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Francis M. MAJORS - private, 43d Tennessee Infantry, CSA

On 21 Mar 1862 at Sulphur Springs, Tennessee, Francis M[arion?] MAJORS enlisted in the Confederate Army under J.W. Gillespie for twelve months

He served as a private in Co B of the 43d Tennessee Infantry and was paroled from the hospital at Vicksburg when the Confederates surrendered: "In hospital, paroled at Vicksburg, Miss, according to the terms of capitulation entered into by the commanding Generals of the United States and Confederate forces July 4, 1863."

The compiled CSA record for Francis from the National Archives is among our family papers. Cards with information from the 43d Infantry's muster rolls have the following Regimental information imprinted at the foot of each roll call card:

The 43d Regiment Tennessee Infantry (also known as the 5th Regiment East Tennessee Voplunteers and Gillespie's Regiment Tennessee Volunteers) was organized Dectmber 14, 1861, and reorganized May 10, 1862. When the 36th Regiment Tennessee Infantry was disbanded, about June 23, 1862, some of the men were assigned to Companies F, I and K of this regiment. About December 1863, the regiment was mounted and served as mounted infantry until paroled at Washingtron, Ga., in May, 1865.

The Civil War Soldier and Sailor System online gives this version of the unit's history:

CONFEDERATE TENNESSEE TROOPS43rd Regiment, Tennessee Infantry (Gillespie's) (5th East Tennessee Volunteers) 43rd Infantry Regiment [also called 5th East Tennessee Volunteer Regiment] was organized at Knoxville, Tennessee, during December, 1861. Its members were recruited in the counties of Polk, Rhea, Meigs, Bledsoe, Hawkins, Roane, Jefferson, McMinn, Bradley, and Hamilton. It moved to Virginia, Kentucky, then Mississippi where it was assigned to A.W. Reynolds' Brigade in the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. The unit fought at Champion's Hill and Big Black River Bridge, then was captured in the fight for Vicksburg. After being exchanged and reorganized as mounted infantry, it was attached to General Vaughn's Brigade and during April, 1864, contained 215 effectives. It joined General Early in the Valley of Virginia and was active in the battles and skirmishes of his campaign. Later the regiment fought at Russellville in Tennessee, returned to Virginia, moved to North Carolina where it joined President Davis' escort, and ended the war at Washington, Georgia, in May, 1865, with a force of 123 men. The field officers were Colonel James W. Gillespie, Lieutenant Colonel David M. Key, and Majors Lawson Guthrie and William H. McKamy.

Francis appeared on undated Prisoner of War roll copied by L. Ballard, and a card to that effect is in his compiled service record from NARA:

M | 43 | Tenn
F.M. Majors
Pvt Co B 43 Regt Tenn Vols C. SA
Appears on a
Roll of Prisoners of War
in hospital, paroled at Vicksburg, Miss., accord-
ing to the terms of capitulation entered into
by the commanding Generals of the Untied
States and Confederate forces July 4, 1863.
Roll dated _not dated_
Paroled at Vicksburg, Miss., Jul 15, 1863
Where captured _Vicksburg Miss_
When captured _July 4_ 186 _3_
Remarks: [blank]
Number of roll:
117 _L. Ballard [signature]_
(639b) Copyist.

A copy of his parole certificate is included in the file, as well:

I, _Francis Majors _ a _Private of Co B 43_ Reg't _Tenn_
Vols. C. S A, being a Prisoner of War, in the hands of the United States Forces, in virtue
of the captitulation of the City of Vicksburg and its garrison, by Lieut. Gen John C. Pemberton,
C.S.A., Commanding, on the 4th day of July, 1863, do in pursuance of the terms of said
capitulation, give this my solemn parole under oate -------------
That I will not take up arms again against the Untied States, nor serve in any military police,
or constulary force in any Fort, Garrison or field work, held by the Confederate States of
America, against the Untited States of America, nor as guard of pirsons, depots or stores, nor
discharge any duties usually perfomed by Officers or soldiers agains the United States of
America, untile duly exchanged by the proper authorities.

_F.M. Majors [signature]_
Sworn to and subscribed before me at Vicksburg, Miss., this _15th_ day of July, 1863.
_John C. Fry 20_ Reg't _ Ohio_ Vols.

His record indicates that following the CSA surrender, Francis was transported from Vicksburg to New Orleans:

M | 43 | Tenn
Francis Majors
pvt Co B 43 Tenn Regt
Appears on a
of Confederate Paroled sick and wounded Prisoners, shipp from Vicksburg, Miss. July 24, 1863, to Movile, Ala., via New Orleans, La.
List dated __not dated__186 .
Remarks: [blank]
Book mark: [blank]
J. Nelson [signature]
(652) Copyist.

Francis's military career was briefly mentioned in a 1973 newpaper article about the Newports by Rhea County writer Glenn Chattin:
"After the war, Margaret Newport Underwood, whose husband was killed at Wilson Creek, married Francis M. Majors. Majors had served in Gillespie's 43rd regiment, after enlisting in Captain Cawood's Company."

Chattin's article also says that Raleigh Clack, Francis' future brother-in-law was also in both Cawaood's Company and Gillespie's 43d. Raleigh married Sabria Newport, sister of Francis' wife Margaret, in 1865. At Vicksburg, Raleigh kept a diary. Transcibed by one of his descendants, it can be viewed/downloaded at

A unit history of the 43d on TnGenWeb says that the regiment, paroled at Vicksburg, was declared exchanged on 11 September 1863. As far as I can tell, Francis, wounded at Vicksburg, did not rejoin his regiment at any point - before or after its being paroled. The last pay for him is recorded as being through 30 Apr 1863. His record indicates that in December 1863 he voluntarily swore an oath of allegiance to the United States Government in Rhea Co, TN and so was classified by the Confederacy as a deserter:

M | 43 | Tenn
[above the name is a cross (+)]
Francis Majors
Co. B. 43 Regt. Tenn. Inf.
Appears on a
of Rebel Deserters who have voluntarily taken
and subscribed the oath of allegiance to the
United States Government, at the offic of F.
Young, Deputy Provost Marshal of Roane
County, Tenn., during the month of December,
1863, and have been permitted to go at large
within our lines.

List dated Office Pro. Mar. Genl. of East Tenn.,
Knoxville, Dec 29, 1863
County Rhea
State Tenn
Remarks: [blank]
Number of roll:
3; sheet 3
_H. G. Taylor_
(652) Copyist

We may never know exactly why Francis signed the oath. We don't, for instance, know at this point, the nature or severity of his war wounds. We don't know his emotional state after being under siege at Vicksburg and in the care of the Union Army as he recovered. We don't know the part that any religious beliefs or family obligations may have made in his decision.

What we do know, however, is that the same month he signed the oath, he married the young widow and mother of two young girls, Margaret UNDERWOOD, whose husband had been killed at the Battle of Wilson's Creek in Missouri the year before. Margaret was the daughter of a local Baptist preacher, Asa NEWPORT, who in December 1863 - at age 61 - was himself away from home serving with Welcker's Battalion, Tennessee Cavalry, Company A, under Darius Waterhouse, whose company was called the "old man's company" because of the advanced age of most of its enlistees.

In addition to her husband, Margaret had lost three brothers to the war by the time she married Francis. She had two small daughters to raise, and so maybe a condition of her marrying Francis was that he sign the oath and be able to move about the county and care for his new family.

I have not yet uncovered any petitions for pension benefits in Francis' name. It's my current guess that he didn't qualify for a pension because of his classification as a deserter. A pension application filed for a John MAJORS who served in the 43d from Rhea County in the Tennessee State Archives likely refers to a relative of Francis' and should be researched to help flesh out the MAJORS family records.

[All transcriptions by D Loiselle]

Another of my ancestors - my paternal great-grandfather, James Calvin GILES, also served with the 43d TN Infantry and was paroled from the field at Vicksburg. I have transcribed his Civil War Veteran's Questionnaire, and it is online at

Note: The following description of Civil War compiled service records is from Richard W. Peuser and Trevor K. Plante's "Cold Mountain's Inman: Fact Versus Fiction," published in the NARA journal Prologue for Summer 2004 (Vol. 36, No. 2):

[War Department adjutant general, Fred C. Ainsworth] headed the office that created the compiled military service records for soldiers who served in Union and Confederate volunteer organizations. During the period 1886-1912, the War Department, specifically the Record and Pension Office, a unit in the Adjutant General's Office, created more than six million cards for Confederate army volunteers.

Compiled military service records are essentially records transcribed from other sources. Information from company muster rolls, regimental returns, descriptive books, hospital rolls, prison records, and other records was copied verbatim onto cards. A separate card was prepared each time an individual name appeared on a document. Therefore, instead of searching for William P. Inman's name through fragile, unwieldy documents such as returns, muster rolls, hospital registers, etc., a researcher can find information on him in a compiled military service record.
(Source online:, accessed 28 Nov 2004)


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© 2004 D Loiselle