Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry Presentation

This week, I was invited to give my presentation on Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee (U.S.) Cavalry to the Tippah Tigers Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #868 in Ripley, Mississippi. The membership treated me to a great meal and several members purchased copies of my book Hurst’s Wurst: Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A. This is the first time anyone’s recorded one of my speeches, and I appreciate Robert Jackson of the Tippah Tigers posting it to YouTube. Thank you again to the Tigers (who you can also find on Facebook) for their hospitality!


McNairy County Historical Society Meeting

There was a great turnout last night for my presentation to the McNairy County Historical Society at the Jack McConnico Memorial Library in Selmer, TN. Despite the rainy weather, there was a packed meeting room when I arrived and more chairs were being brought in from the library. I was very honored that people came out to listen to me talk about Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee (U.S.) Cavalry. Afterward, I answered questions from members and guests, signed copies of my book Hurst’s Wurst, and had the opportunity to talk with many people interested in Hurst, the Civil War, and their family histories that were tied to members of the Sixth Tennessee.

My wife Cindy and I sold 19 copies of the book–thank you very much to everyone who purchased one (or two)!

A member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Corinth, MS who came to the meeting invited me to address one of their future meetings. I should have details in a few weeks.

Thank you, Judy Hammons and Nancy Kennedy with the Historical Society, for inviting me to speak. I enjoy coming back to Selmer and McNairy County whenever I have the chance.

Hurst’s Wurst Presentation and Book Signing

I will be speaking to the McNairy County Historical Society on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Jack McConnico Memorial Library in Selmer, TN. I will discuss why I chose to research and write about Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee (U.S.) Cavalry, share a little about the man, his regiment, and other Unionists in southwest Tennessee during the Civil War, and answer questions.

I’ll bring copies of my book Hurst’s Wurst: Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A. The cost is $20.00 each and I would be pleased to sign it.

(It’s never too early to think about a Christmas gift for your favorite Civil War enthusiast!)

If you have any questions, please email me at:

Presentation and Book Signing Oct. 27th

I will be the guest speaker at the next meeting of the McNairy County Historical Society Tuesday, October 27 at the Jack McConnico Memorial Library in Selmer, TN. The subject will be Colonel Fielding Hurst, the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S., and Southern Unionists in southwest Tennessee during the Civil War. Afterward, I will sign copies of my book Hurst’s Wurst: Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A.

Another Book Progress Report

Wow, it’s been almost two months since I last posted to my blog! Not that I heard a clamor from anyone who reads it for my whereabouts, but I thought I would check back in nonetheless.

I’ve still working on edits and rewriting a few chapters for my book Adam Huntsman: The Peg-Legged Politician over the summer in anticipation of its release this fall. I’ve also commissioned a talented young artist who is working on three unique artistic additions to the book that I’m very excited about. More news on this book project in the weeks to come.

I will be giving a talk in late October on the subject of my last book Hurst’s Wurst: Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A. Details are still being worked out, but I should be able to make an announcement later this week. It’s been a while since I returned to anything related to Hurst and I’m looking forward to revisiting his story and that of the Sixth Tennessee (Union) Cavalry.

I haven’t been posting to my blog the past few months, but I have been tweeting on Twitter and built a decent 500+ tweets over the summer. There’s a few updates on my projects, but mostly I share links to newspaper articles and blog posts I come across having to do with U.S. history, Tennessee history, and U.S. Presidents. I hope you’ll follow me there!

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.

A Running Fight in Purdy, Tennessee (1859)

I’m taking advantage of a 30-day trial subscription to and came across this newspaper article dated November 20, 1859 about a pre-Civil War fight between Fielding Hurst and M. Ledbetter on the streets of Purdy, Tennessee that involved pistols, horse shoes, and sticks! (Hurst is the subject of my book Hurst’s Wurst: Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A.)

“A difficulty occurred between two of our citizens on last Wednesday night. M. Ledbetter snapped a pistol at F. Hurst, Esq., at the distance of about six feet, and Hurst afterwards fired twice at Ledbetter at the distance of about twenty paces, and one of the balls entered a chair in close proximity to Ledbetter.

Brickbats, horse shoes, sticks and bottles were thrown in wild confusion during a sort of running fight, which continued for several minutes. Much excitement prevalled, and some of our citizens done splendid dodging and running; in the latter list was found leading the way, one of the editors of this paper–we mean the one who lives in town. There was an old grudge between the parties, but we forbear comment.”

Book Signing March 22 Jackson, TN

I will have a book signing for Hurst’s Wurst in the Board Room of the Jackson-Madison County Public Library in Jackson, TN on Saturday, March 22nd 1:00-3:00 p.m. I hope anyone in or near Jackson will come by and see me.

"Brownlow’s Cussing Judge"

In a case of “I wish I had known it before I published my book,” I stumbled across an interesting article while searching Newsbank this month. Newsbank is a searchable treasure trove of historic newspapers. My local library gives free off site access by simply having a library card. (Check yours, as they may have a similar benefit.)

The article was about Fielding Hurst when he served as judge of Tennessee’s Twelfth Judicial Circuit during Reconstruction. I’ve been researching this period of his life, one that has largely been ignored by other Hurst researchers. I’ve defended him both on this blog and in my book Hurst’s Wurst: Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A., pointing out that many of the bad stories about him were partisan in nature, written by ex-Confederates with a bone to pick.

The article was published in the Daily Memphis (TN) Avalanche on June 22, 1867 . Entitled “Radical Demonism,” it described how Judge Hurst interrupted a speech made in Purdy, Tennessee by Emerson Ethridge, former Congressman and gubernatorial opponent of Governor William G. Brownlow. Ethridge was a conservative Unionist who believed former Confederates should have their voting rights given back to them, rights taken away by Brownlow and his Radical supporters in the General Assembly two years earlier. Judge Hurst was a Radical and had voted for the suspension of ex-Confederates voting rights.

Disliking what he heard while standing in the crowd, Hurst finally jumped onto the platform where Ethridge stood, “swinging his arms back and forth like the levers of a windmill,” and let out a torrent of obscenities at him. “That’s a d–d rebel lie, I’ll bet a thousand dollars,” Hurst reportedly cursed. “God d–m the rebels!” He pointed in his mouth and showed the bewildered Ethridge (who had no idea who he was) two missing teeth he claimed a rebel knocked out. He then cursed the Masonic Lodge and the church where the candidate’s speech was being given (despite himself being a Mason).

When Ethridge learned his identity, he chastised him for being a judge and behaving how he was and “perjuring yourself here before high Heaven–here in this sacred building–here before this altar, where all meet to worship the one living God.” But Hurst was not moved; he cursed the church and its preachers, who were a “set of canting, hypocritical rebels” and once again showed him his missing teeth! Ethridge mentioned there were women in the audience who were offended by his tirade; Hurst cursed them too, as rebels who “were worse than the men.”

According to the story, Ethridge told the crowd “he was going to enter into the animal taming business” and it “was as good a time as any.” Hurst took it as a threat against his life and cried, “Oh! you can shoot me. I know you are armed. I have no pistol. Oh! you and the d—-d rebels can assassinate me if you will.” The headline of the article questioned whether Hurst was “drunk or crazy.”

The article was clearly biased toward the pro-Confederate Conservatives and against the Radicals, so it’s hard to determine its truthfulness. Still, it shows a darker side of Fielding Hurst, whom the article describes as “monarch to all he surveys” in McNairy County, “[n]arrow minded, of deficient education, without legal or other information, drunken and debauched.” It’s an interesting story. I wish I had uncovered it last year so it could’ve been part of my book.