Archive for June, 2013

George Maney was about as Middle Tennessee as “Mother Earth” got. Born in Franklin in 1826 to a judge and newspaper editor, he attended Nashville Seminary and graduated from the University of Nashville. When the Mexican War began, Maney volunteered and became a lieutenant in the 1st Tennessee Infantry. Moving over the U.S. Army service in the 3rd Dragoons, Maney went to Mexico City with General Scott.

After the war, Maney went home, passed the bar, and became a lawyer in his native Franklin. He was quite successful in his chosen profession, and served in the state legislature. Maney also married and started a family.

Civil War Service
With Tennessee’s secession, Maney volunteered again, this time starting as a captain in the 11th Tennessee Infantry. Like many prominent men with Mexican War experience, he quickly rose in the ranks, becoming colonel of the 1st Tennessee Infantry in May 1861.

It was in this role as regimental commander that Maney first came to interest me, because that summer Maney’s regiment became part of Anderson’s Brigade in the division-sized mini-army of W.W. Loring. As such, Maney fought at Cheat Mountain under Robert E. Lee and in Stonewall Jackson’s Romney expedition. The Tennessean was one of the very few senior officers in Loring’s command that did not participate in “Scared Turkey’s” insubordinate end-run around Jackson with the War Department. Maney seems to have had a wise sensibility for avoiding such controversies, and his historical choice to not cross Jackson in the winter of 1861 became an important footnote in my story.

With Tennessee under threat, Maney wanted to return to his native state, and the fallout from Loring’s little conspiracy provided the opportunity to send him there. Loring’s division, the so-called Army of the Northwest, was broken up and Loring reassigned. Maney and his regiment were sent back to Tennessee, where they fought at Shiloh. Maney was elevated to Brigadier General in April 1862, a rank he held for the remainder of the war.

Maney led his brigade at Perryville, Stones River, and Chickamauga, his command becoming the bedrock of Cheatham’s Tennessee Division. He was wounded in November 1863 at Chattanooga, and returned to duty in time for the Atlanta Campaign.

George Maney in Stonewall Goes West
Although he is a minor character in the story, George Maney’s record influenced several of the choices I made in plotting out the alternate history that is the Stonewall Goes West trilogy. Since I was sending Stonewall Jackson westward, and my intention was to write an alternate history that could stand as a work of proper historical fiction, I needed to find those western Confederates who already had some relationship, positive or negative, with Jackson. Maney’s conspicuous lack of involvement in the Romney Affair made him a prime candidate.

I also needed to choose a regiment and brigade to serve as a home for my fictional infantrymen, Captain Fletcher and the Grimes Brothers. Putting them in Maney’s Brigade allowed me to put more attention on Maney with a minimum of fuss.

By the spring of 1864, George Maney was among the most senior brigadiers in the Army of Tennessee, and had a good combat record to his name. He was also one of the few brigadiers in the Army of Tennessee who avoided being tarred as an anti-Bragg man, while still retaining a good relationship with the key figures in the anti-Bragg conspiracy. Cheatham liked him, and Hardee thought highly enough of Maney to put his name forward for division command during the Atlanta Campaign.

In my story, things go a little differently. When Cheatham is incapacitated at the Battle of Lawrenceburg, George Maney steps into the gap as the division’s senior brigadier, ably leading the Tennessee Division through the second half of the battle and in the pursuit to Franklin. In addition to his aforementioned merits, Jackson also remembers Maney as one of the few reliable, obedient colonels from Loring’s command during the Romney Affair. I don’t mind giving out a sneak peek at Mother Earth, Bloody Ground by revealing that George Maney gets his well-deserved promotion to major general, and in an ironic twist takes over as commander of Loring’s Division.

Later in the War and Postbellum
Switching back to real history, Maney’s promotion was rejected, and he served as a brigadier until the end of the war. He later became President of the Tennessee and Pacific Railroad, and in a move that must have miffed more than a few of his fellow Confederates, joined the Republican Party. He was highly influential in the Reconstruction era, and used that influence to restore civil rights to old Confederates and to work on effecting a general reconciliation. His daughter Francis actually married an officer from the 15th Massachusetts Infantry. Maney also served as a U.S. Ambassador to various South American countries in the 1880s and 1890s, all under Republican presidents.

Clarkson-Legg Covered Bridge

The Clarkson-Legg Covered Bridge,
just a few miles from the Crooked Creek Museum.

One of the more off-beat things I visited while doing my field research in Alabama was the Crooked Creek Museum in Cullman County. Opened in 2006, the site is the labor of love of one Fred Wise, and is dedicated to the a little skirmish that took place on April 30, 1863 as part of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s pursuit of Abel Streight’s Raid.

Wise has a cabin converted into his museum, with a modest gift shop and a much larger display room, filled with Wise’s collection of Civil War artifacts and a handful of dioramas of both the Crooked Creek action and other Civil War battles. Wise’s property also includes a trail down to picturesque Crooked Creek, which is a pleasant walk and adjoins a picnic area and small campground.

Near the Crooked Creek Museum is the Clarkson-Legg Covered Bridge, another picturesque destination. Forrest’s chase of Streight passed by this area too, but the bridge dates to 1904. If you are approaching by way of U.S. Highway 278 to get to the county road (see below), you will see signs pointing out both the bridge (turn left) and the museum (go straight).

These are both minor attractions of the quaint and roadside variety, but if you are a Civil War buff and should find yourself on I-65 near Cullman, or in north-central Alabama generally, the museum and bridge are about 9 miles from the interstate. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a nice break from the road.

Crooked Creek Museum is located at 516 County Road No. 1127. Admission is $5, and if you want to camp there, call ahead and talk to Fred Wise at 256-739-2741.


Eli H. Murray

Eli Houston Murray
Kentucky Cavalry Officer

When I was drafting the Battle of Lawrenceburg, one of my cousins asked me if I meant Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Alas, the answer was no, but as a native of the Bluegrass, I look for opportunities to bring obscure Kentuckians from the Civil War into somewhat greater prominence through my writing. Eli Houston Murray is a prime example.

The Murrays of Kentucky
Murray’s father hailed from Washington County, the county seat of which is Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln’s parents were married in 1806. Joe Murray moved first to Hardinsburg, and then eventually founded the town of “Joesville” or Joe’s Landing on the Ohio River in 1808, which today is known as Cloverport. Murray crossed paths with the Lincolns again in 1816, when the Lincoln family crossed the Ohio into Indiana on a Joe’s Landing ferry. An industrious Presbyterian, Murray became a prominent tobacco dealer, co-founded a Presbyterian school, provided the land for his local church, and married into the Crittenden clan.

Eli Murray in the Civil War
The standing and connections of Murray’s father help explain his rapid rise up the ladder of the Federal army. Enlisting shortly after Fort Sumter, the 18 year old Murray was major of the 3rd Kentucky Cavalry by November 1861, a unit mustered from Calhoun and McClean County men by James S. Jackson. Jackson later became a general, and was killed at Perryville.

The 3rd Kentucky saw serious action in a few scrapes in Kentucky, one of which was at Sacramento against Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry. In what was Forrest’s first battle, the Kentuckians suffered 1/3 casualties that day, and Murray had a horse shot out from under him. He escaped capture only by seizing a horse away from a Confederate officer who had just been killed.

The regiment moved into Tennessee as part of Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio, and accordingly marched on Shiloh and participated in Halleck’s advance on and siege of Corinth, MS. Staying with Buell’s army, Murray and the 3rd Kentucky went home for the Kentucky Campaign of 1862, where they captured the 3rd Georgia Cavalry. In October 1862, Murray was promoted colonel and took permanent command of the regiment.

Under Murray’s command, the 3rd Kentucky was sent on numerous missions in Middle Tennessee, and participated in the Battle of Stone’s River. In February 1863, the regiment was ordered back to Kentucky, where they fought a number of actions and helped pursue John Hunt Morgan in July. By December, Murray’s outfit was on its way back to Tennessee to take part in William Sooy Smith’s expedition to Corinth.

Thankfully for the 3rd Kentucky, they were not part of Smith’s command when that hapless general took part in Sherman’s Meridian Campaign, and thereby avoided getting a sound thrashing in February from their old nemesis Nathan Bedford Forrest at the Battle of Oklona. By the start of the spring of 1864, Murray, still a colonel, was a brigade commander under Kilpatrick.

To see a picture of the young Colonel Murray and some of the 3rd Kentucky, click here. Murray is at the top and second from the left.

Murray in Stonewall Goes West
Eli Murray is only 21 years old by the time of the fictional Battle of Holly Grove Crossroads, where he gets a rematch of sorts with Nathan Bedford Forrest. Unfortunately for him, he isn’t in command for this second meeting with the “Wizard of the Saddle;” Judson “Kil-Cavalry” Kilpatrick is. Murray is a minor character in my story, used mostly to highlight what a vainglorious and reckless fool Kilpatrick is. As mentioned earlier, I picked him to draw a little more attention to a fine Civil War soldier from my native state.

Later in the War
Murray held acting command of Kilpatrick’s Division while Kilpatrick recovered from wounds sustained at the Battle of Resaca, reverting to brigade command in July 1864. Murray led his troopers through the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea, and I’ve often wondered if it wouldn’t have been slightly better for Sherman’s campaigns if Kilpatrick had never returned to duty, and Murray retained in command. The young Kentucky officer was certainly well thought of by every commander he ever served under; the same cannot be said of Kilpatrick. He was brevetted Brigadier General in March 1865, and mustered out that July.

After the War
Still a young man by the end of the war, Murray returned to Kentucky and earned his law degree from the University of Louisville. He married, moved to Utah, and became a newspaperman (one wonders if Sherman knew about that) and a U.S. Marshal.

In 1880, President Hays appointed Murray the Territorial Governor of Utah, where he became involved in a political imbroglio. Shortly after his appointment, Utah held its election for the territory’s sole Congressional delegate. The landslide winner of the election was the Mormon candidate George Cannon, but Cannon was a bigamist and what in modern terms would be called an illegal alien. Protests were filed, and Murray disqualified Cannon and certified his opponent, Allen Campbell, instead. The House of Representatives ultimately confirmed Cannon’s disqualification, but disqualified Allen Campbell as well. The prolonged fracas over Utah’s House seat brought the national spotlight down on the question Mormon polygamy.

Murray was dismissed as Governor of Utah by President Cleveland in 1886. He moved to San Diego and resumed his career as a journalist for a time, before returning to Kentucky. Murray died in Bowling Green in 1896.