The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Peebles

Harry Peebles…

seems to have been very loved. There was a memorial published in a local paper that looked like an obituary, but read more like celebration of his life. Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone could be this well thought of after death?

Harry was one of Maj and Willie Viola Casey Peebles’ children. He was the fifth child and the third son. His siblings were: Robert Duncan Peebles 1898 – 1973, William POLK Peebles 1900 – 1975, Georgie Marie Peebles 1902 – 1982, Lena Preston Peebles 1904 – 1978, Infant Peebles 1909 – 1909, Elmer Louis Peebles 1909 – 1982, Luther Coleman Peebles 1912 – 1997, Jennie Peebles 1914 – 2006, Katie Rebecca Peebles 1918 – 1984, Earline Peebles 1920 – 1997  and Willis Lucas LUKE Peebles 1922 – 1982.
Photo of Harry Peebles and Bessie Terry Peebles


Another memory to cherish…

in the form of a photograph.

The photograph below is that of George Washington Terry, son of George Washington Terry, Sr and Matilda Ann Rodgers Terry.

George W Terry was born 15 June 1862 and died in December of 1938. He had three known wives. He first married at age 19 to Vina J Lange, called “Vinnie” by family. That marriage was performed on 1 August 1881 in Lawrence County, Alabama. Vinnie Terry died in 1898.

George Washington Terry next married at age 39 to Sarah V Watson, called “Sallie” by family. They married 16 January 1902 in Lawrence County, Alabama. Sallie Watson Terry died 14 February 1914 in Lawrence County, Alabama.

George W Terry then married 23 June 1914 to Margaret Ann Glass. The family called her “Maggie”.  There were two boys enumerated in their household at one time. They were Edgar D Beavers and Henry Glass. It is presumed that they were her sons by prior marriages.

There were a number of children born to George Washington Terry during all three marriages. Sorting the children out has been a daunting task. But unless documents offer any corrections in the future, the following children were born to the mothers as follows:

Vina J “Vinnie” Lang Terry had the following children: Mattie Lee Terry 1884 – 1974 who married a Letson; Luther Terry 1887 – 1954; Harvey Terry (may have been the brother named Hive) born 1890; Nevia Terry born 1893; Weaver (daughter) born 1894; and Clyde Terry 1900- before 1910.

Sarah V “Sallie” Watson had the following children: Alfred Louis (Lewis) Terry 1902-1967; Evelyn Terry born 1904; Eva L Terry born 1906; Betty M Terry born 1908; Nettie Mae Terry 1908-1964;  and Austin Wilburn Terry 1910-1991.

Margaret Ann “Maggie” Glass Terry had the following children: Cynthia Margaret Terry 1916-1939; Ussery Cornelius Terry 1917-1987; Mary Terry born ca 1920; Maudie Terry born ca 1922; and Bluitt Terry ca 1926. And possibly she was the mother of the two boys enumerated in their household, Edgar D Beavers and Henry Glass both listed as born 1904.

It is such a delight to see what our ancestors looked like. George Washington Terry was a handsome man.

Photo of George Washington Terry born 1862


Roy Peebles World War II enlistment record…

Roy was a son of James Walter Peebles and May Belle Owens Peebles. James Walter Peebles was a brother to George Washington Peebles (Mage). His brothers who also enlisted were Ell and Grant Peebles.

U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 about Roy Peebles

Name: Roy Peebles
Birth Year: 1916
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Alabama
State of Residence: Alabama
County or City: Lawrence
Enlistment Date: 27 Feb 1941
Enlistment State: Alabama
Enlistment City: Fort McClellan
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: Grammar school
Civil Occupation: Farm hands, general farms
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Height: 68
Weight: 156
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Ell Peebles World War II enlistment record…

Ell was a son of James Walter Peebles who was a son of George Henry Peebles (Grandpa Dick) and brother to George Washington Peebles (Mage).

U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 about Ell Peebles

Name: Ell Peebles
Birth Year: 1924
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Alabama
State of Residence: Alabama
County or City: Lawrence
Enlistment Date: 9 Jan 1943
Enlistment State: Alabama
Enlistment City: Fort McClellan
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: 1 year of high school
Civil Occupation: Semiskilled occupations in production of industrial chemicals
Marital Status: Single, with dependents
Height: 71
Weight: 164
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Sidney GRANT Peebles’ World War II enlistment record…

U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 about Sidney G Peebles

Name: Sidney G Peebles
Birth Year: 1911
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Alabama
State of Residence: Alabama
County or City: Lawrence
Enlistment Date: 31 Mar 1944
Enlistment State: Georgia
Enlistment City: Fort Mcpherson Atlanta
Branch: No branch assignment
Branch Code: No branch assignment
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: 1 year of high school
Civil Occupation: Skilled warehousing, storekeeping, handling, loading, unloading, and related occupations, n.e.c.
Marital Status: Married
Height: 66
Weight: 166

Luke Willis Peebles World War II enlistment record…

Name: Luke W Peebles
Birth Year: 1922
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Alabama
State of Residence: Alabama
County or City: Lawrence
Enlistment Date: 6 Dec 1945
Branch: Air Corps
Branch Code: Air Corps
Grade: Private First Class
Grade Code: Private First Class
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for Hawaiian Department
Component: Regular Army (including Officers, Nurses, Warrant Officers, and Enlisted Men)
Source: Enlisted Man, Philippine Scout or recall to AD of an enlisted man who had been transferred to the ERC
Education: Grammar school
Civil Occupation: Barn bosses
Marital Status: Married
Height: 07
Weight: 636

There are heroes amongst us…

Cover of "Pork Chop Hill"

Cover of Pork Chop Hill

and often they live a quiet life without fanfare. Sometimes they get upset at using the term ‘hero’ in connection with their names, but how better to honor them?

On this Memorial Day weekend, we need to take time to reflect on those who have served our nation is valiantly. And to give credit where it is due. Have you ever heard of the surname Cottingham? My mother said they always pronounced it Cotten-gim, as opposed to how I have heard it spoken all my life. The Cottingham’s of our family lines have a long and storied history. But a couple of generations ago they were located in Lawrence County, Alabama. Many of them and their kin remain in Lawrence County, Alabama. My Peebles’ family line is intertwined with the Cottingham family on many levels, but one will be highlighted in this writing and that will be the family of Edgar and Lena Cottingham.

We are double kin to that family. Edgar Cottingham was the son of Pearlie C and Roman Cottingham. Pearlie Catherine Cottingham nee Tolbert was my grandmother’s sister. Lena Cottingham nee Peebles and was my grandfather’s sister. It is confusing I know and a family chart would have to be consulted regularly to keep the family lines straight. So this hero is especially interesting because family ties to him are through both our Tolbert and our Peebles lines.

Our hero of mention here, is J B Levert Cottingham. You have never heard of him you say? Perhaps you have heard of the actor Gregory Peck? Well in the war movie Pork Chop Hill, Gregory Peck

Korean War hero awarded two Purple Hearts as a result of engagement at Pork Chop Hill

Korean War hero awarded the Purple Heart as a result of engagement at Pork Chop Hill

portrayed the role of J B Levert Cottingham and he did a wonderful job through the visual arts of showing us just what a hero our J B Levert Cottingham was. It is very fitting to document him on this day to honor the fallen and dead heroes of our wars.

J B Cottingham was born 22 April 1929 to Edgar and Lena Cottingham in Lawrence County, Alabama. He died without fanfare on 28 February 1998. His obituary stated simply, “He was a US Army veteran of the Korean War, where he received the Purple Heart Medals for his service in the Battle of Porkchop Hill, and he was a retired sheetmetal worker.” That is not much fanfare for someone so brave, so heroic, and so famous that he would be portrayed in a famous war movie by Gregory Peck.

Pork Chop Hill was based on the eyewitness essays of ex-soldier S. L. A. Marshall. The film is set during the Korean “police action.” While diplomats argue pointlessly over the shape of the negotiation tables at Panmunjon, United Nations troops bleed and die. Lieutenant Gregory Peck leads a 135-man unit on the attack of the Chinese-held Pork Chop Hill. When reinforcements finally arrive, only 25 of Peck’s men survive. There is a three and half hour documentary on some of the heroes of Porkchop Hill  entitled “Men of Truth and Courage in a Forgotten War: The 17th Infantry in Korea,” produced by Legal Eagle Productions; there are excerpts from that documentary on YouTube.

An account of the battle in Military Magazine reads as follows:

Korean War: Battle on Pork Chop Hill

Officially it was designated Hill 255, but its contour lines on a map of Korea and a 1959 film made it world famous as Pork Chop Hill. Based on a book by military historian S.L.A. Marshall, the movie dealt only with the penultimate, two-day battle for Pork Chop Hill in April 1953. In actuality, that hill claimed the lives of soldiers from the United States, Thailand, Colombia, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and China in an ongoing struggle that lasted longer than on any other single battlefield in Korea.

After Communist North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the war raged up and down the peninsula several times as the United States, the United Nations (U.N.) and finally Communist China sent ground forces there. By July 1952, however, both sides had constructed such strong defensive lines that neither could undertake a major offensive without suffering unacceptable losses. In 1952, North Korea and China had 290,000 men on the front lines and another 600,000 in reserve. The U.N. countered with 250,000 troops on the line, backed by 450,000 reserves.

While the two sides engaged in tedious, often exasperating truce negotiations at Panmunjom, their soldiers huddled in trench systems resembling those of World War I. The constant patrolling and artillery duels seldom made headlines at home. But occasionally battles for outposts such as Heartbreak Ridge, the Punchbowl, Capitol Hill and the Hook drew media attention, giving them propaganda value at the talks.

Much of the focus on Pork Chop Hill was a result of Communist political structure. At that time, Marshal Peng Dehuai commanded the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces in Korea, taking his orders from the Central Military Commission (CMC), of which Mao Tse-tung was chairman, and Mao’s foreign minister, Zhou Enlai, vice chairman. Peng’s lieutenants often had multiple responsibilities. For example, Peng’s deputy, General Deng Hua, was also commander of the 13th Field Army and a delegate at the peace talks. Li Kenong, chief of military intelligence for the CMC, was also vice minister of foreign affairs, chief of the Military Intelligence Department of the People’s Liberation Army, and headed the Chinese delegation at Panmunjom. Because of Li’s ministry and intelligence positions, he had his government’s authority to coordinate armistice talks and battlefield strategy. Consequently, whenever negotiations reached critical stages, the Chinese military was used to test the U.N.’s will on the battlefield. As the action raged around relatively unimportant outposts, the battles themselves took on political and propaganda significance far beyond their military value.

In May 1952, Maj. Gen. David Ruffner took command of the 45th Infantry Division, holding the right flank of the I Corps’ line in west-central Korea, facing the 39th Army of the Chinese 13th Field Army. Wishing to take the high ground in front of his division’s main line of resistance (MLR), Ruffner and his staff developed a plan to seize a dozen forward hills, stretching from northeast to southwest. The last two in the southwest, Pork Chop and Old Baldy (Hill 266), were held by the Chinese 116th Division.

On June 6 and 7, the 279th Infantry Regiment seized the six northern hills, while the 180th Infantry advanced on the six southern ones. Company I of the 180th took Pork Chop after a one-hour firefight and immediately fortified the position. The Chinese 346th, 347th and 348th regiments counterattacked over the next several days, but I Company, with artillery support, held them off. Ruffner had extended the 45th Division’s line to provide a breakwater for his MLR, with Port Chop Hill, partially protected from Old Baldy, providing a vital part of the buffer.

The 2nd Infantry Division replaced the 45th in the fall of 1952, and its 9th Regiment was assigned to Pork Chop and Old Baldy. In October the Thai 21st Infantry Regiment occupied Pork Chop and managed to beat back assaults by elements of the Chinese 39th Army in November. When the 7th Infantry Division replaced the 2nd, troops of its 31st Regiment occupying Hill 255 found words written on the bunker walls by the departing Thais: ‘Take good care of our Pork Chop.’

In the late winter of 1953, General Deng argued that Chinese forces should adopt a retaliatory (zhenfeng xiangdui) strategy rather than remain on the defensive. The CMC endorsed his idea, and Marshal Peng moved the 23rd and 47th armies into line near Pork Chop Hill. On March 1, 1953, Chinese artillery opened an 8,000-round artillery barrage. Then, on the night of March 23, elements of the Chinese 67th Division of the 23rd Army and the 47th Army’s 141st Division launched simultaneous ground assaults on Old Baldy, Pork Chop and Hill 191.

‘On March 23rd, we ran a 50-man patrol along the perimeter of Pork Chop,’ recalled Corporal Joe Scheuber of I Company, 31st Infantry. ‘We just got into our foxholes on the finger of Pork Chop when enemy mortar and artillery hit us. To our right, more incoming rounds. Then we saw Chinese behind us and realized we were surrounded. We fell back to the trench line at the top of the hill, but the Chinese had reached it first. Hand-to-hand fighting broke out. There was a tremendous amount of noise. I got nicked in the arm and my helmet got shot off. I worked my way down the hill, killing a Chinese soldier with a grenade. I ended up in a shell hole the remainder of the night, as the enemy artillery lasted most of the night. When dawn broke, I was found by another unit from I Company as they pushed the Chinese off the hill.’ The Chinese drove the defenders back 800 yards. Just after midnight, however, two companies from the 7th Division reserve counterattacked and recovered Pork Chop by morning.

The 1st Battalion of the Chinese 141st Division, commanded by Hou Yung-chun, was selected to assault Old Baldy. The unit’s political officer hand picked the 3rd Company to lead the attack and plant the ‘Victory Flag’ on the hill. Facing the Chinese was the recently arrived and inexperienced Colombian 3rd Battalion. Supported by heavy artillery fire, the Chinese penetrated the U.N. position at about 2100 hours. Although the Colombians were reinforced by an American company, it was not enough to prevent them from having to fall back. Kao Yung-ho, a young soldier in the 3rd Company, declared, ‘This victory is to our company commander’s credit.’

‘When the Chinese seized Old Baldy there was good military logic to abandon Pork Chop,’ S.L.A. Marshall wrote. ‘That concession would have been in the interest of line-straightening without sacrifice of a dependable anchor. But national pride, bruised by the loss of Old Baldy, asserted itself, and Pork Chop was held.’

A lull fell over the area while the Chinese 47th Army was resupplied for its next objective — Pork Chop. Back in the United States, the press lambasted the 7th Division for the loss of Old Baldy and described the division as weary, slipshod and demoralized. Unwittingly, the American press supplied the Chinese with a propaganda tool — during the April and July fighting, 7th Division troops would hear those same caustic criticisms loosed at them from Chinese loudspeakers.

In April 1953, two platoons of E Company, 31st Regiment of the 7th Division, both under the command of 1st Lt. Thomas V. Harrold, garrisoned Pork Chop. The total strength within the perimeter came to 96 men, including attached artillery, engineer and medical personnel. The 1st and 3rd platoons mustered only 76 riflemen, and 20 of them were stationed at listening points outside the perimeter. Easy Company normally had twice that many, but it had begun its rotation out of the sector.

The bunkers and trenches had been engineered according to the then-conventional pattern of the Eighth Army. As Marshall described it: ‘A solidly revetted rifle trench encircled it at the military crest, providing wall and some roof cover, which served for defense in any direction. Sandbagged and heavily timbered, fire-slotted bunkers were tied into the trench line at approximately 30-yard intervals. They gave troops protection while affording observation and command of the slope.’ The natural terrain, however, divided the two platoons, because Pork Chop was pushed in like the dent in a hat.

General Deng’s plan to assault Pork Chop had been endorsed by the CMC on April 3, but Mao intervened, delaying the operation until the peace talks stalled. In that same month, the negotiators at Panmunjom agreed to exchange their sickest POWs, an operation called Little Switch. At that point, however, the Chinese political leadership wanted to show the U.N. that its cooperation did not reflect an unwillingness to fight. Deng was therefore authorized to attack Pork Chop Hill before April 20, when Little Switch was slated to begin.

At 2000 hours on April 16 a patrol from the 31st Infantry, consisting of 10 soldiers from Fox Company and five from Easy, advanced to within 100 yards of the shallow stream at the valley bottom and set up an ambush. At about 2300, some 50 Chinese soldiers approached from Hasakkol. Sergeant Henry W. Pidgeon of Fox Company flung grenades at them, thereby striking the first blow in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. He then ordered the patrol back, but Easy Company’s mortars, firing at the advancing Chinese, cut off the American patrol. A few individuals filtered back into the trenches at 0445, but most of the patrol remained on the slope until 1900 the next evening.

The advance patrol’s encounter failed to raise alarm among Pork Chop’s defenders, and two full companies of Chinese infantry reached the ramparts before anyone knew of their presence. Slipping past the listening posts, the Chinese assaulted the 1st Platoon’s sector on the Pork Chop’s left flank. Sergeant 1st Class Carl Pratt and his 1st Platoon troops could hear the enemy but remained in their bunkers because of Chinese shelling. The 3rd Platoon, separated from it by terrain, was unaware of the 1st Platoon’s situation or of the growing danger it was in.

At his command post (CP) at the far end of the perimeter, Lieutenant Harrold evaluated the situation. There had been increased Chinese shelling, contact had been lost with the outposts and 1st Platoon, and the volume of submachine gun fire had increased in the 1st Platoon’s sector. Sensing that Easy Company was in big trouble, he fired a red star rocket, signifying ‘We are under full attack,’ and a red star cluster, signaling ‘Give us flash Pork Chop.’ At 2305, the lights came on all over the hill, and two minutes later American artillery opened fire, to be answered by the Chinese batteries. Twenty minutes later, the firing ceased and members of Easy Company emerged from their bunkers. They found the Chinese in the trenches, and firefights broke out throughout the perimeter.

Although the Chinese had infiltrated the defensive works, the command post, then held by Harrold, two other officers and two NCOs, prevented them from securing the rear slope or barring reinforcements from coming up. Other than the CP blocking Pork Chop’s back door, the hill’s defense was without a linchpin. The 3rd Platoon was pinned in the bunkers, while only six wounded soldiers remained of the 1st Platoon. By systematically killing the occupants and capturing the bunkers, the Chinese, aided by additional reinforcements, secured most of the hill by two hours after midnight.

Harrold relayed what he knew through his battalion command to the 31st Infantry’s commander, Colonel William B. Kern. One hour after the fighting began, three rifle platoons of L Company had been trucked forward, in case the Chinese overran Pork Chop. Shortly after 0200, Kern ordered one platoon from Fox Company and one from Love Company to reinforce Easy Company. The Fox platoon became lost and never arrived. Second Lieutenant Earle L. Denton was leading Love’s 3rd Platoon from Hill 200 to Pork Chop when, about 50 yards from the chow bunker, two machine guns opened fire and brought down six of his men. After a second burst of Chinese gunfire, Denton decided to pull back.

Returning to Love’s CP with only 12 men, Denton reported to the company commander, 1st Lt. Forrest James Crittendon, that the 3rd Platoon’s attack had failed. The battalion commander, Lt. Col. John N. Davis, ordered King and Love companies to counterattack at dawn. Love would launch its second assault with only two platoons and, incredibly, never learned that it was to be part of a joint operation with King.

King Company’s 135 troops were stationed behind Hill 347. At 0330, they were ordered into an attack position behind Hill 200. Minus the weapons platoon, each soldier carried a full belt, extra bandolier and three more grenades than usual. The six Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) men in each platoon carried 12 magazines, and each light machine-gun team carried five boxes of ammunition. Each platoon also carried a flame-thrower and a heavy rocket launcher. Colonel Davis suggested that King attack Pork Chop’s rear slope with two platoons abreast and hold one in reserve. King Company’s commander, 1st Lt. Joseph G. Clemons, Jr., understood that King would receive support from Love, which would attack up the ridge finger on Pork Chop’s right. ‘Hit the hill hard and get to the top as fast as the men can go,’ Clemons told his platoons’ leaders. ‘Success depends on speed; we must close before daylight.’

With the 2nd Platoon deployed on the right, the 1st on the left and the 3rd in reserve, King Company reached the assault line. At 0430 the artillery barrage lifted and King stepped off. Although they were not fired on, it took King’s men 29 minutes to travel the 170 yards to the nearest bunker. ‘We managed to get over the first line of barbed wire through holes cut by shellfire and by walking on bodies of men lying on the wire to hold it down,’ said Sergeant Samuel K. Maxwell, a K Company medic who had been on the hill back on March 23. ‘Pork Chop was steep. We were heavily loaded with ammo for our weapons and the MGs, as well as the boxes of grenades. The steep climb had us pooped. We got within grenade range in small groups to begin grenading our way down the main trench, clearing out the Chinese.’ Just as the first man entered the defensive works at 0500, the Chinese artillery struck.

As the battle entered its second round, Love Company had launched its second attack about the same time as King, but met a Chinese barrage more intense than the earlier one. Both of its platoons were crushed and sent tumbling back to Hill 200, leaving King Company on its own.

Sergeant 1st Class Walter Kuzmick’s squad of King Company’s 2nd Platoon encountered its first fire at the chow bunker just below the main trench. Kuzmick reached the main trench at 0520 and pushed his men along it toward the CP. Second Lieutenant Robert S. Cook, the 2nd Platoon’s commander, reached the CP first and called Kuzmick forward. As Kuzmick rushed the bunker, grenade in hand, a lieutenant of Easy Company sprang out the door, also brandishing a grenade. Both men froze. Just then, Clemons appeared, stunned to find any Easy Company men left on the hill. Before anyone could move, three shells of undetermined origin hit the bunker. Cook, the Easy Company officer and several King Company men were wounded, but the Easy Company survivors inside were unharmed.

While weary King Company settled into the trenches and Love regrouped on Hill 200, fresh forces from the Chinese 141st Division moved toward Pork Chop. ‘Pork Chop was a maze, a rat’s nest of bunkers, line and commo trenches, shell holes and rock clumps,’ Sergeant Maxwell said. ‘The Chinese kept feeding fresh troops into their counterattacks. The survivors of the previous attacks would then come out of cover and join them. We fought with the men we had. Every hour, we numbered less.’

Clemons did not have enough men to take the hill by storm, so he and his executive officer, 1st Lt. Tsugi O’Hashi, returned to the chow bunker to sort things out. Clemons, guessing that he had lost half of his men and that the rest were low on ammunition, decided to bring up the 3rd Platoon.

By 0745, King Company had not advanced more than 200 yards in two hours, and the Chinese still held bunkers along two-thirds of the trench line. Feeling that his men were stretched to the breaking point, Clemons waited for help. It came in the form of 12 men from Love Company.

Crittendon had pushed 62 men of the regrouped Love Company back up the right-hand finger. On the way up, Crittendon was hit, along with the next company commander, 2nd Lt. Homer F. Bechtel. Command fell to 2nd Lt. Arthur Marshall, who led Love on through a buzz saw of artillery and machine-gun fire. By the time Marshall reached Clemons’ position, he had 12 men left, including Lieutenant Denton.

The total of 65 Americans on Pork Chop — survivors of Easy, King and Love companies — was about the same number as Easy Company had had at the start of the battle. At 0814, more reinforcements arrived in the form of G Company, 17th Infantry, commanded by Clemons’ brother-in-law, 1st Lt. Walter B. Russell. At the same time, however, a fresh Chinese company arrived at the other side of the hill’s ridge and fighting blazed anew. At 1100 Clemons radioed his battalion, ‘I must have water, plasma, more medical assistance, flamethrowers, litter, ammunition, several radios.’ Only a little water and C rations arrived.

At noon, 1st Lt. James Blake, the battalion intelligence officer, entered Clemons’ CP with a message from Colonel Davis, ordering him to send survivors of Easy and Fox to the rear, and for George Company to withdraw at 1500. ‘When they go out,’ Clemons told Blake, ‘it is not reasonable to expect that we can hold the hill.’ Battalion did not respond to his message. Clemons’ and Russell’s men held on for the next few hours, but at 1445 Clemons sent another message to Battalion: ‘We must have help or we can’t hold the hill.’ This time Colonel Kern responded by calling division headquarters and urging either relief or reinforcements for Pork Chop.

The 7th Division faced a more complex issue regarding the hill. If it fell, the Chinese could strike next at Hill 347, which could turn into a bloody, battalion-per-day meat grinder like Triangle Hill, an objective that had ended up in Chinese hands by the end of October 1952. The division asked for a decision from I Corps, which asked the Eighth Army, which asked Far East Command. The Eighth Army wanted to weigh how many men it was prepared to lose against the importance of preventing the Chinese from flaunting a victory at Panmunjom. While the high command debated the issue, the 7th Division commander, Maj. Gen. Arthur G. Trudeau, and his aide-de-camp, Brig. Gen. Derrill M. Daniel, helicoptered to Davis’ regimental CP to get a clearer view of King. They arrived at 1500, just as George Company withdrew from the hill.

By then, King Company had suffered 18 men killed and 71 wounded. ‘We were down to 25 men, including a few men from Love Company,’ Sergeant Maxwell recalled. ‘With no reinforcements in sight, Lt. Clemons grouped us onto a high hill knob on Pork Chop where we might hold out. Somehow we held the rest of the day into the night.’ Troops also manned two bunkers at the top of the crest, and Clemons remained in the CP with the radio while O’Hashi and Kuzmick directed the troops. In preparation for a night attack, the Chinese shelled the American positions for four hours.

At 1640, Clemons reported to the regiment: ‘We have about 20 men left still unhurt. If we can’t be relieved, we should be withdrawn.’ General Trudeau, who was present when the message came in, decided to hold the hill. He got official backing from the Eighth Army, because of its linkage to the talks at Panmunjom. Trudeau attached the 17th Infantry Regiment’s 2nd Battalion to the 31st Infantry and moved the 17th’s 1st Battalion into the support area of Pork Chop Hill.

Colonel Kern immediately ordered Captain King of Fox Company to move onto Pork Chop and relieve Clemons’ force as soon as possible. Fox’s troops arrived at 2130 and deployed into the trenches with the remnants of King and Love companies. At the same time, a Chinese force attacked from Hasakkol. American artillery scattered the Chinese, but they responded with a barrage of their own, killing 19 men of Fox Company.

With Fox Company bloodied and exhausted, Kern committed Easy Company of the 17th Infantry, while Trudeau released that regiment’s 1st Battalion to Kern, just in case. Easy’s commander, 1st Lt. Gorman Smith, moved his company around the right finger of Pork Chop and marched directly up its face — the Chinese side — hoping to catch them off guard.

Inside the American CP on the hill were Clemons, Denton, King and 14 enlisted men. At midnight, when Chinese fire let up, Clemons pulled his survivors off the hill. ‘About 2200, Fox Company of the 31st counterattacked and reached us,’ Maxwell said. “King’ was relieved at 2400. We made our way one by one in the gaps between Chinese artillery salvos to the foot of Pork Chop. Here, 20 hours earlier were 135 men in nine 6-by-6 trucks. Now, the seven of us sat in a one-ton weapons carrier. On leaving Fox Company, one of their medics had asked me to leave my med kit with him. I showed him it was empty. I had used every item I had carried up that hill. King Company would need 150 replacements before it could fight again as a full-strength rifle company.’ Denton remained at the CP, because Captain King requested further help.

About 0130, the Chinese attacked again, swarming around the CP and lobbing grenades into the bunkers. The Americans were wounded, but held on. Denton called for fire directly onto the bunker’s roof. Fire from quadruple .50-caliber machine gun mounts swept the roof of Chinese. As the enemy launched another assault, Denton and his men knew that this time they would be overwhelmed. Chinese fire intensified. Then, suddenly, there was silence, followed by the crack of rifle fire as Easy Company of the 17th Infantry arrived. Driven from the crest, some Chinese scampered back across the valley, while others took refuge in the outline trench works. Evaluating Gorman Smith’s risky maneuver in retrospect, S.L.A. Marshall wrote that ‘For the embattled group within the Pork Chop CP, the minutes thus saved by one man’s intuition and hard work were as decisive as a last-minute reprieve to the condemned.’

Easy Company’s assault was the pivotal event in the battle for Pork Chop, but it did not end the fighting. By 0230, Easy was deployed over the trench works, and the Chinese launched company-size assaults at 0320 and 0429. At dawn, Kern committed A Company of the 17th to the struggle, and throughout April 17 the three American companies reoccupied the trench system, using small arms, grenades and bayonets, finally crisscrossing the peak and taking control of the hill. Denton and a few diehards of Love Company remained on the hill until midafternoon.

In the early morning of April 18, more troops from the Chinese 141st Division assaulted the hill again, but after a bloody close-quarters fight they were driven back by an arriving company of American reinforcements. At dusk, the Chinese finally conceded the fight and withdrew to their side of the valley.

Marshall called Pork Chop Hill ‘an artillery duel,’ noting that the nine artillery battalions of the 2nd and 7th divisions had fired 37,655 rounds on the first day and 77,349 rounds on the second. ‘Never at Verdun were guns worked at any such rate as this,’ he wrote. ‘The battle of Kwajalein, our most intense shoot during World War II, was still a lesser thing when measured in terms of artillery expenditure per hour, weight of metal against yards of earth and the grand output of the guns. For this at least the operation deserves a place in history. It set the all-time mark for artillery effort.’

Pork Chop became a well-publicized battle and therefore an important bargaining chip at the peace table. In June 1953, Marshal Peng provided General Deng with a fresh unit, the First Army, consisting of the 1st, 2nd and 7th divisions, to relieve the 47th Army. On July 6, the Chinese command decided to make another attempt to take Hill 255. A few days earlier, the Communist and U.N. delegates had reached a tentative ceasefire agreement, but South Korean leader Syngman Rhee had balked at the settlement. The Chinese meant the attack on Pork Chop to chastise the Americans for failing to keep Rhee reined in.

‘The Chinese were on their loudspeakers telling us to surrender,’ recalled Angelo Palermo, a 21-year-old private in Able Company, 17th Infantry. ‘If we did not, they said, we were all going to die. They announced that they were going to take Porkchop and that they would take no prisoners. On the night of July 6, as it started to get dark, the Chinese attacked in force. I was on a .50-caliber machine gun when they started to swarm up the hill. I could have sworn that all of China was on that slope. With enough firepower, we could have killed a thousand gooks, but we hadn’t nearly enough ammunition to turn back this kind of attack. We fired the .50 until we ran out of ammo, and by that time the Chinese were in our trenchline, so we fought them with rifle butts, bayonets, and even fists and helmets. They were pushing us back, but before we were driven off the hill, Baker Company came up to help us. However, the sheer numbers of Chinese drove us off the top of Porkchop.’

The Americans sent in successive companies of reinforcements, and the Chinese matched each one with an additional battalion. The 17th Infantry gained and lost Pork Chop twice in four days.

‘General Trudeau came up on an inspection and told us that Porkchop had to be held at all costs,’ wrote Private Palermo.’I thought generals only talked like that in movies, but apparently I was mistaken.’

Trudeau organized a counterattack force from the reconnaissance battalion and personally led it up the hill. For that exemplary action, he was awarded the Silver Star. S.L.A. Marshall also noted that the much-maligned 7th, the only U.S. Army division to fight a major battle in 1953, ‘acquitted itself with the highest credit.’

By July 11, five American battalions held a company-size outpost against a full Chinese division. On that same day, however, General Taylor, I Corps and the 7th Division ordered the hill abandoned. Taylor wrote in his book Swords and Plowshares, ‘The cost of continuing to defend Pork Chop became so prohibitive under the massed Chinese attacks that I authorized its evacuation.’

Korea and Vietnam War veteran Colonel Harry G. Summers wrote more critically of his rationale: ‘Ever the politician (as he would prove to be again in the Vietnam War), General Taylor had made his decision based on his perception of American public and political reactions to the high number of U.S. casualties.’ Marshal Peng praised the outcome as ‘an example of how Chinese forces effectively employed the ‘new tactic’ of active defense in positional warfare.’

The British, who fought a similar battle at the Hook, thought the struggle for Pork Chop was foolish. Asked what he would have done to recapture Hill 255, Maj. Gen. Mike West, commander of the Commonwealth Division, answered: ‘Nothing. It was only an outpost.’

With the final signing of the armistice agreement at Panmunjom on July 27, 1953, Pork Chop Hill became part of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. It has since become a symbol, both positive and negative, of a controversial war. In his book The Korean War, Max Hastings summed up both by writing: ‘The struggle for Pork Chop became part of the legend of the U.S. Army in Korea, reflecting the courage of the defenders and the tactical futility of so many small-unit actions of the kind that dominated the last two years of the war.’


This article was written by James I. Marino and originally published in the April 2003 issue of Military History magazine.

A comment attached to the article above is written thusly:

Lewis W Sheppard Jr says:
I wanted to provide some historical facts about the last battle of Pork Chop Hill, designated hill“CT276336” and because of the upcoming 60 year anniversary of July 11, 1953. I have provided these facts based on excerpts from my uncles Bronze Star Awards Citation dated 12, July 1953.

On 11 July 1953, a mission was organized to “booby trap and mine” the bunker complex on Pork Chop Hill, after a decision by Eight Army Command in Seoul to withdraw from the outpost. This mission was carried out by a twenty-two man detail led by 1st Lt. David L Bills, who was then considered a “booby trap” expert. The detail was comprised of men from “D” and “H&S” Company 13th Combat Engineers.

Based on a coversation I had with A Company Commander, 13th Combat Engineers, Capt. James Brettell, he told me that “he never expected to see these men again” because of the overwhelming enemy presence on the hill. In addition, the book “On Hallowed Ground, The last battles for Pork Chop Hill” by Bill McWilliams, it stated that this was considered a \suicide mission\ by others in command at the time.

The goal was to move out on this besieged hill, to place nuisance mines and booby traps throughout the fortifications that would inflict causalities and harass the enemy as he moved about the trenches and bunkers. This work was done while under direct enemy small arms fire and exploding enemy hand grenades. They were continually under intense artillery and mortar fire throughout their job, and much of the work was done in total darkness. They worked until the last group of friendly forces evacuated the position. This heroic action took place between 1630 and 1930 hours.

All these men returned back to their lines without any casualties. They accomplished their mission and on the next morning according to officers attending a meeting with the Commanding General of the 7th Inf. Div., one of the chemical delayed high explosive devices could be heard exploding in the area of the command bunker on Pork Chop Hill as planned.

The men listed below all received the Bronze Star w/ V Device for valor during this mission.

1st Lt Thoralf M. Sundt
1st Lt David L. Bills
1st Lt Harry H Gordon
Sgt John D. Davin
Sgt James L. Halter
Cpl John E Sheppard Jr
Pfc Dennis F. Koudelka
Pfc Gene N. Siefken
Pvt Curtis L. Mcgee Jr.
Cpl Clyde Collingsworth
Pfc Francis S. Grems
Sgt Anthony F. Novak
Pfc William (Unknown, last name not legible)
Cpl Hilton A. Guzman
Cpl Ivan S.C. James Jr.
Pvt Donald W. Johnstone
Pfc Willie Doonkeen
Pfc Sigifredo Ortiz
Pvt J.B. Cottingham
Pfc Donald G. McElroy
Pfc Donald G. McElroy
Pfc Orville J. Leigh

I have shared this information in order to give recognition to these men and their act of heroism, which sometimes seems to get lost in the larger scheme of things.

Any corrections or additions to this article would be appreciated. If I recall correctly, some of J B’s family lives in the Grassy community of Lauderdale County. There is still a lot of family in Lawrence County, Alabama including siblings. J B Levert Cottingham’s obituary text follows:


J. B. Levert Cottingham Funeral for J B Levert Cottingham, 68, of Courtland will be Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Courtland Baptist Church with the Rev A G Simmons and the Rev Homer Jones officiating. Burial will be in Courtland Cemetery with Parkway Funeral Home directing. The family will receive friends tonight from 6 to 9 at the funeral home. The body will be at the church one hour before the service.Mr Cottingham died Saturday, Feb 28, 1998, at Huntsville Hospital East. He was born April 22, 1929, in Lawrence County to Edgar and Lena Cottingham. He was a US Army veteran of the Korean War, where he received the Purple Heart Medals for his service in the Battle of Porkchop Hill, and he was a retired sheetmetal worker. He was the widower of Shirley Cottingham.He is survived by three sons, Tony Cottingham of Decatur, Gary Cottingham of Louisville, Ky and Keith Cottingham of Courtland; four daughters, Terry Ann Goodwin of Hillsboro, Gerry Nell Cottingham and G G Goodwin, both of Courtland, and Scarlet Givens of Moulton; four brothers, Jimmy Cottingham of Hillsboro, William Cottingham of Decatur and Paul Cottingham and Kenneth Cottingham, both of Courtland; five sisters, Lillian Terry, Jewel Krout, Dimple Todaro and Doris Cottingham, all of Courtland, and Maggie Harris of Stockton, Calif; and 10 grandchildren.Pallbearers will be Randy Williams, Charles Krout, Donnie Cottingham, Jimmy Gwen Cottingham, Judson Pitt and Anthony Hutto.
DECATUR DAILY – March 2, 1998

Whatever happened to the passion of the people…

Lawrence County Courthouse, Courthous...

Lawrence County Alabama Courthouse in Moulton, year 1880.

it used to be there even before government education and control was rampantly destroying the fabric of our country. I can remember even as a child how very few if any had anything for gubment help of any kind except antipathy, even down to the safe keeping of the votes and the location of government buildings.

Our forefathers had spunk. They were well armed. They basically did not mess with anyone and would not tolerate anyone messing with them or theirs. I do not see that spirit today. It seems that America is now all hat and  no cattle. Americans today are all so afraid of not being politically correct. I came across an interesting story from way back in 1893 from Lawrence County, Alabama. It was published in the Vernon Courier, a newspaper in Lamar County. The date of publication was 10 August 1893. The article reads as such:

COUNTY SEAT WAR – A Birmingham Special of the 11th says: News comes from Lawrence county of a red hot controversy which has grown out of the election in that county for the location of the court house.

The court house has always been located at Moulton, which is in the mountainous region away from the railroad. Courtland is a growing town on the Memphis and Charleston railroad, wanted the court house, and as a result of it an election was ordered to be held last Monday to decide the location. The peculiar part about it is that the result of the election has never been determined so far as known, both sides claiming the victory.
The mountaineers rallied to the support of Moulton, while the people residing in the Tennessee valley favored Courtland. The sheriff was favorable to Courtland and the probate judge was for Moulton.
While the sheriff was at Courland yesterday a report reached him that a number of ballot boxes at Moulton had been stolen and he organized a posse and proceeded to that place. On his arrival he and his entire posse were overpowered by a party of mountaineers and placed in jail
When the people of Courtland heard of this a rousing crowd was at once organized and armed and sent post haste to Moulton. It was expected that bloodshed would result when they reached Moulton and attempted to release the sheriff and his posse. The latest report is that the sheriff and his crowd made bond and was released before the Courtland delegation arrived. Excitement is running high in Lawrence and the opinion seems to be that unless the court house squabble is settled serious trouble will result. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, August 10, 1893
It seems that many families in the Shoals area at one time or another either lived or passed through Lawrence County. Many veterans of the War Between the States relocated to the northwest section of Alabama after the hostilities were over. I can just see my large family of Terrys, Peebles and all related families discussing this topic. Funny is it not, how passion for standing up for something seems to have vanished. Those families stood up for what they believed in. If this is in question whatsoever in your mind, then just think upon this. Records and documents, even modern-day technology thinks that the Hillsboro Post Office is at the intersection of Latitude 343813N and  Longitude 0871133W. And it is on the Hillsboro map. However, it was not always located at that exact spot. Just ask those Terry, Peebles and allied neighbors who moved the Post Office in the middle of the night one night long ago so that it would be more conducive to ‘ladies’ patronizing the post office.
 

Olden times…

were hard times for most families.

This is a photo of Hettie Melissa Glenn Letson Evitts Tolbert and her husband Joseph Calvin Tolbert. Miss Hettie was the stepmother of my grandmother, Betty DRUE Jane Tolbert Peebles (Mama). Mama said that Miss Hettie was always good to her. Mama lost her mother at the young age of nine years old.

The day of my mother Slena Mae Peebles’ fourth birthday in 1927, mother was in the yard when Mama came out on the porch and said, “Slena Mae, honey, today is your birthday.” All that my mother knew of birthdays was that it was likely a date on a calendar. There was always a Farmer’s Almanac calendar in their home. Mother associated the birthday with a date, and the date on the calendar. That calendar had ‘beautiful women’ on it, so Mother assumed a birthday is a beautiful girl. She asked my grandmother, “Well, Mama, can it walk?” They had a little chuckle over that over the years. The family lived in a house, likely much like the one the Letson’s lived in, except likely not as spacious. Mother would talk of the children playing under the front porch. She described the house as having cracks in the floor and you could see the chickens pecking underneath through the cracks. And, if I remember correctly, the houses had large stones underneath the foundations.

Mama told mother that she did not have any flour sacks to make her panties at another time. Mother cried. Mother was always a very modest person, even as a child. So, Miss Hettie as family called her, gave Mama flour sacks to make my Mother panties with.

I remember meeting Miss Hettie once or twice. The last time I saw her was at a funeral, or rather at the graveside. She was very tall and slender and just slightly  bent from the shoulders. Her hair still had color and her skin was what I would Photo of Hettie Glenn Letson Evitts Tolbert and Joseph Calvin Tolbertdescribe as having an olive tint. She wore her hair just as seen in the photo. She remarked to me that I was a very pretty girl; so as you can note, she was an instant hit with me. That was likely in 1960. I remember us going to the cemetery at Smyrna and seeing her grave all sunk in and that very much disturbed me; since then the grave has been maintained nicely.

Miss Hettie was a Glenn by birth. Her first husband, was Robert Green “Bob” Letson. Bob Letson served in the War Between the States and was held prisoner of war. Bob was the son of Big Mac Letson whose home is pictured below. Bob met an untimely death at the hands of his son-in-law. Miss Hettie married next an Evitts man; but little is known of him. She next married Joseph Calvin Tolbert and they had children. Both had children by their previous marriage.

Miss Hettie and my great-grandfather, Joseph Calvin Tolbert,  married. After his death, there was no marker for his grave. My grandfather, Robert Duncan Peebles, made homemade tombstones one year out of concrete and marbles for Grandpa Dick (George Henry Peebles his grandfather) and his father-in-law, Joseph Calvin Tolbert. Those homemade markers remained on those graves for years. Myself and my brothers got George Henry Peebles a proper marker from the VA that commemorated his service in the War Between the States. After Miss Hettie died, their children had a double marker placed on the grave of her and Joseph Calvin Tolbert.  When the double marker was placed, Gran took his homemade tombstone that he had made for Joseph C Tolbert and placed it at the head his mother-in-law’s grave. Myself and two of my brothers placed a gravemarker on her grave with her full name which was Elizabeth Anna Garth Rachel Matilda Terry “Lizzie” Tolbert . Lizzie Tolbert was Mama’s mother and Gran’s aunt. All these graves are at Smyrna Baptist Church Cemetery in Lawrence County, Alabama.

Hettie Letson Tolbert is an ancestor of Starla Letson Tsosie. Starla showed us what life was like where the Letson families and my Tolbert and Peebles families lived; Mama was born at Mountain Home. General Joseph Wheeler had a summer home at Mountain Home even though his plantation home was very nearby; this was partly to get out of the more sweltering heat off the mountain and as a defense to mosquitoes during the hot summers. I see chickens roaming the yard, at least four dogs, and I think I see pigs on the far left in the back. It appears from the difference in the shingles on the roof that it was a one room building that had been added onto later. This house was called a ‘shotgun’ house, or a ‘dog trot’ house and sometimes was referred to as a ‘cracker’ house. I just call it history.

Photo of the Baron McDonald Letson home at Mountain Home, Lawrence County, Alabama

This is the home of Baron McDonald “Big Mac” Letson that existed 1851-1934


George Henry Peebles to me has always been an enigma,

one minute completely insensitive, the next I am moved to tears by his bravery. In years of research, I have learned that you cannot always rely on the written word to be accurate; or that the written word has an equivalent meaning to what would be the standard today. The same is true for the spoken words and memories over time – or even the words etched in granite. How many times have I discovered that the dates, especially the death date on a gravemarker is different from the official record of death? This is especially true when family places a marker years after the event. George Henry Peebles is a study in contradictions.

On the human side, George Henry Peebles, must have been a genial old soul for those who knew him did not soon forget him. And funny, his dry sense of humor has been seen in descendants a number of generations later. My grandmother, Betty Drue Jane Tolbert Peebles, described Grandpa Dick (as the family called him) as a carbon copy of Luther Peebles, or maybe that should be written in reverse order. Luther was small in stature and a very nimble man. Almost all the Peebles men had the hallmark nose, long face, and big ears. My grandfather, Robert Duncan Peebles used to quip that the reason he had big ears was to hold up his hat since he had little hair to help in the matter. And most of them had that same deep gravelly voice and dry sense of humor. And many of them were musically inclined. Luther Peebles was a delight to be around and a very amusing person. Luther could tell some of the tallest tales ever heard by man. That is how I picture George Henry Peebles. My grandmother described him precisely as he rode a mule to visit her in the mornings in the early 1920s. She seemed amused at his insistence that he did not come to see her, but rather daughter Preston who was a baby at the time. It was not always what was said, but the intonation of what was said that provided a smile.

Another trait that George Henry Peebles had was his temperament that too seems to be a family trait. When mad, he was really really mad, and you knew it. You knew where he stood on issues, no doubt about it. He gave no quarter, but in comparison he took no quarter either. He was a good horseman and a better shot. And he was brave. His bravery will be discussed later in this article.

Competition seemed to be steeped into his soul. This is demonstrated by his love of racing and race horses after the War Between the States and by an incident that happened that involved crops. Before we can go further we must address the enigma of his name. The Peebles family over the generations have named children one thing and called them something else completely, and nicknames abounded. Our ancestor was named George Henry Peebles, but even his grandchildren did not know his real name; they called him Grandpa Dick and assumed his name to be either Dick or Richard when pressed. George Henry Peebles went by Dick Peebles, Richard Peebles, and sometimes Henry Peebles or Richard Henry Peebles.

Gathering information on him was a daunting task because he assumed so many personas. He married his first wife, Catherine Rebecca Jane Terry as G. H. Peebles, often misspelled Peoples in 10 March 1870 in Lawrence County, Alabama as recorded in Book E, Page 254.  The marriage book lists the names as George H Peebles and R. J. Terry. The original license gives the names as George H. Peebles and Rebecker J. Terry.

George Henry Peebles married a second time under the name George Peebles to Mrs. Willie Kazle as recorded on the original marriage license in Lawrence County, Alabama on 21 February 1895 in Book L, Record 238.  No further record has been located for Mrs. Willie Kazle [likely Cagle], but three years later he marries a third time. Perhaps this was a case where the license was taken out but a marriage never performed.

The original license has him as G. H. Peebles and bride as Alice Graham; the marriage took place in Lawrence County, Alabama on 4 February 1898 and is recorded in Book M, Record 20. After he married his third wife, Alice Graham, he gave his name on documents such as the census as Richard Peebles. Alice Graham was the younger sister of Eliza Holland Graham. Eliza Graham married George Henry Peebles’ son, William Henry Peebles.

The marriage record for George Henry Peebles was found in Morgan County for his fourth marriage. Mittie Elizabeth Dotson and George Henry Peebles married in 1914 in Morgan County, Alabama. It appears that George Henry Peebles was still married to Mittie Dotson at the time of his death even though they were living apart; her parents were likely William F and Sarah C Dotson who died in Lawrence County, Alabama. Nothing further is known about her; her name may be been Margaret Elizabeth Dotson and she was called Mittie by family and friends. Mittie was not one to be trifled with as evidence by her separation from her husband after he hurled a piece of firewood at her while she was at the stove.

On court documents he was named as George Peebles, George Henry Peebles, G H Peebles, R H Peebles, and Richard Peebles. Family called him Dick Peebles. On his pension records his name was given as G H Peoples. On his death record his name was given as Richard Peebles. All these names represent the same man. On his sons’ death certificates the informant gave the name of their father as Richard Peebles; the exception for this was Maj Peebles’ death certificate where his name was given correctly by the informant.

Next are the stories and records for George Henry Peebles during the War Between the States. And, oh my, but it is a gnarly set of records at best. He must have been a contortionist to have served in the different units as records indicate. That is not saying that it is not true, it could be. A study of the 16th Alabama Regiment of Infantry demonstrates adequately that units and regiments, rank, officers, and commanders can change in a heartbeat depending on untimely defeats and deaths. The south had to regroup so many times in every regiment that it became routine; regrouping caused the commanders to rename the regiments as ‘consolidated.’ Further and in depth research might reveal more adequate facts, but for now we work with what facts we find.

One record which is a List of Soldiers buried in Lawrence County, Alabama online. The list states that information was taken from the 1907 Lawrence County Pensioners and 1910 Census records. The list shows that he served in the 23rd North Carolina. There was a George H Peebles who served in the 23rd North Carolina Infantry, CSA. He ranked in and ranked out as a Private. The record for his service is File Number M230 roll 30. Since I consider this an unlikely match to our ancestor, there has been no attempt to research further.

Another record shows a George Peoples who ranked in and ranked out as a Private in the 6th Tennessee Cavalry, Wheeler’s Cavalry. An alternate name was given as R Peeples. The record is in the archives as M231 roll 34.  It is

A photo of Joseph Wheeler as a West Point Cadet

Joe Wheeler as West Point Cadet

possible that George Henry served as a scout for Joe Wheeler; they were from the same neighborhood and their families knew each other. Evidently Wheeler’s Cavalry was quite successful and personality types like our George Henry Peebles would have been quite valuable in endeavors such those in which Wheeler’s men took part. The following is an excerpt from the New York Times archive:

MISCELLANEOUS.; YANKEE OUTRAGES IN NORTH CAROLINA. WHEELER’S CAVALRY RAID. WARRIORS IN CHARIOTS. GEN. MORGAN’S HORSE. NOT VERY THANKFUL FOR BIBLES. CONFEDERATE GENERALS. GOVERNMENT IMPRESSMENTS. THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE. THE FREQUENCY OF FIRES IN RICHMOND.

From the Selma Reporter [in Alabama]. From the Richmond Sentinel Sept. 24.

Published: October 2, 1864

The following is an extract of a letter from Camden County, North Carolina:

“The Yankees have just made a raid out here, committing the most fiendish acts of cruelty upon the people. They were not satisfied with subsisting upon the people, carrying of horses, &c., but they burned some fifteen or twenty houses, turning the defenceless families out of doors, with a total loss of furniture, clothing. &c. Many of the ladies, having secured their money and jewelry about their persons, were seized and forcibly robbed. Some of the citizens were badly beaten for trying to defend their wives from insult.”

Among the many jokes to which WHEELER’s cavalry raid has given rise, nothing is better than this in a letter from HOOD’s army. “The boys in camp, who are always very severe in their criticism upon the cavalry when a failure occurs, say that WHEELER, in his detour from Dalton toward Knoxville, was on his way to tear up the railroad between Lynchburgh and Richmond, and was only deterred from doing so by a dispatch from JEFF DAVIS requesting the General to spare it.”

The LaGrange (Tenn.,) Bulletin says: “We heard a little incident related in reference to the Alabama militia the other day, which shows the laxity of military discipline about Opelika. A captain of a cavalry company reported about ninety men for duty every morning, and on an occasion of parade, the colonel asked him why he did not parade more than twenty-six men. “The fact is,” says the captain, “there are about seventy of my men who have reported here in buggies, and there are only this number properly equipped.” We suppose these meelish have read of the style of the ancients who went to war in chariots, and are only imitating the ancients as nearly as they can.

The Richmond Dispatch states that when Gen. MORGAN was killed he had in his possession four valuable horses. The finest of these he rode in his last march, and he was captured in Greenville when the General fell. The three others were sold at Abingdon, Virginia, on Tuesday last, at public outcry. One was a bay saddle horse, and the others a pair of blacks, well matched. They were sold separately, and brought respectively, the bay one thousand six hundred and seventy-five dollars, and the others two thousand one hundred dollars and two thousand dollars. Neither horse sold for much more than half his real value.

From the Savannah Republican:

Our Northern brethren seem to have the Christian spirit of the Spaniards who first settled America. WASHINGTON IRVING relates, in his Knickerbocker History of New-York, that the pious Spaniards, after preparing the Indians for Heaven, immediately sent them there, by shooting them, burning them, pouring hot lead down their throats, and other such mild measures. The New-York Bible Society is trying to fit us for Heaven, and the Yankee Generals propose to send us there.

The Selma Mississippian, of the 16th, says:

Sixteen thousand copies of the Bible and Testament arrived in Selma yesterday evening, on route for HOOD’s army. They are the first installment of fifty thousand presented the troops of the Confederate States by the American Bible Society at New-York!

From the Richmond Enquirer:

The Lynchburgh Virginian thus points out the Polly of those who impair the confidence of the army by assuming that its fortunes would have been different under a different Commander:

“When, under such circumstances as exist in the Georgia army, the soldiers institute comparisons un[???]able to their Commanding General; and above all, when they feel that the lives of their brave comrades have been ‘sacrificed’ for naught, the spirit of disaffection toward a Government that condemns them to the reign of incompetency, may ‘manifest’ itself in a way that will be fatal to our hopes.”

Upon this subject we cannot help remarking one apparent difference between the army and people of the West and our own. There has been much complaint of the Generals in the West. None, we think, of those assigned us here. These Western Generals have stalked grimly across the stage, like the line of Banquo, Sidney Johnston, Floyd, Beauregard, Bragg, Pemberton, Johnston, Hood. Do none of these men suit the army or people of the West? Our armies have been driven back on the Western line, from Donaldson to _____ where the enemy choose to stop. Here we have had but few Generals, but there has been no parties, no complaints. We have accepted and sustained every commander that has been assigned us. And they have all been successful. One of them, at least, who had been relieved in the West, has been invariably triumphant here. We have backed the Government and sustained the generals. We are still within cannon sound of the first invasion. We do not claim to be braver men or better patriots than the people of the West, but we may claim that we are more easily satisfied, and have lost less territory. Somehow we do not run into military parties here. If an officer is successful we have no desire to see any one else in his place, because he might, perhaps, do better. Our only use for generals is to whip the enemy. If they can do that we are content. If they cannot we have no interest in their personal reputation, which makes us a partisan to vindicate or reinstate them. Possibly our Western friends expect too much. Possibly their ideal standard of military genius is too high. They must be patient, earnest, enduring and indulgent. We need concession and concentration as much in war as peace. We must accept the situation as it is, not complain because it is not as we would have it. Our Western friends must sustain HOOD, JOHNSTON, HARDEE, BRAGG. Yes, BRAGG — much as they complained of him — if either of these officers be appointed to command them.

From the Richmond Examiner, Sept. 16:

The managing proprietor of one of our first-class hotels returned the other day from a tour over fourteen counties of North Carolina, in quest of flour to supply the wants of his hotel. He found flour plenty and cheap at $125 and $150 per barrel, and had no difficulty in negotiating for its purchase. He secured fifty barrels, and negotiated for its delivery at the railroad station for shipment to Richmond. But no sooner did the flour touch the depot than the hawks of the impressment agents swooped down upon it and “gobbled” the whole of it. It was in vain that the hotel caterer presented an order from the Secretary of War, authorizing him to ship flour to Richmond, and guaranteeing the flour protection from impressment while in transit. The agent’s hawks presented a more recent order, signed by NORTHROP, Commissary General, who is a greater man than the Secretary of War; therefore there was no release for the flour, and it went the way of hundreds of other barrels that enterprising citizens have been endeavoring to transport to the Richmond market. Such conduct upon the part of the impressment agents is an outrage upon the rights of citizens, but it will not be checked.

Atlanta having fallen, it may not be long until this section of Alabama is overrun by the infernal raiders of SHERMAN’s army. They will come like infuriated demons to burn, pillage, and devastate. We have no alternative, as patriots, but to arm ourselves to the teeth and calmly await their coming. We may have to quit our homes and sacrifice our household goods — nay, we may have to suffer the loss of all our property, but we must fight them to the death, though they be poured upon us in legions, like the frogs of Egypt. To good and pure men death is a welcome boon if it comes in the place of dishonor.

The conflagration which have filled our nights with alarm for some time past, demand more adequate and energetic efforts at prevention than have yet been adopted. Whether due to a mania which seems at times to some over the evil-disposed, or to schemes of theft, and whether the actors are depraved whites, or vicious blacks, it does seem that a proper degree of vigor and address would succeed in detecting and arresting at least some of the culprits, and handing them over to the utmost severities of the law, which they so richly deserve.

A noticeable feature of these fires is, that they occur in most, if not all instances, not far from midnight. This may afford a hint as to the classes who are probably playing incendiary. The comparatively early hour does not point to the habitual nightwalkers. A house-burner will probably choose an hour which seems late to him. Vicious youths, who are allowed the freedom of the streets in search of excitement until amusement hours are over, and who are not missed or expected at home till midnight, may think it a fine thing, ere they retire, to alarm a sleeping city. The houses selected for their performances are such as are easy of ignition, and quickly in flames; so that they do not need to wait long for their sport.

But the wonder is why none of them are detected, and why the fired houses are often as bright as a bonfire before the flames are discovered. Often when the alarm is first sounded the city is already illuminated. Surely the watchmen are not asleep so early as midnight. Our good Mayor has offered $1,000 reward to any who shall, bring an incendiary to justice. This is very well. But we should be more encouraged if the night police could be moved to greater vigilance, or their number increased if they are now too few. If we could have that diligent observation and shrewd sagacity which we are accustomed to expect of professional policemen and detectives, we do not think it would be possible to reduce Richmond to ashes before an arrest was made.

If these fires are thus to continue, we do not know what better the citizens can do, than to organize on each square, for their own watch and guard. The night might be divided into a sufficient number of reliefs to make the task supportable, and then when one did lie down to sleep, it would be without the fear of waking to find his dwelling wrapped in flames. The robberies, too, which have been performed with such impunity, would be arrested by this home-guard. Carts could not then drive up to a dwelling or a store at midnight, and load without being seen.

We take it for granted that we shall catch some of our house-burners, very soon; we trust the very next performer. When caught, let him. if not shot down in the act, be visited with the law’s utmost rigors. It is only thus that such characters can be made to comprehend the enormity of their conduct.

The sharpshooters who were quick on foot and horseback were valuable assets to the military. They were surefooted and had been hunters all their lives. It would seem that the south had more of these than did the more industrial north. The Peebles men and all their friends and relations were among those tenacious enough to fight, lose, fight, win, fight, starve, fight, freeze, and fight some more. All this even though their families suffered mightily back home.

General Joseph Wheeler’s campaigns were in Middle Tennessee, Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and in Georgia and the Carolinas during the War Between the States.

My grandmother, Betty Drue Jane Tolbert Peebles, oft repeated the story about Grandpa Dick Peebles and Joe Wheeler so we know from that story that at some point George Henry Peebles and Joseph Wheeler were at the same place at the same time. She said that Grandpa Dick was cooking his meat on an open fire. Joe Wheeler came by and took his meat and ate it. Grandpa Dick whacked Joe Wheeler on the head with his skillet. As a result of that incident, Grandpa Dick’s punishment was to dig up a tree stump without breaking any of the tendril roots. Evidently, Grandpa Dick accomplished the task of the punishment. My grandmother stated further that the stump was on display somewhere up near Chattanooga. This was many decades ago. A short-lived attempt to find the stump many years ago was not successful. A side note here would be that pretty much everything that my grandmother told me over the years has turned out to be true. In family research decades ago, wherever I would go in Lawrence County people would tell me to, “… ask Drue, she would know.”

There is one further mention of George Henry Peebles serving in the 32nd Regiment of Tennessee. Other than what seems like a passing mention of him serving in this unit, nothing further has been noted. That is until one examines the 1921 Confederate Soldiers census records. A copy of the orginal files follow:

Images of the original Confederate Pension Files for George Henry Peebles

Images of the original Confederate Pension Files for George Henry Peebles

Some records show that George Henry Peebles served in the 4th Alabama Cavalry along with General Philip Dale Roddy. General Roddy was also from Lawrence County, Alabama as was George Henry Peebles and his family. The book Confederate Soldiers of Lawrence County Alabama by Spencer A Waters provides information about George H Peebles. From the book’s section entitled, Pension Applications of Soldiers the book reads: George H Peebles, Private in Company F, 4th Regiment of Alabama Cavalry. Was shot in the right hip on the 14 November [likely meant September], 1864 at Sulphur Trestle in Alabama.

The September 1864 War Between the States’ Battle of Sulphur Trestle Bridge cut a crucial Union supply line and was a victory for the Confederate forces under General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The engagement over the railroad bridge was the bloodiest to take place in north Alabama. By 1864, Union forces had advanced deep into Confederate territory, even into Alabama. The food, ammunition, clothes, and weapons required to continue their campaigns were transported primarily by railroads to troops. One of these, the Alabama and Tennessee Railroad, ran south from Nashville, Tennessee, through southern Tennessee and northern Alabama to Decatur in Morgan County. From Decatur, the railroad connected with another line that extended east to Chattanooga. This line provided a continuous route for supplies that were offloaded from boats on the Cumberland River in Nashville and then sent by train to support Union forces in Chattanooga. Union forces constructed forts at strategic points along the length of the railroad. Sulphur Trestle Fort was constructed by the Ninth and Tenth Indiana Cavalries on a gently sloping hill alongside the railroad tracks about one mile south of the town in Limestone County named Elkmont. Two wooden blockhouses fortified the very basic square fort of only 300-foot square embankments. The fort was protected by steep ravines on three sides and overlooked an open clearing to the south, providing an exposed field of fire on advancing enemy troops. The fort located below the summit of adjacent hills was fatally flawed and made protecting it a great difficulty.

Although small, the fort was important because it defended a vulnerable section of the railroad line, a wooden trestle, 300 feet long and 72 feet high, that spanned a broad valley bisected by narrow Sulphur Branch. The trestle was an inviting target for Confederate soldiers seeking to disrupt this prime supply line. The fort consisted of prominent earthworks for exterior defense, with two blockhouses built in the fort’s interior to provide a secondary means of defense. During the Civil War, blockhouses such as these were common for defending strategic points such as railway bridges. The fort was initially occupied by the Ninth and Tenth Indiana Cavalry. Over time, further Union reinforcements arrived, including soldiers from Union regiments raised in Tennessee. The fort’s garrison was eventually comprised of both white and black soldiers.

On Saturday, September 24, 1864, Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest’s troops, about 500 mounted cavalry and infantry, who had just enjoyed a victory over a much larger force of Union troops in the town of Athens in

Photo of the historical marker for the battle at Sulphur Creek Trestle Bridge

Historical marker commemorating the battle at Sulphur Creek Testle Bridge

Limestone County, six miles south of Sulphur Creek, advanced north with the intent of destroying the trestle. Confederate scouts engaged in a brief skirmish with a Union patrol late on Saturday evening, and the Union forces withdrew into the fort’s perimeters; the opposing sides exchanged gunfire sporadically throughout the night. Forrest’s troops were in position and ready for battle before dawn the next day. In the early hours of Sunday morning, September 25, Forrest’s artillery opened fire against the earthen works.

The approximately 1,000 Union troops garrisoning the fort returned fire, but they had only two 12-pound artillery pieces versus Forrest’s eight cannon. Although the Union defenders had the advantage of a fortified position, Confederate artillery and sharpshooters were able to fire down on the Union troops from the higher ground surrounding the fort. From their superior positions, Forrest’s artillery reportedly poured 800 rounds into the fort in a little more than two hours. Union troops tried to take cover in the fortification’s buildings, but the artillery fire either destroyed the structures or set them afire.

About mid-morning, a brigade of troops under the command of Col. David Campbell Kelley charged across the open field on the valley floor, losing a number of soldiers in this advance. Unable to breach the fort’s defenses, they took up positions in a ravine within 100 yards of the fort. From there they fired continually at the defenders. The tide was clearly in the Confederates’ favor. The cannon fire and the deadly accuracy of Confederate sharpshooters had decimated the Union ranks.

Around noon, Forrest demanded immediate and unconditional surrender, and Col. John B. Minnis, who had assumed command after the commanding officer, Col. William Hopkins Lathrop, was killed, complied. The Confederates took control of the fort and set the blockhouses and the trestle bridge afire, burning them to the ground. The battle, which had lasted about five hours, proved costly for the Union: the Confederate’s had severed the vital supply line, and 200 Union troops were killed, with the remaining 800 taken prisoner. About 40 Confederate soldiers were lost. Forrest catalogued his captures as 700 small arms, 16 wagons, 300 cavalry horses and equipments, and medical, quartermaster, and commissary stores. The battle was north Alabama’s bloodiest of the war and participants attested to the awful carnage suffered by the Union. Although the loss of the trestle affected the Union Southern Campaign, it did not affect the overall war effort. After the engagement at Sulphur Branch Trestle, Forrest continued his campaign of destroying and disrupting other import railway bridges along the Alabama and Tennessee Railroad. Many of the white Union soldiers captured here were sent to Castle Morgan, the Confederate Prison established in Cahaba, Alabama. The black Union soldiers captured were put to work on the continued construction of Mobile’s elaborate system of defensive earthworks.

The Sulphur Creek trestle bridge is believed by some scholars to have influenced Civil War veteran and writer Ambrose Bierce’s story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” Although the story recounts the hanging of a southern sympathizer in Tennessee and not a battle, the location described in the story strongly resembles the Sulphur Creek scenery, which Bierce had visited as a member of the Ninth Indiana Infantry while helping to repair the railroad in 1862.

The Sulfur Creek Trestle was rebuilt after the war and railroad traffic on the Tennessee and Alabama Central Railway continued until 1986.The gap that the trestle spanned was later filled in with dirt, and the railroad bed is now part of the Richard Martin Trail that runs from Veto at the Tennessee border, south to Hays Mill. It stands about 60 feet above Sulfur Creek and is about 1000 feet in length.  The track and cross ties have been removed and the surface is covered with fine gravel. It is now used for walking, bicycling, and horse riding as a part of the “Rail to Trails”, which runs from the Tennessee State Line to about 4.3 miles south of the trestle to Piney Chapel Road.

Mr Gilchrist owns the land near Sulphur Trestle Bridge in Limestone County that is the scene of a reenactment some years of the Battle at Sulphur Trestle Bridge. I attended that reenactment one year and it was wonderful. Cars were parked and we were transported to the battle scene by wagons filled with hay. One could hear the shots and see the smoke from the fire before the troops surfaced the hills of the undulating terrain. The horses were magnificent. The men were breathtaking. The action seemed real. It was better than watching a movie about the event because you could feel the tension and smell war. I kept watching for which one might have been my maternal great-great-grandfather. Beforehand I could never have imagined that a battlefield could be considered magnificent; this battlefield was magnificent. And to top it off, it was right in our own backyard. History abounds in and surrounds the Shoals area.

At some point, the government removed him from the pension roles. This occurred because he failed to complete and return some form that had been mailed to him by the government to effect the continuation of his confederate pension. There is a set of pension files where he applied again to the government for reinstatement of his pension. Evidently, he was successful for there was payment made to him for pension. His pension started out as five dollars per month and eventually was raised to $37.50 per month, as were all the others’ rate of pay for pensions. He received a pension for almost thirty years as recorded in pension records.

On some of George Henry Peebles’ military records there is a description of his wounds. It is stated that he was wounded twice, once at Chickamauga and once at Sulphur Trestle Bridge. It also states that he was captured and taken prisoner having been taken to Camp Chase in Ohio. The shot to his right hip went through his body and entered his groin destroying one of his testicles; any wonder now why I am amazed that any of us descendants exist? That does not even give any consideration to the fact that many of our future grandparents of any number of greats were in battle against each other.

My grandmother, Betty Drue Jane Tolbert Peebles, told us this story on as many occasions as we asked her to repeat it. It concerned her grandfather, George Washington Terry, who served in Company I of the 16th Alabama Regiment of Infantry. Her grandfather Terry was wounded at the battle of Chickamauga. That is well documented in George Washington Terry’s military file. George Washington Terry along with other Terry cousins, namely Thomas Jasper Terry, James Washington Terry, and John Franklin Terry all served in the Confederate Army. Thomas Jasper and James Washington Terry also served in Company I of the 16th. George W Terry was shot in the abdomen at Chickamauga. He laid suffering on the battlefield as a result of a shot from a minie ball. The shot entered the right hip and angled through his bowels. The injury occurred on the Chickamauga battlefield on the 19th day of September 1863. Family tradition had it that George W Terry’s guts were blown out during battle. Some of his comrades helped to handpick the leaves and debris from his guts. George W Terry’s bowels were then placed back inside him by these same comrades. They then proceeded to lean him against a tree for the medics to pick up. This act of heroism likely saved his life. One of those comrades was George Henry Peebles who would later become my great-great-grandfather from my grandfather’s side of the family. George W Terry would later become my great-great-grandfather from my grandmother’s side of the family. George W Terry drew a military pension. After his death, his widow Matilda Ann Rodgers Terry drew on his pension. He died in 1903 of injuries relating back to the war wound. He was leading an old horse when the horse jerked and pulled him back. This tore the old war wound open and he died as a result of those injuries. He, and George Henry Peebles, along with innumerable other relatives are buried in Smyrna Baptist Church Cemetery in Lawrence County, Alabama.

After the war, routine became farming for most of the soldiers of the war. Many of them, or their descendants, moved from Lawrence County to what was then Franklin County, Alabama after the war. George Henry Peebles returned to Lawrence County and his family. He lived his last years out at a house in Courtland that is still standing. The current owners have chosen to paint it brown now, it was originally white. But, the adventure for him did not end with the war.

George Henry Peebles was not a man to be trifled with, as borne out by some facts of his life. The old saying of tit for tat applied to him; if you gave him tit, you could expect tat back in return. He could be described as a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of person. On one occasion, he attracted the ire of a prominent cotton planter in the area. That year, George Henry Peebles, brought in the first bale of cotton. That was an honor that the prominent cotton planter had earned for some years prior; and had made the threat that he would kill any other man who brought in the first bale of cotton. One can assume that George Henry Peebles was pretty satisfied with himself that he could bring in the first bale of cotton. This planter confronted Peebles while he was having a shave in the barbershop and said he would make good on the threat. George Henry Peebles escaped injury at the barbershop and went on down the street. The planter encountered him again in a store down the street. There shots were fired and the planter was shot. George Henry Peebles was brought up on charges, but was found ‘not guilty’ by means of self defense by the court. This incident was documented in the Moulton Advertiser, a newspaper in Lawrence County.

There was another incident that involved him as Richard Peebles. The newspaper article dated 14 January 1886 in the Moulton Advertiser read: R. H. Peebles, who shot and killed Kennard Barnes at Hillsboro a few weeks ago, was tried before Judge Foster, in this place, on the 7th, on a writ of habeas corpus and discharged. A large crowd of country people attended the trial.

There was another incident involving the daughter of a Terry relative. There is no documentation that George Henry Peebles had a part in it; but the idea that he could recuse himself is unlikely. Thomas Jasper Terry was a veteran of the War Between the States. He had come back as a crippled man. Family and friends referred to him as Crippled Tom. Thomas Jasper was wounded at the battle of Shiloh by a shot through his right hip that passed out through his spine in 1862. He was wounded again in 1863 in the battle at Chickamauga when he received a gunshot wound in the left leg below the knee fracturing the bone. He testified that the wound caused his left leg to be paralyzed and never usable again. Even his nickname implies that he was crippled; he somehow managed to walk to Franklin, Tennessee and to the McGavock house where so many of his fellow soldiers fell to visit in honor of their memory one last time in his old age.

The incident involved a daughter of Thomas Jasper Terry sometime after the war. The daughter and her mother were at the creek washing clothes. The mother went back to the house. While the mother was away, a man attacked the daughter and raped her; to apparently avoid detection he then proceeded to take his knife and slice the young girl’s throat pretty much from ear to ear. He left her for dead. When the daughter was discovered she was able to identify the man. A posse of men considered where the man may have fled to; and they figured it out. The group of mounted men met the train and stopped it. They took the identified man off the train. They proceeded to hang him from the nearest big tree and left him dangling there. To date, the band of mounted men has never been identified. I would have no doubt that George Henry Peebles would have joined the group, if asked. The girl survived but bore a scar commemorating the terrible event.

George Henry Peebles lived the rest of his life in Lawrence County, mostly in Courtland. The informant for his death certificate is not known; it may have been the wife from his last marriage, Mittie Dotson Peebles.  George Henry Peebles died 13 January 1928 in Austinville, Morgan, Alabama under the name of Richard Peebles. Austinville is the old name for Decatur. This is proven by his death certificate. It is also proven by some of the dozens of war pension files and records. His war pension was ended in May of 1928 after his death on 13 January 1928 had been received by the officials and entered into his records. The war records had him as G H Peoples, but the death certificate had him as Richard Peebles. Evidently the government did not question the difference in names.

The death certificate lists his father as John Peebles, and his age as 95 years old. Whoever the informant was did not know or give his legal name, nor his age for he would have been 86 years old if he was in fact born in 1842. My grandmother stated that he lived to be nearly one hundred years old on different occasions. We will never know now because there is such a difference in documents over the years about the facts of him and his life.

 Resources:

Bryant, William O. Cahaba Prison and the Sultana Disaster. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001.

Foote, Shelby. The Civil War, A Narrative, Red River to Appomattox. New York: Random House, Inc, 1974.

Harris, W. Stuart. Dead Towns of Alabama. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1977.

Hurst, Jack. Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

Owens, David M. The Devil’s Topographer: Ambrose Bierce and the American War Story. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006.

Wyeth, John Allen. That Devil Forrest, The Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959.