Old Soldier told Altamont Boy of War

Thursday Sept. 2, 1976
Grundy County Herald


submitted by: Greg Curtis


At this point in time, it has been 111 years since Lee made his surrender to Grant at Appomattox courthouse in Virginia, signaling the end of the fighting between North and South.

As the time of man goes, 111 years is a long time. Yet there are still in our midst a few persons who in their childhoods heard first hand stories recounted of the war by men and women who survived it.

One of these is Chester Fults, well-known Altamont merchant. Ches recounts that when he was a little boy, He had the privilege of knowing an old man named John Scruggs, who had entered the Confederate Army at age 17 and fought through the entire war, a participant in some of its most famous engagements.

"He was the only person I ever knew," Chester recounts, "who had been in those Civil War battles and took the time to tell me about them."

In his extreme old age Mr. Scruggs slowly went blind, but he would take the little boy on his knee and tell him about those days of his youth when shells burst, men engaged in mortal combat, and many fell to rise and fight no more.

John Scruggs had been a member of Company A of the 35th Tennessee Infantry, raised by John Armfield of Beersheba Springs and commanded by his nephew, Capt. Albert Hanner.

It well may have been that during the war the old man's life was saved by a case of the measles. At the battle of Shiloh, Company A was in the thickest of the bloody fight losing among many men its commander, Capt. Hanner.  Scruggs, however, was at the time quarantined with the measles.

Company A having been cut to pieces, its survivors were reassigned, and John Scruggs became a member of Company D commanded by John Macon. With this unit he took part in the Battle of Chickamauga. During which he was knocked senseless by an exploding shell and had 14 bullet holes to rip through his cloths; yet not one touched him.

Apparently, he led a charmed life throughout the war; more than 50 balls penetrated his uniform as he fought through battle after battle, yet he sustained no serious wound.

After the war, he worked for H. B. Northcutt as a salesman, then taught school before being elected county court clerk in 1870, a position in which he served for manly years. He also was superintendent of education for ten years.

When he grew old and blind, however, what he liked best to do was take a little boy like Chester Fults up on his knee and tell about those days of long ago when he went to soldiering and did his part in many a bloody battle.