Priv Walter Miles Parker, Com H, 1st FL Cav
My mother's grandparents met
the way many other couples may have met in the early 20th Century. Their
grandfathers fought together in the same unit during the War of Northern
Aggression. Lovett Brazeal Smith, b. 4/14/1830, and Cpl. Silas Hatch, b.
10/25/1839, fought under Capt. Noble A.
Hull, Company H of the 1st FL
Cavalry. Both of these gents enlisted at Houston (Hows-ton), which is,
ironically, about four miles from the house where I grew up, between Lake City
and Live Oak, FL.
Let me take a minute to say a few words about Capt. Hull. Hull had attended Chatham Academy at Savannah, and enlisted a couple days after Silas and L.B.. I'm not really sure who took over his post after he resigned, but he did about a year later. He reenlisted with the 9th FL Infantry in Lake City and went on to form Noble A. Hulls Home Guard. Capt. Hull later went on to be Lt. Governor of Florida and then a Congressman.
A fella I met at the Olustee reenactment one year, claimed to be the "best authority" on the FL 1st, so here's what he said. He told me, when the gallant 1st Cavalry rode out of Lake City, they had all the dash of a marching band- fresh horses and new uniforms all brightly colored with yellow piping that covered the sleeves and chests of the uniforms. I saw a photo one time that seemed to support his claim, stating many early units were brightly feathered like this, darned if I can find it now. Anyway, it was less than a year later when all of these trappings were gone.
The 1st FL Cavalry rode to
join the Army of the Mississippi. They reached Mississippi in time to make a
push into Tennessee and join the fray at Shiloh. I suppose one could say the
regiment was christened with a bloodbath.
There were many bloody skirmishes fought after Shiloh, and by Spring 1862, over half of the remaining 1st FL Cavalry had voluntarily dismounted. Those of the dismounted 1st Cavalry who had not become casualties during the fighting, deserted, or died of disease- Walter Parker (pictured above) passed in May of '62 from disease- joined the Kentucky Campaign under General Bragg who led them into the Battle of Murphreesborough, New Year's 1863. The following year brought the battle that ended Silas' and L.B.'s participation in the war- Missionary Ridge.
Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Abe Lincoln had decided that
to defeat the South, they would have to divide it- an age old military maneuver.
Everything seemed to be going well until the Army of Cumberland and Army of
Tennessee hit the proverbial brick wall at Chickamauga. The whipped Yanks fled
to Chattanooga with their tails between... well, anyway, let it suffice to say
they were in a bad way. Britain was ready to acknowledge the South as a nation,
at this point, and the Yanks were starting to feel they had bitten off more than
they could chew.
Unfortunately, Silas and L.B. were now fighting under Gen. Bragg, who was a great strategist, but not the most decisive of generals. The beaten Yankee armies dug in and waited for their destruction, and Bragg also waited...and waited, and waited, and waited, and, well, by the time he had decided to move (about two months later), Grant had relieved the defeated Gen. Rosencrans from duty and replaced him with several of the North's finest. This lot included the nefarious W.T. Sherman (it pains me to mention that evil name, rapist of the South and murderer of the Indian Nations, vomit...).
The 1st FL Cavalry had fought gallantly at Chickamauga, but all the Florida regiments had taken severe casualties and could not be readily resupplied or reinforced. The few Florida soldiers who were still able to fight were clumped into one large brigade. Once again, on 11/23/63, they were thrown into battle as Grant made a frantic lunge at the gap dividing him and the heartlands of Dixie at Lookout Mountain, TN.
The Rebels made their stand on Missionary Ridge, 11/25/63, to dam the torrent, and thanks to Bragg's lackadaisical attitude, there was literally a flood of blue Union reinforcements, pouring down from the North. Silas and L.B., and many of their brave companions, soon found themselves trapped behind a fence on the steep slope of the ridge, bleeding, devoid of ammo, with misdirected friendly fire flying over their heads, waiting for it all to end.
Both men spent the rest of the war and their military careers in Rock Island Prison, Molene, IL.
© Ty Starkey, 1998-2003