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Re: Isom Sheets 43rd Tn
In Response To: Isom Sheets 43rd Tn ()

Not returning to the regiment following parole and exchange at Vicksburg, would have been grounds for the Confederate Pension Commissioners to have rejected his pension request. Less than half the men paroled at Vicksburg returned to the regiment, just as Grant had predicted.

We are scheduling our third bi-annual reunion of descendants of the 43rd this coming Memorial Day weekend. You are encouraged to attend.

Please contact me at;

Sheets, Isham [Issom], 5th Sgt., Co. G, born 1832, enlisted November 30, 1861 at Mossy Creek, Tenn., elected 5th Sgt. May 10, 1862, recorded as Pvt. from Nov./Dec. 1862 muster on, captured and paroled at Vicksburg July 4-9, 1863, absent at March 10, 1864 muster, “struck in the right eye by a fragment of gun cap while in active service”, filed Tennessee pension #S15020 dated July 18, 1916 attested to by Sam Heird [Herd, Co. E] and Willis Drake, rejected, widower, “children all married”, filed application for Tenn. Confederate Home from Roane Co. 1921 (M268 Roll 293)

Below is a short history from my webpage for the 43rd [not presently up]

A Short History

The regiment was organized at Knoxville, Tennessee on December 14, 1861, comprised of ten companies which had been recruited throughout the fall months of August through November. This was the 5th infantry regiment organized in East Tennessee. The regiment at no time appears to have consisted of more that 850 effectives. The regiment recorded it's first death December 23, 1861 when Pvt. Charles Webb, Co. E, age 18, died at Knoxville. Upon completion of training at the old fair grounds in Knoxville, the regiment in February 1862 was split into it's ten constituent companies and assigned to guard duty at various railroad bridges and "hog establishments" along the line from Chattanooga to Bristol. During this period, Capt. Sterling Turner, Co. F, recorded: "I hope to see every Tennessean rally to the standard with our governor at the head and drive the Northern Vandals from our soil."

It saw it's first casualties when three companies were sent into the Laurel mountains of North Carolina in April 1862 to rout out a gang of "bushwhackers". Pvt. Elijah C. Higdon and John C. Morgan from Co. A were killed in the ensuing fighting. Later in June 1862 five companies were sent to Chattanooga to repulse a Federal move on that city where Pvt. Leroy Standifier, Co. K, son of Mexican war veteran General William J. Standifer, was killed instantly by a shell from a Federal cannon.

In August they moved to Virginia in preparation for Bragg's Kentucky campaign where it saw hard soldiering but little if any fighting against the enemy. During this campaign they marched on foot over 600 miles where "some one unfortunately held his gun carelessly and shot Lieutenant Ben McCarty, of Captain McKamy's Co. [I] through the head, an ounce ball and two buck-shot piercing his temple and killing him instantly. It was soon learned that the alarm was false, the pickets having mistaken some moving objects for an enemy." Of their most recent experiences, Fife Major Issac Stamper, Co. F, noted: "soldiering was pretty rough living anyway and we would respond cheerfully to every call, animated by the hope of our Southern independence."

On September 29, the regiment arrived at Mt. Sterling in Montgomery County, "a beautiful town with great Southern feeling." They remained there one week where the ladies "presented the regiment with a beautiful stand of regimental colors, which was received by Lieut.-Col. D. M. Key, in an eloquent and graceful speech." The ladies of the city also "gave us a great deal of clothing and provisions." At this place the regiment was permanently assigned to the brigade commanded by Col. Alexander Welch Reynolds a West Point graduate of the class of 1838.

Headquarters 3d Tenn. Reg., Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 4th, 2 P. M.

"Provisional Governor Hawes was installed to-day at 12 M, the parade was a grand affair. 
Gen. Bragg made a short and well delivered address, and introduced the Governor to the 
ladies and citizens within the Captiol. Not one out of ten could gain entrance of those who 
desired to witness the ceremony. Gen. Reynold's Brigade which was on parade in the city 
on the occasion made a fine appearance. In his Brigade, I noticed the 43d Tenn. Regiment, 
commanded by the gallant Col. J. W. Gillespie, this regiment looked well after they had 
marched from Virginia to this point."

At 1 p.m., the boom of Union guns lobbing shells into the outskirts of Frankfort disrupted the inaugural ceremonies and ended in midsentence the adddess being delivered. Subsequently, Confederate forces departed the city where they burned the railroad bridge across the Kentucky river, and destroyed the city bridge leading to the Louisville pike. Gov. Hawes' official presence in the proud capital was but short. Four days later Federals and Confederates blundered into the Battle of Perryville. When the fight was over Bragg's army withdrew back to Tennessee. The great endeavor to claim Kentucky for the Confederacy was finished. Encamping at Lenoir's Station, Tenn., the 43rd went into winter quarters which allowed brief individual furloughs. Here Reynold's brigade was reorganized resulting in the addition of three other East Tennessee infantry regiments, the 3rd (Lillard's), 31st, 59th Tennessee along with the 43rd and the 3rd Maryland Battery. These East Tennessee regiments would serve together for the remainder of the war. The 31st Tennessee was redesignated the 39th Tennessee during the Vicksburg campaign in June 1863. During this first year of the war, the regiment incurred 51 fatalities of which at least, four were combat related.

On December 22, 1862 the entire brigade entrained to Mississippi where they were assigned to the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana as reinforcements for Lt. Gen. John Pemberton's army at Vicksburg arriving in that city on New Years day 1863. Enroute, arriving at West Point, Ga on Christmas morning, it was recorded: "The Colonel treated the boys and some of them got a little too much. Some of them got pretty tight and were quite funny all day." Over the next four months the regiment performed picket duties and participated in the construction of gun fortifications near the town of Warrenton, some ten miles below Vicksburg on the Mississippi river. Pvt. Giddens of the 3rd Tennessee, in a letter to his wife, had this to say of Mississippi: "Linda, this is a sickly place, soldiers are dying and Tennesseans can't stand to this climate and drink this water. I am told by Louisianians that the Georgians died here last summer like sheep with the rot."

The unit fought at Port Gibson, Champion's Hill and Big Black River Bridge in the May engagements preceding Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's investment of Vicksburg. Retreating into the fortifications of Vicksburg, the regiment served behind the trenches as brigade reserve being used as reinforcements to support weak points in the lines. On May 22, the regiment was employed in reinforcing the line held by Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, "marching under some of the hottest fire for a half mile. We succeeded in reaching the trenches and repulsed the enemy [at the Railroad Redoubt], capturing forty prisoners and a flag and killing a great many of the enemy. We lost Captain Turner, Company F . . . shot through the head . . . The enemy charged several times with no success but with heavy loss."

Confederate troops within the trench lines of Vicksburg now faced 47 days of siege where "there was not a minute of time either day or night but what was made hideous by either the boom of cannon, screeches of bomb shells or roar of musketry . . . the suffering was terrible in ditches in June, in a hot climate" and "an almost unremitting fire of sharpshooters was kept up during all hours of daylight during the whole time, varied by brisk cannonading." Midway through the siege on Wednesday, June 10, Pvt. William Raleigh Clack, Co. B, recorded in his diary: "Sharp shootings usual again today. 4 o'clock p.m.- We have had a fine rain today. 5 o'clock p.m.- cannonading pretty rapidly at this hour. Night has come on. The wind is blowing hard and a dark cloud is rising, while the bright lightenings play across the heavens and the awful thunder appears to shake the whole earth. Oh! May Jehovah, he who rides upon every tempest protect me tonight."

Later on June 29, Issac Stamper recorded: "Some of our boys bought some small cakes made of cornbread at four and five dollars a cake. This was almost starvation but all were willing to hold on as long as there was any hopes of relief rather than submit to Yankee tyranny." The regiment endured the siege of 47 days at Vicksburg prior to their surrender on July 4, 1863 recording 620 men who signed their paroles five days later. One soldier noted: "We were sorry we had to bow to our oppressors but thankful that we were alive. We are proud to know that we had held a terrible foe 48 days on twelve days rations." During this six month Vicksburg campaign, they left 68 men dead, 22 known to have been from enemy action. A considerable number of men during this period died from typhoid fever, measles, smallpox, diarrhea, dysentery and various other aliments.

After being exchanged and reorganized, the four regiments of Reynold's brigade were detached and assigned in early November 1863 to Brig. Gen. John Crawford Vaughn's old East Tennessee brigade consisting of the 60th, 61st and 62nd Tennessee. In December they were mounted and served thereafter as a cavalry brigade participating initially in Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's siege of Knoxville. During the winter regiment was involved in skirmishes with the enemy at Tazewell in the Cumberland Gap region, at Morristown and in lower southwest Virginia. Also, the brigade was ordered to Newton, N. C. to recruit. By April 1864 the regiment was comprised of about 215 effectives.

In June 1864 they were rushed to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where they ultimately joined Lt. Gen. Jubal Early and were active in the battles and skirmishes of his valley campaign of 1864 which included actions at: Piedmont, Lynchburg, Monocacy, Washington City, Winchester, Kernstown, Fishers Hill, Strasburg, White Post, Martinsburg, and Darksville. During this campaign and their subsequent East Tennessee period, they served under the command of Maj. Gen. John Cabell Breckenridge, former Vice President of the United States in Buchanan's administration. Recounting this period, a member of one of their sister regiments noted: "My war experiences were in Valley of Va. under Gen. Early where we were engaged in battle nearly every day. For 3 wk [sic] the horses were not unsaddled except against orders, and we slept in battle line." Another saw it as "a very fatiguing and trying one, and scarcely a day passed that there was not some fighting." Capt. Wiseman of Co. G recorded: " . . . was in the fighting around Fisher's Hill. In the September action around Winchester, up and down the highways, over the hills and through the fields . . . the two armies chased each other back and forth so many times the boys knew every stump and root by the roadsides; yet, they kept it up endlesssly, exhaustingly, futilely [sic]."

Returning to upper East Tennessee in October 1864 the regiment participated in numerous engagements against the Federals most notably at Morristown and Russellville. In March 1865 they fell back into Southwest Virginia before the advance of Maj. Gen. George Stoneman, and were at Christianburg, Va on April 11, 1865 where they learned of the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. Attempting to join up with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina, they engaged in what is believed to be their last encounters with the Yankees, where on April 17 they were involved in a brisk fight with elements of the 10th Michigan Cavalry at Newton, NC. Then, on the 20th, they were involved in a skirmish with the 12th Ohio Cavalry at Dallas, NC.

Two days later on April 22, they met up with President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet at Charlotte, NC thereafter serving in his cavalry escort. Arriving at Washington, Georgia, on the 4th day of May, President Davis decided to abandon any further efforts to go to the Trans-Mississippi Department, and advised a surrender of the troops that had loyally followed him after the surrender of Gen. Johnston. The Confederate Treasury was subsequently emptied and the funds divided amongst these soldiers, each man receiving approximately $28.00 in specie*. Thereupon they were surrendered to Federal forces, paroled and allowed to return home. According to Capt. Aiken, Co. K, the 43rd had by then been reduced to a force of 123 men.

During their almost three and a-half years active military service, the regiment suffered over 165 dead, of which 33 were known to be combat related. In addition to those who surrendered at Vicksburg, 142 men are known to have been captured by Federal forces at various other times. Eighteen men are known to have died in Union prisoner of war camps. Some 1364 men are recorded on company muster rolls for the years 1861-1864 and other surviving documents. The last battle casualty was Orderly Sgt. J. C. Routh, Co. K, who died in U.S.A. Depot Hospital, Winchester, Va October 28, 1864 due to "chronic dysentery & effects of gunshot wound". The last recorded war death occurred March 25, 1865 when Cpl. Joseph Paine, Co. F, who had been captured September 2, 1864 near Martinsburg/ Bunker Hill, Va., died of "inflammation of lungs" in the Fort Delaware prison camp.

Pvt. A. D. Huffmaster, Co. E, informs us; "At the close of the war the Union element which had gone out from Tennessee and joined the Federal armies had returned; pandemonium ensued and Confederates were shipped [sic] and maltreated in various ways. Confederate preachers were not allowed to preach. Many who had sided with the Confederacy had to flee the country, and many were ordered away under threats, myself being among this number. I was ordered away . . . [and] accordingly went to the State of North Carolina, to Rutherford County, and remained there until the early part of the year 1867". Col. McKenzie, 5th Tenn. tells us: "[We then] faced a situation that required more courage than to face bullets on the field of battle, property all gone, fencing all burnt, and farm grown up, disenfranchised [sic], country being raided by men whose occupation was to rob and plunder." Another reveals: " Then came the reconstruction period. Then none but men of approved loyalty were allowed to vote or sit on juries. The administration of justice was a one-sided affair. . . . The real horror of war is that when the fighting is done the evil results last for a century."

The last known survivor of the regiment was Alvin Devall Huffmaster, Pvt. , Co. E, 92, last Civil War veteran residing in Hawkins County, a retired lawyer and former mayor of Rogersville, Tennessee who died died July 6, 1940.

* The Mexican gold coin received by Lt. Reps Jones, Co. F, may be viewed at the Confederate

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Isom Sheets 43rd Tn
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