39th (Avery’s) Tennessee Infantry Regiment

Also called 4th Confederate Infantry

Organized December 1861; broken up September 1862.

This regiment is so indexed in the Official Records, but when finally organized it was called the 1st Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi Infantry. It was first mentioned by Brigadier General W. H. Carroll, at Chattanooga, on November 17, 1861, when he wrote the Secretary of War: “Colonel Amy’s (Avery’s) Regiment will move to join me in a few days. He needs a few more companies. They are reported, but not in camp.

On December 9, 1861, Carroll, then at Knoxville, advised Major General G. B. Crittenden: “In addition to the two regiments mentioned (Looney’s and White’s) there are seven companies that have been mustered into service that have heretofore been nominally under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Avery which were assigned to me by the Secretary of War. They have not been organized into a regiment for the reason that three of them., which I left at Camp of Instruction, Germantown, Tennessee, were ordered to Fort Pillow by General Pillow, at Columbus, Kentucky. The other four companies are in the neighborhood of Knoxville. I have written General Pillow protesting his interference with my command, and requested him to order the three companies now at Fort Pillow to move immediately to this place. Should he do so, the regiment will be organized at once. Should he not do so, I will appeal to the Secretary of War.”

On December 28, 1861, Major General G. B. Crittenden reported: “Colonel Avery’s Regiment, incomplete, at Bowling Green, Kentucky.” On December 13, 1861 the Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office at Richmond, in a list of troops now in service, enlisted for the war,” listed the 39th Tennessee Infantry, Colonel W. T. Avery.

However, Colonel Alpheus Baker, of the 1st Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi Infantry, stated in Lindsley’s Annals that he was captain in the 1st Alabama Regiment at Pensacola in December, 1861, when he received a wire from Fort Pillow informing him he had been elected colonel of a regiment just organized there. He found there a regiment composed of four Alabama, four Tennessee, and two Mississippi companies, Lieutenant Colonel William T. Avery in command. By a compromise, the regiment was called the 1st Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi Regiment. It did duty at Fort Pillow until February 26, 1862, when it was ordered to New Madrid, Missouri, where it erected a breastwork from Saint John’s Bayou to the Mississippi River. It evacuated that position on March 13, 1862, and engaged in the attempt to hold Island Number 10, until surrendered as part of General W. M. Mackall’s forces on April 8, 1862.

After being exchanged, the regiment was broken up, and the four Tennessee companies went into the reorganized 42nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment, where the personnel records are filed.

Colonel Baker stated the four Tennessee companies were as follows:


  • Joseph Barbiere, Co. “A”. “The Gayoso Guards.” Composed almost entirely of Irishmen. Became 2nd Co. “B”, 42nd Tennessee Infantry. Men from Memphis.
  • John L. Morphis, Co. “G”. Became 2nd Co. “A”, 42nd Tennessee Infantry. Men from McNairy County.
  • John R. Farrabee, Co. “H”. Became 2nd Co. “C”, 42nd Tennessee Infantry. Men from Shelby County.
  • James M. Grace, Austin M. Duncan, Co. “K”. Became 2nd Co. “D”, 42nd Tennessee Infantry. Men from Middleton, Hardeman County.

For the further history of these companies, see the history of the 42nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment.

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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