near Chichamauga Creek.  Bragg ordered his army to attack.  Bragg's men strongly assaulted, but couldn't break the Federal line.  The next morning, Bragg again ordered his men to attack.  Rosecrans was misinformed that he had a gap in line.  He then ordered Federal reinforcements to close up the gap in his ranks.  This move caused an actual gap to appear in the Federal line.  Lieutenant General James Longstreet, on loan from the Army of Northern Virginia, ordered eight Brigades forward to attack the newly created gap.  McNair's Brigade was one of the Confederate Brigades tasked to attack the gap in the Federal line.  Viciously the Confederates raced through the gap, completely driving one third of the Federal force, along with Rosecrans, from the battlefield.  The men of the Arkansas 4th Infantry Regiment helped seal one of the Confederacy's greatest victories in the Western theater of the War.  It wasn't without cost to the consolidated 4th/31st/4th Arkansas, who lost 24 percent of the 385 soldiers engaged in the Battle of Chickamauga.  Brigadier General Evander McNair was also wounded during the battle.  He was sent home to Mississippi to recover.  Following his recovery he was reassigned to the Trans-Mississippi Department, where he served for the remainder of the war. 

After the Battle of Chickamauga, McNair's Brigade moved back into Central Mississippi to oppose William Tecumsah Sherman's Meridian Campaign.  Sherman had organized a force of roughly 20,000 men to move into Central Mississippi and wreck havoc on railroads, lines of communication or anything else believed to be of use to the Confederacy.  The Meridian Campaign was a tune up for the "total war" tactics Sherman would later use in Georgia and South Carolina. 

Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk

McNair's Brigade was assigned to the command of Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk, who was in command of all of the Confederate forces in Mississippi.  Polk consolidated all of the available forces in the region to counter Sherman's threat, but inevitably failed to stop Sherman's destruction.  Meridian was effectively destroyed.  The bulk of Polk's troops were reassigned back to the Army of Tennessee in time to oppose Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. 

Union Major General William T. Sherman and his staff in the trenches outside of Atlanta

In the Summer of 1864, newly appointed Brigadier General Daniel Harris Reynolds assumed command of McNair's Brigade.  Reynolds had risen up the Confederate ranks, originally starting as a Captain in the 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifle Regiment.  Reynolds became the Regiment's Major on April 14, 1862, its Lieutenant Colonel on May 1, 1862 and its Colonel on September 20, 1863 following the Battle of Chickamauga.  On March 5, 1864, Reynolds was appointed Brigadier General. 

Daniel Harris Reynolds

The Consolidated Arkansas 4th Infantry Regiment spent the Summer and Fall of 1864 opposing General William Tecumsah Sherman's Atlanta Campaign.  After the fall of Atlanta, the 4th Arkansas along with the remainder of the Army of Tennessee, now under the command of Lieutenant General John Bell Hood, moved their operations back into Tennessee.

Lieutenant General John Bell Hood

By the Fall of 1864, Hood had been twice severely injured in battle.  He was the victim of an artillery shell that rendered his left arm useless for the rest of his life at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Hood was again wounded while leading a charge at the Battle of Chickamauga, causing his right leg to be amputated 4 inches below the hip.  Despite his injuries, Hood had risen to fame as one of the Confederacy's most promising Generals. 

The Consolidated 4th Arkansas participated in Hood's Tennessee Campaign, also known as the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.  The Campaign was actually a series of battles that took place in Alabama, Tennessee and Northwest Georgia from September 18 - December 27, 1864.  Following Sherman's Atlanta Campaign, Hood's men returned to Tennessee to destroy Sherman's lines of communication and supporting infrastructure in the area.  Sherman's Federals briefly pursued Hood's Confederates, but abandoned their pursuit and returned to Atlanta for Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea".  This left the Union forces under the command of Major General George H. Thomas to deal with Hood's impending threat. 

Hood hoped to tag a quick victory against Major General John Schofield's troops before they could converge with Thomas's Army.  He attempted to do so at the Battle of Spring Hill on November 29, 1864.  Poorly coordinated Confederate attacks allowed Schofield to escape.  On November 30th, Hood continued his offensive against Schofield's Federals who were firmly entrenched at Franklin, Tennessee.  

Battle of Franklin, by Kurz and Allison (1891)

Hood's men led a series of failed assaults against Schofield's position.  The Confederate assault included eighteen Brigades and culminated in devastating losses to the men and the leadership of the Army of Tennessee.  The Army lost fourteen Confederate Generals (six killed or mortally wounded, seven wounded, and one captured) and 55 regimental commanders were casualties.  Many historians have referred to this as the "Pickett's/Pettigrew's Charge of the West" due to the severe losses suffered by the Confederates.  Schofield's troops were able to carry out their planned withdrawal in order and eventually link up with Thomas's Army. 

Unwilling to abandon his original attack plan, Hood's force marched wearily towards the heavily fortified city of Nashville and proceeded to besiege the town with inferior forces.  Two weeks later, on December 15 -16, 1864, the combined armies of Thomas and Schofield, attacked the depleted Army of Tennessee at Nashville. 

On December 15, 1864, General Thomas laid out a plan to launch a diversionary attack on the Confederate right.  The intended threat to the Confederates would actually be their left.  He assumed Hood would counter the attack and divert troops from their left to their right.  Hood's Confederates held strong and sent two Brigades to reinforce the Confederate left. 

The Confederate line was much more stronger and compact on December 16th.  At least that's what it seemed at first appearance.   In reality the Confederate works were put up hastily on the evening of December 15th by tired and battle weary Confederates.  The trenches were shallow and had no covering or abatis.   The fortification was also located on salient, surrounded on three sides by the Federals, which allowed easy bombardment from the enemy.  The Union attack on the 16th proved to be much stronger and more coordinated than the attacks on the 15th.  At 3:00pm, Federal Brigadier General John McArthur sent a notice to General Thomas that he was going to attack the Confederate fortifications unless he heard anything contrary within five minutes. 

McArthur's Brigade, along with two additional Brigades, carried out the initial attack on the Confederate line.  Each Brigade approached the salient from a different direction.   The attacks were well coordinated and devastated the Confederate line on all fronts.  The Confederate line folded.  As nighttime fell, Hood's Army retreated toward Franklin.  Federal casualties in the Battle of Nashville were 387 killed, 2,562 wounded, and 112 missing.  Confederate casualties numbered approximately 2,500 killed or wounded and nearly 5,000 missing or captured. 

Following the Battle of Nashville, the Army of Tennessee was decimated.  The Arkansas Regiments of Reynold's Brigade marched all he way to Tuepelo, Mississippi, where they went in to Winter Camp on January 10, 1865.  On January 30th, Reynold's Brigade broke camp and began their arduous travel northward to link up with Joseph E. Johnston's troops.   The Brigade participated in its final contest of the Civil War at the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina on March 19, 1865.  Following the battle, the Unit marched to Smithfield, North Carolina where the entire Brigade was consolidated into one understrength Regiment, the 1st Consolidated Mounted Rifles.

The 1st Arkansas Consolidated Mounted Rifles surrendered with the Army of Tennessee at Greensboro, North Carolina, April 26, 1865.  The Regiment was paroled on May 1, 1865, at Jamestown, North Carolina.   After the surrender, the men were offered free rail transportation in the direction of their homes, by what was left of the Southern railway companies.  Most of the men traveled by rail, where they could.  A large number of men were killed or seriously injured in a railroad accident at Flat Creek Bridge, Tennessee on May 25, 1865. 

Three brothers from the Nowell family served in Company E of the Arkansas 4th Infantry Battalion.  Each brother was born in Madison County, Tennessee, but made their way to Arkansas by the beginning of the Civil War. 

Dempsey Nowell, Jr. was born on March 12, 1845 in Madison County, Tennessee.  He is my 2nd cousin 5x removed.  Dempsey is a name that was used in several early generations of the Nowell family.  It is believed that my 6th Great Grandfather, Dempsey Nowell, Sr. (1728-1777), was the first Nowell born in the state of North Carolina.  Dempsey Nowell, Sr.  was also the Great Grandfather of this particular Dempsey Nowell.  This branch of the Nowell family originally moved to Tennessee sometime in the 1820's.  By 1860, Dempsey and his family had relocated to Duncan, Pulaski County Arkansas.  He enlisted as a Private in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 1, 1861 at the age of 17. 

1st Muster Roll for Dempsey

Dempsey was captured at the Battle of Nashville on December 16, 1864. 

POW Roll showing Dempsey's capture

He was originally confined to a Federal Military Prison in Louisville, Kentucky. 

POW Roll showing Dempsey's confinement in Louisville, Kentucky

On December 21, 1864, Dempsey was transferred to Camp Douglas, Illinois.  

POW Roll showing Dempsey's transfer to Camp Douglas

He remained in confinement at Camp Douglas until he was released on June 19, 1865 in accordance with General Orders No. 109. 

POW Roll showing Dempsey's release from Camp Douglas

Following his release, Dempsey returned to Madison County, Tennessee where he married Elizabeth Barrett on October 30, 1866 at the age of 21.  Sometime before 1900, Dempsey and his family moved back to Arkansas.  He lived an additional 61 years following the end of the Civil War.  Dempsey Nowell, Jr. died in Benton Township, Faulkner County, Arkansas on March 14, 1826 at the age of 81.  His burial location is not known at the time of this entry.

Rev. Reuben F. Nowell was born in 1835 in Madison County, Tennessee.  He is also my 2nd cousin 5x removed.  Marriage records indicate Reuben was living in Arkansas by 1858.  He enlisted as a Private in El Paso, Arkansas on March 1, 1862 at the age of 27. 

1st Muster for Reuben

Unfortunately for Reuben, he contracted tuberculosis sometime in 1862.  He was finally sent to Lookout Mountain Hospital on July 24, 1862.

Muster Roll showing Reuben was hospitalized in July of 1862

He made an attempt to return to serve his country, but apparently he was too sick.  Reuben left the Regiment again in May of 1863, this time never to return. 

Muster Roll showing Reuben left the Regiment again in May of 1863.

Reuben died sometime in 1863.  He was 28 years old.  It is said that when Reuben returned home, his companion helped him get out of the wagon and assisted him in getting inside his cabin where he later died.   He is believed to have been buried at the Patton Hollow Cemetery in an unmarked grave. 

Samuel J. Nowell was born April 19, 1841 in Madison County, Tennessee.  He is also my 2nd cousin 5x removed.  Census records indicate that Samuel continued to live in Madison County, Tennessee until joining his brothers in the Arkansas 4th Infantry Battalion on March 1, 1862 at El Paso, Arkansas where he enlisted as a Private at the age of 20. 

1st Muster Roll for Samuel

Poor health also affected Samuel's service to the Confederacy.  He very well could have contracted tuberculosis like his brother Reuben.  Samuel only served for a total of 14 days before returning home with an unspecified illness.  Samuel left on a boat and returned home on March 15, 1862. 

Muster Roll indicating Samuel left the Regiment on March 15, 1862

Confederate service records indicate he never returned to the Regiment.   Samuel recovered from his illness and lived an additional 58 years following the end of the Civil War.  Census records show Samuel returned to Madison County, Tennessee, where he lived until he died on January 26, 1923 at the age of 81.  His burial location is not known at the time of this entry. 

Since all three of these men were brothers, I'm only providing one relationship chart.

Here's my relation to Dempsey Nowell Jr.

Dempsey Nowell Jr. (1845 - 1926)
is your 2nd cousin 5x removed
Dempsey Nowell (1805 - 1846)
father of Dempsey Nowell Jr.
John Nowell (1765 - 1830)
father of Dempsey Nowell
Dempsey Nowell Sr. (1728 - 1777)
father of John Nowell
Dempsey Nowell Jr. (1755 - 1810)
son of Dempsey Nowell Sr.
Rev. John Downing Nowell (1803 - 1859)
son of Dempsey Nowell Jr.
Joseph Warren Nowell (1829 - 1889)
son of Rev. John Downing Nowell
Walter Hinton Nowell (1855 - 1922)
son of Joseph Warren Nowell
Joseph Warren Nowell (1889 - 1954)
son of Walter Hinton Nowell
Ruth Adelaide Nowell Stokes (1918 - 2013)
daughter of Joseph Warren Nowell
Selby Edward "Stokey" Stokes Jr. (1946 - )
son of Ruth Adelaide Nowell Stokes
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Selby

1 comment:

  1. We are 2nd cousin 4x removed through the Nowell family.. Smiith Nowell Giles was my 3 great grandmother/