By J.D. Weeks
Jeremiah Alexander Heatherly, my Great Grandfather, was born in DeKalb Co., AL on 4 Feb 1844. His father, Ambrose Ripley Heatherly, had moved the family from Green River Township, Henderson Co., NC in 1838 to DeKalb Co., AL. Jeremiah’s siblings were Trecy C., Arintha Ann, Malessa A., Huldah M., and John William. By 1860 the family had moved to Walker Co., AL and then on to Winston Co., AL. Here he was living with his family when the Civil War started.
On 6 Sep 1862, at the age of 18, Jeremiah Alexander Heatherly, enlisted at Jasper, Alabama as a Private in Co. B, 13th Alabama Cavalry, Partisan Rangers Regiment (Confederate) by Major W.A. Hewlett. His brother, John William Heatherly who was three years older, enlisted at the same time. This Unit had been formed with six companies on 28 Aug 1862 and served first primarily as scouts and pickets. They fought in the Battle of King's Creek under General Daniel Ruggles on 5 May 1863. Jeremiah's name appears on muster rolls dated 6 Sep-31 Oct 1862, and May-Jun 1863. Records indicated he was last paid 28 Feb 1863.
On 8 Jun 1863, the 13th Cavalry Battalion was consolidated with the 15th Partisan Rangers Battalion to form the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers Regiment. This Unit recruited from the Alabama counties of Autauga, Butler, Mobile, Montgomery, and Walker. The Unit was also referred to in other documents as the 56th Cavalry Regiment, Partisan. His name appears on muster rolls dated Jul-Aug 1863 and is listed on detached service with Buckner's Battery by order of Col. Boyles (dated 1 Jul 1863). He was also listed on detached service on muster rolls dated Sep-Oct 1863.
For reasons unknown, Jeremiah Alexander Heatherly switched from the Confederacy to the Union side. On 27 Feb 1864, at the age of 20, Jeremiah enlisted at Decatur, Alabama as a private in Co. B, 1st Alabama Cavalry (U.S.). He was enrolled by Capt. E.B. West. He lived in Houston, Winston Co., Alabama, at the time of his enlistment. Documents indicate that he was 5 ft. 10 in., fair complexion, light hair, and gray eyes. It is important to note that some reason he enlisted under the name of James M. Heatherly. He and other enlistees waited in Decatur for the arrival of the Unit, which had been making its way from Memphis, TN.
From 17-19 Apr 1864, they had skirmishes at and around Decatur, Alabama and Morgan County supported by the 9th Illinois Mounted Infantry. From May to Sep 1864, the 1st Alabama Cavalry took part in the Atlanta Campaign. On 1 May 1864, they traveled to Huntsville, then east to Stevenson, Alabama to join other units for the push through Georgia. On 10 May 1864, they participated in a main engagement at Snake Creek Gap, GA. On 13 May 1864, they fought in the Battle of Resaca, GA. On 16 May, they were at Rome/Parker's Cross Roads, GA. From 25 May to 5 Jun 1864, the 1st Alabama Cavalry fought in battles at Dallas, GA, New Hope Church, and Alatoona Hills, GA. From 10 Jun to 2 Jul 1864, they were in battles around Marietta and at Kennesaw Mountain, GA then Nicajack Creek, GA.
In early Jul 1864, the 1st Alabama Cavalry was at the Chattahoochee River in GA. On 8 Jul they were in a skirmish at Cave Springs, GA and on 11 Jul headed toward Centre, AL. They participated in the Battle and Siege of Atlanta in Jul 1864. On 31 Aug 1864, they fought at the Battle of Jonesboro, GA. Brig.-General John M. Corse and General Sherman both acknowledged their debt to the 1st Alabama Cavalry for their scouting activities during the Campaign for Atlanta.
In early Sep 1864, they had skirmishes in Bolensville, Rollisnville, and Rome, GA. On 4 Oct 1864, they were ordered to move to Kingston, 20 miles SE of Rome, GA. Throughout the rest of Oct they reconnoitered from Rome, GA on Cave Springs Road toward Cedartown. They moved from Cedartown to Marietta arriving on 5 Nov 1864. They circled Atlanta to Milledgeville where they destroyed the railroad and depot. They were under orders of General Sherman to burn everything within 15 miles of Atlanta.
From Nov through Dec, the 1st Alabama Cavalry participated in the March to the Sea Campaign of General Sherman. These included skirmishes at Bush Head Creek, Briar Creek, and Little Ogeechee River, GA all while burning railroad stations and destroying the tracks.
In Dec 1864, the 1st Alabama Cavalry participated in the Siege of Savannah. They were encamped at Midway Congregational Church in Liberty County, GA and tore up 18 miles of railroad track including bridges and trestles. At the end of the year, General Sherman paraded his victorious troops through the streets of Savannah. The 1st Alabama Cavalry formed up on Price Street, with its right resting on Bay Street. After the parade they camped at Fort Thunderbolt, 4 miles south of the city.
From Jan-Apr 1865, they participated in the Campaign of the Carolinas. Their first skirmish of the new year came at Thorn Hill in Marion County, AL. On 28 Jan 1865, they were back at Fort Thunderbolt and departed for SC. On 7 Feb 1865, they drove one of "Fighting" Joe Wheeler's brigades back at River's Bridge, SC. The 1st Alabama Cavalry skirmished at Williston, near White Post, SC on 8 Feb.
The following week they traveled through Aiken and Johnson's Station, SC, crossing the Edisto, Saluda, Broad, Wateree, and PeeDee Rivers. Then via Lexington, Alston, Black Storks, Lancaster, Sneedborough they arrived at Gunier's Bridge on North Edisto River, SC.
On 7 Mar 1865, the 1st Alabama Cavalry was in Rockingham, NC. They were engaged on 10 May 1865 at Monroe's Cross Roads near Cheraw, SC in three hours of bloody hand-to-hand combat. On 16 Mar 1865, they fought at the Battle of Averysboro and Taylor's Hole Creek, NC with Union losses of 95 killed, 533 wounded, and 54 missing.
Next they participated in the Battle of Bentonville, NC, again with great Union losses of 194 killed, 1,112 wounded, and 221 missing. On 22 Mar 1865, the 1st Alabama Cavalry was at Mount Olive, NC. By the end of the month they were at Faisson's Depot, NC where they rested after marching more than 700 miles. During this march they destroyed 80 railroad bridges, 200,000 bales of cotton, 411 cotton gins, 70 grist mills, and many water tanks, wagon shops, and other rolling stock.
The first of Apr 1865 they traveled through Roachland and Mt. Pleasant, NC then on to occupy Raleigh, NC. In May 1865, the 1st Alabama Cavalry was in Hillsboro, NC awaiting orders. In May 1865, they started the return trip to Alabama. They came through Hillsboro, Greensboro, and to Salisbury where they remained a week to shoe horses. Then through Lincolnton, Rutherford, Ashville, Bulls Gap, and arrived in Knoxville the last day of May.
On 2 Jun 1865, they traveled into Alabama through Bridgeport, Stevenson, and Larkinsville and arrived in Huntsville on 14 Jun 1865. Company B was bivouacked in Huntsville on 5 Jul 1865 with some of the other companies in Moulton, AL. Pension records indicate that Jeremiah was treated by a Dr. Morton near Rome, GA for pneumonia in Jun or Jul 1865. Unit records show they were in that part of GA, including Rome, in summer of 1864 instead. Jeremiah Alexander Heatherly was mustered out in Huntsville, AL on 20 Oct 1865 at the age of 21.
Three months after he returned home from the Civil War he married Sarah Jane Dunlavy on 11 Jan 1866 in Walker Co., AL. Their children were William Braxton, Ambrose Jackson, James Pinkton, Elizabeth, John Wesley (my Grandfather), Jeremiah, George Franklin, Henry, Isaac Christopher, Martha Melvina, and Scott Hubert. He signed an affidavit on 7 Aug 1871 for Benjamin Franklin Freeman, a cousin who was applying for a pension, stating that they had served in the same unit, the 1st Alabama Cavalry, together during the Civil War. He continued living in Walker Co., AL and the area became a part of the newly created Cullman Co. in January 1887. About 1899, he headed to Texas by wagon train with his wife and most of his children, with some staying behind in Cullman Co., AL. After encountering a great flood in Arkansas he turned around and came back to Lee Co., MS where he settled. He died there in Belden, Lee Co., MS (near Tupelo) on 4 Dec 1910. He was buried at the Union Cemetery, Belden, Lee Co., MS. His wife lived twenty more years and was buried by his side in 1930. Many of his descendants still live in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Iowa, and all around the country.