43rd Tennessee Infantry Regiment

Also called 5th East Tennessee Volunteer Regiment.
43rd Tennessee Mounted Infantry

Organized December 14, 1861; reorganized May 10, 1862; paroled at Washington, Georgia May, 1865, as part of President Jefferson Davis’ Escort.


  • Colonel-James W. Gillespie
  • Lieutenant Colonel-David M. Key
  • Majors-Lawson Guthrie, W. H. McKamy Major Guthrie resigned in January, 1864, but all the other officers served throughout the war.


  • John Goodman, John Tonkin, Co. “A”. Organized October 19, 1861 at Hiwassee Mines, Polk County.
  • Anderson J. Cawood, William M. Wilson, Co. “B”. Organized October 16, 1861 at Sulphur Springs, Rhea County.
  • William J. Hill, Alex H. Roberson, Co. “C”. Organized October 26, 1861 at Pikeville, Bledsoe County.
  • Ambrose W. Hodge, Isom R. Binyon, Co. “D”. Organized November 1, 1861 in Meigs County.
  • John W. Philips, Joseph Huffmaster, Co. “E”. Organized November 5, 1861 at Rogersville, Hawkins County.
  • Sterling T. Turner, Eli C. Jones, Co. “F”. Organized November 9, 1861 in Roane County.
  • David Neff, Calvin L. Hensley, Co. “G”. Organized October 19, 1861 at Mossy Creek, Jefferson County.
  • W. L. Lafferty, Thomas G. Bryan, Co. “H’. Organized November 16, 1861 at Riceville, McMinn County.
  • William H. McKamy, Co. “I”. Organized November 13, 1861 at Charleston, Bradley County. Men from Bradley County.
  • Lawson Guthrie, Jasper N. Aiken, Co. “K”. Organized October 17, 1861 at Ooltewah, Hamilton County.

The 43rd Regiment was organized at Knoxville, December 14, 1861, from companies which had been organized during October and November. It remained at Knoxville for some time, awaiting arms. About January 1, 1862, Secretary of War Benjamin issued an order that no 12-month organizations should be mustered into service for the Confederate Army unless they were fully armed at the time of muster, and instructed Brigadier General William H. Carroll to muster out the 43rd Regiment unless he had arms for it. Carroll reported he expected to have arms for the 43rd within 30 days. General A. S. Johnston and the Adjutant General of Tennessee protested Benjamin’s order, explaining the difficulty of securing arms, but stating that the State of Tennessee was making every effort to secure arms, and expected to arm its organizations, so Benjamin withdrew his order to muster out the 43rd.

On January 8, 1862, General A. S. Johnston instructed Carroll to “send forward to this place (Bowling Green, Kentucky) all men armed and ready for duty of the regiments of Colonels Looney and Gillespie.” Since they were not armed, the forces were not sent, and on January 26, 1862, General G. B. Crittenden reported “Gillespie’s Regiment still at Knoxville, not well armed.”

Some members of the 36th Tennessee Infantry Regiment were transferred to this regiment when the 36th disbanded in June 1862. The regiment was not assigned to any brigade until July 3, 1862, and during this period was occupied, frequently in company detachments, in guarding the bridges in East Tennessee. Company reports mention stations at Greeneville, Lick Creek, Strawberry Plains, Carter’s Depot, Morristown, Zollicoffer, Flat Creek, Charleston and London.

On July 3, 1862 the 43rd was reported in Brigadier General D. Leadbetter’s Brigade of Brigadier General Henry ileth’s Division, composed of the 43rd Tennessee, 56th Georgia, 43rd Alabama Infantry Regiments, and the Jackson Artillery (Georgia), but on August 3 Gillespie was reported still at Hiwassee Bridge, Charleston, with orders to report to General H. Marshall.

In obedience to this order the regiment moved to Castlewood, Virginia where on September 7, 1862, Brigadier General Marshall reported it as part of his force, with the explanation that the regiment had been loaned to him by General E. Kirby Smith, for a projected invasion of East Kentucky in cooperation with General Bragg’s invasion further west. Captain Aiken, of the 43rd, in his outline of the regiment in Lindsleys Annals, stated that the expedition entered Kentucky through Pond (or Pound) Gap, and joined General Bragg’s Army at Mount Sterling, Kentucky, but was in no important engagement during that campaign.

In October, 1862 it was back at Lenoir Station, and on October 31 was reported in Colonel A. W. Reynolds’ Brigade of Heth’s Division, and served in this brigade until after the fall Qf Vicksburg in July 1863. The brigade at this time was composed of the 3rd (Lillard’s), 39th, 59th, 43rd Tennessee, 39th North Carolina Infantry Regiments, and the 3rd Maryland Battery. This 3rd was originally I C. Vaughn’s regiment, and was officially known as the 3rd Tennessee Infantry, Provisional Army, Confederate States of America. These four Tennessee Regiments served together from this time until the final surrender, with various other associates in the brigade organization. On November 20, Heth’s Division was reported at Cumberland and Big Creek Gaps on the line of railroads.

On December 22, 1862, the brigade moved by rail to Vicksburg, in the Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, where it was placed in Major General C. L. Stevenson’s Division. The brigade went into camp at Camp Reynolds, near Vicksburg, and through April, 1863, was engaged in picket duty and building fortifications in the vicinity of Vicksburg. On May 15, 1863, as the rearguard of General Pemberton’s army marching toward Raymond, Mississippi, and as guard for the baggage trains, it was involved in the engagement at Big Black River and Baker’s Creek. It fell back to Vicksburg May 17, and for the next 47 days was in the siege of Vicksburg. The 43rd was in division reserve, being used as re-enforcements to support any weak point in the lines of the division. On May 22 it was rushed to the support of General Stephen D. Lee’s Brigade, and helped to repel the assault on his position.

On July 4, 1863, Vicksburg fell, and the 43rd was surrendered and paroled along with the rest of the army. On August 29, 1863 the Army of Vicksburg was reported at Demopolis, Alabama, and on September 11, 1863 was declared exchanged. On September 15, Inspector General Cooper suggested that Vaughn’s old regiment be transferred to his brigade, but instead Brigadier General I. C. Vaughn was given command of Reynolds’ Brigade, and later the remnants of the regiments in his old brigade, the 60th, 61st, 62nd Regiments were added to the brigade. The 43rd served in Vaughn’s Brigade until the end of the war.

As part of Stevenson’s Division it was attached to Lieutenant General James Long-street’s Corps for his invasion of East Tennessee, and remained in East Tennessee and Western Virginia until early in 1865. The brigade was mounted in December, 1863, and from that fime on served as cavalry or mounted infantry. On December 31, 1863 it was reported in Brigadier General Bushrod R. Johnson’s Division of Longstreet’s Corps; January 31, 1864 in Major General William T. Martin’s Cavalry Corps; March 31 in Major General Robert Ransom, Jr.’s Cavalry Corps, with Vaughn in command of a division.

On April 20, 1864, a detachment from Vaughn’s Brigade, commanded by Captain Nathan Dodd, comprised of men from the 3rd/39th/43rd/60th/6lst and 62nd Regiments was reported in Johnson’s Brigade of Major General Simon Buckner’s Division at Zollicoffer, Tennessee.

On April 21, 1864, General Buckner, who had just taken over the command in East Tennessee, reporting on the condition of his command stated: “Cavalry: Jones’, Vaughn’s, Giltner’s, Morgan’s Brigades. Their condition is lamentable. The horses so much reduced as to be unfit for any hard service. In order to obtain forage General Ransom was compelled to distribute them over a wide area from Big Sandy, Kentucky, to near Asheville, North Carolina. They are much exposed, and can contribute little in their present positions to the defense of this section of the country.” The 43rd at this time reported 215 present.

About May 1, 1864, part of Vaughn’s Brigade, under General Vaughn, were dismounted and reported to Brigadier General W. E. Jones at Staunton, Virginia, and with him fought at Piedmont on June 5, where General Jones was killed, and General Vaughn was left in command. Captain Aiken stated that Colonel Gillespie took command of the brigade, and that he was in command of the 43rd Regiment. The brigade then joined General Jubal Early for his campaign in the Valley of Virginia in the summer and fall of 1864 and the raid on Washington, participating in all the battles and skirmishes of this campaign. The brigade was remounted at Winchester, Virginia, and served as cavalry during the remainder of this campaign.

Part of the brigade was left in East Tennessee under Colonel Bradford, to recruit and secure mounts. This detachment, including some men from the 43rd was reported near Bull’s Gap, Tennessee and Abingdon, Virginia on August 1, 1864. The rest of the brigade returned to East Tennessee about October 1, 1,864, with Major General John C. Breckinridge in command of the Department. On November 10, 1864, Vaughn’s Cavalry Brigade consisted of the 16th Georgia Battalion, 1st (Carter’s), 3rd Confederate, 39th, 43rd, 59h, 60th, 61st and 62nd Tennessee Regiments plus the 12th (Day’s) and 16th (Nears) Battalions and reported 993 effective out of 1358 present. On October 28, the brigade met at Morristown a Federal force under Brigadier General Gillem, and was driven back with considerable loss. On November 13, Breckinridge attacked the same force at Russellville, and defeated them with heavy loss, capturing six pieces of artillery and about 600 men. According to Captain Aiken, this was the last serious engagement the regiment was involved in during the war.

On February 28, 1865 Brigadier General John Echols was reported in command of the Department, and Vaughn’s Brigade reported 989 effective out of 1303 present. In March 1865, the brigade fell back into Southwest Virginia before the advance of General Stoneman, and was at Christianburg, Virginia on April 11, when news came of the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox. General Echols dissolved his command, but the great majority of Vaughn’s Brigade, including the 43rd Regiment, elected to cross the mountains and attempt to join General Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina. At Charlotte, North Carolina it found President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet, and served as his escort to Washington, Georgia where it was paroled in May, 1865. As Captain Aiken recalled it, there were only 123 rank and file left out of more than 1000 men in the 43rd 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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