Saturday, March 17, 2012

Great Grandfather W.R.M. Timmons and the Battle of Perryville

Co. G, 31st Regiment, Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A. That is the only military information I had on Gr-Grandfather Timmons (1842-1905) and was taken from his tombstone in Bee Cemetery, Johnston County, Oklahoma.  I knew he had fought in the Civil War, and had been wounded.  Or so I was told. For years I looked for some real material giving details - where, what happened, what battles.  Finally - FINALLY! - I've finally found some records. I signed up for Fold3 which specializes in military wars.

The Battle of Perryville, Kentucky
There were quite a few pages documenting Grandfather Timmons'  involvement in the war, including the one at left which says he was wounded October 8, 1862 and left at Perryville Hospital.  With a tiny bit of research I learned the Battle of Perryville is considered one of the bloodier ones with an estimated 7,407 casualties (including dead, wounded, and missing or prisoners of war).  This battle came after the Battle of Shiloh.  Troops from both sides fought each other along the way until they reached Perryville.  Although the Confederates were considered to have won from a tactical standpoint, they retreated and the North was able to retain Kentucky for the rest of the war. 

Imagine being wounded and left behind as your regiment pulled out, leaving you in the hands of the enemy.  To give you an idea of what the situation was like, I found this quote from a Confederate surgeon at Perryville (from the Tennessee4Me website):

Dr. Charles Todd Quintard's description of a field hospital at the Battle of Perryville:
" When the wounded were brought to the rear, at three o'clock in the afternoon, I took my place as a surgeon...and throughout the rest of the day and until half past five the next morning, without food or any sort, I was incessantly occupied with the wounded. It was a horrible night I spent,--God save me from such another....
About half past five in the morning of the 9th, I dropped--I could do no more. I  went out by myself and leaning against a fence, I wept like a child.  And all that day I was so unnerved that if any one asked me about the regiment, I could make no reply without tears...The total loss of the Confederates...was 510 killed, 2,635 wounded,  and 251 captured or missing, and of this loss a great part was sustained by our regiment [the Rock City Guards from Nashville]."

Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and  Second Bishop of Tennessee, edited by Sam Davis Elliott, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2003.

The video at this link shows the Dye House  which was used as a hospital.  Other sites were also used, but this appears to have been the first hospital set up during the battle. The video also gives you a good idea of what the area looked like, since not a lot has changed in the intervening years.

Grandfather Timmons, wounded, became a prisoner of war.  He was traded back to the Confederate Army and the document at left is a receipt for the exchange of prisoners on November 15, 1862 in Vicksburg.  He went back to fighting for the South and was promoted to Corporal later on. There are more documents like this following his career during the war. 

Here are some sites with great information about the Battle of Perryville: