• Hickman County, Tennessee Man Signs Oath of Allegiance to Union

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    Residents of Hickman County, Tenn., were fairly confused when the secession crisis began. Few owned slaves, but when Tennessee seceded, many county residents actively supported Confederate forces.

    Federal troops invaded the state and occupied Nashville in early 1862 and remained there for the duration of the war. Forty miles northeast of Hickman County, Federals established a stronghold. Yankee raiding parties overran middle Tennessee by 1863. Citizens who were sympathetic to the Confederate cause formed companies of men to patrol Hickman County and counter the Federal advance. But by 1864, Federal troops occupied Centerville, using the town as a Union outpost and base of operations in Hickman County, which became the scene of considerable conflict that year.

    Murder and midnight justice became so commonplace in Hickman County that normally heinous crimes went unnoticed. One night, two men were killed in their beds by an assailant wielding an ax. The murderer was never caught. In the heated environment, those refusing to take oaths of allegiance were sometimes dealt with through vigilante justice. One man was drowned with a boulder tied to his neck.

    3” x 7 ¾”, partly printed Oath of Allegiance Provost Marshal’s Office, Jan. 11th, 1864, certifying that Alexander Coerts of the County of Hickman “has this day taken the Oath of Allegiance to the Government of the United Sates and filed a Bond in this Office in the sum of Two Thousand Dollars for the due observance of the same.” Signed by Alexander Witherspoon, 1st Lieut & Provost Marshal

    Folds, toning, some foxing, one small fold tear reinforced. Witherspoon’s signature is a bit faded but readable. Soiling on verso, not affecting anything.

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