Wartime Stories
From The Rockwood Times, Thursday, 26 Apr 1923, Vol. 43, No. 17.

Wartime Stories. In the old home gathered around the big wood fire that roared and crackled up the chimney on a cold winter night, it was a great treat when father or mother was coaxed into telling "war stories." At the time of my father's (Col. John R. NEAL) and mother's marriage (my mother Mary E.C. BROWN) in the old family home at Post Oak Springs, Tenn., Nov. 13, 1862, a Kentucky regiment was quartered in the house and as the couple descended the great stairway and entered the parlor where the officiating clergyman, my father's brother, Rev. W.W. NEAL was awaiting them, wedding guests, soldiers and a large assemblage of family servants and slaves were a mixed assemblage of witnesses. There were flowers and lights but the knowledge that the death angel hovered near them gave the smilling faces an anxious look. Unaccustomed to the hardship of days in the saddle and nights in the open, many in the regiment were ill, and it had been the task of the bride and her sisters, directed by the mother, the heart and soul of the inner life of the greatmenage of children, servants and slaves, to nurse these, many of them were boys, back to health. Before this wedding night had waned one young boy, a fond mother's son, and the especial care of the bride, went out to meet the God of Blue and the Gray in that Land where storm clouds never lower. Two days after the wedding the bridegroom returned to his regiment, leaving his bride in her place with all of the other women in the Southland, to serve behind the ranks. In that day life and death walked the ways of the world together. After the falling back of the Southern army my mother went to Lowndes county, Alabama, to the home of her kinspeople, Judge B.F. SAFFOLD's family, there her first baby was born, the father saw his baby once before he came again. At the age of 6- months the little body was laid away in the churchyard, he did not know of his loss for some time afterward. Col. Marion SAFFOLD a son of this family was killed in the Phillipines at the head of his regiment during the Spanish American War. Ray SAFFOLD a younger son was killed among the first Americans who fell during the World War. Prof. W.B. SAFFORD is a member of the faculty of the University of Alabama. Van RENFRO, a brother of my grandmother BROWN, was killed at Ft. Donaldson, Jack BROWN, a son, was killed at Monticello, Ky. When the Confederate forces retreated from Kentucky my father was in command along the Cumberland river. Gen. WILDER commanded the Federal forces. There was a certain srping near the river out ofwhich it was necessary for both armies to obtain water and there was much sharp shooting and many fatalities without any accomplishments. Finally a truce was made and the spring declared neutral ground, thereafter it was a great place for bargain and trade, both sides possessing things wished for by the other. They would spin yarns and swap jack-knives at the spring when returning to ranks to fire away at each other with deadly aim. Some time after the war my father was driving along the highway and coming up with a gentleman who was walking in the same direction, he invited him to ride with him on to Kingston, to which they were both journeying. As the man climbed in the buggy there seemed something familiar about his features and he asked his name, whereupon he replied "I am Col. COFFMAN and you are Col. NEAL, I was the officer of a Michigan regiment sent by Gen. WILDER carrying a flag of truce to your headquarters on the Cumberland River." And so began a friendship that was only interrupted by death. Gen. WILDER came south after the war and he and my father opposed each other in a race for Congress from the 3rd Congressional District. They made the campaign over the mountain counties riding together in my father's buggy. Gen. WILDER always carried his tea pot with him because at this it was impossible to obtain tea in the country, all drank coffee. The friendship thus formed between Gen. WILDER and my father was that of one strong man for another and lasted until death. My father afterwards made the campaign over this district with Maj. H. Clay EVANS under similar circumstances, he won in both campaigns. A band of bushwhackers was annoying my grandmother and threatening her with all sorts of violence when Maj. CRUMBLISS rode along and seeing the turn of things sternly bade the ruffians begone and threatened them with military punishment if they returned, this act of chivalry of a former neighbor was not forgotten were gone the old friendship was renewed and a son of Maj. CRUMBLISS, Judge James CRUMBLISS married a daughter of Polk BROWN, a prisoner of Ft. Donelson and a gallant Confederate soldier, who laid down his arms with Johnson in North Carolina. On another occasion a band of Federal sodliers had burned the barn and was climbing the hill toward the house intending to burn it, but on their way they passed through the cemetery where my grandfather was buried and the light from the laterns fell upon the masonic emblem on the tombstone. The commanding officer was a mason and turning he commanded the soldiers to desist and they passed on and did no more damage.


From The Rockwood Times, Thursday, 3 May 1923, Vol. 43, No. 18.

Wartime Stories. Coming home for clothes and food Uncle Polk BROWN found the place taken over by the Federals, nothing daunted, he went out to the cabin of his old nurse and when darkness came he put on her wrapper and bonnet and walking over the sleeping soldiers in the yard and on the porch, he went on to his mother's room she was very much alarmed at seeing him and knowing that discovery meant death, but hurriedly giving him clothes and food she anxiously sent him away. Every slave on the place knew that he was there but not one of them would breathe a word to betray him, these faithful men and women, slaves though they were, carried clothes, food and bread to their three young masters in the Southern army and stood between the old home and destruction. One of the old negroes after the war on being asked how she wished it to end said "well, I wanted my chilluns to be free but I didn't want young masters beaten, I hated mighty bad to see them lose." After the battle of Chickamauga the 16th Battallion went with Longstreet up into Virginia. At Philadelphia, Tenn., there was a sharp hand to hand conflict. In the night the forces of the two armies were so commingled it was hard to distinquish friend from foe. Col. John Bell BROWNLOW of the Federal army seeing what he thought were Union troops over near a wood was approaching them when he heard their commanding officer give an order "Major Payne fall in," Col. BROWNLOW turned to his men and said "That is the voice of Col. NEAL, the Confederate officer, we were class mates at Emory and Henry and I would know that voice among a thousand. Then setting spurs to their horses they ran on into Knoxville. After the war they met again in Washington, my father represented the 3rd Congressional District and Col. BROWNLOW in a high government position. They visited President Cleveland together one day and the President remarked that the name NEAL was very familiar as his mother was named NEAL, then they called up family connections finding themselves really related. President Cleveland after that time always called my father cousin. General WHEELER and my father often attended public functions together. Gen. WHEELER always carried a little brush with him on their way from place to place, he would brush himself very assidously explaining "that he had so much electricity he was obliged to brush it off." Our first winter in Washington we boarded at the same place with Senator John H. REAGAN, of Texas. In discussing war time with my father he often said that there had been many misunderstandings in regard to the last days of the Confederacy, and "it has always been a matter of sincere regret that my young ears were so heedless to many things I heard about historical matters. General REGAN's favorite poem was "The Conquered Banner" and he would often call my brother John to his room to recite it for him. This brother is Dr. John R. NEAL, Professor of Law in the University of Tennessee. A son of General Robert E. LEE was a member of this congress and coming over from his home on the Virginia side, he would bring little boutonaires to his friends. My mother's curiosity was very much aroused by these nosegays and my father after teasing her for awhile, told her they were given to him by the son of LEE, and thereafter she was very proud of them. At the battle of Philadelphia my father was hit over the head with a sword by the Federal Colonial (sic) in command, this wound he carried the scar of until his death. My mother was at the home of Rev. W.W. NEAL at Dublin, Va., and wishing to get news from the front and knowing there had been some severe fighting, she inquired of a party of soldiers who were passing what was the latest news, they told her there had been a fight at Saltville and Col. NEAL had been killed, they did not know they were speaking to his wife. My mother did not learn better for several days when the news came that Col. BEAN had been killed, but my mother always said that somehow she never believed the news to be true. Toward the close of the war my father was summoned to Richmond and made a member of the Confederate Court of Claims. They were in church when the news of the surrender came and my father hastened to his office and destroyed every paper so that these papers which were claims of southerners for service to the Confederate government would not be used by the Federal government against them. They went on the last train out of Richmond, traveling with others of the Confederate officials, my mother and Mrs. LONGSTREET traveled together to Lynchburg, Va., thence my mother and father by horseback and in various ways finally succeeded in getting back to his brother's Rev. W.W. NEAL in Dublin, Va., he remained there for a year and taught school until he made enough money to return home. He had never drawn any pay for his services to the Confederacy and his funds were with the fall of everything, gone. The 16th Tennessee Batallion of cavalry organized at the outbreak of the war fought to the close, never surrendering, but when Johnson's surrender made further struggles useless they laid down their guns and returned home to rebuild a new South together with their other comrades who wore the gray. My father returned home and became the Principal of Rittenhouse Academy at Kingston, Tenn., going from there to Rhea Springs on account of his broken health. After a few years of teaching he again took up the practice of law which had been broken into by the war. He was a speaker of the State Senate under Gov. MARKS, served as Congressman from 3rd, or Chattanooga District for two terms. At the close of the second term he died of stomach disease contracted during the war as a result of camp fever. His son Commander George F. NEAL received the D.S.O. from King George for distinquished service and the navy medal from the U.S. Congress for service during the World War; his grandson, William Neal WHEELOCK was the University of Chattanooga Student's Training Corps, and John R. NEAL taught the Students Training Corps of the University Military Law. The sons of those who wore the gray and the sons of those who wore the blue fought for both the North and South as one. Perhapt "over there" where the Heavenly camp fires glow the fathers know and understand each other better, and under the shade of the tree of life they met in friendly council. Amanda NEAL WHEELOCK April 18, 1923. Written at Frazier's Beach, Tampa, Florida.