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Private Eugene Terrill Kingsley

Eugene Terrill Kingsley
Company B, Infantry Battalion

The sad story of Eugene Kingsley is representative of the fates of so many young men who marched off to war in 1861 with illusions of martial grandeur. Many of these young men had been raised in rural environments and, as a result, had never developed immunities to the many killer diseases which were prevalent in their time. Thrown together in unsanitary camps with many other young men and exposed to bad water and the elements, they died in droves. One is reminded of the scene in "Gone with the Wind" where Scarlett receives the telegram telling her that her new husband, Major Charles Hamilton, has died of measles shortly after going off to war. Such is the story of Eugene Kingsley.

Eugene Terrill Kingsley was born October 8th, 1842 in Anderson District, South Carolina to Chester B Kingsley (a native of Lucerne County, Pennsylvania) and Emmaline Frances Broyles from Asheville District, South Carolina. Early in life, Eugene was orphaned when his mother died in childbirth and his father "grieved himself to death" within nine months. Eugene, his older brother Roswell and sister Frances were first taken in by their mother's uncle, Dr Ozey R Broyles but they eventually ended up living in Greeneville, Tennessee with their grandparents, Major Cain Broyles and Lucinda Nash Broyles. The Broyles had two sons, Walter Long Broyles (born July 25th, 1832) and Marcellus Franklin Broyles (born July 16th, 1837) who undoubtedly played with their orphaned nephews as they grew up in Tennessee in the late 1840s and early 1850s.

At some point in the 1850s, Roswell Kingsley moved to Dalton, Georgia and established a mercantile business. The family believes that young Eugene and uncles Walter and Marcellus Broyles joined Roswell in Whitfield County during this period. Whitfield County had established an excellent militia company in 1859 called the Dalton Guards and Eugene Kingsley and his two Broyles uncles had joined up as the tensions between north and south increased. This unit was therefore already equipped and ready to move to Camp McDonald at Big Shanty on the Western & Atlantic Railroad when called on to report in June of 1861. They were sent there to join the elite Rifle Battalion of the 4th Georgia State Brigade. This brigade was the creation of Georgia governor, Joe Brown, and was under the command of his friend and political ally, State General William Phillips. This brigade was comprised of two infantry regiments, a cavalry battalion, a rifle battalion and an artillery component. By the end of June, Governor Brown offered the brigade to President Jefferson Davis for service outside the state of Georgia but placed numerous contingencies upon his offer. Davis responded that he wanted Brown to forward the two infantry regiments from the brigade. Brown responded that he had offered the full brigade and Davis had to take the entire brigade (with General Phillips in command). Thus while Eugene Kingsley and his fellow soldiers drilled in late June and July, an increasingly tense set of exchanges went on between Brown and the Confederate government. Davis refused to alter his position and Brown, under increasing public criticism, finally relented on August 1st and agreed to break up the brigade and forward the two infantry regiments. These units headed north on August 3rd and 4th and became the 18th and 19th Georgia Infantry regiments. Brown then proposed that the remaining cavalry and rifle battalion along with the artillery be formed into a Legion under command of William Phillips. Davis agreed to permit the formation of a Legion comprised of the rifle and cavalry battalions but rejected the idea of placing artillery within the Legion's structure. He also agreed to accept William Phillips as a Colonel in command of the resulting unit which would be known as the Phillips Legion. Orders were issued and the Legion entrained north for Lynchburg, Virginia.

The trip north was a great adventure for the men; many of whom had never been outside north Georgia. At Dalton, a large crowd had gathered at the railroad station to bid the Legion goodbye. From Dalton they steamed north through Knoxville to Bristol, Tennessee where they changed to the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad for the final leg of their journey. Arriving in Lynchburg at the end of the first week of August, the Legion encamped at a fairground located two miles outside the city and was accepted into Confederate service on August 9th. Throughout the remaining days of August and into September, Colonel Phillips worked to complete the training and outfitting of his command which was eager to move to the front.

Orders finally arrived during the second week in September directing the Legion to move north into the mountains of western Virginia to join General John B Floyd's army near Sewell Mountain.

The Legion departed Lynchburg on Monday September 23rd, travelling first by train and then on foot to reach Lewisburg. At the end of the railroad at Jackson River, the Legion detrained for the 50 mile march to Lewisburg. Now on foot the men marched along in one of the worst storms ever to take place in September. The roads became nearly impassable with horses floundering through deep mud and men splattered from head to toe. Rain fell every day and, because the wagons could not keep up, the men slept in the rain and mud without tents. W.D. Harris wrote to his wife that, "Colonel Phillips does even take and give up his horse to the boys on foot, rolls up his pants and wades in the mud and water and totes the sick on his back. This he did yesterday and day before." Upon reaching White Sulphur Springs on September 27th, some of the Legion camped for the night while an advance guard pressed on to Lewisburg. The next day the rest of the Legion moved on to Lewisburg and camped on a hill just outside that village. Behind them, along their line of march, men were strewn from Jackson River to Lewisburg sick with measles, mumps and typhoid fever. On the morning of the 28th, Colonel Phillips received orders from General Floyd directing him to bring the Legion and join him immediately at Meadow Bluff for a subsequent move forward to Sewell Mountain. Arriving at Meadow Bluff on September 29th, the Legion prepared for another march forward to confront Rosecrans army at Sewell Mountain.

Somewhere during the march to Meadow Bluff or possibly on the move forward to Sewell Mountain, Private Eugene Kingsley came down with typhoid fever and was placed in a Meadow Bluff home that had been converted into an impromptu hospital. It was there on October 9th, 1861, the day after his 19th birthday that Eugene Kingsley passed away. It is believed that his family made arrangements to ship Eugene's remains back to Georgia where his brother and sister buried him beneath an impressive monument at Cohutta. The monument is inscribed "To the memory of Eugene T Kingsley who died in the service of his country in West Va the 9th day of 1861, Aged 19 years and 1 day. In the morning of life his pain hath fled, While the future was bright before him. No anthem was sung at his lonely death bed. But sorrow was there dying oer him. This monument is erected as a feble(sic) tribute of respect to his many virtues by an only BROTHER & SISTER"

Ironically, his two uncles would not be long in following Eugene into eternity. Walter Broyles would succumb to pneumonia in a Lynchburg hospital on November 13th, 1862. Marcellus Broyles was captured at Gettysburg in July of 1863 and sent to the Federal prison at Point Lookout. Exchanged in early 1863 he was killed in action May 6th 1864 at the Wilderness.

Photo of Eugene Kingsley courtesy of Jack and Ramona Vickers of Johnson City, Tennessee

Written by:Kurt Graham

Phillip's Legion