This profile was written by Ruth B. White and Mary Ruth Jackson Bland. It is reproduced from "Smith Co [TN] History", pub. 1987 by the Smith Co [TN] Homecoming '86 Heritage Committee.
JAMES BLANTON NANCE, born 8 April 1839, moved to Smith County [TN] from Blount Co [TN] in about 1844 when he was 5 years old. There, his father, James M. Nance, and his mother, Elizabeth Titlow Nance (married 27 Dec. 1837) raised their family of 8 children:
In Oct. 1861, when James Blanton was 22 years old, he volunteered in Co. C, 4th Tennessee Cavalry, C.S.A. In 1862 he became the company bugler. He held this position until the surrender in 1865.
At the last cavalry charge at Bentonville, Nance acted as both bugler and color bearer. On the retreat through North Carolina, Co. Paul Anderson said that as the army needed fighting men more than flags, he would dispense with the colors. Nance, rather than see the old flag stripped from its staff, decided to carry it himself. I was a beautiful flag made of fine material said to have been made in Scotland.
By accident, Nance discovered a strong Federal infantry force at the rear of the Confederate position. Without waiting for orders, he vigorously sounded "boots and saddle" on his bugle. Rising ground concealed enemy movements. Nance continued the bugle call desperately. The Confederates immediately started up the slope. "Trot, gallop, charge" rang the bugle notes, loud and clear, with Nance at the head of the column, the colors in one hand, the bugle in the other. Over the hill they sped at top speed. They dashed into and through the column of blue, which greatly outnumbered them six to one. The Yankees were so amazed at the audacity and vehemence of the onslaught that at first they forgot to shoot. Many of them surrendered. But they soon recovered and the shooting grew in volume and intensity. The battle lasted three days. Never again did Nance have occasion to sound "Boots and Saddle" as this was his last charge.
Nance was never discharged - he was paroled in Charlotte, NC. His horse was confiscated by the Federal Army and he walked home, with bleeding feet, to Smith County, taking with him the flag that he had most gallantly carried through the Battle of Bentonville. (Later, Nance said he gave the flag to his wife, who made an apron out of it). It is on record at the Tennessee Archives that Nance never took the Oath of Allegiance.
Waiting for him at home was his wife, Drucilla Sampson Nance, whom he married 2 May 1861. Drucilla Sampson, born 20 Oct 1846 in Smith Co [TN], was the daughter of Stephen Sampson, Jr. (1817-1894) and Catherine Dawson (1820-1898), both born in Smith County [TN]. Stephen Jr.'s father, Stephen Sampson Sr., was born about 1775 in Virginia, and his mother was Sally Sims. Drucilla's parents [NOTE: the word "parents here is probably intended to be "grandparents"], Cpt. John Dawson and Ollie Randolph, moved to New Middleton from Virginia. It is said the Randolphs objected to the marriage.
JAMES BLANTON NANCE and Drucilla Sampson had 6 children:
JAMES BLANTON NANCE died 24 March, 1910 and Drucilla Sampson Nance died 7 June 1897. They are buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, TN.
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