James W. Terrell

Thomas' Legion
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Captain James W. Terrell.jpg
Captain James W. Terrell

James W. Terrell (1829-1908) was a business associate of William Holland Thomas. In 1852 Terrell took charge of Thomas' trading store, a trading post as it was known, in Quallatown, a business center for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian community, and eventually became an Indian agent. During the Civil War, Terrell was Captain of Company A, Thomas' Legion, and afterward served as Chief Quartermaster of the regiment. When the conflict ended, he would reside in Webster, Jackson County, North Carolina, and represent his section in the state legislature.

James W. Terrell Letters

July 19, 1863 - Four missing Confederate mules
FORTY DOLLARS REWARD. Strayed or stolen from the wagon yard at the Zollicoffer, Tenn., FOUR MULES, belonging to the Quartermaster's Department of Thomas' Legion of the following description. Two black mare mules about fourteen hands high, four years old, considerably rubbed with the harness, one of them also rubbed with the saddle, and has a mark above the left fore foot, caused by a rope cutting it.Two light bay mare mules, thirteen hands high, closely built one six the other four years old. The four [year old] branded C. S. on the left shoulder. They are supposed to have rambled down the line of the Rail Road in two lots a black, one and one a bay together.I will pay the above reward for the delivery of the mules to me at Strawberry Plains or Zollicoffer, or TEN DOLLARS each for each one.Any information concerning them, that will lead to securing them will be liberally paid for.
Jas. W. Terrell, Capt. A. A. Q. M.
Source: Knoxville [Tennessee] Daily Southern Chronicle, July 19, 1863.

Carter Depot, Tenn March 11th, 1864
Dear Wife

Your letter of March 4th reached me yesterday. I was very glad to hear from you and especially glad that you and the little girls were well and that you were not uneasy on account of the Yankee raids. Stallup’s furlough has just come and I will therefore have a chance to send my letter and so I have reasonable hopes that you will get it soon. Four of McConnell’s men among whom are William and John Beck have also got furloughs. Our generals are furloughing liberally now and if men will only be prompt to return, the system will be preserved. I am still suffering some with _______but getting your letter______ and the opportunity of writing now with good assurance of you soon getting the letter make me feel quite well. I have not much news to write, our boys are all well. Tom Stallcup and myself are the worst off of any and Tom will be able, I have no doubt, to go home. Baker and Fayette Campbell are both well and so fat they can’t hardly walk. As for Eb, I presume he will write by the Beck boys. I was not looking for Bonner to move away and so the news of it took me quite by surprise. I hope however, you will succeed in making a crop. I presume brother John is still with you though you did not say so. I enclose a note for him. Say to him also to do his best. Let Caroline help him, she shall not loose anything by it. I judge Childers will cultivate the corn field. Well, you did not say which Childers it was you had rented to, but I presume it is the old man. If Conner has not already done it, do your best to get the crop fenced between us and Martin built. If Martin gets to stay at home which I presume he will, as the law exempts a man having eight white persons in his family dependent on his labor for support, he ought to build a fence according to his contract. Urge him up especially to build his end of it, but if you can get anyone else to go to work don’t wait on him building any and (the one nearest to Conleys) first. You are doing perfectly right to spend some hard money this spring for grain. I hope we will never experience once a greater necessity than we now have.

Our cause seems to be improving still I do hope that our success this spring and summer maybe so-signal to our enemies to desist from their aggressions. I think we have gone far this winter to convince them of the utter hopelessness of their cause of course they can yet inflict much damage on us but it will be also attended with great ________and hopes to themselves while they can not much longer fail to see that we are not to be subjugated while we live and that the more of our property they destroy, the more of our homes they desolate and more of our lives they take, the more desperate and determined we become. Should they force us to it by sacking and plundering our country till we can no longer subsist our army will then have to invade theirs and the retribution would then be awful, but I hope things may not get so bad as that-- that they may desist and allow us to remain at home in peace. Tell all my frinds to hold out faithful, let us all be true to our country so long as we live. I hope that in the coming elections Holden and his part of buffaloes may get such a rebuke that they will never again dare to hold up their heads.

Give my love to Martha and Jesse, to your mother and sisters and brothers. Say to Tom and Joe to do their very best at a crop this year. Say to Tom and brother John both that we need them and all such boys much more in the field, than in the camps and this year has taught us the important lesson that farming interest must not be neglected. History will not fail to do___ to all ____ of our citizens and our boys under age who take the management of farms like men while the men are under arms and performing as valuable services any any among us and in reality fighting much more effectually there than they could anywhere else....and my advice to them is when they feel like helping their country, to go to digging with all their might, every ear of corn they raise is a bullet shot at the Yankees. As soon as they are of the proper age, I say for them to go.

My respects to all inquiring friends. Write to me as often as YOU can, you can’t imagine how glad it makes one to get a letter from you. You have improved somewhat in the length of your letters too for which you will accept my thanks and an extra kiss When we meet. I think I will get to see you sometime this summer. I am pretty sure i can get a furlough then  as that is a thing I have never yet asked for nor received.

Kiss Mollie and Sallie for me. Don’t let them forget me. I have my ambrotype (photograph) taken with my beard would send it to you but Stallcup is almost loaded down. I will send it some other time. A hundred kisses for you my dearest. May the Lord bless and preserve you.

Jas. W Terrell

Source: Davis, Civil War Letters and Memories From the Smoky Mountains, 108-10

To His Excellency Jefferson Davis,
President, etc.
Executive Department, Confederate States of America,
Richmond, November 21, 1864.
To the Senate of the Confederate States:
Agreeably to the recommendation of the Secretary of War, I nominate James W. Terrell, of North Carolina, to be an assistant quartermaster, with the rank of captain in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States of America.
[No. 11.] War Department, Confederate States of America,
Richmond, November 19, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to recommend the nomination of James W. Terrell, of North Carolina, to be an assistant quartermaster, with rank of captain in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States of America, for duty with Thomas' Legion (an original vacancy), to date from November 12, 1864.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Secretary of War.
Source: Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865 [Volume 4] MONDAY, November 21, 1864.


Mr. Sparrow, from the Committee on Military Affairs, to whom were referred (on the 21st and 24th instant) the nominations of James W. Terrell, to be assistant quartermaster, with rank of captain, and of Thomas D. Johnston, to be assistant commissary, with rank of captain, reported, with the recommendation that said nominations be confirmed.

The Senate proceeded to consider said report; and in concurrence therewith, it was

Resolved, That the Senate advise and consent to their appointment, agreeably to the nomination of the President.

On motion by Mr. Sparrow,

The Senate resolved into open legislative session.

Source: Journal of the Confederate Congress--FRIDAY, November 25, 1864.

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Recommended Reading: Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers (Thomas' Legion: The Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment). Description: Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains, dedicated an unprecedented 10 years of his life to this first yet detailed history of the Thomas Legion. But it must be said that this priceless addition has placed into our hands the rich story of an otherwise forgotten era of the Eastern Cherokee Indians and the mountain men of both East Tennessee and western North Carolina who would fill the ranks of the Thomas Legion during the four year Civil War. Crow sought out every available primary and secondary source by traveling to several states and visiting from ancestors of the Thomas Legion to special collections, libraries, universities, museums, including the Museum of the Cherokee, to various state archives and a host of other locales for any material on the unit in order to preserve and present the most accurate and thorough record of the legion. Crow, during his exhaustive fact-finding, was granted access to rare manuscripts, special collections, privately held diaries, and never before seen nor published photos and facts of this only legion from North Carolina. Crow remains absent from the text as he gives a readable account of each unit within the legion's organization, and he includes a full-length roster detailing each of the men who served in its ranks, including dates of service to some interesting lesser known facts.

Storm in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers is presented in a readable manner that is attractive to any student and reader of American history, Civil War, North Carolina studies, Cherokee Indians, ideologies and sectionalism, and I would be remiss without including the lay and professional genealogist since the work contains facts from ancestors, including grandchildren, some of which Crow spent days and overnights with, that further complement the legion's roster with the many names, dates, commendations, transfers, battle reports, with those wounded, captured, and killed, to lesser yet interesting facts for some of the men. Crow was motivated with the desire to preserve history that had long since been overlooked and forgotten and by each passing decade it only sank deeper into the annals of obscurity. Crow had spent and dedicated a 10 year span of his life to full-time research of the Thomas Legion, and this fine work discusses much more than the unit's formation, its Cherokee Indians, fighting history, and staff member narratives, including the legion's commander, Cherokee chief and Confederate colonel, William Holland Thomas. Numerous maps and photos also allow the reader to better understand and relate to the subjects. Storm in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers is highly commended, absolutely recommended, and to think that over the span of a decade Crow, for us, would meticulously research the unit and present the most factual and precise story of the men, the soldiers who formed, served, and died in the famed Thomas Legion.


Recommended Reading: Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor (Hardcover).Description: It is tantalizing to speculate about the role your ancestors may have played in the great national drama of the Civil War. But family records are often inaccurate, or provide precious few leads on where to begin the search. Now, experienced historian Bertram Hawthorne Groene shows you how easy it is to trace your forbearers' role in the war, where and how long they fought, whether they were Union or Rebel, soldier or sailor -- even with a minimum of information. Continued below...

Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor provides you with:

-- The names and addresses of all state archives.

-- Names and addresses of institutions that hold microfilmed service records from the national archives.

-- Names and publishers of useful regional Civil War reference books.

-- Names and publishers of sourcebooks for identifying Civil War weapons and accoutrements.

-- And much more.

Historians, genealogists, antique dealers, and collectors of Civil War artifacts will find this concise guidebook of great value. But most of all it is of inestimable practical value to family historians, North and South, who are discovering the pleasure and satisfaction of compiling an accurate family history.


Recommended Reading: The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (444 pages) (Louisiana State University Press) (Updated edition: November 2007) Description: The Life of Johnny Reb does not merely describe the battles and skirmishes fought by the Confederate foot soldier. Rather, it provides an intimate history of a soldier's daily life--the songs he sang, the foods he ate, the hopes and fears he experienced, the reasons he fought. Wiley examined countless letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and official records to construct this frequently poignant, sometimes humorous account of the life of Johnny Reb. In a new foreword for this updated edition, Civil War expert James I. Robertson, Jr., explores the exemplary career of Bell Irvin Wiley, who championed the common folk, whom he saw as ensnared in the great conflict of the 1860s. Continued below.

About Johnny Reb: 

"A Civil War classic."--Florida Historical Quarterly 

"This book deserves to be on the shelf of every Civil War modeler and enthusiast."--Model Retailer 

"[Wiley] has painted with skill a picture of the life of the Confederate private. . . . It is a picture that is not only by far the most complete we have ever had but perhaps the best of its kind we ever shall have."--Saturday Review of Literature 

Recommended Reading: North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (Volume XVI: Thomas's Legion) (Hardcover, 537 pages), North Carolina Office of Archives and History. Description: The volume begins with an authoritative 246-page history of Thomas's Legion. The history, including Civil War battles and campaigns, is followed by a complete roster and service records of the field officers, staff, and troops that served in the legion. A thorough index completes the volume. Continued below...

Volume XVI of North Carolina Troops: A Roster contains the history and roster of the most unusual North Carolina Confederate Civil War unit, significant because of the large number of Cherokee Indians who served in its ranks. Thomas's Legion was the creation of William Holland Thomas, an influential businessman, state legislator, and Cherokee chief. He initially raised a small battalion of Cherokees in April 1862, and gradually expanded his command with companies of white soldiers raised in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and Virginia. By the end of 1862, Thomas's Legion comprised an infantry regiment and a battalion of infantry and cavalry. An artillery battery was added in April 1863. Furthermore, in General Early's Army of the Valley, the Thomas Legion was well-known for its fighting prowess. It is also known for its pivotal role in the last Civil War battle east of the Mississippi River. The Thomas Legion mustered more than 2,500 soldiers and it closely resembled a brigade. With troop roster, muster records, and Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR) this volume is also a must have for anyone interested in genealogy and researching Civil War ancestors. Simply stated, it is an outstanding source for genealogists.

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