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Sumner County in the War with Mexico

Written by Jay Guy Cisco
From Historic Sumner County, Tennessee

Sumner County furnished three companies for the war with Mexico, 1846-7. Two of these were in the First Tennessee Regiment Infantry, commanded by W.B. Campbell. These companies were commanded by Captains W. M. Blackmore and Robert A. Bennett, the former being known as the "Tenth Legion," and the latter as the "Polk Guards." The Tenth Legion was composed of volunteers from Gallatin and its vicinity, while the Polk Guards was made up from enlistments at Hartsville and that neighborhood. These companies were enlisted for and served twelve months and there were about one hundred men in each company. S. R. Anderson, the First Lieutenant-Colonel of the First Tennessee Regiment, was from Sumner County, as was Major Richard B. Alexander, and was seriously wounded at Monterey. The third company was known as Legion Second, and was a part of the Third Tennessee Regiment Infantry, commanded by Colonel B. Frank Cheatham. This company was commanded by Captain William Hatton. Major Perrin Solomon, of the Third Tennessee Regiment, was a Sumner countian. Lieutenant Nimrod D. Smith acted as Adjutant of the First Tennessee for a while.

As in the last war with Spain, so it was in the war with Mexico, the inhospitable climate was often more destructive to life than the missiles of the enemy, and many a young succumbed to the ravages of disease.

The First Tennessee Regiment won distinction and gained the praise of the General commanding the American forces for the valor and dash displayed by it in its charge on the enemy's defenses at Monterey on September 21, 1846. This regiment was brigaded at Monterey with Mississippi Rifles, and commanded by Colonel Jefferson Davis, and were in Quitman's Brigade.

General Zachary Taylor, commanding the army, in his dispatch to Washington in regard to this battle, said: " The Fourth Infantry and three regiments of volunteers were ordered to march at once upon the heavy battery, which was pouring a continuous fire from five pieces of cannon. The Mississippi and Tennessee Troops, proceeded by three companies of the Fourth, advanced against the works, while the Ohio Regiment, entered the town to the right. The advance of the Fourth was received by so destructive a charge that one-third of the officers and men were instantly killed or disabled. They were compelled to retire until reinforced. The Tennessee and Mississippi corps, under Captain Backus, whose men occupied the roof of a house in the rear of the redoubt, captured it in gallant style, taking five pieces of ordnance, a large quantity of ammunition and several Mexican officers and men prisoners."

In this charge the First Tennessee suffered heavily in killed and wounded and won for itself the name of the "Bloody First." Many noble Sumner countains gave up their lives in this charge at their country's behest, while others were maimed for life. Here Booker H. Dalton and John F. Ralphfile, of the Polk Guards, and First Corporal Julius C. Elliott, Peter Hinds Martin, Edward Pryor, Benjamin Soper, Isaac Inman Elliott, and Thomas Jones of the Tenth Legion were killed, and the Lieutenant J. Cam. Allen of that company, lost a leg. History states that there were one hundred and twenty American soldiers killed at the battle of Monterey. Eight of these were Sumner countains, so out of every fifteen killed in that battle, Sumner county mourned one dead son or six and two-thirds per cent, of the slain in that engagement. Out of these three companies forty-five men died of disease contracted in the service in the ward with Mexico.

The Third Tennessee Regiment was formed about the close of the war, after the First Regiment had been mustered out, and this regiment reached Mexico after the fighting had ceased.

General W. B. Bate was a soldier in the war with Mexico, first as a member of a Louisiana regiment, and afterwards as a Lieutenant in Captain Hatton's Company of the Third Tennessee Regiment, and acted Adjutant of that regiment. Sumner county sent, in the person of General Wm. Trousdale, another distinguished soldier to the war with Mexico. He was Colonel of the Fourteenth Regular Infantry, but commanded a brigade in the operations of the army in the capture of the City of Mexico, and was wounded and brevetted for gallantry in the storming of the heights of Chepultepee, and was given honorable mention in General Scott's report to the Government. Sumner county sustained in the war, as she had in every war before and has in every war since, her title to the name of the "Volunteer County of the Volunteer State."

By the liberality of its citizens the county erected, in 1848 as stone monument in the cemetery here to the memory of her sons who died in that war, but time and the elements have so wrought upon it that it is now toppling over, and soon even "Old Mortality," with chisel and hammer, could not preserve from utter defacement the names of those who are inscribed on its roll of honor.

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