William Cate letter to Judge A.O. Alder
Cleveland, Tenn. March 23, 1876


[This letter had no punctuation and was written with many misspellings
and it is hoped that no serious misinterpretations were made]


Judge A.O Alder,

You will recollect that I have a claim before your court if not disposed of I wish the privilege of making a few suggestions not as evidence but in the way of explanations you will further recollect that Col. L.B. Brownlow (?) me very near reported out of court. I suppose that you by this time have found that his report was a partial report and basis on falsehoods. This whole thing was manufactured by A.E. Blunt I don’t know that he wrote the report but if he did not he prompted it in the first article in his report. See how softly he handles and eulogizes J.H. Gaut he is the responsible indorser on A.E. Blunt’s post office bond. It won’t do to go to far with him. Though he lives several miles off from claimant did he intend this last declaration to convey a falsehood if not why did he not say he lives 2 1/2 miles from claimant he had sworn statements in his possession to that affect and also knew that distance himself. I understand Blunt gave him a list of six witnesses and understand he examined them all. Why did he not return the depositions of Sam Hunt and John Steed with his other four that he did return. He also took Mr. Gaut threw a lengthy examination and several others that he did not report. He must have had some motive in view or is he instructed to only report one side. I wish to ask you to take up Brownlows report and in the latter part of his first article you will find his eulogy on his witnesses and while that is before you take up A.E. Blunts two depositions compare them carefully and give each statement its full weight while there before you. Take (?) Steeds, Mrs. Sydney Henderson, C.L. Hardwicks, T.L. Cate, H. Foster, J.R. Taylor take up all of those depositions and compare them carefully and you will be able to decide how much of the eulogy is due A.E. Blunt. Then take L. Caruth two depositions compare them not the time he moved his place adjoining me. The sick wheat question and all other questions worth notice then take the depositions of Meredith Legg, Samuel Grigsby, Scott Montgomery, John Witcher, Joseph Calaway, Captain Thomas Rains, T.J. Cowan, H. Foster, he has two deposition compare them all carefully. Foster was present when I should have had the conversation Carruth speaks on at his one house. Then you will be able to award him his portion of the eulogy on the sick wheat question you might compare John Craigemiles, James Roberson and both of J.C. Steed that will enable you to settle the sick wheat question. Now if you are willing we will take up J.C. Steed compare his two depositions carefully, note the sick wheat in both of then my statement about losing nothing by either army and about concealing Union soldiers about my crop of hay that was in the field after the army came in here. His statement about never seeing either army taking anything we will take James (Campbell?) deposition on concealing Union soldiers we will also take the deposition James Brown he has two and Foster has two John Hague, A. Maples compare all of them together and award Steed his portion of that eulogy. John McReynolds compared with Steeds when you take up Steeds first deposition and compare to his eulogy on Captain Normans wealth. Stop and take up Joseph R. Taylors and compare them together. We will take up J.F. Larison compare his two depositions and see what disposition he makes of the Union soldiers I had concealed and what became of them. Take Larison on Steeds standard of loyalty compare John McReynolds and James Browns deposition with Larisons and give him his portion of that eulogy.


I think you will have enough of the eulogy left to give Prince John a right smart little slice. Captain Norman was a staunch Union man and a gentleman besides. Though a poor man he purchased a farm adjoining me in 1852 for which he paid six hundred dollars on a long credit and was pressed very hard to pay for it and never added any more land to it. When he died his estate was worth about twelve hundred dollars after his debts was paid. I don’t consider that this has anything to do with my claim. I just wish to show the perpensity that Steed and Larison had for lying. Joseph B. Taylor deposition will satisfy you on that subject (Col. Brownlow says my answer was unsatisfactory.) I suppose that is true if they had been satisfactory he would have put them down as I gave them to him. He says I also failed to remember the name of any of the squad of rebels that arrested me. I gave him the names of six and told him that was all that I knew of them John Tibbs lived at Dalton I did not no for certain where any of the rest did live and he simply failed to put down any but Charly Reynolds [Rynolds]; in answer to my question if he ever received pay for anything taken from him by the Federal army I will give you my answer. I sold the post quartermaster at this place in early 1864 a lot of hay amounting to $426 for which I received pay. I sold that hay to the post quartermaster, I further stated that all forage that they paid for was out of the crop of 65 except the (?) oats, that was out of the crop of 63. The hay and oats and corn that is charged for is out of the crop 63, the bacon was part of the crop of 62 and part 63 the straw was 80 acres out of ‘63, 20 acres ‘62. I told him the pasturage was all that was charged for out of the crop ‘64. I took pains to explain my answers as you see it hear Brownlow as he learns that I received ten dollars for (?) from the Union soldiers that I did not report that only shows he is hard up he was to get something to prejudice my claim on. I have not charged the government with any paltry (we will take up “Article tenth” in Prince John report, the claimants neighbors are at a loss to know who made the very large crop which he alleges to have been taken by the Union army besides that paid for by the rebels and Union troops ( he gives you my statement in his way. I will gave it as it was. I work on the farm and have two sons that are good hands, a negro woman and boy Brown and Kasey and (?)un that are all good able bodyed hands. There is 8 hands their wages and board would have been worth $1200 besides the expense of teams and tools aside from day labor in harvest and threshing that don’t show a very great scarcity of hands.

I will make some explanations on “article eleven”. The county I live in joins North Georgia. Four or five of them was very strong Union counties along in the summer of 1862 when they commenced pressing the Union men to their army. They commenced getting away. They had pilots that brought them to this neighborhood and other pilots enrolled the greater portion of them, took them on to Kentucky, that business continued till the fall of ‘63.They frequently had to lay hear several days waiting for a pilot. They came here in a very (?)and had some bare feet and and bare headed, others shirtless, some sick, some almost perish that had to lay in the woods sick or well. They would come here nearly all the time for several months. They were here on the charities of the Union men; that is the class of Union men I had reference to when I made mention of my contributions. I never knew but very few of their names if any. Those are the men that Brownlow thought I ought to know all their names. I think I can give you a few circumstances that give you some light. A few days after the fall of Fort Sumter, east Tennessee was in a blaze of excitement; our county called a meeting of the Union men; past some resolutions, agreed to raise U.S. flag on a tall pole. The meeting selected me to superintend the job of getting the timbers and raising same. After close of the war this county decided on giving the returned Union soldiers a reception in the shape of a nice barbecue. This - the sixth district, called a meeting, took up the contributions, made me their general agent to purchase provisions and have them prepared. When we met at the barbecue the committees from other districts appointed col. Steve Beard and myself a committee to arrange the tables and select the (?) to control order. I think the proof fully warrants these last statements. Now am I a loyal citizen or is the balance of the Union men in the city or more especially in the 6th district all fools. At the close of the war every man’s conduct was fresh in the minds of the people and they wasn’t mistaken. I would take it as a favor if you would invite; by card or otherwise to call at your office, the Honorable G.G. Dibbrell. He is a member to Congress from his District and show him the depositions of of John Cragemiles, James Roberson, J.C. Steed too and call his attention to the sick wheat. Question alone. It was his men that got the sick wheat and that came to my house for wheat. I have no claims on Honorable G.G. Dibbrell neither personal nor political. If you wish any information in regard to my witnesses the Honorable D.M. (?)ee, is personally acquainted with the most of them. He is in the (Senate?). I hope you will pardon misgivens.

Yours truly,
William Cate

Court's Decision