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African-American Confederate Soldier From Hawkins County

Frederick Richard (Dick) Hord was born and raised in Hawkins County, Tennessee. There are many things to be said about this man. First, he was an African-American man. He was also a slave and served as a cook in the Confederate army, making him one of only a few who received a Confederate pension from Hawkins County.

Dick, as he was called, was born on September 29,1844. He was the son of Thomas and Frances Hord. In the 1860 Hawkins County, Tennessee, census, Thomas was listed as being age 56; Frances was 42; their children listed as William 18, Richard 15, Eldridge 10, Lucy 9, Martha 8, Amber 7, Cynthia 6, Alfred 1.

He grew up into slavery around the New Canton area of Hawkins County. He was only seventeen years old when he went with his master John Ellis, who had enlisted in the summer of 1861, into service with the 2nd Cavalry. Hord says he joined in 1862, so it must have been at the time when the 2nd was fighting near the Clinch River and close enough for Ellis to visit at home. It may have been at this time that he took Dick back with him to be their cook. There were many men in Ashby’s Cavalry from the Surgoinsville and Church Hill area.

Dick applied for a “Colored Man’s Pension” in June 1921 at age seventy-seven. He was listed as being in the 2nd Tennessee (Ashby’s) Cavalry Regiment, Company E. He stated that he went with the army in July of 1862, and stating that his master was John Ellis serving with Col Ashby and Capt. William Smith. In 1921 at the time of his application, his estate was valued at $6.00. His assessed acreage of of nineteen acres was valued at $500.00. His wife was listed as being deceased.

This application was turned down stating that Dick was not a soldier, but the servant of a soldier, and therefore not pensionable. Then again in September 1921, another letter from the pension board stating that Dick was “a Negro and Tennessee does not pension Negroes, and therefore, he could not get a pension”.

Dick again wrote to them: “In the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in the latter part of the year 1862, my Captain William Smith was captured and my master John Ellis wounded. We retreated to Post Oak and my master John Ellis sent me home and later my Captain was exchanged and come by home to take me back to the army and learned that my master John Ellis was dead - told me I need not go. So I remained at home”.

A. S. Lyons, of Surgoinsville, also wrote a letter of recommendation for Dick. He stated that the statement made by Dick was true and that he had known him more than fifty years and lived within one half mile of him all the time. He stated that Dick was a hard working, honest man who was now was unable to do his work and that he was worthy of his pension.

Then in December of 1921, Dick’s son Frederick wrote to the board asking why his father was “not able to receive a pension as a servant and cook when a bill was passed last January granting pensions to Negro cooks and servants”. In April 1922, he had to prove that he worked without pay for the family after he went home from the war. This proof came in the way of an affidavit from Charley Loyd and Eliza Hart stating they had known Dick for sixty years and knew this fact to be true. Finally his pension was approved.

Dick married Mary E. Price on March 4, 1873 by J. D. Denney in Hawkins County. She was the daughter of a white man, Will and Caroline Price. According to the death record #184, Mary died in 1917 at age 70. They are buried at Lyons Chapel Church Cemetery near Church Hill. Their children were John, Wiley, Mary E., Anna, Rachel, Cynthia, Frances, George, Nelson, Sarah E., Jessie Lee and Professor Frederick Douglass Hord (who was a WWI Army Veteran serving in Germany and a graduate of Swift Memorial Junior College at Rogersville).

Dick Hord had many grandchildren he would have been proud of: business men - master’s degree, aircraft worker, computer analyst, etc. Many of his descendants live in Hawkins County today.

(There was another listed from Hawkins County who applied for a Tennessee Colored Pension for CSA service - Pete Amy, who claimed service with the Supply Train - Hoke’s Division, which application was accepted. Also, Joseph Jennings of Graiger County, with the 12 Tennessee Calvary whose application was accepted.)


Pension Record #62; Hawkins County Census Records 1860 #31-163, 1880 District #7, 260A #251-251; Hawkins County Death Records; TN Colored Pension Applications for CSA Service; telephone conversations with family members; Book by Clara S. Reber, CHURCH HILL, TENNESSEE AREA HISTORY 1754-1976.

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Copyright © 1999/2000/2001 by Sheila Weems Johnston