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Gwinn Inzer Jones McClellan Smith

Letter From J. F. Smith, Como, Texas, About Capture At Missionary Ridge And Murder Of William McClellan.

I am one of a very few left of Company F, 58th Alabama Infantry, which regiment was organized at Mobile in 1862, S. D. McClellan, captain, Bush Jones, colonel, and J. W. Inzer, now living at Ashville, Ala., lieutenant colonel. In the fall of 1862 we were transferred to the Tennessee Army and were engaged in the battle of Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, and Missionary Ridge, many of this regiment being captured at the last-named battle. We were held over at the car sheds in Chattanooga one night, and the next night we spent just north of the Tennessee River after crossing on a pontoon bridge. We then marched to Bridgeport and were loaded into some bax cars like a lot of cattle, our destination being Rock Island prison. We stopped off one night in Nashville, and were confined in what was then known as the old "Zollicaffer House."

And here I have to record one of the most unprovoked acts of brutality I have ever witnessed. While William McClellan, third sergeant of our company, was leaning out of a window in the second or third story, some one from the street, without provocation, shot him through the head and killed him instantly. He was carried down the stairs by myself and others and placed on some lumber in an outhouse, and we never learned who shot him, or what excuse was made for shooting him, or where he was buried.

We reached Rock Island about December 1, 1863, and there many of us remained for sixteen or eighteen months, where every disease known to the army was prevalent, causing the death of about 2,000 of the boys. I left Rock Island on March 20, 1865, with a squad of about five hundred, and reached Richmond just as the place was being evacuated. I was paroled there, and got home to Jacksonville, Ala., about the time Lee's surrender.

I have been in Texas since 1866, and know of only three others besides myself of our old company now living. These are my two brothers E. M. Smith, of Alba, Tex., N. E. Smith, of Lockney, Tex., and Ben Gwinn, of Gadsden, Ala. There may be others living, but these are all I know of. E. M. Smith is now eighty-five years old, I will be eighty next January, and N. E. Smith was seventy-seven last May.

I will be glad to hear from any of the old company or regiment that may be living. My object mainly in writing this was to record the cowardly murder of Sergeant McClellan, who was one of the best soldiers it was my pleasure to know. The three Smiths mentioned were reared near Jacksonville, Ala.

SOURCE: Confederate Veteran Magazine, November. 1922.

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