20th Tennessee Infantry Regiment

Organized June 12, 1861; Confederate service August, 1861; reorganized May, 1862; formed Company “D”, 4th Consolidated Tennessee Infantry Regiment April 9, 1865; paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina May 1, 1865.


  • Colonels-Joel A. Battle, Thomas Benton Smith, William Ni. Shy.
  • Lieutenant Colonels-Moscow B. Carter, John S. Gooch, Frank Ni. Lavender, William M. Shy.
  • Majors-Patrick Duffy, Frank M. Lavender, Fred Claybrooke, William M. Shy, J. F. Guthrie, Henry C. Lucas.

Many of the companies changed company letters when mustered into Confederate service. In the list below, the letters used in Confederate service are shown, with prior numbers indicated.


  • William L. Foster, Albert C. Roberts, William E. DeMoss, William G. Ewin, Co. “A”. “The Hickory Guards.” Men from Nashville and Davidson County.
  • Joel A. Battle, W. M. Clark, Thomas B. Smith, John F. Guthrie, Charles S. Johnson, Co. “B”, formerly “C”. Men from Nolensville and Williamson, Rutherford, and Davidson Counties.
  • James L. Rice, Henry C. Lucas, Co. “C”, formerly “B”. “The Sewanee Rifles.” Men from Davidson County.
  • William R. Rucker, Fred Claybrooke, Patrick C. Smithson, Co. “D”. Men from Williamson County.
  • John S. Gooch, I. H. Ralston, William T. Ridley, Co. “E”, formerly “C”. Men from Rutherford County, some from Williamson and Davidson Counties.
  • James A. Nimmo, F. M. Davis, Co. “F”, formerly “E”. Men from Sumner County.
  • J. Lewis Shy, Robert D. Anderson, James A. Pettigrew, Co. “G”, formerly “K”. “The Perry Guards.” Men from Perry, Wayne, Humphreys, and Hickman Counties.
  • Moscow B. Carter, M. Fount De Graffenned, William M. Shy, Thomas I. Carrothers, Co. “H”. Men from Williamson County.
  • Timothy F. Dodson, John H. Watkins, William Binkley, Willis H. Cotton, Co. “I”, formerly “F”. “The Hermitage Guards.” Men from Hermitage, Davidson County.
  • Patrick Duffy, M. M. (or B.) Newsom, W. J. Dyer, John W. Hargis, John B. Austin, Co. “K”, formerly “I”. Men from Hartsville, (then in Sumner, now Trousdale County) Smith, Macon and Wilson Counties.

Of the field officers, Colonel Battle was captured at Shiloh, and never rejoined the regiment. Colonel Smith was promoted to brigadier general in July, 1864, and captured at the Battle of Nashville. Colonel Shy was killed in the Battle of Nashville. Lieutenant Colonel Carter was captured at Fishing Creek, January 19, 1862. He was paroled, and was in the basement of his home, the Carter House, during the Battle of Franklin. Lieutenant Colonel Gooch resigned July 10, 1863; Lieutenant Colonel Lavender resigned October 13, 1863. Major Duffy was not reelected; Major Claybrooke was killed June 24, 1863; and Major Guthrie was killed August 31, 1864. Major Lucas was in command of the regiment at the final surrender.

The ten companies composing the regiment were organized during the months of May and June, 1861. They assembled at Camp Trousdale, where they were organized into this regiment, and where they were later mustered into Confederate service.

The regiment was reported at Camp Trousdale in July, 1861, with 880 men, armed with flintlock muskets. While in Camp of Instruction there, the regiment was in Brigadier General Felix K. Zollicoffer’s Brigade, along with the 17th and 18th Tennessee Infantry Regiments. Late in July the regiment was ordered to Virginia, and on July 31 was reported at Bristol, Virginia, along with the 17th Infantry. Here they were detained for two or three weeks, and then sent to Cumberland Gap, instead of to Virginia, and placed in the forces commanded by General Zollicoffer. On September 14, Zollicoffer ordered the 11th, 17th, 19th and 20th Tennessee Regiments to Cumberland Ford, Kentucky. The 20th at this time reported 732 effecfives, out of 795 present, 876 on roll. On September 24 the report showed 505 effectives, 676 present, 916 on roll. The regiment remained in East Tennessee and Kentucky without any major engagement until the Battle of Fishing Creek on January 19, 1862. They had been at the engagement at Wild Cat, or Rock Castle, Kentucky, in October 1861, but were not actively engaged.

At Fishing Creek, the regiment was in Zollicoffer’s Brigade, composed of the 15th Vilississippi, 19th, 20th, 25th Tennessee Infantry Regiments, and Rutledge’s Battery. Here they suffered 110 casualties, and Colonel Battle was commended for marked ability and courage.

On February 23, 1862, the regiment was reported in Colonel W. S. Statham’s Brigade, composed of the 15th and 22nd Mississippi, 19th, 20th, 28th, and 45th Tennessee Infantry Regiments, and Rutledge’s Battery. They remained in this brigade until October 28, 1862. The brigade retreated from Fishing Creek to join General A. S. Johnston’s Army at Murfreesboro, and from there to luka, Mississippi. At the Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862, the brigade was in Brigadier General John C. Breckinridge’s Division, and the 20th lost 187 killed and wounded out of about 400 engaged. Colonel Battle was captured on the second day of fighting.

At the reorganization in May, Thomas Benton Smith, only 22 years old, was elected colonel of the regiment; Captain John S. Gooch, age 20, was elected lieutenant colonel, and Frank M. Lavender major.

In May, 1862, Breckinridge’s Division was sent to Vicksburg to serve in Major General Earl Van Dorn’s District of Mississippi. From Vicksburg, Breckinridge was sent to Louisiana, and on August 4, 1862, the 20th, in Brigadier General Charles Clark’s Division of Breckinridge’s command, was engaged at Baton Rouge, and then occupied Port Hudson a few days later. The brigade in this operation was composed of the 15th, 22nd Mississippi, and the l9th/20th/28th/45th Tennessee Regiments consolidated into one unit under Colonel Smith. About half the original force was sick with chills and fever at this time.

On September 24, 1862, Breckinridge’s Division was transferred to the Army of Tennessee, and the brigade, with Colonel Walker in command was ordered from Meridian, Mississippi, via rail to Mobile, thence via Montgomery, Alabama, to Chattanooga. On October 28, 1862, Colonel F. M. Walker’s Brigade of Breckinridge’s Division was composed of the 20th, 28th, 45th Tennessee and 60th North. Carolina Infantry Regiments, plus two batteries of artillery. The brigade was at Murfreesboro.

At the Battle of Murfreesboro, the 20th was in Brigadier General William Preston’s Brigade of Breckinridge’s Division, composed of the 1st/3rd Florida, 4th Florida, 60th North Carolina, 20th Tennessee Infantry Regiments, and Wright’s Tennessee Battery. It was not engaged until late in the afternoon on December 31, and again in the charge by Breckinridge’s Division on January 2, 1863. The 20th was commanded successively by Colonel Smith, Lieutenant Colonel F. M. Lavender, and Major F. Claybrooke. It suffered 118 casualties, including Captain Watkins, who was killed; Lieutenant Colonel Lavender, and Colonel Smith, who were wounded. On January 12, 1863 the 20th reported only 283 effectives out of 338 present and 610 on roll.

The regiment was reported in Preston’s Brigade as late as May 21, 1863, but on June 24, it was in General William B. Bate’s Brigade in the engagement at Hoover’s Gap. It was temporarily attached to Brigadier General Bushrod Johnson’s Brigade during a part of the action there, but then returned to Bate’s Brigade, where it remained for the duration. Bate’s Brigade was in General A. P. Stewart’s Division at this time, and was composed of the 9th Alabama, 1st (37th) Georgia, 15th/ 37th, and 20th Tennessee Regiments, Caswell’s Georgia Battalion, the Eufaula Battery, and Maney’s Battery.

After the retreat to Chattanooga, the 20th was stationed at Loudon and Charleston, until shortly before the Battle of Chickamauga, in which it was engaged as part of Bate’s Brigade. The 59th Alabama Regiment had replaced the 9th Alabama by this time. The 20th suffered 88 casualties out of 183 engaged. Colonel Smith was severely wounded, and Lieutenant Colonel Shy took command.

On November 12, 1863, Bate’s Brigade was transferred to Breckinridge’s Division. Bate’s Brigade was then composed of the 37th Georgia Regiment, 4th Georgia Battalion of Sharpshooters, 10th, 15th/37th, 20th, 30th Tennessee Regiments, and the 1st Tennessee Infantry Battalion. As part of the brigade, the 20th was engaged at Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863, but had few casualties.

When Bate took command of the division on February 20, 1864, Brigadier General B. C. Tyler was given command of the Brigade, which was known as Tyler’s Brigade from this time on. However, Tyler was wounded and incapacitated, and the brigade was actually commanded by Colonel (later Brigadier General) Thomas B. Smith. Under his leadership it was actively engaged all through the Atlanta Campaign. Company reports from the 20th list Rocky Face, Resaca, New Hope Church, Pine Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, and Jonesboro.

On July 10, 1864, the 2nd Confederate Infantry was reported as part of the brigade, and by September 20, the 1st Tennessee Battalion was no longer listed as part of the brigade. On October 13, 1864, the 20th participated in the capture of the blockhouse at Dalton, Georgia, on the return to Tennessee. As part of the brigade it crossed the Tennessee River November 13, 1864, and was engaged in the Battle of Franklin November 30, 1864.

Following that battle, Bate’s Division was ordered to Murfreesboro to co-operate with General Nathan B. Forrest in tearing up rail-road communications around that place, but returned to the main army in time for the Battle of Nashville. Here Colonel Shy commanded the 2nd/10th/20th/30th/37th Tennessee Regiments in the defense of the hill that has since then borne his name, where he was killed.

The remnants of Bate’s Division recrossed the Tennessee River December 25, 1864, then transferred to North Carolina to join General Joseph E. Johnston. On March 31, 1865, in the order of battle for Johnston’s Army, the regiment was listed in Cheatham’s Corps, Bate’s Division, Tyler’s Brigade, (commanded by Captain Henry Rice), with the 2nd/20th/ 30th/37th commanded by Captain John W. Grayson. In the final reorganization of the Army April 9, 1865, the 20th, with 34 men left, formed part of the 4th Consolidated Tennessee Infantry Regiment commanded by Colonel Anderson Searcy, and composed of survivors of the 2nd, 3rd, 10th, 15th, 18th, 20th, 32nd, 37th and 45th Tennessee Infantry Regiments, and the 23rd Tennessee Infantry Battalion. As such it was surrendered by General Johnston and paroled May 1, 1865 at Greensboro, North Carolina.

This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted 1964 by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee and is published here with their permission. This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.

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