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Jesse R. Shelton

From the Murfreesboro Daily News Joumal of May 14, 1940:

Jesse R. Shelton / Rutherford Gray Veteran Succumbs.

Jesse Ransom Shelton, only Rutherford County survivor who served with Nathan Bedford Forrest, and one of the three remaining Confederate veterans of the county, died this morning at his home near Beech Grove on the Manchester Pike.Jesse Ransom Shelton, 1935

The ninety-six year old veteran, who enlisted at 18 at Hoover's Gap, was a member of Starnes' Regiment, of the Fourth Tennessee Cavalry. He participated in the pursuit and capture of Federal Colonel Streight at Rome, Ga., and during one engagement his horse was shot from under him. Falling a victim to typhoid fever he was mustered out of the army in 1864.

Shelton often said of the fearless Forrest, "He'd rather be in than out of a fight."

His parents were John and Emmeline Hamby Shelton. In 1868, he married Martha Jane Eaton. He was a member of the Beech Grove Baptist Church where services will be held Wednesday afternoon at 1 o'clock conducted by Elder R.A. Taylor.

Surviving are his daughter, Mrs. J.L. (Sallie) Hoover, two sons J.W. and S.F. Shelton, 15 grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and one great, great-grandchild."

Information confirming Jesse Ransom Shelton's service can be found in the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Roll #18 Confederate. A questionnaire completed in April 1922 for the Tennessee Historical Committee expands on those official records, and also provides an interesting personal account.

Jesse Ransom Shelton joined Co. E of the 4th (Starnes') Tennessee Cavalry (Confederate) in September 1862 at Hoover's Gap, Rutherford County, Tennessee. The regiment was sent to Columbia, Tennessee, and became part of the group of regiments known as Forrest's "Old Brigade." In December 1862, Shelton participated in Forrest's first West Tennessee campaign, fighting at Jackson, Humboldt, and Trenton. He was also part of the pursuit and capture of Col. Abel D. Streight (April-May 1863).

The Fourth Tennessee Cavalry, now under McLemore, was one of the units left behind in East Tennessee when Forrest was dispatched West in October 1863. While campaigning in East Tennessee, Shelton was disabled by typhoid fever, and was left by his command in the care of a Union-sympathizing but friendly family.

Two months of recovery time separated the young soldier from his command, so he set out on foot from about 40 miles east of Pikeville for his home in Middle Tennessee. As he later wrote, with "very little left of me but skin and bone, hardly able to travel, I started for home.... alone and afoot, across the mountains, infested with theives [sic] and Bushwhacters [sic], a distance of 100-125 miles (the lonesomes' [sic] trip of my life)." Shelton returned to farming and stock raising, and as he later wrote "never followed any thing else."

The above photograph, taken in 1935 when Shelton was 91 years old, and the accompanying biographical material have been graciously supplied by Shelton's great-grandson, J. Ransom Clark of New Concord, Ohio. Mr. Clark is a member of the Sam Davis Camp of Brentwood, Tennessee.