Unit Served: 4th Alabama Cavalry
John Wesley Bruce Hughes (11 Sep 1831 Spartanburg, SC – 19 Jul 1862 Fort Henry, Henry County Tennessee) Seated. Standing is his father George Tillman Hughes
This photo was taken prior to his move to Marshall Co. Alabama abt 1850. John Wesley Bruce Hughes and Elizabeth Lyons had their first child William Robert Hughes 28 April 1858. I can not find marriage records in Marshall Co., Alabama, at this time. Elizabeth “Betsy” Lyon came to Albertville in 1950 along with her brother William H Lyon, a sister Minerva Jane and her mother Amelia Austin.
Elizabeth Lyon brother, William H. Lyon and Justice of the Peace, is a Charter member in the formation of Rock Springs Church, Albertville, Alabama in 1856. I have not yet determined if John WB Hughes came to Marshall Co at the same time as William H Lyon, but most likely did so in 1850 and married once arrived, he married Elizabeth. The reason I think this is because they had two children prior to William Robert, which must have died at birth according to later census records.
It is also known that John Wesley Bruce traded a bushel of corn for an Acre of land to build the first school in the area.This would be the the first Rock Springs Church building.
In late August of 1861, Captain David Campbell Kelly from Huntsville came to the Rock Springs Church looking to enlist men for Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Cavalry to help protect the South from a Northern invasion. John WB joined along with 85 other men from Marshall Co., and mustered in the Confederate Army as a Private under Captain Henry Milner in the county seat of Warrenton, Marshall Co., to form the 4th Alabama Regiment Volunteers Co. H. (*1)
At that time, the Regiment loaded up and went to Camp Forrest in Memphis Tennessee. Seeing for the last time a wife of 30 years of age, two sons ages 3 and 1 year old and a 4 month old daughter.
The following excerpts are from the book “Campaigns of Nathan Bedford Forrest” pg. 43-44.
During August 1861, Nathan Bedford Forrest had been traveling with a small team of other Cavalry riders from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Clarksville, Tennessee. A fine company for his regiment had been raised and organized in Memphis in his absence, under Captain Charles May, which had been name the “Forrest Rangers,” and this and the Boone Rangers formed the nucleus around which, in the course of the next six or eight weeks, was formed a Battalion of eight companies. (*1) Including Henry Milners 4th Alabama Regiment Co. H of which contained Private John Wesley Bruce Hughes.
An election for field-officers, held in the second week of October, of course resulted in the choice of Forrest for the Lieutenant-Colonelcy, while Captain D.C. Kelly from Hunstville was made major.
The day following the final organization by this election of field-officers, one squadron was put in motion, under Major Kelly, for Fort Donelson, (Dover,) Middle Tennessee. In a day or two the remainder followed, and the whole battalion was assembled at that point during the last week in October. The immediate commandant there at the time was Colonel A. Heiman, Tenth Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, and the garrison, a small command of infantry, did not exceed four hundred men, who were engaged throwing up fortifications.
According to records of the 3rd Tennessee Cavalry Co G, his regiment started at Ft Donelson on 10 November 1861 and left that day for Canton, Trigg, Kentucky and arrived on the 11th. At midnight on the 11th at Midnight they left to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. On the 13th left for Princeton, Kentucky and on the 15th were at Fords Ferry, Crittenden, Kentucky where they went on a scouting expedition and returned on the 16th.
The company was traveling up the Cumberland River on the 18th of November 1861 and got into a skirmish with the USS Conestoga. USS Conestoga was originally a civilian side-wheel towboat built at Brownsville, Pennsylvania, in 1859. She was acquired by the U.S. Army in June 1861 and converted to a 572 ton “timberclad” river gunboat for use by the Western Gunboat Flotilla, with officers provided by the navy.
The company arrived back in Princeton, Kentucky on 20 November 1861 and in turn left for Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The unit then left for a scouting expedition on the 24th.
The Battle of Ft Donelson started on the 11 of February 1862. On the 16th of February, Nathan Bedford Forrest retreated having only Co G being captured. Many prisoners were sent to Camp Chase in Ohio, others to Ten Island and some to Ft Henry.
According to verbal accounts listed in the August 8, 1912 Advertiser Gleam in Guntersville, John WB Hughes died at Fort Henry in Tennessee. Fort Henry was consumed by water when TVA started daming the river. There are still outskirts of the fort that exist on the river bank.
What followed were the Battles of Fort Henry, Shiloh, and Murphreesboro. During the harsh winters, Forrest’s camp had become entrenched with disease and sickness including Tuberculosis, Measles, Pneumonia, etc. John Wesley Bruce Hughes succumbed to one of the diseases and died July 19, 1862.
Two days after John WB Hughes died, Lt Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest became a Lt. General. General Forrest is unique in that he is one of three Confederate Generals in the war that did not attend West Point Military Academy. He attained his status from his quick ability to learn military strategy in the field and his uncanny ability to rally men and fight for Independence of the South. Forrest was nicknamed “Wizard in the Saddle” and his mighty Cavalry was feared by the Union Army. Forrest had 29 horses shot from underneath him during the campaigns, and he himself had been shot in the hip during an altercation.