Soldiers, Spies & Spartans



A new book, Soldiers, Spies and Spartans, that highlights the role of several children, youth and women in the Civil War is the topic for the March 17 meeting of the Auburntown Historical Society.

"Our February program about the World War II maneuvers in Tennessee drew more than 60 members and visitors," said Mary Hughes, president of the Auburntown Historical Society. "We are inviting everyone to join us as the author discusses ...this often overlooked aspect of the Civil War in Tennessee."

Published in January by The Overmountain Press in Johnson City, the book was co-authored by Dr. Calvin Dickinson, a retired professor from the Tennessee Tech University history department and the author of more than 20 books, and Cookeville writer Jennie Ivey.

“The last Southern state to secede from the Union, Tennessee contributed 120,000 soldiers to the Confederate cause and 31,000 to the Union, more Union soldiers than all other confederate states combined,” Dickinson explained, adding that the book does not seek to tell the story of the entire war, just the stories of a few “surprisingly young participants.”

The authors traveled across Tennessee to learn more about their stories and visit the places associated with them, completing more than a year of research.

“Some wore blue uniforms, while others wore gray,” Dickinson observed. “Several were civilians, and others were slaves-turned-soldiers. Many were heroes, but all were victims.”

Among the stories included are those of Union Private Elisha Stockwell at the Battle of Shiloh, Confederate Spy Ginny Moon, Chickamauga drummer boy Johnny Clem, the McGavock and Carter children, who experienced the bloody Battle of Franklin, boy hero of the Confederacy Sam Davis, hanged as a spy in Pulaski, and young slave Hanson Caruthers, who witnessed the Battle of Nashville.

“Not all Civil War cavalry soldiers rode horses with two feet in the stirrups,” Ivey pointed out. “In Rhea County more than two dozen young women between age 15 and 21 galloped through the countryside delivering medical supplies to confederate troops, earning them the nickname ‘Rhea County Spartans.’”

The 87-page book is illustrated with original and archival photos and contains suggestions for further reading as well as explanatory sidebars for enhanced understanding of the time period and customs, giving context to the tales told.

“We wanted to make the book very readable for anyone from middle school students to senior citizens,” Dickinson said. “We also wanted it to be affordable so that these stories can be enjoyed by everyone.”

The book is $10 and will be available for purchase for a book signing after the AHS meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 17 at the Fellowship Hall of Auburntown Church of Christ.

For more information about AHS visit www.auburntowntennessee.blogspot.com. For more on Dickinson's books, visit www.tennesseeuppercumberlandhistorybooks.blogspot.com.

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