Miscellaneous (Home Guard, Militia or National Guard) Companies


On September 14, 1863, Major General Stephen A. Hurlbut, Commanding XVI Corps, issued General Order Number 129, as follows:

“I. Officers commanding divisions in Kentucky and Tennessee will encourage the formation of home guards within their limits from unquestionably loyal men, and will render to them military protection while in process of formation.

“II. Home guards may be organized under the militia laws of the state where they are located, and after the election of officers, the muster rolls in duplicate will be reported to headquarters of the division, where temporary commissions will be issued by the general commanding, who will report the names of the officers and one muster roll to the Governor of the respective states to which they belong.

“III. Home guards thus raised will not be required to do duty beyond the limits of their organization, but will be required to put down and repress all robbery, violence, and irregular warfare within such limits, and will regularly report all their acts to the division commander.

“IV. In case of necessity, they will be furnished with a supply of arms and ammunition in the discretion of such division commander upon the receipt of their commissioned officers, and for which such commissioned officers will be held responsible.

“V. This organization is intended as an armed police, and officers and men will he held to strict accountability for their acts as such. All prisoners taken by them charged with offenses will be sent forward, with a statement of the offense, and the names of witnesses, to the nearest military post, for trial and punishment in accordance with general orders now in force.

“VI. Quiet and peaceable persons remaining at their homes will not be molested for any mere opinions they may entertain, unless some wrongful act, or connivance with the wrongful acts of others, be proven.”

Both sides claimed that the spirit of these orders was more honored in the breach than in the observance, and that the home guards on the other side were little more than bands of armed robbers, guilty of acts of pillage, robbery, arson, rape and murder.

In the Official Records, references were found to six organizations of Home Guards on the Federal side, some of which were in existence before the promulgation of these orders. They were as follows: Civic Guard (Chattanooga), Clift’s Home Guards, Hillsboro Home Guards, Henderson County Home Guard, Nashville Union Guard, and Writher’s Home Guards.

The first of the organizations found reported was the Nashville Union Guard, Captain Cox, which on September 20, 1862 was listed in the troops at the Post of Nashville, commanded by Brigadier General James S. Negley. It was again so reported on October 8, 1862, and then disappeared from the record.

The next in chronological order was the Henderson County Home Guard. On August 6, 1863, Brigadier General Grenville N. Dodge, at Corinth, Mississippi, commanding the District of Corinth, ordered Colonel Mersy, Commanding 2nd Brigade: “Order Colonel Clayton, with all his Tennessee Home Guards, to meet the Henderson County Home Guard, and some troops I am sending from here, at or near Purdy tomorrow. They are being sent into Tennessee to collect together the Union men, and use up the rebels.” This was at about the time Confederate Colonel Robert V. Richardson was gathering up the troops he had recruited within the Federal lines preparatory to moving with them to Okolona, Mississippi, which place he reached on August 10, 1863. Nothing is known of Colonel Clayton, and his Tennessee Home Guards, mentioned by General Dodge.

On September 17, 1863, Major General Robert H. Milroy, Commanding Defenses of Nashville, and the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, reporting on his operations during Major General Joseph Wheeler’s raid into Tennessee, made mention of the activities of Worther’s Home Guard. He stated he reached Tullahoma on the morning of September 9, at 6:30 A. M. “and found that Williams (Brigadier General John S. Williams, CSA) after stopping a day or two in the vicinity of Farmington and Cornersville, *** turned east and pushed through Shelbyville on the night of the seventh *** having been skirmished with and bushwhacked by Captain Worther’s gallant little company of home guards, who, after disputing the entrance of the rebels to Shelbyville, held them in check till all the Government stores in that place were removed and arrived safely at this place, fell back to the Elk River Bridge. From this place they rallied and fired on the rebels, who hurried across the railroad in such haste that they did not interrupt the railroad track or telephone wire.” Shelbyville, Tennessee, is in Bedford County, so Worther’s company evidently comprised the Bedford County Home Guard.

On December 31, 1863, one company Union Home Guards, under Captain James Clift, was reported at McMinnville, where Colonel William P. Robinson was in command with the 23rd Missouri Infantry Regiment. On January 31, 1864, one company of Tennessee Home Guards, under Captain Clift, were reported as the only troops at Murfreesboro.

On December 3, 1864, Brigadier General Thomas F. Meagher, Commanding the District of the Etowah, ordered that all civilians within the Post of Chattanooga be enrolled and organized into a military force under the command of Colonel Edwin S. McCook, to be known as the Civic Guard of Chattanooga. The order included not only all civilians who were permanent residents, but all civilians who might be temporarily detained there, whether on business or pleasure, or owing to obstructions on the road. On December 8, another order specified: “The signal for the assembling of the Civic Guard of Chattanooga is hereby fixed and ordered to be three guns fired at intervals of one minute, from the headquarters of the district.”

The last unit mentioned was the Hillsboro Home Guards (Franklin County), which was mentioned in a report by Captain William H. Lewis dated February 6, 1865, of the killing of John Raigan, and the escape of Perdham and Stearns at Corn’s Farm., Franklin County, Tennessee. He stated he sent Lieutenant Haines, Company ‘K” 42nd Missouri Infantry, with three of his men, and three men from the Hillsboro Home Guards to capture the three rebels. Captain Lewis requested a few more men of the 42nd Missouri Infantry, to hold the country, and scatter the rebels all through, “as the home guards will not all do to tie to.”


On September 14, 1863, Major General Stephen A. Hurlbut, Commanding XVI Corps, District of Memphis, issued orders authorizing the organizations of Home Guards under the militia laws of the State, with temporary commissions to be issued by the general commanding the district to the elected officers of the organizations. Authority was given to division commanders to furnish such organizations with arms and ammunition in case of necessity. Organizations so formed were to be used as armed police, and required to put down and repress all robbery, violence, and irregular warfare within their area.

In 1864, references were made in the Official Records to a number of organizations of Enrolled Militia, all in the District of Memphis. Although not called Home Guards, they would seem to have been formed in accordance with this order by General Hurlbut. In addition to the duties set forth above, they seem also to have been subject to call for military service in case of emergency, as on the occasion of General Nathan B. Forrest’s raid into the city of Memphis, they were summoned to duty by the firing of a signal gun. Also, in the tables of organization for Federal forces, the Enrolled Militia was included, along with regular army units, in the list and disposition of forces in the District of Memphis.

Reports were found on one battalion and seven regiments of infantry, and two squadrons of cavalry of Enrolled Militia.

On August 25, 1864, Brigadier General Charles W. Dustan, Commanding Tennessee Enrolled Militia, 1st Brigade, District of Memphis, reporting on General Nathan B. Forrest’s raid into Memphis, on August 21, 1864, stated that he fired the alarm gun at the Armory, and the men rapidly assembled. He sent the 1st Regiment out on the Hernando Road in support of the forces who were fighting there, and placed the 2nd and 3rd Regiments, by companies, guarding the bridges on Gayoso Bayou from Monroe Street north to the Mississippi River He concluded with this tribute to his men: “The earnestness of purpose and gallant bearing with which each officer and soldier hastened to his post is a guarantee that when the time comes the 2000 stout hearts and strong arms of the members of the First Brigade of Enrolled Militia of the District of Memphis will do their entire duty in the defense of the post.” Apparently at this time there were only three regiments.

On December 31, 1864, General Dustan was still in command of the Enrolled Militia which consisted of the following organizations:

  1st Tennessee Regiment-Colonel A. P. Curry 2nd Tennessee Regiment-Colonel David Ryan 3rd Tennessee Regiment-Colonel William T. Williamson 4th Tennessee Regiment-Colonel William C. Whitney 1st Tennessee Freedmen-Colonel Edmund R. Wiley 2nd Tennessee Freedmen-Colonel Arthur T. Reeve 3rd Tennessee Freedmen-Colonel Henry Van Horn Railroad Battalion-Major M. J. Farrell Maginly’s Cavalry Squadron-Captain R. B. Maginly Hepburn’s Cavalry Squadron-Captain W. P. Hepburn

By February 28, 1865, Brigadier General T. Milton Williamson was in command of the Enrolled Militia. Colonel P. H. Heinrich had replaced Colonel William T. Williamson in command of the 3rd Regiment; and Colonel D. G. Chapin had replaced Colonel Wiley in command of the 1st Regiment Freedmen. Colonel Wiley had become colonel of the recently organized 88th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment. The other organizational commanders were the same as in December.

On April 12, 1865, Major General C. C. Washburn ordered: “The 4th Regiment Enrolled Militia commanded by Colonel W. C. Whitney; the 3rd Regiment commanded by Col6nel Henry Von Heyde; and the Railroad Battalion commanded by Major Farrell, are hereby disbanded. All persons enrolled in either of these regiments who are not Government employees, or in the employ of the City Government, will enroll themselves at once in one of the remaining militia regiments.”

When the other regiments were disbanded is not known.


In addition to the Tennesseans who enlisted in the full-time service of the Federal armies there were in East Tennessee, where Federal sentiment was strong, several companies of National Guard Troops, at least one of which was cavalry. These were from Campbell, Cocke, Knox, Morgan, Scott and Sevier Counties. References to these units as found in the Official Records were as follows:

On October 22, 1863, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, Commanding Army of the Ohio, with Headquarters at Knoxville, ordered: “Captain G. Bryson, First Tennessee National Guard, is hereby ordered to proceed with his company to North Carolina and vicinity, for the purpose of recruiting, and will return here within a fortnight, when he will report in person at these headquarters.”

This expedition met with disaster, as reported by Lieutenant C. H. Taylor, Commanding Company “B”, Infantry Regiment, Thomas’ Legion, CSA. The report, dated November 1, 1863, at Murphy, North Carolina, stated: “On October 27, General Vaughn, with a detachment of his mounted men, overtook Goldman Bryson, with his company of mounted robbers, in Cherokee County, North Carolina, attacked him, killing two and capturing 17 men and 30 horses. On the 28th, I left Murphy with 19 men, taking Bryson’s trail through the mountains; followed him 25 miles, when I came upon him and fired on him, killing him and capturing one man with him. I found in his possession his orders from General Burnside, his roll and other papers.

On November 25, 1863, General Burnside called into active service for thirty days the National Guard of Cocke and Sevier Counties. The Cocke County unit was ordered to report to Major Randolph; the Sevier County unit to Major Inman at Sevierville.

On November 27, 1863, he called into service for thirty days the National Guard of Scott, Morgan and Campbell Counties. These units were ordered to report to Captain Reynolds, at Kingston, Tennessee.

These calls to active service were at the time of Confederate General James Long-street’s invasion of East Tennessee, just prior to Longstreet’s unsuccessful siege of Knoxville. No further record of these units was found, and presumably they were released from active duty when the danger to Knoxville had passed.


This company was organized in Fentress County early in 1862 by David Beaty, or Beatty, better known as Tinker Dave.” It was apparently never mustered into the regular U.S. Service, but Major General Ambrose E. Burnside authorized it to act as scouts, and operate in the regions of Overton and Fentress Counties in combating Confederate guerrillas. Captain Beaty stated his men never drew any pay, but were supplied with arms and ammunition by the Federal authorities. It was first mentioned in the Official Records in a letter from Brigadier General George Crook, at Carthage, dated March 21, 1863, admitting his inability to establish a line of couriers due to the numerous bands of Confederate cavalry and guerrillas operating in his area. He inquired “Who is Tinker Dave Beatty?”

Confederate reports spoke of skirmishes with “Beatty’s band of robbers” on September 8, 1863, and on February 15, 1864. J. D. Hale, writing from Albany, Kentucky, on December 5, 1864 about the presence of “rebels” in the area, stated “Beatty knows of none in Fentress County.” Beatty, on the Federal side, and Champ Ferguson, on the Confederate side, waged a bitter guerrilla warfare in the mountainous regions of the Upper Cumberland country throughout the war.

In addition to these organizations mentioned in the Official Records, Sanderson’s County Scott and Its Mountain Folk tells of the organization of a company of Home Guards under Captain Bill Henibree in Scott County. This may have been the same as the Scott County National Guard previously reported.

Goodspeed’s History of Tennessee says that in the summer of 1864, most of the troops having been withdrawn from Knoxville, a regiment of militia was organized for the defense of the town. Field Officers were: Colonel F. F. Flynt; Lieutenant Colonel F. A. Reeve; Major D. C. Thornburgh. Captains: John Baxter, Co. “A”; W. G. Brownlow, Co. “B”; John Netherland, Co. “C”; E. C. Trigg, Co. “D”; Perez Dickinson, Co. “E”; A. A. Kyle, Co. ‘T”; John M. Fleming, Co. “G”; and __________ Montgomery, Co. “H”.

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