Our fellow townsman J. C. Clouse, is celebrating his 95th birthday anniversary
today. A year ago Mr. Clouse prepared his autobiography and we begin
publication of it with this issue:
Being housed in, on account of the unpleasant weather, I thought I would try to write a little about my life experiences. Keeping no records of the past, I will do the best I can from memory, after ninety-four years.
James Columbus Clouse, eighth of family of thirteen, was born about twenty-five miles from Chattanooga in Hamilton County, Tennessee, on the sixth day of February 1846. In a short time, when I was about three or four years old, Father with his family moved to Megs County, Tennessee and lived in the village of Birchwood. We lived in this town for two or three years when about 1851, father bought forty acres of land one mile and a quarter north of Birchwood from a man by the name of Gid Pedit. At this time I was six or seven years old. There were no improvements on the place but a little pole cabin. We commenced improving the place; working hard almost day and night. I remember holding a pine torch for father to cut rail timber until nine or ten o'clock at night. We built a story and a half log house eighteen by twenty with a brick chimney, some out buildings and fenced a nice garden spot with split palings. Father let us boys hire out to earn a little stake of our own. I visited this old home in the summer of 1937. Many of the old land marks were much the same as they were when I lived there sixty-nine or seventy years ago. We lived on this farm until after the Civil War.
In the early part of my fifteenth year, I was working for Nute Hutchison for $72.00 a year. At this time the terrible Civil War began. There were lots of Southern troops all over the country. They were pressing some young boys into the army.
this scared me, so my oldest brother William and I left home, unknown to father, on Sunday, November 2, 1862. The Southern troops had taken from us all of our schooners, canoes and boats to keep us from crossing the river to go north to the Northern army. Brother and I and a neighbor crossed the Tennessee River on an old boat gunnel, a piece of hewed timber 18 to 24 inches wide and 30 to 35 feet long. It was a dangerous undertaking but we got across safe. We hid in caves in the Cumberland Mountains for about a week until a squad could be made up for the journey. There were finally 29 of us who were conducted through the mountains by a pilot to Louisville, Kentucky, over 300 miles away. We traveled only by night as every hog path was guarded to keep us boys from getting through to the Northern army. There were only certain places where we could get something to eat. We almost starved and froze sometimes. Our pilot knew where we could get something to eat. One night we stopped at a mountain cabin for eats. I want to tell about a little incident that I pulled off at this cabin. While I was standing by the fire I happened to put my hand on a board over the fireplace and touched something. I found it to be a piece of cracklin' bread. In those days that kind of bread was first class. As I sneaked out of doors with the piece of bread the thought came into my mind that this piece of bread might be poisoned and laid there to do some of us up. I finally decided to eat it anyway. But now, thinking of Mother, my eyes were filled with tears because Mother taught me not to steal. This was my first time. Most all of the homes had a little familiar stone mill on which we made meal from corn. The corn was ground between two large rocks. Where we spent the night the people would cook the ground corn for us. This about all the way we had to get food. I want to write a verse of a song we Tennessee refugees would sing:
And as we traveled through
the ice and snow
It rained and hailed and the
wind did blow.
And some of us did weep
For with the cold I thought
we would die.
But bless the Lord with some
relief we landed safe to the
With milk and honey, wine
and oil, with Northern
troops on strangers' soil.
On arriving in Louisville, we located the Fifth Volunteers Infantry
and our three brothers, John, George and Adam, who had gone before us.
They had enlisted in Company E of the Fifth Regiment, Tennessee Volunteers
Infantry, Second Brigade, Third Division, Twenty-Third Army Corps.
General Mansen was our brigade commander, General Cox our division commander
and General Schofield our corps commander. Brother William and I
enlisted in the same company, November 27, 1862. We five brothers
served in the same company until the close of the war. We experienced
many picket and skirmish lines and a few regular engagements where the
losses were heavy. These are some of the major engagements and campaigns
in which I took part: Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Atlanta, Chattanooga,
was on the Georgia campaign and started with Sherman on his march to the
sea, but were sent back for special duty. All five of we brothers
were blessed to return home to enjoy the presence of our Father and Mother
and the other children. Looking up the war path of life amidst the
shot and shells and showers of minnie balls, I was blessed to be numbered
with those who gained the victory.
I was discharged at the age of eighteen by order of the War Department, July 27, 1865, after serving two years and eight months.