The Unknown Civil War Soldier

11695864_10153375657553326_8418079807619080794_nOn the 4th of July, Trophy husband and I went into Franklin, TN for a small-town celebration. As per our usual behavior, we got sidetracked on the way home and visited two cemeteries and a Civil War memorial site. One of the cemeteries hosted the tomb of an unknown Civil War soldier which I had seen in a local documentary on television. I’ll let you read the inscriptions on the photo and be back in a minute….




unknown18lgHere’s a photo I did not take of the events the day of his funeral. I love how the Confederate and Union flags were both draped across his coffin. You can see more pictures at

What has me so intrigued about this story is written on the bottom of the second sign, the one that starts with “Oct 10.” Two actual sons and a daughter were in attendance at the burial. Do the math. If the soldier was thirty when the war ended in 1865 and didn’t have this child until he was eighty in 1915, said son or daughter would be ONE HUNDRED right now in 2015. Just wrap your head around that for a minute. I wonder how many real sons and daughters are left out there. Can’t be too many.

52 Ancestors #21 Sharpshooters and Soldiers


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small,

and this week’s challenge is “Military.”


I can’t only honor one of my ancestors. I need to honor all of them.

My grandfathers who served in the United States military

An * denotes he died in service.

Joel Bluett Culpepper – Confederate Army

William Thomas Fisher – Confederate Army

William Lafayette Brown Jr – Confederate Army

Rev. Joseph M Culpepper – Confederate Army *

Rice Benjamin Carpenter – Confederate Army *

George Washington Spencer – Confederate Army

James C Howington – Confederate Army

William Henry Blanks III – Confederate Army

Hays Rodgers – War of 1812

William Henry Blanks I – American Revolution

Joseph Culpepper Jr – American Revolution

Thomas Young – American Revolution

John B Rice – American Revolution

James Rodgers Sr – American Revolution

Captain Jacob Prickett – American Revolution

My uncles who served in the United States military

George M Graham – Confederate Army

Timothy Rodgers – Confederate Army *

Wilson Rodgers – Confederate Army *

Hays Rodgers Jr – Confederate Army

John W Rodgers – Confederate Army *

Howell Joel “Hobby” Wedgeworth – Confederate Army

Benjamin M Culpepper – Confederate Army

Hilliard Carpenter – Confederate Army *

James Monroe Chatham – Confederate Army *

Rev. James Lafayette Blanks – Confederate Army

Richard Lane Blanks – Confederate Army

John Henry Brown – Confederate Army

Absolom Rodgers – War of 1812

…and so very many more. Sleep well, soldiers. Your job is done.


CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY OF OKATIBBEE CREEK …and don’t forget the tissue.

okatibbee creek cover front JPEGIn the bloodiest years of our nation’s history, a young mother was left alone to endure the ravages of the Civil War and a typhoid epidemic that threatened the lives of everyone left behind.

Okatibbee Creek is based on the true story of Mary Ann Rodgers, who survived the collapse of the Confederate dollar, food shortages, and the deaths of countless family members to war and disease. As she searched for a way to feed her children and her orphaned nieces and nephews, Sherman’s Union army marched through Mississippi on their way to destroy Meridian, and Mary Ann found the distant war literally on her doorstep. Help arrived just in the nick of time in the form of an unexpected champion, and Mary Ann emerged on the other side a heroic woman with an amazing story.

Okatibbee Creek is a novel of historical fiction that brings the Deep South vividly to life and will have you cheering and crying through a real-life story of loss, love and survival.


On This Day in 1862

My 3rd great grandfather, Rice Benjamin Carpenter, was born August 15, 1828 in Greene County, Alabama to Benjamin Carpenter and Nancy Rice Carpenter. He was the eighth of ten children.

In 1834, following the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, his family moved to Pine Springs, Lauderdale County, Mississippi for the low-cost land and fertile soil. Rice was six years old.

He married Mary Ann Rodgers in 1846. They were both seventeen.

They had five children – Martha Lettie, Benjamin Hays, William Travis, Charles Clinton, and MF – one girl and four boys.

frs4544After living with some friends in Pine Springs for a few years, in 1853 they bought 80 acres of land from Mary Ann’s father and began farming, but within a few short years, Rice realized he was a better merchant than a farmer, and by 1860 they had opened a general store in Marion Station, Mississippi.




dec 2012 388When the Civil War began, Rice signed up for the 41st Mississippi Infantry, Company C on February 8, 1862. This must have been a frightening time for the family, as Mary Ann was eight months pregnant with their last child who was born March 12th, 1862.




dec 2012 394On This Day at dawn on December 31, 1862, amid limestone boulders and cedar forest, his infantry attacked the Union soldiers at the Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. (only 20 miles from my house)





Page 6Private Rice Benjamin Carpenter died on that day on the battlefield at the age of 34, leaving behind his wife and children.









dec 2012 407He is laid to rest at Confederate Circle, Evergreen Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

RIP 3rd great grandpa. Rest well soldier, your job is done.

A portion of his story is told in my book, “Okatibbee Creek.” Available at Amazon.

This post brought to you by On This Day. 

On This Day in 1864

carrie mcgavock portrait

Yesterday, November 29, 1864, Carrie McGavock sat on the front porch of her Tennessee home, the Carnton Plantation, enjoying a warm afternoon of Indian summer. Suddenly, she witnessed thousands of Confederate troops marching across her 1400 acres, heading directly toward her home. The troops told her a battle was coming and asked if they could use her house as a hospital, and by nightfall, surgeons and medics had arrived and started moving her furniture against the walls to make way for the injured. They took the doors off her outbuildings to be used as cots and operating tables. I can only imagine how nervous she felt, dreading the unknown that was to come.



carnton house







On This Day, November 30, 1864

back of Carnton HouseAt 3:30 p.m. the five-hour battle began. Cannon fire shook the house. Bullets drilled holes into the walls of the outbuildings. By the time night fell and the battle was over, hundreds of wounded, bleeding, and dying men had been carried into her home and placed throughout the rooms, in the hallways, on the staircase. Four dead generals lay covered on this back porch. 150 soldiers died in her home that night. The wooden floors are still stained with their blood. The outbuildings still show the bullet holes.


The next morning, December 1, 1864

cemetery 1At the first light of dawn, the 750 residents of Franklin, TN began tending the nearly 10,000 Union and Confederate soldiers lying all over McGavock’s property, some dead, some wounded, moaning and crying out for help. Forty-four private homes in Franklin were converted into temporary hospitals.

By 1866, the McGavock’s had seen numerous bodies that had been buried in shallow graves all over the battlefield become unearthed by the elements and the woodland animals. The McGavocks donated two acres of their land to be used as a Confederate Cemetery and properly re-interred the soldiers. Carrie’s husband, John McGavock, and the townspeople cataloged and buried 1500 Confederate soldiers, 500 of whom they could not identify. The Union soldiers were moved to the National Cemetery in Murfreesboro, TN.



mcgavock confererate cemeteryCarrie McGavock cared for the Confederate cemetery until her death in 1905, at which time it was turned over to the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Saturday Snippet – OKATIBBEE CREEK

okatibbee creek cover front JPEGOkatibbee Creek takes place in Mississippi during the Civil War and is based on a true story. Our heroine, Mary Ann, has been left alone with the children while the men in her family are off fighting. I don’t think she’s as fragile as the Yankees assume.


I can hear Charlie screaming for me as he runs up the road. He flies in the front door of the store, shouting that the Union Army is coming down the street. Oh, no, here we go. Apparently I am now in the middle of this war. Unfortunately, on this day, I have all of the children with me: my three, William’s four, and James’s five.

I order the boys to run to the field in back and chase the hog and the horse into the woods. I order the girls to take every jug, every crock, and every jar of food from the store and the cellar, put them in the attic, barricade the door, and stay there. Then I load my rifle. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let these disgraceful, plundering Yankees ruin my life any more than they already have. And I will kill every last one of them before I let them harm the children. When the Yankees arrive, I will be more than ready for them.

I watch for them out the front window of the store. My palms are sweating. My heart is pounding out of my chest. My breathing is heavy. I can also feel my anger rising like flames from the very depths of Hell. My hands are shaking, though I don’t know if it is from fear or rage. I can hear them coming before I can see them. Their horses are clomping on the dry road and there is a jingling sound from their spurs and saddles. Sure enough, they stop right in front of my store. There are three of them on horseback dressed in their blue uniforms. They are filthy and unshaven and a bit thin and weary. I slowly emerge through the doorway onto the wooden front porch with my loaded rifle in my hands.

“What do you want?” I yell to the Yankees.

“Do you have any food here?” one of them asks, though it sounds more like a demand than a question.

“No, I don’t have any food,” I say, surprised at the sound of the strength in my own voice even though my statement is a bold lie.

“Is your husband home?” the second one asks.

“No. You already killed him,” I reply, with venom in my tone that would scare off any other man, but they don’t move.

“Is there a man of the house here?” the third one asks.

“No, there are no men here, just me.” I raise my gun slightly.

“You need to put that gun away, ma’am. We just want some food. We’re not here to hurt anyone. You have to have some kind of food in that store,” the first one says with a cocky smile on his unshaven face, as he climbs down from his horse. He removes his dusty hat and takes a couple steps toward me.

“I already told you, I don’t have any food,” I say slowly without raising my voice. I do, however, raise my gun to my shoulder and point it squarely at the man’s face. The two Yankees still on horseback put their hands on their pistols.

The man on the ground stops moving and holds up his free hand to the other two to keep them from drawing their weapons. Again, he starts to move toward me.

I cock the hammer. Again, he stops.

We seem to be at a stalemate. But what he doesn’t know is that the rage inside me will have no trouble blowing his damn head off. We stare each other directly in the eye and neither of us moves.


Lori Crane Books at Amazon and audiobook at Audible.

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It’s Monday! What are you reading? A Difference of Purpose




I’m currently reading…

A Difference of Purpose: A Novel of the American Civil War

by Terry Soileau







816r0GNpUaL._SL1500_Anything to do with the Civil War pulls at my heartstrings, and I got this book for free from the author’s Kindle giveaway. I’m about halfway through and find it a quick read. The book opens with a list of the cast of characters, which puts me off just a bit, because I know at that point the character development will be lacking. As I read, I began to see the story is not told in a novel style or an historical fiction style, but more as an historian delivering just the facts. The tale is interesting, but I wish the book was told as a true drama. There is a bit of dialog, but the writer seldom indicates who said the line, leaving the reader to figure it out on his own. That being said, it is a very good story, and would have been a lot better with a substantive edit.

Blurb from Amazon

A DIFFERENCE OF PURPOSE is a civil war novel that tells the story of 12 year old Jonathan Berkeley, a Confederate drummer boy serving with the famous Orphan Brigade, and his uncle and Godfather, Alexander Wythe, an abolitionist lawyer and captain serving in the Union army. They wrestle with God and their own inner demons as they confront devastating personal tragedies and search desperately for faith, love, and meaning in a torn and tragic world of civil war. Captain Wythe is forced to question his faith when confronted with the loss of loved ones, including his wife, Amanda Wythe, and with the human suffering, inhumanity, cruelty and chaos of the American Civil War. This story of loss, sorrow, faith and redeeming love takes the reader on a fast paced journey to the bloody battlefields of Fredericksburg, Stones River, and Chickamauga, and through a tragic world of division and heartbreak. Also, featured in this novel of love and war are Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, the abolition of slavery, the mistreatment of American Indians, and the largest mass execution in American history

On This Day in 1828

On This Day 1828

August 15, 1828 was the birthday of my 3rd great grandfather, Rice Benjamin Carpenter.

Rice was born to Benjamin Carpenter and Nancy Rice. He was the eighth of ten children, the first five born in North Carolina, and the last five born in Mississippi. When he was 17 years old in 1846, he married my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Ann Rodgers. The Carpenter and Rogers families lived near each other and Rice and Mary Ann had grown up together.

Jolly family bible pg2Rice and Mary Ann had five children: Martha Lettie (my 2nd great grandmother 1848-1933), Benjamin Hays (1850-1929), William Travis (1854-1856), Charles Clinton (1858-1890), and a son with the initials MF (1862-1863). As you can see by the dates, William Travis died at the age of two, and MF died as an infant. His full name is not known, but his initials are written in the family Bible, as you can see on the bottom of the first column in the photo.

Rice and Mary Ann set up house on land they got from Mary Ann’s father, but sometime around 1860, they sold the land and moved to the town of Marion Station in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, to open a general store. Abandoning the farm so Rice could become a merchant was probably their way of starting over after losing their first son. The excitement of a new life was not long-lived, however. In February of 1862, with Mary Ann eight months pregnant, Rice signed up for the 41st Infantry Regiment, the Cole Guards, and prepared to fight in the Civil War.

port-hudsonOn 31 December 1862, his company found themselves in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (only 25 miles from my house) where they met the Union troops head-on at the Battle of Stones River. As you can see in the Port Hudson News, the newspapers were reporting a successful campaign for the Rebels, but Rice was not so lucky. He was killed in the very first charge. Rice’s son MF had been born March 12, 1862. In February of that year, Rice had signed up to fight, but is shown as absent until May. Perhaps he did get to spend time with his youngest son.

On the 150th anniversary of the battle, 31 December 2012, I visited the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro. The man there told me the battle that took place on 31 December actually happened about two miles up the road in what is now a golf course.

dec 2012 407The Confederate Circle was established at Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro in 1890, and in 1891 all of the remains of soldiers from local areas were re-interred in a mass grave there. Of the 2000 soldiers buried in the Circle, about 90% are unknown or not recorded in the records – one being Rice Benjamin Carpenter. He left behind a grieving widow and three children ages 14, 12, and 4.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa Rice.

Shameless plugs:

Mary Ann’s story is told in my book Okatibbee Creek.

This post is brought to you by On This Day available at Amazon.

On This Day in 1861

On This Day, April 12, 1861, Fort Sumter, South Carolina was shelled by the Confederacy. This marked the start of the Civil War.

SumterPreviously, on February 4th, a convention of seceded states met in Montgomery, Alabama and formed the Confederate States of America.

On March 3rd, Confederate General Beauregard took command of the troops around Charleston Harbor, surrounding Fort Sumter.

By April, the fort was running low on rations. President Lincoln (only president for a month at this point) told them he would re-supply and instructed them to hold the fort.

On April 11th, General Beauregard demanded Union Major Robert Anderson evacuate the fort, but he refused. He was warned if he did not evacuate, the fort would be fired upon at 4:30 a.m. on April 12th.

When the evacuation did not happen, as promised, General Beauregard commanded the men to open fire on Fort Sumter. Fortunately, there were no casualties on either side, but the fort had no option but to surrender.

At 2:30 p.m. on April 13th, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort.

flying confederate flag on april 14The Confederate flag was raise over Fort Sumter and a 100-gun salute to the flag was planned, but a gun discharged prematurely, killing Union Private Daniel Hough. He was the first casualty of the war.

The war produced over one million casualties with between 650,000 and 850,000 Americans giving their lives. They died fighting their own countrymen and left behind as many grieving parents, widows, and children. These Americans gave their lives to save the United States they knew, whether it be Union or Confederate. As Americans, we have a duty to honor their memories and to get it right. God forbid, we ever divide and do it again.


(shameless plug: I wrote this post in honor of my new book On This Day. It’s a perpetual calendar/journal/record book. If you’re a genealogy buff, you HAVE to get this book to keep track of your ancestor’s special dates. Check it out here.)


October Ancestry Challenge – William Lafayette Brown Jr

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 

23 posts/23 days/23 ancestors.

Ancestor #13 – William Lafayette Brown Jr




brown william lafayett bibleMy 3rd great grandfather was William Lafayette Brown Jr. He was born in 1836 in Lauderdale County, Mississippi to William Sr and Martha Hamrick Brown. He only had one brother, John Henry, and six sisters. Poor boy.  The document to the left is the transcribed family bible.

William Jr (24) and John Henry (29) both signed up for the 37th Mississippi Infantry during the Civil War in May 1862. They were in Company D under Lt H. G. Hamrick. As close as everyone was in Lauderdale County at the time, I’m sure Lt Hamrick was a relative. In November of 1862, William Jr was promoted to Corporal. In November of 1863, he was sent to work with the Calvary, and in February of 1864, he was promoted to 3rd Sargent.

7872_561759593863541_1656188250_nFor you Civil War buffs, here are the details of his company

Officers of Company D (Enterprise Tigers)
Whitman C. Turner, Capt., r. January 3, 1863
F. S. Pickle], Capt., r. August 29, 1864
Allen C. Carter, 2nd Lt., died August 23, 1862
H. G. Hamrick, 2nd Lt., r. July 27, 1862
Ira J. Williams, 1st Lt., died April 9, 1862
J. L. Peters, 1st Lt.
D. Lindsey, 2nd Lt.
N. R. Sumrall, 2nd Lt.

Stationed at Enterprise, Mississippi, March 7, 1862.
March 7. Muster-in roll of Captain Whitman C. Turner’s Company, the Enterprise Tigers, of Mississippi Volunteers . . .
called into the service of the Confederate States of America by virtue of a proclamation of the Governor of the state of Mississippi January 1862 from March 7, 1862 for the term of three years or for the war, unless sooner discharged. . . .
ROBERT McLAIN, Mustering Officer.

Stationed at Columbus, Mississippi, March 7-June 30, 1862.
Stationed at Saltillo, Mississippi, July-August 1862.
Stationed near Lumpkin’s Mill, September-October 1862.
September 10. Left for Iuka from Baldwyn.
September 14. Took possession of Iuka.
September 19-20. Had battle on the evening of September 19 and evacuated the place on the morning of September 20 and retreated back to Baldwyn, traveling about 100 miles.
September 25. Left Baldwyn for Corinth via Ripley.
October 3-4. Gave the enemy battle at Corinth and began our retreat from Corinth on the evening of October 4 and came back to Ripley and thence to this place, traveling about 140 miles on that march.
Stationed in barracks, Yazoo County, Mississippi, November-December 1862.
Stationed at Snyder’s Mill, Mississippi, January-February 1863.
Stationed at Enterprise, Mississippi, April 30-October 31, 1863.
Stationed near Enterprise, Mississippi, November-December1863.
Stationed near Pollard, Alabama, January-February 1864.
Stationed at Atlanta, Georgia, February 29-August 31, 1864.


Okay, let’s back up just a moment, and then we’ll fast forward to the good part.


william lafayette brown and sarah dollar marriage licenseBefore joining the Infantry, William Jr married Sarah Ann Dollar on October 6, 1854. The document to the left is their marriage license. They had three boys and a girl. While he was running around fighting, his wife gave birth to my 2nd great grandmother Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown on November 19, 1862 (100 years to the day before I was born). Once he returned from the war, they had five more children: four more boys and another girl.

He was obviously a viral young man, and while he was away from home from 62 to 65, he needed to find a way to burn off all that testosterone. The story is: he was a sniper and guarded the railroad bridges at the Chunky River in Mississippi, and was captured by Federal forces. He dug a hole out of the stockade and escaped. Later, he allowed himself to be captured a second time to help others escape. He/they did. He had a bounty on his head by the Union for the remainder of the war.



brown william L and Sarah A at goodwater cemeteryWilliam Lafayette Brown Jr, the father, the Rebel, and the war hero, died at the age of 52 on September 23, 1889 and is buried at Goodwater Cemetery in Enterprise, Mississippi.