Civil War Memories of Robert Carden

Introduction:  Robert C. Carden was born in Coffee County, Tennessee on July 4, 1843, the youngest of the five children of Reuben and Sarah (nee’ Henry) Carden. On May 23, 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate Army at Manchester, Tenn. He served in Company B of the 16th Tennessee Infantry until January of 1865. He, and the 16th Tennessee fought at Perrysville, Murfreesboro and Chickamauga and from there to Lovejoy Station below Atlanta. This soldier was wounded at Perrysville and Nashville.

After the war, Robert married the former Martha Hickerson. They made their home in Manchester, TN and had twelve children, the youngest of whom was my grandfather, Fieldon Miller Carden. In 1911 Robert traveled to Boone, Iowa to visit his son B. H. Carden. While there he struck up friendships with many people in the community, some of whom were former Union soldiers. When he returned to Manchester he maintained these friendships and was eventually asked to write some articles for the local newspaper about his experiences in the Civil War. The articles were published weekly and appear to have been very popular. As they were published, Robert would paste each clipping in a scrapbook, along with the clippings about his visit to Iowa and other articles about the Civil War. This scrapbook survives and is now owned by his namesake, Robert C. Carden, who is my father. The newspaper clippings are too fragile to copy or scan. I have transcribed them exactly as they are written and indicated the few letters or words which are unreadable. I cannot vouch for their accuracy, nor do I share all of his attitudes. They appear as they were written and he speaks from his time and place in history. I hope you enjoy them. If you have occasion to reproduce or use them in any way please give credit to their author, Robert C. Carden and to their present guardian, my father Robert C. Carden (who believes himself to be the first Carden born north of the Mason Dixon. Questions or inquiries may be directed to me: Beth MacDonald, E-Mail ( ).


R. C. Carden, the old Tennessee Confederate soldier who visited last summer with his sons, B. H. and Jack Carden in this county–and made a whole lot of friends among our Yankee boys–is writing a history of his four years service in the rebel army for Pete Swick’s paper, the Independent at Boone. He gives, the plain facts, without any flourishes, which makes his letter of special interest to the soldiers who fought against him on the other side.

The Above is from the pen of Tommy Rodgers, local editor of the Newton Record [Iowa]. Tommy served as high private in Co. C, 22 Iowa Infantry and is well acquainted with Comrade Carden, being one of the party who dined with the old Johnny Reb last summer.

Postscript to the above articles; written by R.C. Carden

As a kind of postscript, I wish to speak of my visit to Iowa in the spring of 1911 and of Dr. M.R. Hammer’s visit to Tennessee in September of last year. I have two sons in Iowa and in May, 1911 I concluded to visit them and to see a part of the north and ascertain how an old ex-Rebel would be received there, so about the first of May I boarded the train at Manchester, Tenn. and the next night arrived at Newton, Iowa. I found that Iowa has the finest farming country I ever saw, and I was much surprised to find that the old Yankee boys were so kind and pleasant to an old Johnny. I was treated fine by almost everyone of them. However I found two or three who were still thirsty for Rebel blood, but I found also that they were like some we have in the south, they saw but little or no blood during the war. I met one old follow at the fair grounds at Newton, and when I told him that I was an old Rebel he remarked that he was a federal soldier and “We whipped you.” I said, “Yes, you did.” He kept on giving his experience and finally told me that he was one of a home guard and that he had never left Jasper county. I don’t guess that he got but few Rebels during the war. Another one or two were in the south but were not doing the south much damage. Only one did and he told me that he belonged to the force that built roads, etc. He told me his General was a good man to the southerners, and one day he said the General ordered them not to burn a certain house, but he burned it anyway.
Such old boys as Tommy Rodgers, George Early, Rev. Porter, John Moore and others that I met at Newton and Reasnor, and P.D. Swick of Boone were quite different. I never met nicer or more courteous gentlemen than these anywhere.
Of the citizens in Jasper county I especially would mention for kindness shown were Dr. M.R. Hammer, Mr. Marshall, of Marshall & Johnson, Ira Livingston, Bates, the photographer, and many others.
While in Jasper county the old Yankee boys requested me to decorate the grave of an old Rebel who was buried in the Newton cemetery and another one about twelve miles in the country and through the courtesy of Dr. Hammer I went there with another old Rebel and others, decorated the graves and returned in time to go with the old union soldiers to decorate the graves of their dead.
I got through with my visit north and returned to my home in Tennessee about the 20th of July, 1911.
In September, 1911, Dr. Hammer visited me in Tennessee. I met him in Nashville at the state fair and we visited the battleground at Franklin, and saw the brick smoke house at the Carter house, which is still standing and is kept just as it was when the battle was fought. It was just behind the Yankee breastworks and I think more than a hundred balls struck the building, the holes made by the balls being still there.
After we had looked over the battlefield we returned to Nashville and went out about twelve miles to the Confederate Soldiers Home. We were shown through it and found everything they kept in nice shape and all the old Johnnies seemed pleased with their lot.
From there we went to “The Hermitage,” the home of Andrew Jackson. I had often wished to see the place but I suppose I never would have had that pleasure if the Doctor had not just made me go with him, and I was glad I went. There is a family living there that cares for the house and shows one all through it for 25 cents. A notice is put up at every door describing what room was ocupied by each of the Jackson family. There was one room that was occupied by Gen. Lafayette when he visited Gen. Jackson. They showed Gen. Jackson’s room and Mrs. Jackson’s also. I noticed that the bedsteads were old fashioned, very high and the posts were big ones, very stylish in their day. The beds were made up with covers on them. I saw Gen. Jackson’s cloak on a rocker in his room.
The doors had iron bars to keep one from going in, but one could see everything in the rooms from there. We went into the kitchen with the old fire place well filled with wood on the old-fashioned dog irons and there was a crane with a pot on it so that one could swing the pot around and looked after in cooking. We saw the barouche or vehicle the General used in travelling to Nashville and other places. It was a very large concern and the driver’s seat was high up. We went to the garden where General and Mrs. Jackson are buried. An old negro servant was buried close beside them. A marble slab over his grave told who he was, when he died, etc.
Doctor and I never made a visit anywhere that we enjoyed better. We gathered flowers and other relics at the grave as souvenirs. This would be a fine trip for anyone who has never been out there. This ends my story.