A Long-lived Confederate Irishman

The October 1909 issue of the Confederate Veteran tells the story of Tommy Campbell, and Irishman who had been discharged from the largely Irish 5th Confederate Infantry Regiment in 1862 as overage. This proved to be a very poor decision, as the original article (below) indicates; Tommy was still alive and well in Tennessee 47 years later!

HALE AND STRONG AT ONE HUNDRED AND TWO

Sixty odd years ago Dr. John D. Smith, the founder of Henderson, Tenn., took his crop of cotton to Memphis on a Hatchie River boat. One of the deck hands was a red headed Irishman, a cheerful, tireless worker, already approaching middle age. Dr. Smith was so impressed with this man’s capability that he engaged him to return with him and help on his farm. Tommy Campbell, or “Uncle Tommy,” as he was soon called, became a member of the Smith family and one of its strongest adherents.

In 1861 Tommy Campbell enlisted with the 2d Tennessee Infantry, Col. J. Knox Walker, and later the 5th Confederate Regiment. In 1862 he was discharged at Tupelo, Miss., as over age. A year later he joined Captain May’s company, Bell’s Brigade, Forrest’s Cavalry. In 1864 he was wounded in a fight at Athens, Ala. The wound was on top of his head, and “Uncle Tommy” was gratified that he was so low, for if otherwise the bullet would have struck him in the head.

After the war he returned to Tennessee, and that State had no better nor more zealous citizen than the little red headed Irishman who seems to have found the fountain of youth.

In early September of this year Judge G. W. Smith, of Fresno, Cal., who was the youngest son of Dr. John Smith, came back to Henderson to visit the scenes of his boyhood, and “Uncle Tommy Campbell” came from his home in Pinson to see him, hale and hearty, little the worse for the summers and winters of one hundred and two years. The old gentleman and the silver haired judge, whom he regards as a boy, spent happy days together in recalling incidents of the Judge’s youth. This old man was reported in health late in September.

from Confederate Veteran Volume XVII, October 1909, 523

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Categories: 5th Confederate, Tennessee

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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