Friday, March 26, 2010

The Confederate Soldier Who Became a Teacher

In this post we focus on another of Mary Polly Holliman's sons, James Franklin, who survived the Civil War and returned home to become a school teacher. Unfortunately for Polly and her remaining children, her husband, Uriah, and two other sons, Charles Daniel and Elijah, died while serving in the Confederate Army. Imagine the heartache and worry of Polly both during and after the devastating war.

Our continued thanks to cousin Rhodes Holliman for his permission to share these amazing stories and photographs of our ancestors.

The photo is James Franklin Holliman in his Confederate uniform, ca. 1863.


by Dr. Rhodes B. Holliman of Dublin, Virginia,
his great great nephew. First published in Southern Times, Magazine of Tuscaloosa and West Alabama, Issue 130.

James Franklin Holliman was the second of 13 children born to Uriah Holliman and Mary Polly Lucas Holliman. She delivered her entire brood by herself, 7 boys and 6 girls. James was born in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, on January 28th, 1839, but Uriah soon moved the family north into Fayette County, AL, where he obtained Federal homestead land for farming.

When the clouds of War covered the South, a wave of patriotic enthusiasm swept over the family and the father, Uriah, now 46 years old, 4 of his 7 sons, and one son-in-law joined the Confederate Army. The War would exact a heavy toll on this family: of the 6 who enlisted, only 3 would survive.

James enlisted for a year as a private in the 9th Alabama Battalion, Company B, in Fayette, Alabama, in September, 1861. In the following spring, the 9th Battalion proceeded to Corinth, MS, and was engaged at Shiloh and Farmington. At Blackland, MS, the Battalion lost about 20 killed and wounded and disease took its toll at Shiloh, Corinth and Okolona, MS. Among those dying at Okolona was James’ father, Uriah (May 8, 1862), and a brother, Charles Daniel (May 12, 1862).

James reenlisted in the 9th Battalion in September, 1862, as a 1st Lieut., and was sent to Mobile, AL, remaining there until April, 1863. At that time, the Battalion proceeded to Tullahoma, TN, and was placed in Gen. Henry D. Clayton’s Brigade. This set the stage for the carnage that would follow in the area around Chattanooga, TN. The 9th was in several small engagements, especially at Hoover’s Gap. In July, 1863, at Tullahoma, 2 additional companies were attached and the 58th Alabama Infantry Regiment was formed. The 58th was in the thick of the fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 19 - 20. On the 19th, the 58th captured 4 pieces of artillery, and on the 20th, in a suicidal charge, they broke the enemy line with the loss of 148 out of 254 men. A few weeks later in November, the 58th was consolidated with the 32nd Alabama and the field officers of the 58th were retained.

The consolidated Regiment had 400 present at Missionary Ridge on Nov. 25th, 1863, but lost 250 in casualties and prisoners. Lieut. James F. Holliman was captured on November 25th. He was shipped to a military prison in Louisville, KY, and thence to the infamous prison for Confederate officers at Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie, near Sandusky, Ohio. There he remained until he was paroled and took the Oath of Allegiance on June 13th, 1865. He was then described as being 26 years of age, dark completion, dark hair, gray eyes, 5 feet, 9 inches tall.

In our next weblog, we share the second half of James Franklin's life along with a beautiful love letter sent to his fiancée, Rebecca.

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