Saturday, April 30, 2011

My House Divided - Civil War Saturday

I don't know much about my ggg grandfather Philip Mulkey beyond what was given to me in family records - name and dates.  He was born 14 Jan 1810 in Washington County, TN; married his first wife Ann Duncan in Washington County on 21 June 1831; died in Hawkins County, TN before 1 Oct 1883. Census and marriage records have supported much of the information my grandmother passed down, but I have no pictures of him and the only family story I heard had to do with the Civil War.

The story is that Philip was estranged from some of his children because of their support for the Union during the Civil War. His sons Isaac and James Duncan Mulkey served in the Union Army, James volunteering from Tennessee with the 8th TN Cavalry and Isaac serving with the 152nd Illinois Infantry. His daughter Rachel married another Union veteran who served with James in the 8th TN Cavalry after the war. I wrote recently about these Mulkey siblings when I was sent a copy of a photograph of James Mulkey.

A divided family in East Tennessee during the Civil War is not news. As I've started researching my 19th century kinfolk I'm discovering more and more incidents of divided families -- even relatives fighting for both sides. I suspect they were not willing volunteers. I've ordered a whole library of books to help me understand the situation there.

Still, I must admit Philip puzzled me. His father, grandfather, and grandfather-in-law were all abolitionists. His children fought for the Union. Was it possible to document this family story? I was fairly sure that at 50+ years old Philip did not fight and that good ole' reasonably exhaustive search failed to produce any evidence that he did. He did not file for any compensation from the Southern Claims Commission. But, I did find evidence - two files - that more than support the family story.

The first was a surprise - but then every record I find indicating someone in my family fought for the Confederacy has been a surprise given our family stories of no Confederate involvement.

Philip's younger brother Hiram Mulkey was a Confederate soldier. He enlisted at age 36 on 20 September 1862 and fought at Vicksburg where he was captured on 4 July 1863. He was paroled four days later and presumably returned home. I found no record of him serving after his parole.

The second file was an even greater surprise - it documented Philip's support for the Confederacy. On 16 September 1863, only two months after Hiram's parole from Vicksburg and while battles were raging for control of the railroads in East Tennessee, Philip sold 25 bushels of corn to the Confederate Army. Receipts show he sold two lots of corn, one to be delivered to Ferguson's School House (Washington County), TN and the other to Thomas' Mill (Sullivan County), TN. It doesn't seem that big a thing - to sell some corn to the Army parked on your doorstep.


However, less than two weeks later, on 28 September 1863, his son James enlisted in the Union Army where he served for two years. In 1860 James and his family were enumerated living next door to Philip in Washington County, TN. In 1870 Philip was living in Hawkins County, TN. James, his sister Rachel and their families were still in Washington County.

It doesn't get any clearer than that.


        James D Mulkey, muster rolls of Co. D, TN 8th Cavalry; NARA M395; Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Tennessee; digital images, ( : accessed 27 Apr 2011).  
        Hiram Mulkey file; NARA M268. Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Tennessee units; 109; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Apr 2011). 
        Philip Mulkey, Document 273; NARA M346. Confederate Papers Relating to Citizens or Business Firms, documenting the period 1861 - 1865; 109; digital images, ( : accessed 27 Apr 2011).
         1860 U.S. census, population schedule, Hoggards, Washington, Tennessee, p. 83, dwelling 624, family 624, Philip Mulky; digital images, (; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 1277.
         1870 U.S. census, population schedule, District 1, Hawkins, Tennessee, p. 6B, dwelling 94, family 94, Philip Mulkey; digital images, (; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll 1535.


  1. My gg-grandfather, John R. Petty, was also captured at Vicksburg. He was released the day after Hiram along with 3 other Pettys that I believe were his brothers. They were in the 43rd TN Cav. The other 3 joined the Union a few months after their release at Vicksburg but I haven't found any record that John R. did.

    I haven't even looked at the Confederate Citizens file on Footnote. Something else to add to my to do list.

  2. What a fascinating story. I have only rumors of a "mixed" family - no proof, yet - but I have talked to/corresponded with several researchers who do have such families. There were often many different personal reasons behind the choices made by these people as to where their sympathies lay. Then there is the family with the strong Unionist whiff, but two sons nevertheless fought for the Confederacy (it was SC, after all). Gotta dig deeper into this one. I think we have some interesting research ahead of us.

  3. Enjoyed the post. I have a civil war mystery I am still trying to sort out.
    It would be natural, we see people passionately disagreeing on issues today.
    Would be terrible for the folks back home.

  4. Have you found any evidence that Philip - or even perhaps his father-in-law - were slave owners? Or even Philip's pastor...pastors were powerful people, and if support for the Confederacy was preached from the pulpit, well...

    The reason I ask that is because in my own family, the slave-owners were the most committed to the Confederat "cause." They had a lot to lose monetarily.

  5. That's what's so interesting about this, Dee. Philip's pastors would have been his father, cousins, or other close relatives - so far all abolitionists and no slave owners. My slave owning relatives fought for the Union. Completely upside down.

  6. Could you be so kind and share some links to other sources concerning this subject of course if you are aware of any.

  7. my Great Great Grandfather was James Duncan Mulkey. Would love to email correspond w you on family history.


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