Freeman Thomas - 12th US Colored Infantry Veteran from Franklin, Tennessee

Joined
Mar 14, 2016
Messages
47
#1
I wrote this post for my Facebook page on Memorial Day, but just thought that it might interest a few of you as well, so thought I'd share the link. The photographs include additional information - and remember that I'm a complete newbie and my Facebook audience is too! :smile: Its definitely written for amateurs. Feel free to share - its set to public so even if you aren't on FB you should be able to see it. Let me know if you have any trouble. Tina

PS Edited to add -- here's the "guts" of the post - but there are some pictures that you'll miss out on if you don't click on the link -
Freeman Thomas was born in Williamson County in May 1845 and was a slave. He probably ran away when the Civil War broke out and went to Nashville which was under Union occupation beginning in February 1862. When African-Americans were finally allowed to serve in the military as soldiers, not just as laborers, he enlisted in the 12th Infantry of the US Colored Troops on August 12, 1863 along with 50 other men from Williamson County who enlisted in the same unit. This regiment was largely composed of laborers who had been building fortifications around Nashville for the Union Army - such as Fort Negley. The 12th US Colored Infantry provided railroad guard duty at various points in Tennessee and Alabama on the line of the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad until December, 1864. As part of that work they were involved in repulsing Confederate General Hood's attack on Johnsonville on November 2, 4 and 5, 1864. They saw action at Buford's Station, Section 37 of the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad, November 24. They marched to Clarksville, Tenn., and skirmished near there on December 2, 1864. Their most significant fighting was during the Battle of Nashville December 15-16, 1864. They then pursued General Hood to the Tennessee River December 17-28, saw more action at Decatur, Ala., December 27-28. They finished their service by providing railroad guard and garrison duty in the Dept. of the Cumberland until January, 1866. Freeman Thomas was wounded in action at the Battle of Nashville, Dec. 16, 1864 but survived and was honorably discharged on Jan. 16, 1866 with this regiment. I found him next in the 1870 Census living in Limestone, Alabama working as a railroad laborer - presumably a place he had become familiar with during his time in the Army. He marries his wife Pattie there, and by 1880 they have moved back to Williamson County and started their family. They sharecropped and eventually bought a home on Hillsboro Road. Later in life Freeman became a stonemason and bought a second home at 108 Church Street in downtown Franklin - the site of today's Brownstones. His daughter Ola May Thomas Davis attended college and was a school teacher in Franklin. His son T.F Thomas lived in St. Louis with his wife and worked for the Post Office. His son Ed lived in Nashville and worked as a waiter in a hotel. Freeman died at approximately 91 years of age in 1936 and his family had a military headstone installed at the Toussaint L'Overture Cemetery in Franklin, Tennessee his honor. Please be sure to click on the individual pictures for more details about his life.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/set=a.10154117283883346.1073741861.822068345&type=1&l=2e47ada025
 
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civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
3,239
Location
California
#2
Getting an error with Facebook:

"Sorry, this content isn't available right now"​

Nothing displays. I suspect that the link is only valid for your session on your system. I would encourage you to test the link by using a different browser or using an "In Private; incognito" type of a session and past the link there to see if you can open it. If it fails then it is something that will fail on other systems as well.

BTW, you can copy the address of the images directly and then post them here as an image link (or attach them) then viewers here can see and comment directly without having to visit another site. :smile:
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2016
Messages
47
#3
Hmmm. . . that's strange - I've shared it with several other people and its worked fine - but you are right - its not working now. The problem is that sharing the photos loses all the content and the explantation attached. I'll try to figure out another way -- the photos aren't as interesting without my explantation - at least for some of them - like a census record. Here's another link, but I don't know if will work either - https://www.facebook.com/tina.c.jon...10154117283883346.1073741861.822068345&type=3
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2016
Messages
47
#7
I wanted to come back and update this thread. After I wrote Freeman Thomas' story on my Facebook page, his story inspired me to do research on some of the other African American men from this area who served in the US Colored Troops and also in the Navy (as well as the body servants for the Confederate Army of Tennessee). I decided to start collecting their stories and my research in a blog so that I could more easily share them - as you can see from the above comments - the Facebook sharing was not entirely effective. :smile:

I just realized that I hadn't returned here to post his much-expanded story and the results of my continuing research about Freeman Thomas' story.

Since last March I've identified two houses that he built here in Franklin - one of which is still standing - and located a "slave narrative" in which he recounts his life as a slave, a soldier and a free man living during Reconstruction. I feel so privileged to be able to tell his story.
http://usctwillcotn.blogspot.com/2016/06/freeman-thomas-1845-1936-usct-veteran.html
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
6,317
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
#8
I wrote this post for my Facebook page on Memorial Day, but just thought that it might interest a few of you as well, so thought I'd share the link. The photographs include additional information - and remember that I'm a complete newbie and my Facebook audience is too! :smile: Its definitely written for amateurs. Feel free to share - its set to public so even if you aren't on FB you should be able to see it. Let me know if you have any trouble. Tina

PS Edited to add -- here's the "guts" of the post - but there are some pictures that you'll miss out on if you don't click on the link -
Freeman Thomas was born in Williamson County in May 1845 and was a slave. He probably ran away when the Civil War broke out and went to Nashville which was under Union occupation beginning in February 1862. When African-Americans were finally allowed to serve in the military as soldiers, not just as laborers, he enlisted in the 12th Infantry of the US Colored Troops on August 12, 1863 along with 50 other men from Williamson County who enlisted in the same unit. This regiment was largely composed of laborers who had been building fortifications around Nashville for the Union Army - such as Fort Negley. The 12th US Colored Infantry provided railroad guard duty at various points in Tennessee and Alabama on the line of the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad until December, 1864. As part of that work they were involved in repulsing Confederate General Hood's attack on Johnsonville on November 2, 4 and 5, 1864. They saw action at Buford's Station, Section 37 of the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad, November 24. They marched to Clarksville, Tenn., and skirmished near there on December 2, 1864. Their most significant fighting was during the Battle of Nashville December 15-16, 1864. They then pursued General Hood to the Tennessee River December 17-28, saw more action at Decatur, Ala., December 27-28. They finished their service by providing railroad guard and garrison duty in the Dept. of the Cumberland until January, 1866. Freeman Thomas was wounded in action at the Battle of Nashville, Dec. 16, 1864 but survived and was honorably discharged on Jan. 16, 1866 with this regiment. I found him next in the 1870 Census living in Limestone, Alabama working as a railroad laborer - presumably a place he had become familiar with during his time in the Army. He marries his wife Pattie there, and by 1880 they have moved back to Williamson County and started their family. They sharecropped and eventually bought a home on Hillsboro Road. Later in life Freeman became a stonemason and bought a second home at 108 Church Street in downtown Franklin - the site of today's Brownstones. His daughter Ola May Thomas Davis attended college and was a school teacher in Franklin. His son T.F Thomas lived in St. Louis with his wife and worked for the Post Office. His son Ed lived in Nashville and worked as a waiter in a hotel. Freeman died at approximately 91 years of age in 1936 and his family had a military headstone installed at the Toussaint L'Overture Cemetery in Franklin, Tennessee his honor. Please be sure to click on the individual pictures for more details about his life.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/set=a.10154117283883346.1073741861.822068345&type=1&l=2e47ada025

OCTOBER 18 and 21, 1864.--Raids on the Nashville and Northwestern
Railroad, Tenn.

Report of Lieut. William L. Clark, Twelfth U. S. Colored
Infantry, Assistant Inspector Railroad Defenses.

OFFICER ASST. INSPECTOR RAILROAD DEFENSES,
DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Eastern Section Nashville and N. W. Railroad, Section 20,
October 25, 1864.
SIR: In compliance with instructions received yesterday from your
office, dated October 22, I have the honor to report the following
particulars of the attack upon trains at section 36, Nashville and
Northwestern Railroad, on the morning of the 18th instant; also, on the
afternoon of the 21st instant:
The track repairers at section 36 were taken prisoners by McNary's
gang (variously estimated at from 15 to 40 men, while some place the
number at exactly 23) on the night of the 17th, about 12 o'clock, and
held till late on the following morning, and made by McNary to draw
the spikes from a rail and remove the fastenings at its end so as to be
loose. The gang then drew back from observation, and in this condition
of affairs the first a. m. train passed safely by them, except that a
shower of bullets was poured in, which wounded a surgeon, Hogle,
Engineer E. Andrews, and killed a boy, who was cook and brakeman,
dead on the bunk, where he happened to by lying. The second a. m.
train came to the loose rail and ran off; the engineer and fireman were
wounded. Everybody was stripped of whatever money, watches, or
valuables they had which pleased the fancy of the robbers. The
locomotive was upset and slightly injured by cutting places with axes.
One box-car was burned, but their efforts to burn the flat-cars loaded
with iron, which composed the balance of the train, were not successful,
and these were slightly injured. The third train, loaded with sawed
timber from Ayres' saw-mill at section 29, ran up and was fired into.
All hands jumped off and were robbed, except Engineer W. H. Stevens,
who ran the train back to section 32, White Bluffs, in safety. Mean time
the first train, Civil Conductor Charles White, arrived at Sneedville, and
Col. Murphy, who was on board, had the telegrapher, G. W.
Leedon, send a dispatch to Lieut. Orr, at White Bluff's, to come on
with his cavalry. The dispatch was promptly obeyed, and Lieut. Orr
arrived with twenty-five men twenty minutes after the gang had taken
their departure, and pursued them a short distance unsuccessfully, and
his horses being tired and inferior he returned. A wrecking train was
dispatched with hands from Gillem's Station, section 51, to clear the
road, and Lieut. Cox, with a detachment of Company B, One
hundredth U. S. Colored Infantry, and Capt. Frost, with a detachment
from companies of the Twelfth U. S. Colored Infantry from Sullivan's
Branch, were sent to section 36, and the road made clear on the
following morning, 19th instant.

Again on the 21st instant, as the p. m. train for Johnsonville was
passing section 36, it was signaled by the section foreman, whose cook
had informed him she had seen men tearing up the track. Capt. O.
B. Simmons, military conductor, had the train stopped, and with his
large train guard pursued the bushwhackers, whose numbers could not
be ascertained, for a considerable distance, but as they were mounted
the pursuit was unavailing. Civil Conductor Charles White fastened
down the rail and the train passed on. Afterward the gang returned and
burned the house and commissary of the section foreman, who lay
in the bushes in sight. They also burned nearly all the negro and other
dwelling along the railroad for two miles. Piles of wood at sections 38
and 39 were burned, and various estimates placed the loss in wood at
from 3,000 to 15,000 cords. The wood being in several ranks close to
the road many ties were burned at the ends, and the rails warped by the
intense heat, so that the 3 o'clock train for Nashville could not pass.
The telegraph operator at Sneedville called operator at White Bluffs,
section 32, and while calling the line was cut before getting and
answer. Capt. J. W. Dickins, at Sneedville, went to the burning
wood with part of this company, and arrived in time to hear the
retreating bushwhackers laughing and talking, but was not able at that
time (11 o'clock night) to do anything, and returned to Sneedville. On
the 22d Military Conductor Capt. Van Skike, from Nashville, found
out the condition of the road at sections 38 and 39, and took a detail up
from White Bluffs and repaired the road as soon as possible so that
trains ran through on the 23d of October.

I have made no delay in gathering the materials from authentic sources
for this report, and hope it may prove acceptable.

WILLIAM L. CLARK,
First Lieut., Twelfth U. S. Colored Infantry,
Division Inspector Eastern Section Nashville and Northwestern R. R.

Maj. JAMES R. WILLETT,
First U. S. Vet. Vol. Engrs., and Chief Insp. Railroad Defenses.


Source: Official Records
CHAP. LI.] RAIDS ON NORTHWESTERN RAILROAD, TENN. PAGE 877-77
[Series I. Vol. 39. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 77.]

*********************************************************************************

Nashville, TN after battle report:

Report of Capt. Henry Hegner, Twelfth U. S. Colored Troops, of operations
December 15, 1864--January 21, 1865.

HDQRS. TWELFTH REGT. U. S. COLORED INFANTRY,
Kingston, Springs, Tenn., February 4, 1865.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the
Twelfth Regt. U. S. Colored Infantry during the last campaign in
Tennessee and Alabama:

During the battle of Nashville, on the 16th day of December, 1864, while
charging a battery near the Franklin pike, Maj. A. J. Finch, commanding
Twelfth Regt. U. S. Colored Infantry, was severely wounded, and the
command of the regiment devolved on be by virtue of seniority. At the time
I assumed command the regiment had been repulsed and a few minutes
partially disorganized. With the assistance of the other officers I reformed
the regiment, and in accordance with orders from brigade headquarters, took
position a short distance to the left and rear of the portion of the
battle-ground on which we
had fought, and remained in that position until ordered to advance and take
position on the left of the army. On the 17th of December we moved
forward to Franklin. On the 18th we marched out with the army, but after
proceedings a few miles we received orders to countermarch, and returning
through Franklin marched across the country toward Murfreesborough,
where we arrived on 21st day of December. On the 23d, 24th, 25th, and
26th, we moved by railroad, via Stevenson and Huntsville, to a point on the
Memphis and Charleston Railroad, where, the bridges having been burned,
we had to leave the cars and march toward the Tennessee River, where we
arrived at daybreak on the morning of the 27th. The regiment crossed the
river in transports and landed on a small peninsula, being the first regiment
to land south of the river. In accordance with orders received from brigade
headquarters I immediately threw four companies, under command of
Capt. A. M. Bowdle, across a deep bayou, to be deployed as skirmishers
and cover the construction of a bridge, which was soon completed, when the
remaining companies crossed and were deployed as skirmishers, the enemy
having in the meantime opened the engagement with cavalry and artillery.
After some lively skirmishing, in which we lost very little, we advanced
gradually, and occupied Decatur, Ala., at 6 p.m. On the evening of the 28th
of December we resumed the march, and arrived at Courtland on the 30th,
and marched on 31st beyond Jonesborough.

On the 1st day of January we marched to and occupied La Grange. On the
2d we moved back to Jonesborough, where we arrived on the 3d, and
marched on the 4th and 5th to Courtland, and arrived at Decatur on the 7th;
crossed the Tennessee River on the pontoon bridge and got on the cars on
the 8th; arrived in Stevenson about midnight, after having a skirmish with
some guerrillas, who had placed obstructions on the track and demanded the
surrender of the train. On the 9th the regiment proceeded by rail to
Nashville, where it remained until the 20th, on which day it marched for this
point and arrived here on the 21st of January, 1865.

Casualties: It is my painful duty to record the death of Capt. Robert
Headen and Lieut. Dennis Dease, also the murder of Lieut. D. G.
Cooke by men of Forrest's command. Commissioned officers killed, 3;
wounded, 3. Enlisted men killed, 10; wounded, 99.

The severity of the weather, want of transportation, tents, and blankets, the
passage of numerous streams, and the hardships incident to a winter
campaign, have had a serious effect on the men of the regiment. Many of the
men have been left at various points along the route through sickness.

The conduct of the officers has been so good that I feel it would be injustice
to mention one and not remain all. Among the enlisted men I must mention
Corpl. Miner Carter, Company C, who took up the national colors after two
of the color-bearers had been shot down; also, Private E. Steel, Company
I, who took the regimental colors, and, after the regiment was falling back,
remained alone in the open field, in spite of the murderous fire of the
enemy, until called by his officers to return.

Losses in battle, sickness, severe exposure, have lessened our number
materially, but a little rest and our regiment will soon have its ranks filled
up again with tried soldiers on the field of battle.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY HEGNER,
Capt., Cmdg. Regt.

Lieut. T. L. SEXTON,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Brigade U. S. Colored Infantry.

Source: Official Records
PAGE 546-93 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. [CHAP. LVII.
[Series I. Vol. 45. Part I, Reports, Correspondence, Etc. Serial No. 93.]
 
Joined
May 28, 2015
Messages
427
#9
The second link worked for me -- I was signed into Facebook when I clicked it, does that make a difference?

I'm always interested in the men of the US Colored Troops, especially when I see such thorough work as yours. Nice job!

Freeman Cruthers a/k/a Freeman Thomas received a Civil War Pension which he was awarded fairly early on in 1878, when the applicant had to prove a degree of disability (it didn't have to be total disability) directly related to his War service. I suspect his wound in battle was the basis for his claim. Do you have this file? These files usually contain interesting personal information about the applicant. It might be obtainable in Washington DC.

Also do you have his Carded Medical Service Records which are in the National Archives in DC? It looks like you have his entire Carded Civil War Service Record, which is online on Ancestry and fold3 now, true?

Finally, I don't see a memorial to him on findagrave.com, which is totally free and more accessible by descendants and researchers than familysearch.org or ancestry.com. If you register as a contributor, you can make a memorial and post a photo of his gravestone and cemetery entrance and s few other photos that you choose and add a brief bio. You can also make a "virtual cemetery" for all the USCT soldiers you research, designating it either public or private. A virtual cemetery on findagrave is an easily accessible page that contains links to all the findagrave memorials in a group that define. I make a virtual cemetery fir every research project, which enables me to quickly bring up any memorial in the group with out a search -- they are kind of like bookmarks organized into files.

As a researcher, I make memorials for soldiers if someone else hasn't done it already and if I know where he is buried. I add the basic information I have found, such as dates and places of birth and death, parents, spouses and children Civil War service info (rank Co. & Regm't + dates), etc. Even if no one else ever sees it, it's a quick research summary accessible to me anywhere I have my phone and I refer to these memorials all the time. My hope in doing this also is that family and other researchers will discover their ancestor, his burial place and his service thru findagrave.com.

Please keep up posted here as you do more of this;-)


.
 
Joined
May 28, 2015
Messages
427
#10
I looked at the 1910 census for Freeman H Thomas that you posted on facebook. I found the image in www.familysearch.org, enlarged it and was able to read his occupation as Mason, dealing with "Rock" (I think most people today would say "stone"), apparantly selfemployed. Doesn't being a stone mason require special skill to select stones and fit them together so they are secure in a wall or fence? Interesting.
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2016
Messages
47
#11
Thank you so much to everyone for all of the good information, tips and suggestions! East Tennessee Roots - I'm particularly excited by the notation in your information about the 12th USCI "On the 17th of December we moved
forward to Franklin. On the 18th we marched out with the army, but after proceeding a few miles we received orders to countermarch, and returning through Franklin marched across the country toward Murfreesborough, where we arrived on 21st day of December." I have found several references to this and am working on a presentation I'm giving in February that will focus on this particular aspect of Hood's retreat and their pursuit by the US Army - including the USCT. I love the imagery of the African American men from Williamson County who had been enslaved here now being part of the forces pushing some of the very men who had enslaved them out of this part of the country. I have found a few references in the military records to some of the USCI soldiers being left in hospitals here in Franklin on December 18th - and I am trying to figure out where that hospital would have been. I also found a reference in Colonel T.J. Morgan’s memoir after the war [he was one of the officers of the USCT - he recruited the men of the 14th USCI in Gallatin and was in charge of several brigades during the Battle of Nashville and during Hood’s retreat] it contains this incredible paragraph about a day - I’m suspecting this was also Dec. 18th when they were passing through Franklin - and as his men were marching they see General Thomas ahead and they snap to attention and whistle “John Brown is mouldering in his grave” - Can you imagine? Additionally, another one of the men I'm researching - Granville Scales - who I have another post about states in his pension record that he had been taken as a POW and brought to Franklin. When the US troops arrived in Franklin on the 17th/18th of December he was rescued and sent back to Nashville. Incredible - I'm working behind the scenes to bulk up some of my research about that aspect of his story. And Suzanne A - that's a great idea about Findagrave -- I am a member but haven't ever created a memorial - I use my membership to send other people information and edits. But I hadn't thought to look to see if he had one. I will create one! I'm working with our local SUV group and they have added all the men I have found to their database. So far I'm up to close to 300 USCT veterans. Thank you all for your suggestions - I'm going to follow up on all of them!
Andrew Ewing 12th USCI left sick in hospital in Franklin.jpg
Andrew Ewing 12th USCI left sick in hospital in Franklin.jpg
General Morgan description of Hoods Retreat usct saluting Gen Thomas.png
General Morgan description of Hoods Retreat usct saluting Gen Thomas.png
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2016
Messages
47
#13
Freeman Cruthers a/k/a Freeman Thomas received a Civil War Pension which he was awarded fairly early on in 1878, when the applicant had to prove a degree of disability (it didn't have to be total disability) directly related to his War service. I suspect his wound in battle was the basis for his claim. Do you have this file? These files usually contain interesting personal information about the applicant. It might be obtainable in Washington DC.


Finally, I don't see a memorial to him on findagrave.com, which is totally free and more accessible by descendants and researchers than familysearch.org or ancestry.com. If you register as a contributor, you can make a memorial and post a photo of his gravestone and cemetery entrance and s few other photos that you choose and add a brief bio. You can also make a "virtual cemetery" for all the USCT soldiers you research, designating it either public or private. A virtual cemetery on findagrave is an easily accessible page that contains links to all the findagrave memorials in a group that define. I make a virtual cemetery fir every research project, which enables me to quickly bring up any memorial in the group with out a search -- they are kind of like bookmarks organized into files.

.
I'm back with an update! Your post reminded me to check - and while I have MANY pensions for the guys I'm researching I did not have Freeman's and I can't believe I overlooked that - so I quickly dialed up my usual Washington DC based researcher and ordered one up and I received an e-mailed file last week. Full of great info - including that he was shot in the ankle in John Overton's wood lot during the Battle of Nashville. (I love that visual.) And some statements on his behalf by other USCT veterans in our town who were not on my list - so that's exciting! And some sad details about how frail he had become late in life. But also some wonderful descriptions of his funeral - the American Legion applied to have an American flag drape his casket - and veterans from two wars were his pallbearers. So thank you so much for that nudge! Also, I did go ahead and add his Find-A-Grave memorial. Also thank you! Here's the link again with all the new images added. And I STILL can't find him in the 1920 Census - I swear, when I get to heaven I'm going to say a quick hello to my friends and family and then I'm going to have list of people to talk to and Freeman Thomas is going to be at the top of the list! "Is there a Freeman Thomas in the house? I'd like to have a few minutes with him, please? And his parents and his sister Mary if she's available, please?" ha!
http://usctwillcotn.blogspot.com/2016/06/freeman-thomas-1845-1936-usct-veteran.html
 



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