David Milton Tannehill [tree] was born in Bibb County, Alabama, to Colonel Ninian Tannehill and Mary ‘Polly’ Prude. He was the second of four known children. His siblings were Mary Lavinia, the oldest, and younger brothers, John and Marion. He was raised on the banks of Roupe’s Creek, in the shadow of the great ironworks that bears the name Tannehill to this day. Its remains were found nestled at the southernmost reaches of the Appalachian Mountains. Today, it is restored and has become the Tannehill State Park and museum. I had the honor of visiting that place, and I waded in the same waters that my ancestors surely must have on many hot summer days.
Farmers by trade, Ninian Tannehill’s people had come to Alabama from Abbeville, South Carolina, where they were tobacco growers. The Colonel had a plantation near the ironworks, and later operated a mill, where cornmeal was ground. Like his father and grandfather, David Milton Tannehill was also a farmer. He had over 40 acres near his father. In 1844, he married Nancy Murphy, a daughter of Richard 'Dick' Murphy and Frances Davidson.
While his younger brother, Marion, was involved with the running of the Tannehill Furnaces, David continued to farm and began a family with his new bride. Their first child was William Ninian, who was born in 1845. In 1848, Richard Lafayette was born (he was my great-great grandfather), followed in 1850 by Louis Monroe. In 1853, the only daughter, Mary Francis, joined her brothers. John Harrison was the last Tannehill to be born in Alabama in the year 1855.
For reasons that can only be pondered, David and Nancy removed their little clan to Winn Parish, Louisiana. Nancy’s parents also removed to Louisiana, but David’s family remained near the Ironworks in Alabama, which were destroyed during the ensuing war.
Once again, David farmed, this time in the broad, flat soil of Louisiana. Two more sons completed the Tannehill family. Marion was born about 1860, and David Milton, Jr., in 1863. Baby David may have been born after his father’s capture. His namesake, sadly, he never knew the man.
There are no surviving records that establish the exact date of enlistment of David Milton Tannehill, or that of his eldest son, William Ninian Tannehill. Both men served as Privates in Company C, ‘Winn Rifles’, 3rd Louisiana Infantry. The 3rd Louisiana Infantry Regiment was assembled during the spring of 1861 with men from Iberville, Morehouse, Winn, De Soto, Caddo, and Caldwell parishes. The unit fought at Wilson's Creek and Elkhorn Tavern, where conditions were difficult. There was no food for four days during a blizzard and freeze. The Regiment then moved to Mississippi where it was active in the conflicts at Iuka and Corinth, followed by the Siege of Vicksburg, which began May 18, 1863.
Father and son shouldered their rifles in battle, together, and were at the Siege of Vicksburg. William was captured at Snyder’s Bluff on 19 May 1863, and his father on the following day. David and William were both sent to Memphis, Tennessee, on May 25, 1863. They arrived at Fort Delaware, Delaware, on June 15, 1863 and were transferred to City Point, Virginia, for exchange in July of 1863. William would probably have been sent on to Point Lookout, with his father, but he did not make it that far. He died at Fort Delaware on August 16, 1863. David was sent to Point Lookout, Maryland, on September 20, 1863. He was on the Hospital Register, having been admitted to Hammond U. S. A. General Hospital at Point Lookout on October 19, 1863. He died there of disease on March 7, 1864.
Interestingly, my paternal 2nd great grandfather, John Worden, was a guard at Point Lookout during the time my maternal 3rd great grandfather, David Milton Tannehill, was imprisoned there. In John Worden’s pension file is a sworn affidavit, detailing his service record. Worden served with the 2nd U.S. Cavalry, and was detached to Point Lookout from the fall of 1863 until the fall of 1864. Whether my two ancestors ever had any personal contact, I can only guess. Worden survived the war. Tannehill did not. [Read more about Worden & Tannehill here]
The great tragedies that befell the Tannehills during the war were numerous; David’s father, Ninian, lost everything. His home. His business. His son and his grandson. He and his wife, Polly, had to start over in their golden years, when they should have been able to rest comfortably on the laurels of their years of toil. The couple prevailed, and attained success once more, though Ninian and Polly would never see their son, David, or their grandson, William, again. Their bodies were interred in mass graves; William’s at Fort Delaware and David’s at Point Lookout, where their souls may still roam.
Nancy Murphy Tannehill survived her husband, and remained in Louisiana until her death in 1876. She never remarried.
Story written and researched by Shae Leighland.
This page is part of www.Heritage-Files.com
This article is forthcoming in PARAPET (Descendants of Point Lookout).