The Shelton Laurel Massacre

TnFed

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#61
I was looking at post 55 where Allen and Keith were making purchases from ordinance. And you mention it looked like they were taking a trip. I see no mention of Garrett nor have I heard of him bring linked to the killings in any reports I have seen.

However most of my research is in the southern part of NC. So I could be wrong, though if Garrett was there, it does not seem that he gets any blame from the newspaper articles or other correspondence. Have you uncovered any allegations he was in fact there?
 

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#62
True, that there is no record in Garrett's files showing him being issued stores at that time in Knoxville. He may have not needed any; or he may have been with part of the 64th somewhere between Knoxville and Greeneville.

For what it's worth, in his March 17th letter, Keith said that on January 19th, "Capt Nelson with his Co" accompanied by Col Allen Maj Garrett, Capt Anderson and perhaps some other officers – of the infantry command, together with a detail of some 8 or 10 men from the infantry left the Encampment taking with them the prisoners above alluded to . . . It is said & I suppose correctly so that the prisoners were shot, but it was not done till after a general consultation with the principal officers present, who all concurred in the matter. The shooting was not done by my order, but before the prisoners were carried off it was understood what disposition would be of them – The shooting was considered a military necessity, and absolutely necessary in order that the rebellion might be put down and to protect the loyal citizens of that country, as well as strictly carrying out the orders of Gen Heth herebefore mentioned."

Brig. Gen. Davis, in Jan. [about the 30th], from Warm Springs, wrote to Gov. Vance, "I have placed Maj. [W. N.] Garrett, Sixty-fourth North Carolina Volunteers, in charge of a force of about 200 of his regiment, one company of cavalry, and 30 Indians, which force is now on Laurel Creek. Major Garrett has orders to pursue and arrest every man in the mountains, of known bad character, whether engaged in any of the late outrages or not. the will be aided by six companies of cavalry, scouring the mountain regions in Washington, Carter, and Johnson Counties, Tennessee." [O.R.]

Keith, in a letter to Allen stated that before he left Laurel, he turned over supplies and left Maj. Garrett in command of the 64th detachment. [Keith was back in Knoxville by Feb. 10th] There are numerous letters in Gov. Vance's papers that refer to Maj. Garrett on Laurel in February. [Gov. Vance Papers, microfilm]

With the info we have at present, I don't think we can say for sure if Garrett was there on the 19th or not. Col. Keith says he was, but can we trust everything Keith had to say? Too many questions - not enough answers.
 
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#63
Below is Solicitor Augustus Merrimon's first report to Governor Vance on the Shelton Laurel killing, from the OR. Underlining is mine. Notice Merrimon does not name his sources, and is uncertain of a few details.




<ar118_839>
[Inclosure.]
ASHEVILLE, N. C., February 16, 1863.
Governor Z. B. VANCE, Raleigh, N. C.
GOVERNOR: Your letter of the 9th instant is just received. I beg to assure you that I shall at the next term of the court prosecute vigorously such of the prisoners to whom you direct my attention as may be turned over to the civil authorities. The late expedition to Laurel sent only four prisoners to jail and one of them was admitted to bail on yesterday by Judge Bailey. I understand there are no more to send. I have no knowledge of my own touching the shooting of several prisoners on Laurel. I have learned, however, from a most reliable source that thirteen of them were killed; that some of them were not taken in arms but at their homes; that of all the men shot thirteen if not more were prisoners at the time they were shot; that they were taken off to a secluded cove or gorge in the mountains and then made to kneel down and were thus shot. One man was badly and mortally shot in the bowels and while he was writhing in agony and praying to God for mercy a soldier mercilessly and brutally shot him in the head with his pistol. Several women were whipped.
This I learn from one who got his information from some of the guilty parties. I learn that all this was done by order of Lieut. Col. James A. Keith. I know not what you intend doing with the guilty parties, but I suggest they are all guilty of murder. I do not suppose they had any order to do so barbarous a deed, but if they had the order was void absolutely, no matter by whom issued. Such savage and barbarous cruelty is without a parallel in this State and I hope in every other. I am gratified that you intend to take the matter in hand. I will make such investigation as I can, but I have no means of compelling any one to disclose facts to me. It will not be difficult I learn to prove that the prisoners were killed. I assure you that I will prosecute all persons who have committed criminal offenses in this circuit at the next term of the court and in the meantime I will do all in my power to suppress crime and violence. These are fearfully on the increase in this section of the State. A report might be made that would astonish you. I have done all I could in reference to the complaints made to you from Jackson and Cherokee Counties.
* * * * * * * * * *​
I am, &c., yours, truly,
A. S. MERRIMON.
-----
 
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#64
Below is the second report of Merrimon to Governor Vance from the OR. I have underlined numerous uncertain facts, and made bold, "One thing is certain." Merrimon had terrible handwriting. The name Sipus is actually Lifus (short for Eliphus). Joseph Cleandren is actually Jasper Chandler. Merrimon could not learn much about the Confederates who shot the prisoners, but did learn many details of the victims, so I would guess his informant would have been a relative or neighbor of those killed?


<ar118_836>
ASHEVILLE, N. C., February 24, 1863.
[Hon. Z. B. VANCE.]
GOVERNOR: In obedience to your direction to do so I have made inquiries and gathered facts such as I could in reference to the shooting of certain prisoners on Laurel Creek, in Madison County. I have to report to you that I learn that the militia troops had nothing to do with what was done on Laurel. Thirteen prisoners at least were killed by order of Lieut. Col. J. A. Keith. Most of them were taken at their homes and none of them made resistance when taken. Perhaps some of them ran. After they were taken prisoners the soldiers took them off to a secluded place, made them kneel down and shot them. They were buried in a trench dug for the purpose. Some two weeks since their bodies were removed to a graveyard. I learn that probably eight of the thirteen killed were not in the company that robbed Marshall and other places. I suppose they were shot on suspicion. I cannot learn the names of the soldiers who shot them. Some of them shrank from the barbarous and brutal transaction at first, but were compelled to act. This is a list of the names of those killed:
Elison King (desperate man), Jo. Woods (desperate man), Will Shelton (twenty years old, [son] of Sipus), Aronnata Shelton (fourteen years old, [son] of Sipus, not at Marshall), James Shelton (Old Jim, about fifty-six years old), James Shelton, jr. (seventeen years old), David Shelton (thirteen years old, was not in the raid), James Madcap (forty years old, was not in the raid), Rod Shelton (Stob Rod, was not in the raid), David Shelton (brother of Stob Rod, was not in the raid), Joseph Cleandren (fifteen or sixteen years old, was not in the raid), Halen Moore (twenty-five or thirty years old, was not in the raid), Wade Moore, twenty or twenty-five years old, was not in the raid.
It is said that those whose names I have so marked did not go to Marshall. The prisoners were captured on one Friday and killed the next Monday. Several women were severely whipped and ropes were tied around their necks. It is said Col. L. M. Allen was not in command and that Keith commanded. Four prisoners are now in jail, sent here as I learn by order of General Davis. These are Sipus Shelton, Isaac Shelton, William Norton and David Shelton, son of Sipus.
I think the facts stated are about true. One thing is certain, thirteen prisoners were killed--shot without trial or any hearing whatever and in the most cruel manner. I have no means of compelling witnesses to disclose facts to me and I do not know that I shall be able to make a fuller report to Your Excellency at any early day. I hope these facts will enable you to take such steps as will result in a more satisfactory development of the true state of the matter.
I am, &c., yours, truly,
A. S. MERRIMON.
-----
 

Yankeedave

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#65
I wonder what it is that makes the events of the Shelton Laurel so fascinating to folks. Especially those of us, whose ancestors are from Western NC. Don't get me wrong, the death of even one human is tragic, but we are speaking of a war whose casualties well exceed 620,000. Fights where rebs and yanks killed more than 13 all the time. Another thing I wonder about...Trotter says that the mountains of East TN and West NC are not only contiguous but the people alike in their political and economic divisions, so that it might be well regarded as a single theater of war. However, I feel that Unionist sentiment in West NC was quite minimal compared to East TN. So why would so many ex NC Confederates move to East TN after the war. Hard to figure.
Regards, TnFed.
I had never heard of it before!
 

1NCCAV

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#66
They were also known to lift some hair.
I think there was only one scalping incident. It was in 1862 at Baptist Gap, Tennessee. Some members of the Cherokeee Battalion were enraged over Lieutenant Astooga Stoga's death. He was the grandson of Junaluska. But apparently the scalping incident gave the Cherokee Battalion quite a reputation because it's mentioned every time Thomas' Legion is brought up.
 
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1NCCAV

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#67
I feel that Unionist sentiment in West NC was quite minimal compared to East TN.
It may have been minimal compared to East Tennessee. Author Terrell Garren claims Unionism was vastly overstated in the mountains and gives some figures to back up his argument. But it was still prevalent enough to be noticeable. Macon County raised K Company, 1st North Carolina Cavalry for the Confederacy and yet two of my Macon County ancestors went to Tennessee and joined the Union. It was that kind of war in that region.
 
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1NCCAV

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#68
I wonder what it is that makes the events of the Shelton Laurel so fascinating to folks. Especially those of us, whose ancestors are from Western NC. Don't get me wrong, the death of even one human is tragic, but we are speaking of a war whose casualties well exceed 620,000. Fights where rebs and yanks killed more than 13 all the time.
Perhaps because there were no big battles in that region and so the skirmishes and bushwackings were significant for the locals? And so that significance becomes prominent in local lore and gets passed down to their descendants?
 
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Zella

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#71
I guess it's the animosity in a close nit community that keep it going. Of course you also have the story of Tom Dula "legend of Tom Dooley" that is still retold and debated in Western NC also.
If my family is anything to go by, folks in Western Carolina would win gold medals in the Olympics of grudge-holding every year. :bounce:
 
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#74
Below is the second report of Merrimon to Governor Vance from the OR. I have underlined numerous uncertain facts, and made bold, "One thing is certain." Merrimon had terrible handwriting. The name Sipus is actually Lifus (short for Eliphus). Joseph Cleandren is actually Jasper Chandler. Merrimon could not learn much about the Confederates who shot the prisoners, but did learn many details of the victims, so I would guess his informant would have been a relative or neighbor of those killed?


<ar118_836>
ASHEVILLE, N. C., February 24, 1863.
[Hon. Z. B. VANCE.]
GOVERNOR: In obedience to your direction to do so I have made inquiries and gathered facts such as I could in reference to the shooting of certain prisoners on Laurel Creek, in Madison County. I have to report to you that I learn that the militia troops had nothing to do with what was done on Laurel. Thirteen prisoners at least were killed by order of Lieut. Col. J. A. Keith. Most of them were taken at their homes and none of them made resistance when taken. Perhaps some of them ran. After they were taken prisoners the soldiers took them off to a secluded place, made them kneel down and shot them. They were buried in a trench dug for the purpose. Some two weeks since their bodies were removed to a graveyard. I learn that probably eight of the thirteen killed were not in the company that robbed Marshall and other places. I suppose they were shot on suspicion. I cannot learn the names of the soldiers who shot them. Some of them shrank from the barbarous and brutal transaction at first, but were compelled to act. This is a list of the names of those killed:
Elison King (desperate man), Jo. Woods (desperate man), Will Shelton (twenty years old, [son] of Sipus), Aronnata Shelton (fourteen years old, [son] of Sipus, not at Marshall), James Shelton (Old Jim, about fifty-six years old), James Shelton, jr. (seventeen years old), David Shelton (thirteen years old, was not in the raid), James Madcap (forty years old, was not in the raid), Rod Shelton (Stob Rod, was not in the raid), David Shelton (brother of Stob Rod, was not in the raid), Joseph Cleandren (fifteen or sixteen years old, was not in the raid), Halen Moore (twenty-five or thirty years old, was not in the raid), Wade Moore, twenty or twenty-five years old, was not in the raid.
It is said that those whose names I have so marked did not go to Marshall. The prisoners were captured on one Friday and killed the next Monday. Several women were severely whipped and ropes were tied around their necks. It is said Col. L. M. Allen was not in command and that Keith commanded. Four prisoners are now in jail, sent here as I learn by order of General Davis. These are Sipus Shelton, Isaac Shelton, William Norton and David Shelton, son of Sipus.
I think the facts stated are about true. One thing is certain, thirteen prisoners were killed--shot without trial or any hearing whatever and in the most cruel manner. I have no means of compelling witnesses to disclose facts to me and I do not know that I shall be able to make a fuller report to Your Excellency at any early day. I hope these facts will enable you to take such steps as will result in a more satisfactory development of the true state of the matter.
I am, &c., yours, truly,
A. S. MERRIMON.
-----
@Rebforever and @CSA Today ,
You might find this thread interesting . You guys always want more evidence that Confederate soldiers tortured women. Well here you go.
Leftyhunter
 
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#78
In Asheville, NC in May 1865, 4 (possibly 5) Union soldiers were executed for the rape of a young girl, and beating her aunt and uncle.
Of course the major difference is the Union Army punished their soldiers for barbaric acts vs the Confederate Army and or Militia which did not.
Leftyhunter
 



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