Sunday, February 9, 2014

William W. Swain and the Civil War

Mary M.C. Alexander Swain made claim for lost
property during the civil war. p27
What this one document shares about my 3-Great Grandfather's life is incredible.

Here's the background of this story:
In 1872 my 3rd great grandmother Mary M.C. Swain made a claim for lost property during the civil war. Several of her horses were taken for the conflict and she was trying to get compensated $900.00 for the loss. She went to court and was asked several questions about her past and her husband's [William W. Swain] experience in the war. This page is her response to one of the questions and this is what it says:

"My husband left home and went north to the state of Illinois and there enlisted in the Union Army in the state of Illinois sometime in the fall of 1861, and was in the fight at Fort Henry and Danalson, and soon after that he was taken sick and discharged from the Servis at Cincinatti and then came home about October 1862 and he then went to scouting for the Union Army in this county and on the 14th day of February 1864 he was killed by the Rebels, he was under General Hatch at East Port Miss. when he was killed."

William W. Swain must have felt strongly about the Union's cause to join in the fighting all the way in Illinois. He lived at the time in McNairy, TN, a boundary county between Tennessee and Mississippi. Then, being sick and discharged, he was home only long enough to get well and turned around to serve again where he could. His wife's brother, and a neighbor at the time was said to be a "rebel" and William was a "loyal" which shows how close the conflict came and how intense the feelings were at the time. After reading further, I learned that William's own brother Edwin was killed fighting in the confederate army and five of his nephews (from 3 of his siblings) also fought with the confederates.

An even more interesting part of this document can be found several pages later (p. 32) describing how the confederate army treated Mary and her family upon learning the news of William's enlistment into the Union army.

"In 1861 when my husband first went North and the news came back that he was in the Union Army they threatened to take our land and sell it for the use of the confederate army or government. And in the month of June 1862 Major Houghton of the rebel army came to our house, and told me that if my husband did not come up and deliver himself to the confederate army that he would burn everything we had. And in 1864 some were under Skinner (a rebel commander" came to our house and gave me 10 days to leave in or they would drive me out of my house and burn up the place, and they threatened to take my daughter and hold her in prison until my husband gave himself up to them, but they did not do either."

To see what this document proves about the Swain family line you can go to this post:

Source: Southern Claims Commission, McNairy, TN, Claimant: Mary M. C. Swain, Claim # 17779, 
Date: 12/05/1872, page 27, accessed here on 2/07/2014 There are 43 pages to this document.

Explanation of Southern Claims Commission: NARA M1407. The Southern Claims Commission denied these claims by southerners seeking compensation for property loss. They were barred or disallowed for a number of reasons.

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