Imagine the opening words of the song At Last sung by Etta James.
You know you’re singing it. Go ahead and listen to it if you need to get your fix before you continue reading.
At long, long last, I finally know what happened to my Confederate soldier John C. BATES. I can write the end of his story. This has been a 3-decade-plus search but I was in it for the long haul and what a reward! I wanted so much to tell you the full story right away but it is taking considerably more research time than I anticipated. So today I will give you a timeline of where he was during the Civil War and I will expand on that timeline in the coming weeks. I want to make sure I get the story right.
John BATES, 4 Sergeant (and former Captain) of Company F, 3rd Confederate Cavalry
John Bates is my maternal 3rd great grandfather. In January of 2015 I made a last-minute change of blog topics so I could write about an exciting new discovery about John that I had made the night before. In June of 2106 my cousin wrote a guest post about his visit to Rock Island and the veteran’s cemetery there. He learned that if a prisoner of war died en route to the Rock Island military prison the soldier’s body “was unceremoniously dumped off the train” and that in some of the communities the train went through, the people there would bury the unknown Confederate soldiers. We had never been able to locate a grave for John. No family stories had been passed down about where he was buried either. So, since June of 2016 I have believed that it was likely that John had been dumped on the side of the train tracks and buried as an unknown soldier in a location no longer remembered or recorded by anyone and that made me sad. In September and October of 2016 I was able to spend a few weeks in Georgia doing some genealogical research. Exactly one year ago today, I wrote another post about John that detailed some of the documents I found on that trip. The research I did on location in Georgia led me to John’s parent and grandparents. Despite all these great discoveries, I still didn’t know about the end of John’s life. I still believed he had probably been dumped off the train at some unknown location to be (hopefully) buried by people who had no idea who he was.
Fast forward to this week. I have discovered the rest of the story and I want you to know about the end of John’s life and where he is buried so that no one has to wonder anymore.
Some things to remember before you start reading the story:
- I couldn’t always follow Company F (or Company C) so I will sometimes revert to giving you the location of the 3rd Confederate Cavalry as a whole with the understanding that it is possible his Company was elsewhere at the time.
- This new information was given to me by other researchers and I’m in the process of verifying what I can.
- I may add to this timeline as needed and when needed if new information is found.
- I’ve done the best I could with the resources available to me to compile an accurate account of John’s whereabouts during the final years of his life. If you have different information, I would love to be corrected on this. I want an accurate account of his life.
- Remember that today is just a timeline and I will flesh out the story in the weeks to come.
- Some of the information may change over the next few weeks as I continue to research. Please keep coming back so you have the full story.
November, 1861- John BATES enlisted, Company C, 3rd Confederate Cavalry, Whorton Brigade, Army of Tennessee
March, 1862- Confederate President Jefferson DAVIS discusses a draft of men ages 18-35
May, 1862- John C. BATES enlists in Company F, 3rd Confederate Cavalry, at Spring Place, Georgia
September, 1862- Men ages 36-45 are required to enlist
September-October 1862- possibly had a base camp at Shelbyville, Tennessee during this period
December, 1862 through early January, 1863- Battle of Stones River
Late January, 1863- marched to Fort Donelson, Tennessee
Early April, 1863- skirmish near Liberty, Tennessee
Late April 1863- stationed at Varnell, Georgia
September, 1863- Battle of Chickamauga
October, 1863- Battle of Philadelphia (Tennessee)
20 October, 1863- John was captured and taken as a prisoner of war
March, 1864- John was received at Fort Delaware (Delaware)
October, 1864- John was part of a prisoner exchange and was “paroled” at Venus Point, Savannah, Georgia
14 November 1864- John died and was buried in Savannah, Georgia.
So there’s the timeline we’ll be fleshing out. I chose to space out the story because I felt like I was having to choose between giving you a marginally researched story versus taking my time and giving you a solidly researched story. I am erring on the side of solid research since I hope this blog will be on the internet for many years to come. In the near future I’ll be telling you about the locations John was at and what he might have experienced. I’m hoping to come up with even more information than I have now. Stay tuned!
Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives