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Picture and info provided by Jerry Stephens

Walter Lea

Walter L. Lea born abt. 1830 in Bledsoe County, Tennessee and died 11 Dec 1899 in DeKalb County, Alabama.   He married 1st Sarah Barns and 2nd Margret E. (Troxell) Wade.  He had nine children.

Walter served in Company C as a blacksmith.

Information and picture below was provided by James David Durham:

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My grandmother was named Tennessee Lea Durham.  She is the daughter of Walter Lea. According to his service records that I found on microfilm at the Chattanooga Public Library, Walter Lea was born in Bledsoe Co. Tenn, at age thirty-three years was mustered into company C. First Regiment Alabama and Tennessee Independent Vidette Cavalry as a blacksmith on September 19th 1863 at Stevenson Al. He mustered out on June 16th 1864 at Stevenson AL. Walter Lea also appears on the 1860 DeKalb Co. census.   Not much else is known about his time in the war except the stories that my grandmother used to tell me.  Some of what she said is documented in a book entitled Trailing Smokes a History of the Ider School District written by Mrs. Berthel Adams published by The College Press Collegedale Tenn. 1973.  In the 1973 interview my grandmother said “My father Walter Lea Sr. fought in the civil war on the north side.  He lived about three miles west of Double Bridges during the time.  At night he hid out to sleep.  He slept cold most nights.  The night he slept the warmest was when he was on a brush pile wrapped up in a blanket; it came a snow and covered him up.  He heard the Yankee bugles over at the top of the mountain, ran into the house to get his clothes then went to join them”.

 The accounts that my grandmother gave at that time seemed vague and incomplete.  I knew that the stories were second hand to her since she wasn’t born for many years after the fact and that her father died shortly after her birth, I often wondered to myself how much truth was in the tale; It wasn’t until a few years after her death when I started to do my own research that I discovered the realism of her words.

 According to the book Civil War and Reconstruction; in Alabama (page80) by the close of 1862 volunteer enlistment into the confederate army in Alabama had run its course and new regiments were being raised through the Bureau of Conscription.  To be conscripted meant forced entrance into the Confederate army and most likely your service time would be spent somewhere in Virginia.  To escape this many men in northeast Alabama who were either loyal to the union or felt they had nothing to gain by serving the Confederacy hid out for months at a time bearing the elements to avoid this oppression.  Even after the loyal men joined the Union army bearing the elements did not get any easier; Lt. Allen Lea states in pension request for Louisa Craze that her husband James Craze was a sergeant in his company (company C First A & TVC) that he died on or about Jan 3rd 1864 of disease brought on by change of diet and exposure in bad weather without tents or shelter in time of cold and rain.  Even after their service time these loyal men again had to take to the woods to escape certain death from renegade Confederate Home Guard Units.  These Home Guards did in fact threaten and kill many loyal men in this area.  A report from a newspaper entitled The Nashville Daily Union dated Feb 21 1865 stated [McCurdy, Macy, who had taken the oath, was shot in the throat and left a naked corpse in the road by guerrillas under Captains Witherspoon and Davenport. Macklin McCurdy had been a sergeant in company B 1st A&TVC.  He was mustered out of service on June 16th 1864, eight months before he was murdered as a civilian.

 As to the part about Walter Lea hearing the Yankee bugles this never held any special significance to me until I ran across a diary by Chesley A. Mosman 59th Ill. Infantry entitled The Rough Side of War.  In his account of crossing Sand Mnt in early Sept. 1863 he speaks of marching off of the mountain and going into camp at the foot near two springs.   The gap where he marched down the mountain is believed to be Snake Gap and is within three or four miles of Walter Lea’s home; it was the Sept. 4th entry that really grabbed my attention.  It states “I was awakened at 3 am by a tremendous chorus of bugles, all the cavalry bugles blowing at once and some say there is a division of cavalry here.  I know there is a brigade of them.  The blast lasted for thirty minutes it seemed to a sleepy fellow”………….maybe Tennessee Lea Durham did know what she was talking about.



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