My third great grandfather John England served in Company K, 5th Tennessee Infantry (Union). The thrust of his pension application was that he suffered injuries in the Civil War during his escape from prison.
He was a recruiting officer in East Tennessee for the Union army. The problem was that Tennessee was a Confederate state and East Tennessee was under Confederate control at the time. So from the Confederate point of view, he was committing treason. He was captured and sentenced to death.
While in jail in Clinton, Anderson County, Tennessee he escaped by jumping out a second floor window and then floating down the Clinch River on a plank. His legs were badly injured in the jump from the second floor. He left the river when he reached the farms of friends in the Scarbrough community. His friends provided him with food and water, and helped him hide from Confederate soldiers who were looking for him. He ultimately escaped by disguising himself in women's clothes.
His oldest daughter helped him destroy his recruiting papers in attempt to hide the fact that he was a Union recruiting officer. His oldest daughter was my second great grandmother Vesta Clay England.
The ironic fact is that from the Confederate point of view, those recruiting papers were proof of his treason. But from a Union point of view, the absence of those recruiting papers would be proof that he was a deserter. So being a recruiter in what was then enemy territory was very much a case of being between a rock and a hard place.
However, there were depositions that disputed this story, and that said that John England's injuries had occurred before the war and were not the result of his war service.
This page last edited on 12 Mar 2009.