"Peculiarly distinguished among the advance guard, where all were distinguished, must be recorded . . . Private J. W. Brown, of Company F, First Georgia Regiment, who, upon hearing the order to fall back, exclaimed, 'I will give them one more shot before I leave,' and while ramming down his twenty-ninth cartridge fell dead at his post." - General Henry R. Jackson in his report of the Battle of Greenbrier River.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20, 1861

The bulk of Major Thompson’s 300 men, led by “Tanner Jim” Parsons, begin to come into the camp at Monterey There they are greeted with wild cheering and laughter by their comrades, who had been certain that they had all been all been captured or killed.

Amazingly, when all of Thompson’s troops arrive and are accounted for, not one man is missing. However, the trek through the wilderness had shattered the health of many. An officer later wrote that “A great many of those who had suffered so much died of fevers and other ailments in a few months. Most of those who had become crazy, recovered for a time, but either died soon afterward or become permanently deranged.”

James Rust Parsons, the savior of Major Thompson’s 300, received the grateful thanks of the regiment. Following the war, the soldiers sang “Tanner Jim’s” praise at their reunions and in their memoirs. Parsons himself was unable to return home after the rescue, however. Because of the strong Unionist sentiment in the region, he believed he would be killed if he returned – in fact, there were several reports that he had been murdered for helping the Georgians. Parsons traveled westward to Iowa, where he took refuge with his brother, Robert Slack Parsons. Not until the war ended would he feel safe enough to return to his farm in the Allegheny Mountains.

Thus ended the tragic retreat of the Army of the Northwest.  Reinforcements would continue to arrive in Monterey to bolster the command, but it would be many weeks before the army would be ready for another campaign.

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