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Biography of William Chapman Shields (1841 - 1881)


Pages 1 - 4 Pages 9 - 13

Page 5


    I joined the Army under protest, and resolved that, as soon as the National Government should furnish me protection, I would return home.

    The Cavalry Corps was soon ordered to the front and immediately repased (?) to the Army near Chattanooga.  I was in several skirmishes in which my command was engaged previous to the great battle of Chickamauga.

    But as my company was on detached service, guarding a mountain gap during the battle, I was not in the engagement, I passed over the field a short time after the battle, while the ground was still covered with the dead and wounded.  Soon after the battle of Chickamauga, I went with my command on the celebrated raid through middle Tennessee. General Wheeler forded the Tennessee River at Cotton-Port in East Tennessee, crossed Walden's Ridge and the Cumberland Mountains into middle Tennessee.   Passing by and capturing McMinnville, Shelbyville, Wartrace, Farmington, and Pulaski, he re-forded the River at Mussel Shoals.

    General Martin's Division then went with Gen. Longstreet into East Tennessee.  I remained with my regiment until after the attack of the 29th of Nov. on Knoxville.  I was then sent in a detachment of fifty men as an escort or guard to Gen. Martin's wagon train into Georgia. The wagon train crossed the Alleghany Mountains into North Carolina and then turned south into Georgia, crossed the Blue Ridge at Tissenda Gap, into White Co.  Then passed through Dahlonega, Canton, and Carters­ville.  There the train halted near Stylesboro, Ga.

    I remained at the wagon camp near Stylesboro a few days and then went home, where I arrived a few days before Christmas.  I remained at home till the first day of March, 1864, when I left.home, and fell in with Capt. Reece's company, as Gen. Wheeler's escort near Ladiga, Ala., and went with them to Tunnel-Hill, Ga., and did duty with the escort till the return of my command from East Tennessee.  About the 20th, I proceeded to Cartersville and met up with my regiment, which had just returned from the E. Tenn. campaign.  Gen. Martin's Division was then sent to Oxford, Ala. to rest and recruit.  On the arrival of the command at Oxford, I obtained a recruiting detail for ten days and returned home.  During my stay at home, my horse became lamed, and I was compelled, at the expiration of the ten days to leave him at home and return to Oxford on foot.  Soon after my return, the Division was ordered to the front, and I, being afoot, could not go with the regiment. Consequently, I, in company with the other dismounted men, was sent to Wiggins Battery (3rd. Ark.) also at Oxford.  But when in a few days the artillery was ordered to the front near Altoona, Ga., I was left to help guard the reserve camp, and to be sent round by railroad.  I remained a few days and wrote to my wife to come and see me and bring me some clothes. She and my sister, Martha, immediately came down to Oxford with the clothing in a buggy, but when they arrived, I had just left for the front.  May 19, 1864, just after they returned home, the 17th Army Corps U.S.A., under Gen. Blair, passed by our house and de­stroyed a great deal of our effects - and took off my horse...

Page 6.


    The reserve guard was sent via Selma, Montgomery, West Point, and Atlanta to the Battery on the front near Powder Springs, Ga.  I was with the Battery on the immediate front, and was in many of the fights in which the army was engaged from there to Atlanta.  I was also with the Battery in all the hard fighting of the 22nd, July on the right wing of the army.  I determined to return home, as I thought the time had now come when I could remain at home in peace.  I consequently left the army on the 26th, July and returned home.  I remained at home in quiet until the close of the war.

    In the fall of this year, I removed from Mr. Cones' place (?) on to Dr. Carr's place, but a few hundred yards distance.  In the spring of the year 1865, I bought a mule and made another crop.  The country was exceedingly destitute of all the necessaries of life, and there was but little money in the country.  Gen. Sherman’s army, about one hundred and fifty thousand men, had foraged on the country in which we lived for above a week, in November of 1864, and there was barely enough provisions left for the people to subsist on.  The year 1865 consequently was one of great privations and suffering to the people. But I managed by the blessing of Providence to live until I made bread to live upon again.  In October, I was compelled to go to Nashville, Tenn., and work at the carpenter's trade to get money for a Mr. Crook for $3.00 per day.  I was by this means enabled to provide for my family, until times became more easy.

    In 1866, I rented land from my father-in-law, Dr. Carr, and made another crop.  This was an unusually bad crop year, owing to the drouth. But I made plenty of corn and wheat to do me.  In the fall my brother and I rented land from Dr. Carr and sowed a wheat crop in partnership. We had resolved to work at our trade the next year, and in the fall to move from the country.  I was chosen by the Church to represent her in the Association, which convened at Liberty, N. C. Church, October 6, 1866.  In the Association, I was appointed chairman of the Committee on Finance.  I also offered a resolution, which passed, to appoint a committee to prepare a statistical conpendium of the Association from its organization to the present time to be published in the journal of the next session.  Bro. John R. Graham, of Ladiga, Ala., and myself were appointed the committee.

    In November, I and my wife obtained letters of dismission from the Mt. Zion Church.

    About the middle of January, 1869 [1867], my brother and I left home to go to West Tennessee to hunt work, as our brother-in-law, W. B. Warren and family were moving to that country, so we concluded to go along with them.  We crossed the country to Scottsboro, in Tachsoio [Jackson?] Co., Ala. and there took the cars for Memphis.  From there we went up to Browns­ville, in Haywood County, and stopped.  We took lodgings with Mr. David Shields at $25 per month.  We soon got a small job of work from Mr. S. C. Baxter, one mile from town.  Mr. Baxter agreed to board us for

Page 7.


fifty cents a day, and we moved our boarding to his house, where we continued to work till our return.  We undertook several small jobs of work for which we got good pay.  But, finally, owing to the bad weather and scarcity of lumber, we could get no more jobs.  We then hired to Mr. A. J. Klyce for $2.50 - two and a half dollars per day. We remained with Mr. Klyce till the latter end of April, when we re­turned home.  We returned via Humbolt, Tenn. and Athens, Ala.  At Decatur we took passage on a boat to Guntersville, from which place we walked home.  After I got home, I stocked scythes till harvest time. After harvest I made a wagon to move in.  My brother and I bought a Victor Cane Mill and a Cook's Evaporator and made up syrup for the people during the latter summer and fall.  We made up for one-third toll.  In all we made thirteen hundred and sixty-six gallons.  In November we sold our mill to Parson Stewart and prepared to move.  I advertised a sale of my effects, which took place the 15th November. Amounts under five dollars sold for cash, and sums over that amount on a credit of ten months.  But owing to the great scarcity of money, the property sold very cheap.  A. F. Comer cried (?) the sale.

    My wife and I having joined the Church at Missionary Station in April, on our letters of recommendation from Mt. Zion Church, we
ac­cordingly called for and obtained other letters of dismission from the church at the regular conference in Nov. 

    All things being arranged, when my brother's wagon came along about 9o'clock a.m. Nov. 19th, we began our journey to Limestone Co., Ala. We crossed the Lookout Mountains and passed by Van Buren to Rhoden's Gap on Sand Mountains.  We went down the mountain near Warrenton, and crossed the Tennessee River at Fort Deposit and traveled via Whitesburg, Huntsville, and Athens to Uncle James Stewart's 7 miles south of Athens where we arrived on the night of the 25th.

    By kindness of our uncle, we remained under his roof a few days till we could get a place.

    My brother and I rented a small place from Mr. T. C. Carter five miles south of Athens near the railroad.  We agreed to pay him one hundred dollars rent.  There were two small cabins on the place, but there was a family living in each of them.  We accordingly moved into one of them with both of our families in which was a Mr. Irvin living.  We, however, remained but a few days till we moved away.

    A few days before Christmas, I, accompanied by my cousin, Mr. G. H. Stewart, returned to Georgia in order to get some things which my brother and I had left.  We went in a two-horse wagon and returned but a few days before New Year's.

Page 8.


    We planted a crop of corn and sargo, and in co-partnership with Uncle James Stewart, bought another cane mill and evaporator to work up our crop.

    On the 31st of March, this year, our daughter, Annie Loula, was born.

    On the 5th of September, a Baptist Church was constituted at Uncle James Stewart's house, of which my wife and I became members, and I was immediately elected clerk.  I drew up the constitution, "Articles of Faith" rules of decorium, which were unanimously adopted by the Church.

    On the 16th of October, I bought a tract of land (167 acres) known as the "Hobbs Place" from John E. Logwood for $500.  I pair him $170.00, then and on the third of November, I paid him $30.00 more and gave him a note for the remaining $200.  I then received a bond for title and took possession of the place, and on the 17th of November, moved on it.

    My place being very badly out of repair and all grown up in sedge grass, I was forced to rent land to sow in wheat.  I therefore rented some 9 acres from Rev. John L. Blackburn and sowed it in wheat. '

    This year being one of almost unparalled drouth, I have made but little, not exceeding $150.00 all told.  But all the family have en­joyed the best of health, and I begin the next year with a prodigious amount of work to do, but with a stout heart and strong arm, and a firm reliance on the goodness of Got for the future.

    In November of this year, I cast my first political vote for Sey­mour of N. York for the Presidency and Blair of Missouri for Vice-Pres., who were the regular nominees of the National Democratic Party.

    1869 - I commenced this year making preparations for a crop.  I broke up about 12 acres of land and built some fences, but considering all the circumstances and the disadvantages I would have to labour under in cultivating sedge land, I abandoned the idea of a crop, and at the suggestion of my wife, made application for the school at Chest­nut Hill.  I obtained the place of Teacher of the Public Free School at Chestnut Hill, and on the 27th of April, went before the board of examination and obtained a license to teach.  My school commenced on the 1st day of March with a salary of $50.00 per month.  I taught until the last of November, during which time I taught a subscription school about two months at $30.00 per month, and the last two months I got $60 per month.  In May, I was chosen by the church as a messenger to the union meeting of the Liberty Association, which convened with the church at Mt. Zion, Madison Co., Ala.  I attended the meeting and was elected clerk of the body, the duties of which office I per­formed.  I was also chosen to represent the church in the Association,

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Pages 1 - 4 Pages 9 - 13

Submitted by: James Shields. See Notes about W. C. Shields Biography, Campaign Sketches and Family Record

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c. Susan Shields Sasek