Shelbyville In The Middle

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“Shelbyville In The Middle”

Civil War Sesquicentennial 1863

June 22nd and June 23rd

Mark your calendars for June 22 and June 23. It all begins in Shelbyville, Tennessee, at the H. V. Griffin city park, from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. on Saturday, June 22, and from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. on Sunday, June 23. This first time walking history event for our city commemorates the sesquicentennial (150th) celebration of the city’s modest involvement in what historians are calling the Tullahoma campaign. The Civil War or War For Southern Independence had a dramatic affect on Tennessee, and probably more on Shelbyville and Bedford County.

Shelbyville In The Middle is the result of  the efforts of the city of Shelbyville Parks & Recreation department, & our SCV Sumner A. Cunningham Camp #1620.

Some examples of the many events planned are:

Flags of the Period (Presentation & Flag Displays)

Confederate & Union Infantry, Calvary, and Artillery Encampments    

Civilian Refugee Camps

Children’s Games

*Musicians (Coleman’s Scouts, Ross Moore, Tennessee Fiddle Orchestra) with the Flat Creek Contra Dancers-

*Artisans/Crafters such as Spinners (Fleece On The Duck Fiber Guild), Weavers, Quilters, and more…

**Also a Sunday 1 PM 1863 church service will be conducted by Loyd Warren (June 23rd).**

This is THE EVENT for the Summer in Shelbyville, Tennessee!

Bring your friends, family, and church groups!



Sumner A Cunningham

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Sumner A. Cunningham, founder of the "Confederate Veteran"

Sumner A. Cunningham – The founder of the “Confederate Veteran” magazine. Our Shelbyville, TN. Camp #1620 was named in his honor.

Sumner Archibald Cunningham was born in Bedford County, Tennessee on July 21, 1843. When the war erupted he enlisted in the 41st Tennessee Infantry Regiment. As Fort Donelson fell in 1862, Cunningham was captured and later sent to Camp Morton as a prisoner-of-war. He was exchanged at Vicksburg and returned to his command where he served until the end of the war. After the war he engaged in several businesses including the ownership of the Chattanooga Times, which he edited for two years. In 1883 he edited a magazine in New York entitled Our Day; however, his fame was secured in January, 1893 when the first issue of the Confederate Veteran appeared. In the next forty years, the Veteran became the voice of the South and officially represented the United Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. This article & picture were reprinted from the 1984 Confederate Veteran, written by Ronald T. Clemons, Editor-In-Chief.

In memory of Pvt. George Dance


George Dance was in a picture that was made before 1914 at the Lynchburg, Moore County, Tennessee, courthouse.  In it a number of elderly men were posing for a reunion for the area Confederate Veterans.  Other pictures from around 1900 taken from Gen’l N.B. Forrest’s Escort reunion, again reveal George Dance with his fellow Vets.  For some people these pictures are a problem.  For SCV members it is not!  A check with a genealogical online service indicates George Dance was a Confederate Veteran.  He was obviously at a reunion with his veteran comrades.  He had applied for a Confederate pension number C46 in Moore County, Tennessee, having served in the 8th TN Infantry, CSA. Oh yes, why is this a problem to some?  George Dance is black. Was George a free black when the uncivil war broke out?  Currently no information is available and more importantly, does it matter?

George Dance was born Jan 1, 1842 and died Nov. 12, 1924. This information was obtained from the photograph that also contained the dates of birth and death of the other men.  Presently, very little is known about George Dance. The state of Tennessee census records of 1891, page 27, indicates he in District 1 as a registered male voter. He, his wife America, and their three children are in the 1880 U.S. census of Moore County. He is listed as a farmer and she as keeping house. All are listed as being born in Tennessee. Next he was found in the 1910 U.S. census of Moore County as widowed, employed in a grist mill, and a survivor of the war. The census does indicate he said he was born in Alabama.  He is next found in the 1920 U.S. census of Moore County as widowed, not employed, and living with a son and family.  A granddaughter is named America. Again it states he was born in Alabama.  There is a state of Tennessee record of marriage in Moore County,  between George Dance and Maggie Travis, of 11 Dec. 1873.  Could she possibly be Maggie America Travis?

George Dance back row center

Picture with George Dance taken next to Moore County Courthouse, Tennessee, before 1914

Forrest Escort Renunion Lynchburg TN abt 1900

Forrest Escort Renunion Lynchburg TN abt 1900

Another view Forrest Escort Reunion abt 1900

Another View Forrest Escort Reunion abt 1900

Arguments concerning the role that blacks played in the Confederate army continue to this day.  Pundits still contend the degree of contributions make by blacks, in addition to disputing the actual numbers of those freed men or slaves who served gallantly with their white southern allies. With the surviving documents, veteran’s personal accounts and affidavits, official records, and periodicals, it is remarkable that many want to ‘cover up’ or just deny that southern blacks would serve in, and later be proud of participating in the Confederate army.

In memory of Lt. James O. Norton

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Lt. James O. Norton Co. F/K  32nd TN Infantry, C.S.A. 

James Ogburn Norton, Sr. was born Nov 23, 1825 in North Carolina to Dr. William S. and Marcia Anne (Beall) Norton. While still a small boy, his parents migrated to Middle Tennessee settling in Bedford County, south of Beechgrove, and were neighbors of the Obadiah Templeton family according to the 1830 Bedford Co. census.  James married Elizabeth Priscilla Davidson, of Bedford Co., in Jan. 1854. In the 1860 census, James was recorded as being a physician, just as his father. Physicians during the 1840’s & 50’s often were trained for a period of time, usually one year, under an established practicing doctor. A final year was often spent at a medical school before receiving a medical diploma or license. It has been suggested that James studied under his father, but It is not known where Dr. Norton received any of his training.  He and his wife had 4 children; sons, William Alexander, born in Jan, 1855, and Leander Newton, born in Dec, 1856, a daughter Sarah Elizabeth, born in June, 1859, and their father’s namesake, James Ogburn Norton, Jr, born in Jan, 1861. Tragically, their father had only a little over a year to live after this last child’s birth.

Not long after war began, Dr James Norton was mustered into the Confederate States of America service in November 1861, at Camp Trousdale, Sumner Co., enlisting for twelve months.  As the war began, 1st Lt. Dr. Norton was serving in Co K, 32nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment.  Some military records indicate he served in Co. F, also. His service was doomed to be of short tenure, however.  The 32nd Tennessee Regiment was among the 12,000 Confederates captured after the Union’s first major victory of the war, the Battle of Fort Donelson. (Feb 11- 16, 1862)  The loss of Fort Donelson opened the way for the Union’s invasion of Middle Tennessee and the capture of Nashville.  Thus, James Norton arrived as a prisoner of war at Camp Chase, in Columbus, Ohio on March 1, 1862.  He must have been sick when he first arrived since he died of pneumonia in the Confederate hospital only three days later on March 4.

The tragic story of Dr. Norton does not end with his death, as was discovered by researcher Dennis Brooke, member of the Gen. Roswell Ripley Camp Chase (Columbus, OH), Sons of the Confederate Veterans, Camp 1565.  A single wooden head board, which read only “Dr. James O. Norton” was placed over his grave in East Cemetery.  Not being designated as a Confederate soldier, was something that turned out to be a blessing AND a curse.  The East Cemetery was located next to Starling Medical College.  In a twist that would make Edgar Allen Poe proud, a local physician, named Dr. Joab Flowers, was stealing the bodies of dead Confederate soldiers from East Cemetery (then later from the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery) and was selling them at a handsome price to the medical college!   Dr. Flowers was later arrested for body snatching in Nov, 1864.  Had Dr. James Norton’s body been correctly identified as “1st Lt.” Dr. James Norton, then he might have also become one of the infamous body snatching victims of Dr. Flowers.

In May, 1869, all Confederate dead were moved for re-interment in the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery, but Dr. Norton was not recorded as receiving this military burial and was apparently left behind.  When the remainder of the East Cemetery was moved in 1881 the first area moved was the section of the graveyard where James Norton had been buried.  Since the old wooden markers had long since deteriorated away it is believed that Dr. Norton was possibly buried in the mass grave along with other unidentified Confederates, all of whom were quickly forgotten without grave markers or headstones.

Recently, the General Roswell Ripley SCV Camp of Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio, made a “In Memory of” marker, to recognize the life and service of  Lt. James O. Norton, C.S.A. It was decided by their SCV camp to make this marker available to a family member of Lt. Norton’s ancestral home. Dr. Norton’s memorial marker was brought from Columbus, Ohio to Bedford Co. by Greg Keeling, a distant double cousin of Lt. Norton. This stone was placed in the Confederate Cemetery at Willow Mount by Mr. Keeling and members of the local S. A. Cunningham SCV Camp 1620.

Click here to visit cemetery of Eliza Davidson Norton, wife of Dr. James O. Norton at find a grave.

Click on here to visit the General Roswell Ripley (Camp Chase, Ohio) SCV site.

Memorial Stone from Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio

TN State Library and Archives October 3, 2012

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The Tennessee State Library and Archives will conducting visits in selected sites this year all over Tennessee.  Representatives from the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee State Museum will be in Shelbyville, October 3rd, to record and digitize Civil War memorabilia owned by local residents for a new exhibit.  If you possess anything related to the period of 1861-1865, please come to the old Fly building at the corner of South Main and McGrew St. (across the street from the Argie Cooper Library), on October 3rd (Wednesday), 2012, and there will be members of the Bedford County (Tennessee) Historical Society and the S. A. Cunningham SCV Camp #1620 to expedite the process and assist you.

If you wish to visit their site click on here:

Our website is now linked to the Tennessee Division SCV website, in addition to our previously announced link to the National SCV website.

Last state to secede from the Union

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While Tennessee voters approved secession on June 8, 1861, I wish to use this as my reasoning that Tennessee was the last state to secede. There is an argument for a state other than Tennessee, but I believe it is considered by most that Tennessee was the last. Tennessee was greatly divided over this decision as most scholars will attest, and the town of Shelbyville (location of our SCV Camp 1620), in Bedford County, Tennessee, was heavily Union in its sentiments. The county of Bedford (smaller today than it was back in 1861-1865) was more evenly divided, but still contained numerous Jacksonian Democrats. Many of them were slave owners, but did not want to part ways with the Union. Of course, Tennessee was not the only Southern state with great differences on this matter.  There were several, but we need only look to northern Georgia, northern and central Alabama, and northern and central Mississippi to find large populations of pro Union families that wanted no part of secession. The hill country of northeastern Mississippi and northerwestern Alabama was a magnet of pro Union men who traveled to Glendale, Mississippi (Camp Davies-outside of Corinth, MS) to join the !st Alabama Union Cavalry. They rode or walked to get to Corinth after the battle of Pittsburg Landing (Shiloh) in April 1862 to enlist.

An interesting read that expounds on some Unionist Southerners is a book by Don Umphrey entitled Southerners in Blue – They defied the Confederacy.

What happened on this date 150 yrs ago?

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On this date 150 years ago what happened in The War Between the States?

There are some sites listed here you can click on and read.  Be advised some info is not completely accurate and there are some spelling errors.  This is for entertainment and not related to this site, this camp, or the SCV.  More links are planned to be added in the near future.

1)  American Civil War Timeline  2)  The History Place  3)  A Chronology of the Civl War  4)  A Timeline of the Civil War /War Between the States



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