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Spencer Talley, Part 1

Lebanon, Tennessee

April 6, 1918

An Introduction and Family History

This book was given me by my granddaughter, Mary Trice, with a request that I write in it whatever information I may have regarding her ancestry on the Talley side and also to give her a sketch of my own life as a Confederate soldier in the Civil War 1861 - 1865.

About thirty years ago I had an interview with father's old uncle, Martin Talley who died at Woodbury in Cannon County Tennessee at the age of 106 years. He was buried in the Edmund Dillon graveyard about two miles south of Cainsville on the Murfreesboro Pike and the inscription on the tombstone collaborates the above statement. It was from him at the age of 96 that I got the following information which I think is correct although at this great age his mind was faulty and he would stagger on some questions. He says it was about 1710 that four Talley brothers left somewhere in England and came to America and settled in Virginia. The names of the four brothers were Acey, Archie, Martin and Spenser Talley. Of the Talleys mentioned above we are descendants of Martin Talley. A son of Martin Talley named Spenser Talley married Elizabeth Webb and to them were born ten children. My father being the youngest and born on the 18th of March 1810 and died September 1889 aged 79 years. My mother was Mary Johnston, a daughter of Robinson Johnston of Wilson County Tennessee. She and my father were married in 1830 and to them were born nine children, namely Robinson, Elizabeth, Spenser, Eliza, Maria, Mary, Marion, Peter and Frank. My mother was born in 1812 and died January 1903 aged 91 years. Of the children born to my mother and father only two are living, myself and W. Pete Talley of Lackney, Texas. Sister Elizabeth died in Oklahoma three years ago. Sister A. died in Texas ten years ago. Sister Mary died in 1866. Brother R.J. Talley was killed in the battle of Atlanta July 20th, 1864. The others died in early youth of flu and fever.

One of my father's brothers, Martin Talley, married Eliza Halland and settled in Shreveport, Louisiana where he reared a family and grew rich but lost nearly all of it because his son was charged with having killed a man. His son was finally cleared but the defense cost many thousand dollars. Another of my father's brothers, W.M. Talley married in the same family, Emily Halland, and settled in Collinsville near Memphis, Tennessee and reared a large family of which Foster Talley and Ami Talley Hicks were our visitors several years ago. I greatly enjoyed our manner of life out on the old farm home.

In speaking of the Talley ancestry I have mentioned that two of the sons of Martin Talley married sisters in the Webb family. They were previously stated Spenser and Martin Jr. Their wives came from Rockingham County, Virginia to Wilson County, Tennessee and settled in the southern part of this county. Some of the children of the Martin Talley Jr's. were Peter C. Talley of Readyville and Murfreesboro, Hannah Dillon, wife of Edmond Dillon, also Arma Orand, wife of W. Orand of Woodbury, who emigrated to Waco, Texas where he died many years ago.

Early Life

My father, Coleman Talley, being the youngest of ten children did not get a favorite family name of his ancestry but was probably called for a special friend of whom we know nothing, other than it is not found in his ancestry or repeated in the names of his descendants.

Spencer B. Talley (that's me) was born May 22, 1841 and during my infancy children were often and seriously affected with croup. In my babyhood days I was troubled with phthisis. When I was thirty years old our doctor said I had asthma. This affliction still abides with me and has been for a number of years an enemy I have had to fight. Much of my time and hard earned means have been spent with it.

My father and mother decided that I would never be able to do much manual labor and gave me somewhat better education than the other children that I might make a living by other means than farming. So I attended the best of our county schools until it was decided (I had)a fairly good education and I began teaching when I was 19 years old, this being the fall of 1860.

In January, 1861, I began teaching at a school near where Berea Church house now stands on the Coles Ferry Pike and boarded where Dr. James H. McFarland now lives, but in a much more convenient and up to date building. Before my school closed political matters were at fever heat. Lincoln had been elected president of the United States on an abolition platform. This threw the southern states into a furor of excitement, and one state after another seceded from the union. Lincoln made a call for seventy-five thousand troops to suppress the action of the southern states. This so enraged the southern people that nothing less than a war could settle their differences.

Enlistment and Early Army Days

The minds, thoughts and soul of the people generally had become so absorbed on war topics, that I thought best to close my school and be ready to fall in with the rapidly forming enlistments for southern defense. After winding up my little school affairs and returning home, I and my brother Robert J. began making our preparations to enter the southern service. We found there were several companies being formed in the county. About twenty were in readiness in our Taylorsville section and a like number had been formed at Hunters Point, but it took at least one hundred and four to complete a full company. Johnathan Eatherly was raising a Company at Mt. Juliet. These squads soon conferred and come together making a full company.

The ladies at Mt. Juliet had made a beautiful silk "Battle flag" and had elected Miss Annie Sherill to make the presentation address. I was selected to receive the banner and make the reception address, the honor of which I sincerely appreciated so much so that I had Haywood Y. Riccle, one of our most brilliant orators, to assist me in the preparation for this occasion. The time had been set for this happy and interesting occasion, and complete preparations to do justice in behalf of Southern rights and the Bonny blue flag. When I had notice that the people of Mt. Juliet or the Wade Baker wing of our company were dissatisfied with the selection of Miss Sherill to present the Banner and that the matter had been called off, for fear that a tragedy might occur if the programs were carried out with her as maid of honor in the presentation ceremonies. This all occurred as I learned because some thought that another young lady of that community who had taken great interest in the matter should have had the honor. This incident at the time was the subject of considerable talk and comment, but in no way disturbed the peace, harmony and good will of the soldier boys who were preparing to go forth in defense of southern rights. Our company came together often as we could in practice in drilling and to be posted as to the prospect of getting into camp "life" as one would say in that age of the world. John P. Murray of Gainsboro, a prominent citizen and lawyer of Jackson county, was forming a regiment at Livingston and Governor Isham G. Harris, learning of our readiness ordered us into that camp.

I think it was about the middle of September, 1861 when our company left Lebanon. We took the Trousdale Ferry pike and being "foot men" or infantry we only got as far as "Caney Fork" the first day. The next day we landed at what we were pleased to call "Camp Jollicoper" a place about 1 1/2 miles west of Livingston where flowed there and I suppose flows now one of the finest springs in Tennessee. The water in a large volume gushes from the side of a mountain and falls from a projecting rock the distance of about twenty feet. It was icy cold and clear as crystal. So far then as water was concerned us we had all that could be desired, for no army was able to make it muddy or in anyway impair it's usefulness and purity. There were a few wagons that came with us to carry our supply of rations and many other things that our good home people thought was needed in our army life and for several days we had old ham and good coffee galore and by the time we had used the good things brought from home our commissary department had sufficiently organized and equipped to furnish all needed food from the surrounding county and we had a delightful time for several weeks in our army training camp.

We had no one in camp capable to give the right and proper training for the development of that physical strength and endurance so necessary in the warfare in which we were about to engage. Several of our officers had "Hardees" tactics and they studied these tactics daily and soon had us quite proficient in the manual of arms and also able to go through with the many maneuvers of well drilled soldiers. We spent only about two hours in the forenoon and two in the afternoon drilling. So the remainder of our time was spent in reading and writing to our home people and taking lessons in cooking. In the connection with the above I will state that for two or three weeks after our arrival in camp we had no arms, save a few old squirrel rifles and an occasional pistol, though most all the boys had huge butcher knives made in our blacksmith shops. The South had no arms or munitions of war and but little chance of obtaining any from foreign countries on account of the blockade, consequently we were hard put to get something to fight with. On account of the scarcity of arms our state government had a great number of what was called "pikes" made, they consisted of a pole about 8 or 10 feet long with a spear and sharp hook at the end made to cut both coming and going. However none of our regiment had any of these "pikes" instruments to fight with. Before long we got our old flintlock muskets, used last in the Battle of New Orleans, and almost ruined by rust.

On to the 2d segment...