ERASTUS DUNCAN FOSTER

In The Union Army


4th Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment


Erastus returned to Smithville after deserting from the Confederate Army. Records show that a little over a year after deserting, he enlisted for one year in Co. "F" 4th Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment. One record show that he enlisted on 2 December 1864 and another shows 15 December 1864. Records also show that Erastur was 24 years old at the time of his enlistement.

Col. Blackburn's 4th Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment, with the exception of Company "B", was recruited at Liberty, Carthage, Alexandria, Pulaski, Livingston, Shelbyville and Nashville from September 1, 1864 to April 22, 1865, to serve one year.

(The following is taken from "A Bicentennial History of DeKalb County, Tennessee.) Col. Blackburn's Regiment on March 11, 1865, was ordered to take post at Alexandria, and there to "restore confidence to the people, and destroy the guerillas now infesting that region". On April 25, four companies were sent to Lafayette to help exterminate guerillas in that area. A month later, on May 25, 1865, the regiment was ordered to make an expedition through White, Overton, Fentess, and Morgan Counties and restore peace to that area which was "so much infested by guerillas".

Pomp Kersey's guerillas became as outrageous as those of the Union Guerilas. Pomp Kersey and his band appear to have operated mainly in DeKalb County, with Liberty and Smithvillie receiving most of their attention. They were particularly disliked at Liberty, where they robbed several of the Union sympathizers, among them William Vick and James Fuston. There were better liked around Smithville, where the majority were ao Confederate leanings. One day "there gathered in the northern part of the town a squad of men belonging to Company "F", Blackburn's Redgiment, to secure Federal Recruits --Ras Foster, 'Black Bill' Foster, Jim Eastham, Pal Rigsby, John Colwell, and others. Suddenly Kersey's men dashed into town, stampeding the recruters. Eastham Killed a horse trying to get away, while eight of the Federals were killed. among them Rigsby and Colwell... The Rebel citizens of Smithville were please over this raid, for they had much to bear".

Some of Smithville's citizens were not so pleased with Kersey's raids. William G. Foster lived on the square where the jail now stands, in a log house with a room on either side and an open hall in the middle. One night Kersey and fifteen or twenty men came shooting into town and rode their horses right into the open hall, woke the family, and choked Mr. Foster and his wife until they gave him what money they had. They then rode away, but were not yet through with Mr. Foster. They returned another night when Mr. Nathan Newby was visiting the Fosters, shot and killed Mr. Newby's horse, and shot the Fosters' cow, though it lived. Again they choked William Foster until he gave them money, and Nathan Newby barely escaped with his life when he had no money. Such events as these were described as a "regular occurence" in Smithville in 1863 and 1864. William Foster seemed to get the worst end of the war from both sides; he had voted to remain in the Union and was considered Union by Kersey's men. However, he had two sons in the Confederate army in the early part of the war, so the Union soldiers did not hesitate to take his supplies. One fall when his corn crop had been brought into town and piled in his yard before storing, Bill Hathaway and about a hundred Federal soldiers rode up and turned their horses into it, consuming nearly all of it. The Fosters finally moved to Watertown during the last year of the war to escape the guerillas.

On the night of July 23, 1864, Kersey and his men raided a home in Gassaway that was having a party and there were several Union men were there including Capt. Bill Hathaway. Some of the men got away and went to Liberty and got reinforcements, among them E.D. (Ras) Foster who had earlier been run out of Smithville by Kersey, and whose father had been raided by Kersey's men several times. They trailed them to near Short Mountain and seven were killed including kersey, but two got away.



Documents from the Archives


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