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Enjoy these stories from local Maury Co. history 


"No Damned Man Kills Me and Lives!"
The Forrest - Gould Affair

Columbia, Tennessee ~~ June 13, 1863

Nathan Bedford Forrest was noted for his hot temper and he was in a foul mood when he found that Colonel Abel Streight's Yankee Raiders had captured two of his cannon in an ambush.  He personally blamed Lieutenant Andrew Wills Gould for cowardice in losing the guns even though it had actually been no failure on the part of the young artilleryman. The bushwhackers had killed the horses pulling the guns and the guns could not have been brought out.  Forrest was just as angry at being successfully surprised by the Federals and young Gould bore the brunt of his anger.

The Confederates still managed to catch the Union column outside of Gadsden,Alabama, capturing the lot but upon returning to their base of operations in Columbia, Tennessee, Forrest's anger toward Gould had not abated.  He signed orders to have Gould transferred out of his command.   Gould took this to be a mortal insult and went straight to Forrest's Headquarters at the Masonic Building in downtown Columbia to confront the General.

Andrew Wills Gould [whose image and signature appear below on a page from a classmate's autograph album] was a handsome young man who had graduated from Cumberland University in 1861 with high honors.   He had cast his lot with the Confederates at the beginning of the war and had fought with gallantry in each action.  The unfortunate loss of both his cannon in Alabama can only be attributed to bad luck as one of his superiors described him in this way, "I never knew or heard aught to his prejudice; he was a courteous and refined gentleman of temperate and moral habits."

Wills Gould was furious when he received the order of transfer and went straight to General Forrest at his headquarters. The General stepped out into the hallway to speak with the young Lieutenant and the conversation quickly became heated.  Neither Forrest nor Gould would relent in their assertions when, according to Forrest, Wills Gould said "no man can accuse me of cowardice and both of us live!"  Forrest, according to eyewitnesses, apparently believed Gould was about to attack him and he took a penknife from his pocket while Gould wrestled with a pistol in the pocket of his linen duster.   Forrest, realizing his jeopardy, lunged at Gould, opening the penknife with his teeth.  Gould, failing to get the gun from his pocket, fired anyway, hitting Forrest in the left abdominal area.  Forrest grimaced but came on as Gould freed the gun from his pocket.  Forrest grabbed the gun hand and forced it up while he plunged the long, slender blade into Gould's left side.  The look on Gould's face told the General that the blade had run true.

Both men staggered back away from each other and Gould ran drunkenly from the front door of the building and out onto the sidewalk.  He crossed the street knowing that his wound was grievous.   As he crossed the street Doctors Ridley and Wilkes, who had been treating Confederate wounded at a nearby hospital, rounded the corner on the court square.  They saw the man stumbling across the street and heard the quartermaster shout for someone to "Stop that man! - he has shot General Forrest!"

Doctor Ridley looked in disbelief.   He recognized Gould instantly as he was blood kin to the boy.  Gould was quickly taken into a nearby tailor shop and laid on the big cutting table.   Doctor Ridley found the wound.  It was gushing a plume of blood with each heartbeat.   Dr.Wilkes put two fingers over the wound in an attempt to stop the flow of blood while Dr. Ridley hurried back to the hospital for the equipment needed to help the rapidly weakening Gould.

General Forrest stumbled back into the quartermaster's office to look at his wound.   He was hit in the abdomen, which during the period of the Civil War was almost always ultimately fatal.   You might linger for several days but any puncture of the abdomen meant a guaranteed case of peritonitis would set in, especially in warm weather.  Men who were hit in this way knew that they were going to die.

Forrest's self-examination showed this kind of wound.  He rose from the chair and bellowed, "Get out of my way!  I am mortally wounded and will kill the man who has shot me!"  The General, his clothing in disarray hobbled into the street and took two pistols from his gaping troopers, heading for the crowd that had gathered at the tailor shop.  Forrest struggled up the front steps of the building, waving the pistols and shouting, "Lookout! Lookout!"  The crowd dropped to the floor at the sight of the furious, gun waving General.  Even Doctor Wilkes jumped out of the way.   Gould was fading fast but he saw Forrest come in the door and he rolled off the table and went out the back as Forrest sent a bullet after him.  The bullet hit a brick wall and ricocheted into the leg of a gawking soldier.  Gould, now at the edge of consciousness, retreated only a short way before he fainted from the loss of blood and fell into the high weeds behind the row of buildings.   Forrest staggered up to him and pushed at him with the toe of his boot, realizing that Gould was done for.

Doctor Ridley had returned and Forrest ordered up a carriage and ordered the two Doctors to accompany him to the home of his friend, Major William Galloway, where it was his habit to board when in the area.   Forrest was in a foul humor and was spewing strings of epithets while everyone else was extremely ill at ease.  It had only been a little over a month since another of the South's Cavalry Generals, Earl Van Dorn, had been murdered by a jealous husband just up the road in Spring Hill.   Now it looked as if Wills Gould had done to Forrest what the Union Army had not been able to do.  Everyone feared that Nathan Bedford Forrest was a dead man!

On arrival at the Galloway house on West Ninth Street, Forrest curbed his tongue a bit, being in the presence of ladies, but his anger still boiled over.  The Doctors finally got a good look at the wound.  The ball had entered the abdomen, sure enough, but it had glanced off the ileum and passed into the "glutil" muscles of the left hip.  Doctors, breathing a collective sigh of relief, told the General that his wound was not serious after all ~ in fact, it was little more than a flesh wound!

Forrest's whole demeanor instantly changed.  The Doctors offered to cut the bullet out, then and there, but Forrest refused saying, "No, it is nothing but a damned little pistol ball - let it alone!"   He then thought of Wills Gould, dying in the weeds.   He ordered the Doctors to take Gould to the Nelson House Hotel and to spare no expense in saving the boy' life.  Forrest told them he would pay for everything.  There are conflicting stories about whether Forrest was personally reconciled with Gould but it is known that Forrest was bitterly sorry for his actions.  He recognized, at last, that Gould was indeed a brave man and that he had wrongly accused him.

Gould lingered for almost two weeks but, as feared, he died in his bed at the Nelson House on June 26, 1863.   He was 23 years old.  Forrest healed and was quickly back in the saddle.   His Cavalry left the area about a month later and did not return to Columbia until Hood's Invasion of Tennessee in 1864 where they played a major part.

Traveler's Note: Two of the buildings in this story still exist.  The Nelson House Hotel still stands on North Main Street across from City Hall, next to a restaurant.   Wills Gould's room was on the second floor left, facing the street.  The Galloway House, where Forrest recuperated is located on West Ninth Street on the Southwest corner of its intersection with School Street.   Oddly enough, Forrest's room is also on the second floor left, facing the street.

[ Article by: Bob Duncan ]



Columbia, TN Daily Herald Sept. 9th, 1978

By Jill Garrett

The stately house at 401 West 9th Street is noted for its identification with General Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate cavalry genius. Forrest made his quarters here so often that one room is still known as General Forrest’s room.

The house was built about 1846 by William Galloway (1814 – 1887), shortly after his marriage to Amanda Johnson in 1845. Today we think of this place as being almost in the heart of Columbia, but this was not so when Galloway purchased the land. His deed referred to this parcel as “lying near and being near the town of Columbia”, giving us some idea of the growth of Columbia in 132 years.

When the census taker came by in1850, Galloway gave his occupation as “trader” and it is in his connection that he probably first made the acquaintance of Forest as they were friends before the Civil War.

Naturally, when Forest came to Columbia during the war he made the Galloway place his personal quarters, his home away from home. His military headquarters, however, was at the Masonic Building in Downtown Columbia. Mrs. Forrest, his young son, and his sister-in-law often accompanied him even though it was war-time.

Forrest was in and out of the county many times during those terrible years and by the war’s end he had stayed at Galloway’s for a total of about eight months.

One June day in 1863 Mrs. Galloway had prepared a special mid-day meal for the general and his staff. While they were eating, someone knocked on the door. Sixteen year old Laura Galloway answered the door to find a handsome young lieutenant standing there asking to see the general.

Annoyed at the interruption, Forrest left the table, and was even more irritated to see the lieutenant Wills Gould. Angrily, he told Gould that he would meet him at his headquarters at the Masonic Hall at 3 o’clock, slammed the door violently, and returned to the table.

A few hors later General Forest was brought back to the Galloway house bleeding and in pain. He and Gould had had a fight in which Gould shot Forrest and Forrest in turn stabbed Gould. The argument was over a charge of cowardice which Forrest had leveled at Gould.

Upon arriving at the Galloway house, everyone tried to help the injured general. Outraged and swearing, Forrest brushed everyone aside and refused any assistance, making his own way upstairs to his bedroom followed by his wife, doctors, and assistants.

The wound proved to be a slight one and he recuperated within a few days. Gould died of his wounds at the Nelson House of North Main Street.

The next day Mrs. Galloway prepared an appetizing broth for the general, and her young daughter Minnie (later Mrs. Towler), wanted to do something for the wounded general. Her mother let her take the broth up to him.

As Minnie approached the bed, she stumbled and spilled the whole bowl of hot boiling brother on the wounded general’s bosom.

With an oath, the general jumped up, but on seeing Minnie tears, he quickly curbed his fiery temper and apologized to the young girl.

The Galloways remembered that more than one council of war was held at their dinner table. On one occasion Generals Van Dorn, Forrest, and W. H. Jackson were in conference here. And at another one Generals Hood, Bate, and Forrest, along with Governor Isham Harris were present.

Forrest greatly disliked General Van Dorn, his superior in the cavalry forces stationed in the county. Once in the presence of the Galloway family Forrest stormed out stating that he would like to cut Van Dorn’s heart out and stomp it.

In December 1864 when General Hood’s once mighty Confederate force was in retreat following the battle at Nashville, Forrest stopped by the Galloways long enough to pay a parting call.

At this time he signed Laura’s autograph book writing: “My compliments to Miss Laura hoping she may never have to morn over another defete of the Confederate Army, N. B. Forrest Maj. Genl.” (The spelling is the general’s). Today the Galloway-McKee home is remembered by many as the home of Dr. Otey Porter, later the home of Mrs. Ethel M. Journey & later that of Major & Mrs. Herbert McKee,



Sam Watkins of Company Aytch

Columbia, TN Daily Herald

By Jill Garrett

Sam Watkins would be astounded at his fame today because Civil War buffs and historians from coast to coast know his name.

His book Co. Aytch is considered on e of the best of the war memoirs, particularly as it was told from the standpoint of the common soldier – Sam considered himself a “high private”.

His viewpoints on the war are widely quoted in other works and his book is invariably listed in bibliographies of serious studies of the war.

Sam was Maury County’s own. He was born the son of Frederick Watkins and his first wife Penelope Williams. Before the war he attended Jackson College and later clerked in a Columbia store. At twenty-one he enlisted in the Maury Grays (officially Company H, First Tennessee Infantry Regiment).

This company went on to fight in most of the major battles- Perryville, Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Missionary Ridge, Atlanta, Franklin and Nashville. Of the 120 original members, only seven were alive at the end of the war.

So Sam wrote from his own personal, bloody experiences. Co. Aytch is not a pretty book – no book about war is – and Sam told it as he saw it. There are scenes of raw death, mutilated bodies, sheer horror, and all the gore of war.

Of the Battle of Franklin in 1864, Sam wrote, “My flesh trembles, and creeps, and crawls when I think of it today.” After twenty years he could still vividly recall that terrible day and he longed to tear it from his memory.

He also wrote of the lighter moments and even scenes of tenderness. He was at his best, however, when he vented his ill disguised contempt for officers.

Despite his feelings for his superiors, he wrote that in battle “I always shot at privates.” The private, he reasoned, were the ones who did the actual shooting and killing, and he felt his chance for survival was better if he got one of them first.

Throughout the war he longed for his sweetheart Jennie – Virginia Mayes also of the Zion community. In September 1865 he married “my own loved Jennie”, and by the time he wrote his book he reported “a house full of young rebels clustering around my knees and bumping my elbows. “

His recollections of the war were begun in 1881 and printed in the Columbia Herald, the old weekly version of this newspaper. Later these articles were published in book form in an edition of 2,000 copies. Since that time the book has been reprinted several times. An original Co. Aytch commands a handsome price in the collectors market today.

Not all of his wartime memories were in his book as Sam continued to contribute articles to the local paper for a number of years - some appeared a few months before his death. He also served as the Canaan correspondent for the Herald. Sam’s last home was the old parsonage near Zion Church. He died here on July 20, 1901, and was laid to rest in the churchyard. His Jennie lived on until 1920.

This home, one of the several during his lifetime, still stands and is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Baid Harris. For a number of years the house served as a parsonage for Zion, but during the ministry of the Rev. S. P. Hawes, a new parsonage was built next to the church. The last of Sam’s eight children, Mrs. Louisa Watkins Fulton, died in 1971 at the age of 102 years. She had inherited her father’s gift for storytelling and her book Magnificent Investment was published only a few days before her death.



Columbia, TN Daily Herald

By Jill Garrett

Somewhere in the tangled underbrush of the hot, steaming Brazilian jungle, Archibald S. Dobbins is buried. No one knows where, and probably all signs of his grave have disappeared in the hundred years or so since his death. But then he may never have been buried at all as he was killed in an Indian uprising.

Dobbins was born on his father’s farm at Sandy Hook in 1827. His father was David Dobbins, who came to Maury County in 1807 with a group of Presbyterian settlers from South Carolina, and his mother was Catherine Gilchrist, daughter of Malcolm Gilchrist, another early settler.

And Arch Dobbins’ reason for being in South America was a result of the Civil War. At the end of the war the majority of the Confederate soldiers accepted their defeat and returned to their homes to rebuild their lives.

However, some could not adjust to the rigors of the Reconstruction and left the country to seek new lives in other lands. Some went to Mexico, others to Cuba and Europe, and a large party moved to South America. Most of them eventually returned to the United States. Arch Dobbins never came back.

Shortly after his marriage to Mary Patience Dawson, also of Mt. Pleasant, he moved to Arkansas, acquiring land called the Horse Shoe Island Plantation, now part of a resort area. When the Civil War began, he entered the Confederate army and became a colonel of a cavalry group, called Dobbins Brigade. Dobbins headed numerous raiding parties throughout northeast Arkansas, proving himself something of a pest to both the enemy’s army and its river transports.

As the war was nearing the end, Dobbins was promoted to general on the field, but this promotion was never entered in the official records, due in part to the turmoil of the confederate army and government in its last days.

In June 1865 he wrote his wife that he was headed for Mexico, and he later went to Brazil. There he wrote glowing letters to her about the land: “This is the finest country in the world… The Emperor is one of the cleverest men I ever saw.” In one letter he noted there were no snakes, no mosquitoes, no frost, no bed bugs, surely the finest land ever made. He never forgot the war as several of his letters mention the “cursed yankeys” or “infernal yankeys”, who would not let him live in peace in the United States.

A letter written in 1869, urging his wife and family to join him, he told of living at the falls of Topacura, on the Tapajos River near its junction with the Amazon River, He was 30 miles from the town of Santarem. Jokingly he wrote his wife that he was now his own “washer woman” and that he put his clothes on a string and hung them under the falls.

A brother, Dr. Wilson Dobbins, had joined him, but he returned to the U.S. disillusioned with the Brazilian adventure. He said Brazil was impossible, the climate terrible, and dependable labor non-existent. He had urged his brother Arch to return, but the general remained, confident that he could make another fortune in timber here.

Mary Patience had putt off joining her husband, but in 1869 she was making preparations to undertake the long journey. Letters from he husband suddenly stopped coming. She canceled plans for her trip, and after a long time was convinced that her husband must be dead.

She made her home in Mt. Pleasant until her death in 1916 and was buried in the Lawrence Cemetery there. No further word of General Dobbins was ever received.

His fate remained unknown until after World War I, when a descendant, a foreign language instructor, attended the peace conference in Paris, In a chance conversation with a man from Brazil, he mentioned his ancestor Arch Dobbins had gone to that country after the Civil War. The Brazilian recognized the name of General Dobbins, who had been well known in that country, and said that the general had been killed in an Indian uprising which swept this area in about 1869.

In one of his letters to his wife, Arch Dobbins mentioned an American colony that was only about six miles from where he was living in Brazil. He did not think too highly of this group as he called then the “scraps of the earth.” This could have possibly been “the lost colony of the Confederacy,” which has long interested historians.

Today there are several descendants of Confederates living either at Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, or Villa Americana. Many of these have prospered. But it is said that the Southerners who chose Santarem over the southern area of Brazil have long since vanished.

Interest in the Santarem settlers was revived when Henry Ford made an attempt to exploit the Tapajos Valley for rubber. A professor from Northwestern University reported finding the “lost colony” in the 1930’s, but he could locate only one person, and old woman, who still remembered her Southern heritage. The younger descendants of the Santarem Confederates had been absorbed by the native population, adopting the native customs and speech.

In on of his letters, General Dobbins noted that this group had adopted the native way of carrying water on their heads. Today, Arch Dobbins’ portrait hangs in the public library in Phillips County, Arkansas, one of the seven generals from that county in the Confederate army. At least two of the other six generals also had Maury County ties, as Patrick Cleburne was originally buried at St. John’s at Ashwood, and Lucius E. Polk, native of Maury County, is still buried at St. Johns.






A photograph of Capt. James Madison Sparkman has come home to Maury County after more than a hundred years absence.

A copy of the original photograph was sent recently to the United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter here which bears his name, by J. Matt Sparkman, dean of students, Murray State College, Murray, Kentucky. Dean Sparkman is the grandson of Capt. Sparkman.

James Madison (called J. Matt) Sparkman was born in Maury County Jan. 25, 1833, and was the son of Williams and Elizabeth (Vestal) Sparkman of Maury, and the grandson of William Sparkman, Revolutionary Soldier and his wife Rosannah (Williams)

Sparkman, early settlers of Williamson Co. J. Matt was married in 1854 to Minerva Ann Hill and they were the parents of two sons, Williams Andrew and James Madison.

When the War Between the States broke out, Capt. Sparkman was engaged in the mercantile business at Santa Fe with his brother John. It was largely through his efforts that Maury County’s only artillery company was formed early in 1861.

The Maury Light Artillery was organized at Santa Fe, composed mostly of farmer boys from northwest Maury Co., none of whom had any military training. Their few drills before departure were held on the square at Santa Fe.

Frank H. Smith, writing in 1908, said that in some respects this was one of the most interesting organizations of the Civil War, its principal claim to distinction being its achievements at Fort Donelson in February, 1862.

With only a few hours drill as heavy artillerists they defeated the newly invented Federal gunboats, at the time considered invulnerable, and they let not one succeed in passing the battery.

Captain Sparkman was captured at Fort Donelson on Feb. 16, 1862, and transferred to Johnson’s Island, on Sept. 1, 1862 being transferred to Vicksburg, Miss. As he was being herded into a prison compound at Vicksburg, a northern officer noting the Shriner’s pin which he wore, pulled him out of line and pointing to the pin said, “Masonry is thicker than any blood that has ever flowed.” He was kept captive on his honor after that.

Capt. Sparkman lost his life during the siege of Port Hudson, La., the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi. The day he was wounded some of his men had warned him on more than one occasion that he might get hit, as he seemed to be getting a bit careless.

He said, “Boys, they haven’t dug that lead out of the ground yet that will get me.” A short time later they were having difficulty getting a cannon to fire and had called him to help.

According to one account, he had jumped up on the breastworks when a piece of shell cut his powder flask, driving it into his leg. Another account, related to his grandson, was that he was standing picking powder into the touch-hole when a shell hit the ground near his feet, and a piece of shrapnel cut the inside of his leg.

According to those who saw it, the wound was deep, but clean, and likely wouldn’t have amounted to much in our present day, with the use of antibiotics,

He was hospitalized in a field tent and live ten days, with Abe Fitzgerald nursing him until his death on June 5, 1863. He was buried at the foot of a large beech tree. Cal Miller, a relative, made the casket from some rough boards. His sword was wrapped in two greasy blankets and put in the casket with his body. Of course they expected to bring his remains home when the war was over, however conditions during the reconstruction period prevented this.

It was not until 1908 that a group of Maury Countians made a trip to Port Hudson trying to locate his resting place. His brother-in-law, William Hill, had said that even as he was being buried the mighty Mississippi was cutting against the bank. In 1908 no traces could be found of his grave.

Though he sleeps in an unmarked soldier’s grave, his memory lives on in the hearts of those who admire a life given in devotion to duty.



Columbia TN Daily Herald

By Jill Garrett

On March 6, 1939, the plaintive sound of taps echoes through the valley along Fountain Creek, and in Columbia the courthouse bell tolled in mourning. Captain Merritt Booker Tomlinson was being buried that afternoon at old Wilkes Cemetery and an era in Maury County history had come to an end.

Tomlinson was the last surviving Confederate soldier in Maury County and was also one of the last commissioned officers in the entire country. Dying only a few months before his 99th birthday, he was the oldest Mason in the United States.

His family had a proud military heritage dating from the county’s earliest settlement as his grandfather Jesse Tomlinson and great-grandfather Charles Allen had both served during the War of 1812 in Maury County companies.

Tomlinson’s boyhood home still stands on the Valley Creek Road about two miles from Culleoka and today is the Lewis Tyler home. Here he lived with his parents Charles Allen and Sallie Foster Tomlinson.

One of his brothers, Jesse Tomlinson, was the father of the late Pride Tomlinson, Sr., justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Another brother, Joseph, ran away while still a boy to join the Confederate Army.

Merritt Tomlinson was educated at Old Brick Academy at Pleasant Grove and later graduated from Wesleyan University at Florence, Alabama. He was a student at the college when the war began. (This school later became Florence State University and today is the University of North Alabama.)

In May 1861 he enlisted in the 48th Tennessee Infantry in a company composed of Culleoka men. His regiment was surrendered at Fort Donelson in Feb. 1862 and shipped on prison boats to prisoner of war camps - Tomlinson remembered the conditions aboard these boats as being appalling. For eight months he was a prisoner at Camp Douglas in Chicago, and following his exchange he saw action in Mississippi and Georgia.

During the fighting at Pine Mountain, Georgia, in 1864 he was only about 100 yards away when General Leonidas Polk (formerly of Maury County) was killed when his chest was shattered by a cannon ball.

During Hood’s retreat through the county in Dec. 1864, young Merritt passed within a mile of his home. As he was almost barefooted, he was permitted to go home to get a pair of shoes.

After the surrender of the Confederate Army, he made his way slowly home, arriving home one Friday. By Monday morning he was out in the fields plowing using oxen as there were no horses left on the farm and it was necessary that a crop be made that year.

One day as he was plowing, a number of his neighbors, all former soldiers, came to him and asked him to teach their children. Schools had not been in session during the war and for almost four years education had been at a standstill. They told him if he would teach that they would do his plowing. After several years as a teacher, Tomlinson returned to farming.

In 1866 he married sixteen year old Mildred Dillard, whose father had been a Confederate scout and had died during the war. They made their home at Beechwood and raised a family of nine children. Beechwood burned a few years ago.

When he reached his nineties, Tomlinson was interviewed each year by a reporter from the Daily Herald. One year he told the reporter that the secret of his great age was that he had lived a life in the open, avoided dissipation, and had eaten wholesome food all his life – with the exception of those years in the army. His ideal night meal, and one he had for many years, was only bread and milk.

At the age of 98, however, he finally confessed the real reason for his remarkable longevity when he said with a twinkle in his eye that he attributed his age to the fact that he had always disobeyed all orders and rules of the doctors.

In 1938 Captain Tomlinson, then 98, was invited to speak to the student body at Central High School (where today’s Whitthorne is) on Robert E. Lee’s birthday. He walked from downtown Columbia to the school and following the address walked back to town. Only a few weeks before his death he was still riding horseback over his farm.

His lifetime spanned from the coming of the railroad to the age of air travel. In 1859 when the first railroad came into the county he had ridden on the first run, going from his home at Culleoka to Athens, Alabama, the end of the line at that time.

He had seen young Maurians first go off to war in Mexico in 1846 and at his death Nazi soldiers were goose-stepping in Germany. Although he did not live to see the outbreak of World War II, he had a strange premonition about Adolf Hitler and in one of his last interviews regretted to see that dictator’s rise to prominence in Europe.


Columbia, TN UCV


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