The Tennessee Mountain Man

The Tennessee Mountain Man

by George Moon


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466986916
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 04/22/2013
Pages: 718
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.44(d)

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By George Moon

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2013 George Moon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4669-8691-6



The winds of change are now blowing from the South

The Gilf Kebir mountain ridge extends across the countries of Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Several caves can be found in these mountains which contain ancient paintings depicting the conditions and life at the time. In southwest Egypt, near the border with Libya, there is a cave containing rock paintings with images of people swimming. At first, this appears to be impossible, but not when you consider the area was more fertile during the Ice Age some ten thousand years earlier. A dramatic climate change since then brought about the arid Sahara we are familiar with today.

Perhaps the ancient cave artist painted symbols and images he recalled when sitting on the bank of a great river, no longer in existence. His drawings and paintings only prove one thing for certain, that things change, albeit, in this case, over thousands of years.

We live our lives in a constant state of flux or change. Whether, it is accomplished in a matter of seconds, as with earthquakes, tsunami, and floods, or over years through the relentless march of evolution, the certainty of change is forever with us. In the case of human beings, our physical presence changes over time as we grow older. Our plans and those of society, in general, constantly undergo change. When it comes to humans, one thing basically remains the same. Our human nature and character is the same today as it was ten or a thousand years ago. I've often made the statement that people never change. My philosophy in this matter might allow one possibility—a Christian conversion. Most often, even that results in a person reverting to his basic character, after the fact.

Jack Leffingwell has been happily married for five years. His love for Abigail only deepens and grows stronger each day. They now have a daughter, christened Sarah Jane, and Abigail is once again expecting—this time hoping for a boy. Jack is so pleased with his life that the work necessary to make the farm successful has become just another joy. Hyrum Adams couldn't be more proud of his daughter and son-in—law. Outside of ministering the church, he spends a goodly amount of personal time spoiling his granddaughter.

The widow, Minnie Rosenthal, who sold Jack the property he now farms, frequently visits Abigail and shares a cup of tea with her. She looks on Abigail as a granddaughter. The union they have created, undoubtedly, has made her remaining years enjoyable. The fact her farm adjoins the Leffingwell spread makes it easier to include her as part of the family when traveling to church each Sunday morning.

It's plain to see why the Leffingwell family has become a major part of the community and been held in high regard and respect by all its citizens. They offer hospitality to anyone who comes to their door and freely help those in need. Jack Leffingwell has his own singular respect from the town's families. So much so, the mothers encourage their sons to be like him when they grow up. The life Jack now lives, while more important than any other, differs somewhat from his true character of being a mountain man. The love of his former wilderness independence and hunting, fishing and trapping, is part of Jack's nature and will never change. In the quiet time of the evening, when the crickets call their mates, he sometimes sits on the front porch and dreams of stalking game with Yalata, his Choctaw Indian friend. Such reveries, however, quickly disappear once Sarah Jane crawls onto his lap and falls asleep. With his daughter snuggled in his arms, he returns to his thoughts and recalls the events responsible for the miracle he is holding and the sunshine in his heart.

He remembers when he was a conductor for the Underground Railroad abetting runaway slaves to find freedom. One occurrence stands out among all the others. That was when he ferried Wilbur Littlefield and his family across Lake Chickamauga; and how excited their son, Leroy, was to ride a horse for the first time, even though he had to ride double with his sister, Celia. Jack harkens back to leading them through the Cumberland Plateau on their way to Cardwell Mountain and the miles of caverns beneath. It seemed like only yesterday, waiting for the next conductor to arrive to take the Littlefields to Statesville and the Methodist church. He could envision the excitement he felt when Abigail Adams showed up and how her stunning beauty was exposed when she removed her hat to wipe her brow. He was moonstruck from the very first time he saw her. Looking back, he recalled how difficult it was to break through her shield of resistance just to win civility toward him.

The memory of meeting her father, Hyrum Adams, and how kind he was to a mountain stranger is vivid in Jack's mind. The minister turned out to be the wisest of all. Hyrum immediately saw beneath the problem his daughter had and encouraged Jack to never give up on winning her heart. Jack's daydream popped like a bubble when Abigail opened the screen door and sat down next to her husband and sleeping daughter.

"A penny for your thoughts," Abigail whispered so as not to wake Sarah Jane.

"Oh, I was just thinking how blessed I am to have you and Sarah Jane," Jack replied.

Jack had more on his mind but needed to talk to Hyrum before disclosing any of it. Now, more than ever, the country faced the possibility of war. While against slavery, and all its variations, Jack was still a Southerner and, more likely as not, be against the North should a conflict come to pass.

"I felt Little Jack move just before I came out. I hoped he'd do it again so you could feel him, but I think he went to sleep." Abigail smiled.

"You always refer to the baby as he. Darling, I will be just as happy to have another daughter," Jack said reassuringly.

"I know, but a mother can tell. This little guy is a boy. I can tell by the way I'm carrying him," Abigail stated with conviction. With that, she gently lifted Sarah from her father's lap and went back inside to put her in bed. Jack gave a heavy sigh and rose from the homemade rocker and joined them.

* * *

Abraham Lincoln was elected the sixteenth president of the United States on November 6, 1860. His victory was earned primarily by the vote in the North. There were three other candidates on the ballot, and the voting broke down somewhat like the following:

Republican Party.................... Abraham Lincoln:
1,866,452 votes
Democrat Party .................... Steven A. Douglas:
1,376,957 votes
Southern Democrat Party................. John C. Breckinridge:
849,781 votes
Constitutional Union Party ............. John Bell:
588,789 votes

The Republican candidate won the presidency with 180 electoral votes, compared to the 123 of the all the others combined. There's no question that the election was actually one of the North against the South. In fact, no ballots were cast for Lincoln in ten of the fifteen Southern slave states. No sooner, as the election became official, South Carolina adopted an ordinance declaring its secession from the United States of America; and by February 7, 1861, six other states adopted similar decrees.

On April 12, 1861, South Carolina demanded that the United States Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard, the first general of the newly formed Confederate States of America, was in command of the Confederate forces in Charleston. Beauregard energetically directed the strengthening of batteries around Charleston Harbor, concentrating on Fort Sumter. The Union commander, Maj. Robert Anderson, refused to vacate and anxiously awaited reinforcements. After President Lincoln notified South Carolina governor Frances W. Pickens that he was sending supply ships to reinforce Fort Sumter, the Confederate bombardment commenced from artillery batteries surrounding the harbor. Major Anderson had no choice other than evacuate the fort.

Following the battle, Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand volunteers to suppress the rebellion. With that, an additional four states declared their secession and joined the Confederacy.

Tennessee governor Isham Harris favored secession, but the state had a strong pro-Union sentiment. In February 1861, a referendum for secession was defeated by a 54-46 percent margin. Only after Lincoln's call to suppress the rebellion did Tennessee voters change their minds and approve a referendum on June 8, 1861, becoming the last state to join the Confederacy.

* * *

The next morning, after breakfast, Jack saddled his horse and rode to the Methodist church in Statesville in order to discuss with Hyrum the war and pray for the future. Jack was too emotionally torn to think clearly, and Hyrum always had sound views in times of crisis. Jack's horse, Rambler, cavorted, cantered, and pranced about, celebrating another opportunity to enjoy the spring morning's crisp, refreshing air. The tall chestnut was purchased as a yearling and grew into an astonishing animal, far beyond what anyone expected. It had a smooth, ambling gait and incredible stamina. When it cantered, it exhibited a natural rocking-horse motion, quite pleasant to the rider. Jack, hopefully, planned to use Rambler to sire a breed of horses with similar traits. Looking across the pasture, Jack saw three of Rambler's foals running in tandem with their mothers. It was the beginning of his project and vision for the future. As horse and rider crossed the rippling stream, Jack's surroundings never seemed more beautiful. Spring wildflowers were promising the advent of warmer days. Lining the stream, a virtual prism of colors met his eye, including Purple Larkspur, Jack in the Pulpits, Black-eyed Susan, and Fire Pink, a hummingbird favorite. In his undeveloped land, near the standing hardwood trees, he beheld even more vibrant colors decorating the landscape, making Jack think. Such beauty can only be the handiwork of the unseen and loving Creator.

It was too early for many of the townsfolk, demonstrated by their darkened windows. Hyrum, on the other hand, was an early riser, and his kitchen window illuminated a bright yellow glow.

"Good morning, Jack. What brings you out so early?" Hyrum greeted and asked. "Can I offer you some breakfast?"

"No, thanks, I ate just before coming over here," his son-in-law answered.

"I hope you don't mind me eating in front of you. I know you'll take a cup of coffee," Hyrum said as he poured another cup. "Sit down and take a load off."

A period of silence followed while Jack tried to formulate his concerns into the proper words. The two men have been comfortable with each other from the beginning, and Hyrum continued eating his breakfast until Jack began to explain his visit.

"This war is going to change all our lives. The country is never going to be the same," Jack averred. "There has always been talk about breaking away from the Union, but each time I felt that, it was just that, talk."

"I know what you mean, son. I've thought there was a possibility, but hoped we all could settle our differences without seceding the Union and going to war because of it. The South has felt animosity toward the North for a long time, way before Andrew Jackson was president. I think most of it had to do with tariffs.

"Britain could supply the country with merchandise at lower prices than Northern manufacturers could compete against. Originally, tariffs were passed to protect the Northern manufacturers. This resulted in less goods purchased from Britain and, thus, less money for Britain to buy cotton from the South. The tariff also allowed the Northern manufacturers to raise their prices. The Southern states were forced to pay higher prices for goods from up North, with reduced revenue from Britain. That had a drastic effect on the Southern economy and caused cotton states to think about secession. When Andrew Jackson got elected, he lowered the tariff, but not enough to change economic conditions in the South. The talk about secession has gone on ever since. Now it has finally happened."

"Who do you think will win the war?" Jack honestly asked.

"Nobody wins in war. In the final outcome, just look at what each side has to offer. The North has more people, more manufacturing to make armaments, more railroads, and more money. The South believes it has more cause. We will eventually lose," Hyrum said regretfully.

"The South has better fighters," Jack stated.

"The Indians were better fighters, and look where that got them," replied Hyrum.

"Tennessee has called for volunteers. Most of my neighbors are signing up. What's happening here in town?"

"From what I've been told, the younger men are also enlisting. They really don't have a clue of what they're in for. I'm not going to speak out one way or the other. That decision will be a personal resolution for each individual."

"How would you feel if I volunteered?" asked Jack.

"I would be concerned for your safety and how the decision affects Abigail and the children. You notice I said children. I'll have two grandchildren before the snow flies. Have you said anything to Abigail?"

"Not really. She always can tell what's on my mind, but hasn't brought up the subject."

Hyrum knew what Jack's decision will be. He put his arm around his son-in-law's shoulder and walked him to the sanctuary. Two men knelt and prayed to the God who will eventually be on both sides in the war. Jack left the house of the Lord and rode back to the farm, more contented with his decision. He unsaddled his prize chestnut stallion and released him to the corral. He will face the hardest part of his decision once he enters the house. Abigail was sitting at the dining table peeling potatoes. The tears in her eyes said it all. She knew without being told that Jack was going to war on the side of the South.

"Why, Jack, don't you think we can win without you?" Abigail said mockingly. "It's a volunteer army. You don't have to go. Think of what you leave behind. You're going to have a son this fall and may never see him. Is that what you want?"

"You, of all people, know I don't want those things," he replied. "It's something buried deep within my soul. It's patriotism for my people. If I didn't join them, I would feel that I deserted my duty. I couldn't live with that. Can't you understand? It's a part of what makes me a man."

Abigail wiped her tears with her apron, rose from the table, and carried the potatoes to the kitchen stove. After filling the pan with water, she said, "Dinner will be in about an hour." It was their last conversation on the subject.


The Tennessee Brigade received orders to travel to Virginia

The call went out from Camp Trousdale in Sumner County, and soon, a cohesive assemblage began to form. Statesville volunteers were part of the group from Wilson County. Other unforced men of free will arrived from neighboring counties and, shortly thereafter, became part of the Seventh regiment, mustered into Confederate service during the month of July 1861. Men of various stripes composed the unit with officers primarily older and experienced with service, either military or legislative.

Colonel Robert Hopkins Hatton was the field officer for the Seventh Tennessee Infantry Regiment. A lawyer, politician, and United States congressman, the thirty-four-year-old Hatton believed that the Union should be preserved and opposed secession. When President Lincoln called for volunteers to invade the Southern states, Hatton reversed his position and formed a Confederate military unit, the Lebanon Blues, and became part of the Seventh Tennessee. While bivouacked at Camp Trousdale, Jack Leffingwell distinguished himself as a sharpshooter, using his Whitworth rifle. Made in England, the rifle allowed Jack to consistently hit targets over two thousand feet away. Colonel Hatton was impressed and asked Jack to form a group of sharpshooters to accompany the regular infantrymen. They would later be asked to pick off and eliminate Union artillery gun crews. Long-range marksmanship isn't wasted on the front lines. Jack could do a better job from a farther distance away. The first keen rifleman he selected was Abel Strawn. In Jack's view, Strawn was only limited by his weapon. When it came to marksmanship, he was every bit as good as Jack. Three more were added during the next week, making a total of five superior riflemen. They included Lomas Chandler, John Henry Bickford, and Ihme (pronounced Eye-me) Mueller (a German immigrant who could hardly speak English but can shoot the eye out of a squirrel at one thousand feet). Later, they became known as the Favorite Five and were respected by most of the troops.

Excerpted from THE TENNESSEE MOUNTAIN MAN by George Moon. Copyright © 2013 by George Moon. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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The Tennessee Mountain Man 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put this story down. remarkable insight into the details of the life of a Mountain man during the civil war. Interesting perspective told from the Confederate point of view laden with facts rarely known or discussed concerning both sides. The central storyline is captivating and you find yourself hurriedly anticipating the next startling factoid or factual insight into our history. Definitely a recommended read.