On This Day in History: Fielding Hurst Escapes His Captors

On this day in history, Colonel Fielding Hurst of the Sixth Tennessee (U.S.) Cavalry was captured by Confederate soldiers near Somerville, Tennessee in 1863, but he escaped when his men came back for him.

Below is an excerpt from my book Hurst’s Wurst: Colonel Fielding Hurst and Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A. (pages 31-32):

Hurst found himself in enemy hands when two members of Colonel Richard V. Richardson’s group captured him four miles southwest of Somerville, Tennessee on July 25. While on scout with a squad of the 1st West Tennessee, he stopped for a moment to talk with a widow named Lewis and her daughter at their front gate as he waited for some of his men to rejoin him. Two Confederate soldiers named Hugh Nelson and C.A.S. Shaw, returning home to Somerville for fresh horses and clothing, came upon Hurst on the road. They approached him from behind with guns drawn as Mrs. Lewis asked, “Col[onel] ain’t you afraid the Rebels will catch you[?]” No sooner had he replied that he wasn’t when the two soldiers took his pistols from his saddle holsters and led him away on horseback toward their encampment. Hurst knew his men would try and find him and he rode slowly between his captors to give them more time to catch up. When they objected to his pace, he told them they could shoot him if they did not like it.

Meanwhile Captain Harry Hodges of Company B and a group of eight soldiers from the regiment had pursued them for seven miles. When they were found, Lieutenant Risden D. Deford and an African-American servant belonging to Captain Robert M. Thompson of Company A ran ahead and began firing at them. In the confusion, Hurst “drew rein and turned his quick grey mare” into the woods as one of his captors shot at him with one of his own pistols. Hodges gave him a revolver and the 1st West Tennessee chased the Confederate soldiers to within a few hundred feet of Richardson’s encampment. Outnumbered, Hurst and his men turned back a short distance to the top of a hill where they were joined by the rest of the squad. They “cheered lustily, making so much noise that the Rebels thought the whole regiment was coming to avenge their Colonel’s wrongs.” Richardson’s command was tempted but grudgingly decided to give up their trophy without a fight.

Progress Report on Book Projects

It’s been two months since I’ve written a post, so I thought I would give everyone an update on projects of interest to readers of my blog.

The closest project to completion is the revised second edition of my 1996 book The Peg-Legged Politician: The Life of Adam Huntsman. Editing and layout work is progressing nicely with a publication date of August 23 on the horizon. It will be the 160th anniversary of Huntsman’s death at his home near Jackson, Tennessee in 1849. A new Huntsman website is also in the works that will be launched in the coming weeks.

Thank you so much to everyone who has written to me about a project close to my heart, a proposed biography of third baseman Ken Boyer of the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers. This one is in the research phase right now as I learn more about his fifteen-year major league career. To keep up with this project, please visit my website or my site dedicated to Mr. Boyer.