Sunday, April 22, 2018

George Prangle Copeland IV, Died much too young

Family Lineage: son of Robert Hatten Copeland and first wife, Sarah Minerva, uncle of Charles Thomas Copeland Sr., great-uncle of Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.
Circa 1845 – 1864

Robert Hatten Copeland
     George Prangle Copeland was the sixth of ten sons born to Robert Hatten Copeland  (commonly called the “Snake Man” because of a birth defect). The family could proudly claim their connection to a long line of patriots who had settled in America before the Revolutionary War.  Despite being disabled, Robert had refused to own slaves, not only because he frowned on the very idea of ownership of another human being, but he also believed that all of his sons could easily handle whatever needed to be done to keep the family farm running smoothly.

But the rhythm of their lives began to crumble when Gerorge's mother, Sarah Minerva, developed "dropsy" (an old-fashioned term describing edema or excess fluids in the body) and died at age 48, leaving behind her husband, nine sons and only one daughter who found herself responsible for handling all the household chores and comforting her father when he grieved for his wife and – severak years later – his sons.
    The crumbling of life as they knew it continued as their beloved country got closer and closer to war - not against foreign powers - but against fellow Americans.  Since Robert was both disabled and too old to fight, he could only serve as a bridge tender and stand on the sidelines while watching his sons march off to war.  Six came home after the fighting stopped. Two did not.  
     Impatiently, 17 year old George continued to plead his case to his father, asserting that he considered himself old enough to join his brothers in the war effort of the South. Finally, in 1862, Robert gave in and reluctantly gave George permission to join the Heard County Rangers at Camp McDonald in Big Shanty, Georgia which had recently been incorporated into Georgia's 41st Regiment under the command of Lt. General John Pemberton.

Vicksburg bluff
  Since they were so badly needed, training did not last long and within a few months, the young Georgians were on their way to Mississippi to join the troops fighting to prevent Major General Ulysses S. Grant's much stronger Army of the Potomac from taking control of the town of Vicksburg which was built on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, thus controlling all river traffic bringing food and supplies to both the Confederate and Union troops.

      Despite the Southern troops' firm expectation that the Confederate Army could and would defeat General Grant's troops quickly, the siege actually continued for 46 days, by which time, thanks to the Union Army's blockade of all traffic except theirs on the river below, the Georgians not only ran out of food and ammunition, but discovered that they couldn't replenish any of their supplies, thanks to blockades strategically placed by the Union Army along the feeder roads. 

General John Pemberton

    Finally, General Pemberton was forced to surrender himself, his officers and his troops to General Grant on July 4, 1863 (definitely not Independence Day for the South).   It was  a deadly blow to the entire Confederacy!  By the time all the fighting ended, 2,166 Confederate officers, 27,230 soldiers, 172 cannons and almost 60,000 muskets and rifles had been captured or lost.


 18 year old George Prangle Copeland was among those captured
and imprisoned.  Perhaps because of his young age or the fact that the prison was badly overcrowded,  he was eventually granted parole on the condition that he pledge that he would never take up arms against the North again.  It wasn't long after taking that pledge that he learned that a train bringing fresh troops to the Union Army fighting in the South would be passing through Vicksburg and he could get a ride at least part of the way home.
But he never arrived!   On September 26, 1864, perhaps because it was going too fast, the train derailed as it started around a curve three miles north of Fort Valley, Georgia, The casualties were horrific. 37 passengers were badly hurt and six, including George, were killed.  The next day, the "Macon Daily Telegraph and Confederate" newspaper  published a list of casualties.  They were: Thomas Kerley, L.H. Durden, W.J. Buhart, W. A. Sanders, Kirkpatrick (first name unknown) - and G. P. Copeland.

       Perhaps it would have eased some of the family's pain if they had known that George did not die alone or unattended.  As soon as the townspeople heard the crash, many of them had run out of their homes and assisted in the care of all who had been injured while burying those who had died, including George who was buried alongside other slain and unknown Confederate soldiers in Section C of Oaklawn Cemetery.  Placed on their graves was a memorial plaque reading: 

 "Confederate Dead Here rest, known to God, more than 20 Confederate Soldiers, most of whom died in the Confederate Hospital located in Ft. Valley in 1864 - 1865.  Some of these men were killed in Troop Train wreck 3 miles north of the city while en route to rejoin the Confederate Army of Tennessee.  Located here were the Buckner and Gamble Hospitals and several temporary ones.  Patriot men and women of this vicinity assisted in the care of the sick and the wounded."


     It was only after the war ended, that Robert discovered that all but two of his sons had survived and were coming home. Those two were George and his older brother, Asberry, who had died of his injuries in a Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi Confederate hospital and was also an unknown soldier buried in an unmarked grave.  A few years ago Asbury's grandson, a genealogist who had researched the hospital records, received permission to have Ashley's name engraved on one of the cemetery's unmarked grave stones and the event was memorialized during a formal ceremony honoring Ashley's life and service. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

John Calvin Noe and Hugh Patrick - Relatives, Warriors and Friends

John Calvin Noe
1745 – 1816
1 John Calvin Noe, 2 Mary Polly Noe, 3 John Osburn, Sr., 4 Rebecca Osburn, 5 William Vincent Dickerson
, 6 Queen Rebecca Dickerson, 7 Edna Bethel Franklin, 8 Judith Ann Hayward

Netherlands ship 

Noe family tradition includes stories about the severe persecution their Huguenot Protestant ancestors suffered at the hands of the Catholic majority until finally forcing them to flee Scotland on the "Bontekoe" which brought them to the shores of America in 1663.
        After adjusting to their new lives in a new land and getting advice from people who had arrived before them, the family made their way inland along the Mississippi River until finally settling on a mountainous area called Botetourt County (Sometime later the name was changed to Fincastle County, which was then split into three counties called Montgomery, Lee and Kentucky.

      It was there that they met the Patrick family who had also migrated from Scotland and lived nearby. So it was no surprise that their children, 20 year old John Calvin Noe and 17 year old Elizabeth Patrick, who had known each other all their lives, took their childhood to a new level when they married in 1765 and started a family of their own.     
   Hugh Patrick
1732 - 1814

1 Hugh Patrick, 2 Elizabeth Patrick,3 Mary Polly Noe,4 John Osburn, Sr.,5 Rebecca Osburn,
 6 William Vincent Dickerson, 7 Queen Rebecca Dickerson, 8 Edna Bethel Franklin,  
9 Judith Ann Hayward
     Hugh Patrick was a first generation American whose father had been born in Scotland and was transported to America in 1725 as an indentured servant.  Over the years, the Scottish surname of McPhatrick had evolved into Mcffathrick and then Gilpatrick before becoming “americanized” into the simpler name of Patrick. 

      He and his brothers, James and Jeremiah Patrick, all proved themselves to be canny negotiators who accumulated large tracts of land along the New River through purchases, trades or grants.

The Noes and Patricks go to war!

        Thanks to the British having supplied the Native American tribes with guns and instructions on how to use them, their attacks against the settlers in Virginia and Kentucky intensified.  As a result, many of the settlers who found themselves facing constant danger without a central government to call on for help, fled.

         All males who had decided to remain in the area, however, were required to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Commonwealth and join a militia.  (a militia is and was composed of non-professional soldiers who can be called upon for military service in the local area whenever needed.)  
       Among those deciding to stay and fight with the local militia under the command of Captain John Draper were 32 year old John Calvin Noe, two of his sons, John II and Samuel, and his father-in-law, 43 year old Hugh Patrick.

     Each militia was occasionally visited by a Virginian, Colonel Stephen Trigg, who had been assigned by General Washington to list every man in the region who had sworn an oath of allegiance and joined a nearby militia.  Always hungry for knowledge about what was happening outside their corner of the world, he was warmly welcomed and, in return, he was willing to share whatever he knew or had heard about events taking place in the rest of the territory.    
          It is possible - and even probable - that after gathering to hear Colonel Trigg's report on the build up of enemy strength in  Harrodsburg, Kentucky,  some of the men decided to leave their  militias and join the Colonel's troops.  Or perhaps  their willingness to follow him had more to do with his reputation as a brilliant soldier who always seemed to win.  
     Soon after visiting Captain Draper's militia, Colonel Trigg left for Lexington where he planned to spend some time with Colonel Daniel Boone, the commander of Bryan's Station, a fortified settlement.  However, before he reached his destination, he received intelligence from one of his informants that some 450 Indians and British Canadian Rangers were planning a surprise attack against Boone's settlement in the very near future.  

Col. Daniel Boone
     Thanks to his solid reputation among the people in the area, Colonel Trigg was soon able to recruit 135 local militiamen who were willing to assist Col. Boone and his troops in defending the settlement.  It was only after he was sure that Bryan's Station was secure that he was finally able to continue his journey to Blue Licks (where he lost both the last battle of the war - and his life). 
        It was while he and his troops were approaching “Blue Licks”,  a salt lick for cattle and wild animals on the Licking River, that Trigg's officers learned of a trap which had been set up to capture and kill them.  But while they were devising a plan to defuse that situation, a number of the troops became so restless  that they ignored orders and raced across the river ahead of their officers.   

      In an attempt to re-impose discipline, Trigg and his commanders split up their troops into three columns, with Trigg commanding the most vulnerable column on the right.  After only five minutes of battle, all of Trigg's  men had panicked and retreated, leaving him alone - and dead -  in one of the last battles of the American Revolution. 
Memorial at Blue Licks National Park

      When the troops finally got brave enough to return to the scene of the battle, they found the colonel's mutilated body which they buried with the soldiers who had fought at his side in a mass grave near the battle site in an area which became known as Trigg County, Kentucky.
   The rest of the story

  • John Calvin Noe, his sons, and father-in-law, Hugh Patrick, survived the war and were all given credit for their service during the Revolutionary War. 
  • As John Noe lay dying in 1816, he dictated his Will which listed the gifts he wished his wife and children to receive, but it included a surprise in the form of a directive regarding a Negro named "Phill" whose relationship to the family is still unknown but it must have been very important to Mr. Noe. It read:
    Colonial will
        "Thirdly I give and bequeath to my dearly beloved wife Elizabeth Noe my negroe Phill, my bay horse and one cow and calf and all my household furniture and farming utensils and every species of property which I possess of whatever nature of kind it may be (all of which property (except the said negroe Phill) by her freely to be possessed and enjoyed forever). And at her death it is my will that the said negroe Phill be at liberty to do for himself and as by the laws of this State he cannot be set free I hope some of my friends will at the death of said wife take the said Negroe Phill into their care and act as guardian for him ."
  • After serving for 7 months, Hugh Patrick returned to his farm where he acquired so much land that, in 1789, the area was named  "Patrick Parish", a town was founded on the frontier called "Patrick, Virginia" and the Patrick Courthouse became a  rendezvous for soldiers of the Revolution.  
  • Despite all these accomplishments, he and his wife, Susannah, never learned to write and signed all documents with an "X".
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