Southern Claims Commission File #18845 (Civil War)
An Act of Congress of March 3, 1871 was intended to reimburse Union supporters who had suffered losses inflicted from the Union Army during the Civil War. People asking for reimbursement had to prove their case against the Union, prove their loyalty to the Union, and provide witnesses supporting their claim. Twenty-two thousand claims were made, but less than a third were paid. Only those who could prove unquestionable loyalty and proof of loss were even considered.
William Low’s Answers to Questioning.
February 17th, 1873. Accompanied by attorney S.B. Boyd.
I moved six miles from town and my family remained there about twelve months. I went through the Federal lines to Nashville, Tenn.
I returned to this part of the county with the first Federal troop. I came home to my family but did not pass into the Confederate Line. I never took any oath to the so-called Confederate government.I never took any amnesty oath. I have not been pardoned for I was always loyal to the United States. I was never conscripted - when in danger of being conscripted I went through the lines.
I left my home in the summer of 1863. I left after night and went to Nashville to get out of the Confederacy. I was gone about two months and returned to Cleveland Tennessee.
I was arrested and taken to Knoxville Tennessee and kept under arrest about one week - but took no oath. I was arrested by C.L. Hardwick at Cleveland in the year 1862. I did not take any oath to the Confederacy of any kind.
The rebels took my corn, my family groceries and pressed and took possession of my business house and livery stable for the use of the Confederate army. I never received any pay.
I was threatened in 1862 while a prisoner on my way to Knoxville by various Confederate soldiers who declared they would hang me. I did not know their names.
I was afterwards shot at by rebel soldiers six miles from Cleveland who were attempting to arrest or kill me. I had gone to that point to conceal myself from the Confederate soldiers.
I was in the Quartermaster’s department for about six months at this place and worked and took care of the horses and did everything necessary to be done.
I had one son for a short time in the Confederate army- his name is T.H. Low. He now lives in Cleveland. I did not furnish him with equipment or clothing or money. I never gave nothing to him while in the confederate services. I soon got him out of the confederate service and over to Nashville and got him into the Federal army where he served till the close of the war.
I never owned any confederate bonds. I did not contribute anything to the confederacy in anyway. I never gave them any aid.
I have held an office since the war for constable.
I did sympathize with the Union cause. I wanted the Union cause to succeed and the rebellion put down and so expressed myself and so exerted my influence, and so cast my vote. I got my son T.H. Low out of the Confederate army and into the Union army where he served faithfully in the 4th Tennessee Federal Cavalry under Col. J.M. Thornburgh till the close of the war.
I saw much of my property taken. The claimed account is for the lumber and material that was in a new livery stable that I had only built about a year before it was torn down and camps made use of it for soldiers camped at Cleveland and about Cleveland.
The livery stable was in Cleveland Tennessee. It was taken in the latter part of the winter or spring of 1864 by the soldiers camped at Cleveland. There was a large number of soldiers here at the time under the command, if I recollect right of General Howard. There were several thousand soldiers present. They were engaged for sometime tearing down and carrying away the lumber and clapboards to build and cover their huts or shanties. Other citizens of Cleveland were about besides the soldiers.
My recollection is that commissioned officers sent the soldiers to do the work of taking the lumber to build their shanties. the weather was wet and cold. This large body of troops left Cleveland about the 1st of May 1864 to accompany General Sherman in his attack upon the Rebels at Dalton, 30 miles south in the direction of Atlanta. It was taken on the shoulders of soldiers or their wagons, and in every way that such property is usually taken and used by soldiers.
I made complaint to an officer but it did no good.
Deposition of D.B. O'neal
About the 25th day of May 1863, I (witness) left Cleveland and went out by William H. Low's. From this till about the 30th day of July as follow; I with the claimant and a few others lay round about the neighborhood of claimant's before we could get across the Tennessee River. We made two efforts before we could get across the river, the third trip we got across with 83 men in all. The 83 men crossed the river in a couple of old skiffs, each one of the men paid four dollars in state money to the ferryman. We marched of nights and hid in thickets by day during the march till we reached Mcminnville on the west side of the Cumberland Mountains. We marched through the woods and waded rivers and creeks in the night and William Low nearly lost his sight during the march and sometimes had to be led. When we heard that the Federal armies had got possession of country (Bradley county) we started to come back but Rebels raids came in so often we had to leave again and lie out in the ridges for a considerable time.
Witness (O'neal) knows that claimant and his family furnished provisions for Union men that were lying out waiting to find an opportunity to get across the Tennessee River to reach Union lines.
Deposition of Joseph H. Davis
My acquaintance began with the claimant about the year 1846. I lived in the same town or village with claimant and saw him nearly everyday while he lived in town and frequently after he moved out till he left and went through the federal lines and I saw him nearly every day after his return. I frequently talked with him about the war, its causes, progress and the manner in which the Southern leaders were carrying it on. I was an adherent of the Union cause.
I do not remember of any threats in particular against him, but times had got so hot and the rebels had become so oppressive and abusive in their acts and threats - every loyal man was threatened and watched. The claimant had to leave Cleveland and moved into the country and after sometime I learned that he had been forced to lie out from home and that he with D.B. O'neal and many others had gone through to Nashville. He and others returned when they learned that the Federal armies had taken leave of this part of the country. But Rebel raids were constantly dashing in, and claimant had to take to the ridges and thickets again until in the winter of 1863-64 after the battle of Mission Ridge when the Union forces continued to hold this place.
I have a good opportunity to know what I have testified, for I was elected Clerk of the County Court of Bradley county Tennessee by the Union men of the county and held the office for six years, and was always in full sympathy with the Union men.
Deposition of J.S. Robertson
I was an adherent of the cause of the United States and was so regarded by the claimant.
I was not present when the property was taken nor saw it taken. The property taken was a new livery stable in the town of Cleveland. It was torn down and carried away by the army that was emcamped at this place. There were two commanders or more camped near his stable. General (Tiner Sarns?) and General Mathias.
The property was taken a short time before the army began to march on Dalton, Georgia.
I helped put the property thru - rather helped build as a carpenter.
I made the estimate as laid down in Claimant’s deposition showing the total value of the material to be $306.80.
Deposition of F.G. Robertson
I saw a part of the lumber taken.
I cannot recollect the day and month, but it was in the latter part of the winter 1863-4 about the month of February, just before the move of General Sherman upon Dalton, Georgia. The weather was cold and wet and some of the plank was hauled off several miles by the soldiers.
I cannot tell how many soldiers were engaged for there was a large body of troops camped all around Cleveland. There were several Generals at Cleveland with their divisions and I cannot tell by whose command the property was taken.
signed with his mark,
Remarks by Special Commissioner - John W. Ramsey
The value of the property is the only trouble. That the the stable was used up or torn down by the Federal soldiers to build and cover their quarters is certain. That the weather was cold and wet the latter part of the winter and in the spring of 1864 is certain. Lumber and building material was scarce and dear, for labor and business had been nearly suspended for three years while oppression and tyranny had ruled the land.
On March 3, 1875, Williams H. Low was allowed $135.90 of his $306 claim.
A.O. Alder, Commissioner of Claims, took into account the depreciation of William Low’s stable before it was torn down and made the final decision on the amount awarded.
Other testimony was offered by James Steed, E.C. Tipton, and William Sampels according to legal documents listing their names, but I didn’t receive anything from the archives showing their testimony nor do I know if John W. Ramsey included their testimony in his final decision.
This file was edited; deleting mostly repetitious answers.