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Claim of Montgomery Woods with the Southern Claims Commission

The Civil War and its long aftermath were often hard times for Hawkins County citizens. This account of one family’s futile claim for reimbursement for property taken by Union soldiers gives a glimpse of the era. Excerpts from the official record follow:


(The following documents were transcribed by Harold Wayne Higgins and Sheila Daniel, great-great- great-grandchildren of the Woods Family.)


Petition to the Honorable Commissioners of Claims, Under the Act of Congress of March 3, 1871, Washington D.C.: 

The petition of Montgomery Woods, Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee, respectfully represents:

That he is a citizen of the United States and resides at present on Holston River, near Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee.

That he has a claim against the United States for property taken by United States troops under the command of Col. R. C. Crawford and Col. Parsons from my residence sometime in the years of 1863 and 1865, as follows:

Nov. 1863, to one brown mule (good size)                     $100.00
Nov. 1863, to two (2) stacks hay @ $15.00                      30.00
Nov. 1863, to 175 bu. corn @ 75 cts. per bushel             105.65
Nov. 1863, to two hogs @ $10.00 each                            20.00
June, 1865, to one (1) gray horse                                     150.00
Total value of property                                                     405.65

 

That all the items in the above schedule were of the full value therein set forth and were taken from your petitioner for the use of and were used by the United States Army. The mule, hay, corn, and hogs were taken by the officers whose names I could not learn and taken to their camps at Carmichael’s and Joshua Smith’s on the south side of the river (Smith on south side; Carmichael, north side river). I make this statement on the information of my family and witnesses. All of this property was taken and used by the commands of Col. Crawford and Col. Parsons. The gray horse was taken by the command of Col. Parsons.

 

That no voucher, receipt (or) other writing was given therefor. That your petitioner resided at the time said claim accrued in a short distance of where he now lives. That your petitioner was the original owner of said claims, and that he is present owner of the same. That your petitioner remained a loyal adherent to the cause and the Government of the United States during the war, and also loyal before and at the time of the taking of the property for which this claim is made. That said claim has not before been presented to Congress, nor to any committee thereof, not to any department of the government. That William H. Beck, of Alexandria, Va., is hereby authorized and empowered to act as my attorney for the prosecution of this claim. Wherefor your petitioner prays for such action of your Honorable Commission in the premises, as may be deemed just and proper:

 

Witnesses:

N. T. Beal, S. Caldwell, Montgomery Woods (his mark), claimant.

 

Names and residences of witnesses who will be relied upon to prove loyalty:

Elias Beal, Wm. Gammons, Joseph J. Beal, Wm. M. Piper, Thomas Smith, James Lackey, John Netherland, Sam Neill, Chas. J. McKinney, all or Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tenn.

 

 

Names and residences of witnesses who will be relied upon to prove the other facts alleged in the foregoing petition:

William Gammons, Susan Gammons, Ham. Woods, Riley Catron, all of Rogersville, Hawkins County. 

DEPOSITIONS IN THE CASE OF MR. MONTGOMERY WOODS, A RESIDENT OF HAWKINS COUNTY, TENNESSEE, CONGRESSIONAL CASE NO. 1824. FILED JULY 1871. NATURE OF CLAIM— FOR MULE, HAY, CORN, HOGS AND HORSE. 

Mr. Montgomery Woods, claimant, aged 60 years, being duly sworn deposes and says I live about one and one-half miles East of Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee. By occupation a day laborer and being further examined by Special Commissioner in answer to the first set of questions says:

1.) I lived about two miles Southeast of Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee, and was there in person all the time, and was farming.

2.) I lived there all through the war and did not change my residence.

3.) I never did.

4.) I never did.

5.) I never did. I never was pardoned.

6.) I never was.

7.) I never did.

8.) I never did.

9.) I never was.

10.) I never was. No to all points of question.

11.) No to all points of the question.

12.) No to all points of the question.

13.) No to all points of the question.

14.) No to all points of the question.

15.) I did not.

16.) I was not.

                    17.)I never was. I never was by the U.S. Gov.

18.) They took my horse and robed my chicken roost. They did not pay me for my property.

19.) A rebel citizen by the name of Ham Charmichael threatened to have me hung in the time of the war.

20.) I never was.

21.) I never did.

22.) I did not.

23.) I do not know that I had. The Rebels conscripted and took off one of my sons.

24.) I never owned any Confederate Bonds. I never done anything to support the credit of the Confederate State.

25.) I never did.

26.) No to all points of the question.

27.) No to all points of the question.

28.) I never was.

29.) I never was.

30.) No to all points of the question.

31.) No to all points of the question.

32.) No to all points of the question.

33.) I sympathized with the Union cause. Any feelings and language was for the Union cause. I voted for the Union and was Union all the time.

34.) My sympathies were constantly with the cause of the United States. I never of my own free will and accord did anything or offered or sought or attempted to do anything by word or deed to injure said cause or retard its success. And I was at all times ready and willing when call upon or if called upon to assist the Union so far as my means and power and the circumstances of the case permitted. I never received any pay for my property taken by the Federal soldiers.

 

Montgomery Woods (his mark) 

 

D.G. Thomburgh

Special Commissioner

 


Elias Beal, Claimant Witness, to prove loyalty being duly sworn deposes and says I am aged 52 years, live two miles South of Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee, and by occupation a farmer, and being further examined by Special Commissioner says I have known Claimant forty years. And I was intimate with him during the war. I lived most of the time within about two miles of him. I saw him on an average once a week. I conversed with him about the war its causes and progress. I was a Union man and Claimant believed me to be a Union man. And the Claimant sympathy was with the United States. I knew his opinions by talking with him. I conversed with him alone and in the presence of others. His public reputation was that of a Union man. And he was regarded as a Union man by his loyal neighbors. I do not know of Claimant contributing anything or giving any information in aid of the Union or the Union Army. I do not know of Claimant ever being molested on account of his Union sentiments. I do not know of Claimant ever contributing anything or giving information in aid of the Confederate Army or Confederate Government.

 

Question: Do you know any act done or language used by Claimant which would have prevented him from establishing his loyalty to the Confederacy if it had been maintained as a separate government?

 

Answer: He on all occasions denounced the rebellion and was in the habit of doing so in the presence of Rebels. This I think would have prevented him from establishing his loyalty to the Confederacy if it had been maintained as a separate government.

 

Elias Beal (his signature)

 

 

D.G. Thomburgh

Special Commissioner

 


Thomas Smith, Claimant Witness, to prove loyalty being duly sworn deposes and says he is aged 57 years. I lived at that time three miles South of Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee, and by occupation a farmer, and being further examined by Special Commissioner says I have been acquainted with Claimant forty odd years. I was intimately acquainted with him during the war. I lived in about a mile of him. I saw him every few days. I conversed with him about the war a good deal. I was a Union man and Claimant regarded me as a Union man. The Claimant’s sympathy was with the Government of the United States. I knowed his sympathies were with the Union because he always expressed himself as a Union man. I conversed with him alone and in the presence of others and his character as a Union man was publicly known. He was so regarded by both Union and Rebel citizens. I do not know of Claimant ever contributing anything or giving any information for the benefit of the Union cause or Union Army. I do not recollect of his being threatened, molested, or injured on account of his Union sentiments. I do not know of Claimant ever contributing anything or giving any information to aid the Confederate Government or Confederate Army.

 

Question: Do you know any act done or language used by claimant which would have prevented him from establishing his loyalty to the Confederacy if it had been maintained as a separate government?

 

Answer: His language and public reputation as a loyal man would have prevented him from establishing his loyalty to the Confederacy if it had maintained itself as a separate government.

 

Thomas Smith (his signature)

 

 

D.G. Thomburgh

Special Commissioner

 


Susan Gammons, Claimant’s Witness to prove taking of property being duly sworn deposes and says she is aged 31 years. I live two miles South East of Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee, occupation house keeping. And being examined by Claimant’s attorney James O. Senter says I was present on premises and saw the gray horse taken. The horse was a good large horse and in good condition. Federal Soldiers took the horse and it was Col. Parsons Regiment, 9th Tennessee Cavalry. I know the Claimant has a brown mule. I did not personally see them take the mule but from information from others I am satisfied they took the mule and the mule I think was taken by the same command. The mule was a good large sized mule and was in good condition. I know Claimant had two stacks of hay, I believe the same command got the hay from information derived from others. I know the fact that the Claimant had corn. I believe the corn was taken from information from others. I know claimant had two hogs and I believe from information I have that the soldiers got the hogs. The property was all taken about the same time in November 1863. And by the same command. I know Claimant never received any pay for this property. And being further examined by Special Commissioner in answers to second set of questions says:

1.) I was present.

2.) I was present and saw the gray horse taken. I personally know the fact that the Claimant had one good sized young brown mule, two stacks of hay, and I am satisfied that they got one hundred and seventy five bushels of corn. And two hogs and from my own knowledge and information derived from others, I believe this property was taken by the Federal Soldiers belonging to the commands of Col.’s Crawford and Parsons.

3.) I did not see any other taken.

4.) The property was taken off of Claimants premises on or about November 1863.

5.) My mother, Martha Woods, and my sister, Lizzie Woods, were present.

6.) There were no officers there that I know of.

7.) The horse was taken out of the field and rode away.

8.) They started West with the horse.

Answer 9 not included in record.

10.) The horse was taken for the use of the army. I believe this because I saw them take him and ride him off.

11.) I do not know of any complaint being made.

12.) No voucher or receipt ask for in my presence.

13.) The horse was taken about the middle of the day and was taken openly.

14.) They were encamped in about two miles of there. I do no know how long they stayed or when they left. I did not know any of I. M.’s.

15.) The property of the Claimant was all in good condition.

Answers 16, 17, 18, not included in record.

19.) I believe it was taken for the actual use of the army as they got it and received the benefit of it.

20.) I believe they were compelled to forage off the country.

Answer 21 not included in record.

                    22.) I believe the government ought to pay for it because they took it and used it for                     their benefit.

23.) I believe it was actually necessary for them to take it as a military necessity. The horse was not branded. I know the Claimant never received any pay for this property and further this deponent sayeth not.

 

Susan Gammons (her signature) 

 

D. G. Thomburgh

Special Commissioner

 


Robt. Lyons, Claimant’s property witness being deposes and says, I am 40 years old and by occupation a farmer and live 4 mile East of Rogersville, Hawkins County, East Tennessee and being examined by James O. Senter Claimant’s atty says I saw the troops taking the corn. The corn was good ripe and was in the barn and was worth one dollar per bu. I saw them getting it out of the barn by federal soldiers. This corn was raised on Mr. Lyons’ farm. There was ten acres in the field and Claimant paid Mr. Lyons one third of it. Do now know of his ever being paid for this property either in whole or in part.

 

And, being further examined by Special Commissioner in answer to second set of questions says:

1.) I was.

2.) I saw the corn taken.

3.) I did not

4.) Taken in November 1863 got the corn at Mr. Lyons farm 4 mile

East of Rogersville and was taken by federal troops. But do not know what command got it.

5.) No one but myself.

6.) Do not know.

                    7.& 8.) The corn was taken by soldiers and loaded in waggins.

9.) Do not know but was taken in the direction of Rogersville.

10.) They took it for the use of the army I think.

11.) None that I know of.

12.) Do not know.

13.) It was taken in the morning and in day light and openly.

14.) There was some troops camped in Rogersville. They stayed there some time. No battle or skirmish that I know of.

15.) The corn was ripe and in the barn and was shucked and was good & sound.

16.) I judge the amount of corn to be one hundred and seventy five bushels by helping to gather it and put it in the barn.

Answers 17, 18, not included in record.

19.) I think it was as the soldiers said they had to have it.

20.) I believe they had failed to get any other supplies.

21.) I believe they needed it and were justified in taking it.

22.) I think the govt should pay for it as it was taken by U S troops.

23.) I think it was taken by order of officers that saw justifiable in it. Do not know of Claimant ever receiving any pay for the property for their own. Further this deponent sayeth not.

 

Robb Lyons (his mark)

 

 

D. G. Thomburgh

Special Commissioner

 


Herod Carmichael (Col’d), Claimant’s witness to prove taking of property being duly sworn deposes and says he is aged 45 years, lives three miles East of Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee and by occupation a farmer. And being further examined by Claimant’s attorney, James O. Senter, says — I saw the hay taken, one stack out of the meadow and some hay out of the barn. The hay was in good condition and I think according to my judgement there was two thousand pounds of it. I think it was worth one dollar per hundred. I think they took two thousand pounds of hay. I am not certain but think it was Col. Kirk’s men that took the hay. I do not remember the time it was taken. I did not see any thing else taken. I do not know of Claimant ever receiving any pay for this property. And being further examined by Special Commissioner in answer to second set of questions says,

1.) I was present when the hay was taken.

2.) I saw the hay taken.

3.) I did not.

4.) I do not know the time they took the hay. It was taken off the premises where Claimant lived. I think it was col. Kirk’s men that took it.

5.) My brothers, John & Henderson Carmichael were present and Susan Gammons.

6.) I think Col. Kirk was there. The Col. Did not try to prevent them from taking the hay.

7.) The soldiers of Col. Kirk took the hay.

8.) The soldiers carried the hay off on horses.

9.) I do not know where they took it.

10.) I believe they took it to feed their horses. I did not see them use any of it.

11.) I heard no complaint made.

12.) I did not hear him ask for any voucher or receipt.

13.) The hay was taken in the day. Twice in the P.M. and was taken openly.

14.) No army encamped in vicinity. Did not know any of the I. M’s.

15.) The hay was good hay in the stack and in the barn. I judge from the size of the stack there was two thousand pounds and it was worth one dollar per bushel.

Answers 16, 17, 18 not included in record.

19.) I believe this hay was taken for the use of the army. The stock looked like it needed it.

20.) I believe it was taken in consequence of the troops having no hay.

21.) And I think they needed it and were justifiable in taking it.

22.) I believe the government ought to pay for it, it was his property and they took it.

23.) And I believe they were authorized to take it because the officers were there and did not try to prevent the taking. I do not know of Claimant ever receiving any pay for this property.

And further this deponent sayeth not.

 

Herod Carmichael (his mark)

 

 

D. G. Thomburgh

Special Commissioner

 


To the Hon. Commissioner of Claims

Washington, D. C.

 

Since I herewith certify that the Claimant, Montgomery Woods, together with his witnesses: Elias Beal, Thomas Smith, Robt. Lyons, Susan Gammons, and Herod Carmichael, personally affirmed before me 29th day of March, 1872, at Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee, and were duly sworn James O. Senter of Panther Springs, Tennessee, offering as counsel for the Claimant and witness were all citizens of Hawkins County, Tennessee. I must say in justice to the government that I consider this claim unjust from the fact that I am informed by the best men of Rogersville that the claimant did not have all that he is asking for. I would respectfully ask your attention to the different deposition.

 

Respectfully Submitted

D. G. Thomburgh

Special Commissioner

 

Case No. 4058

Claim of Montgomery Woods of Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tenn.

Summary Report dated June 10, 1886; referred to the Committee on War Claims.

This case is presented in five (5) items amounting to: (amount claimed), $450.65; (amount disallowed), $450.65.

 

Remarks:

There is great doubt about the justice of this claim. The testimony relating to loyalty is vague and uncertain. The claimant resided during the entire war near Rogersville, Hawkins Co., Tenn., and was not molested or injured on account of his Unionism, and the proofs do not show any act or incident tending to the establishment of his loyalty. They are summed up by assertions of his and the opinions of his witnesses. The proof of the taking of his property is still more defective and suspicious. One witness says the property was all taken at one time and by the same command. The Petitioner alleges that the property was all taken in November 1863 excepting the gray horse, which was taken in June 1865. The claimant does not testify at all as to his property, either as regards ownership or the taking of it. The proofs are unsatisfactory and the claim is rejected.



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