In Memory of John J. McKinney
Written in 1912
The Following Letter Is Published By Special Request:
Blue Mountain, Mississippi
Mrs. John J. McKinney and Children:
I just received the sad news of the death of Comrade John J. McKinney;
I write to express my heart-felt sympathy.
I always felt a great interest in him. I first got acquainted with him
in the Army. I happened to join the company that he was member of when
I was a beardless boy, and he was too (although, two or three years my
senior). Our names beginning with "Mc" threw us together at once and
often. As my mother had been surrounded by six cocked guns in the hands
of as many "Yankees", and made to give up father's money, I went to the
Army to kill "Yankees". I found in John J. McKinney as brave a boy as
ever wore the gray. At least I think he cared less for danger than any
man or boy I ever saw tried and was there for the same purpose.
I wish to tell you what I know about him. He belonged to Co. "E",
Balentine's Regiment, Armstrong's Brigade, Jackson's Div., which did
service with and belonged to the same division with Ross' Brigade or
the Noble Texas Soldiers. You children can congratulate yourselves on
having a father whose bravery and patriotism was never doubted by those
who knew him as a soldier boy. He nor his brother William, who belonged
to the same company, ever disgraced their grand old Scotch name on,
perhaps, more than a hundred fields of battle. I could write many pages
of interest in which we were together that his courage, firm nerves and
cool consideration never left him. I would have enjoyed meeting him with
his family when he was able to remember and talk over war experiences.
To say the least of it, he could always be depended upon, anywhere,
under any and all circumstances.
Article written by A.H. McAlister
Published in Confederate Veteran December 1901
A.H. McAlister, New Albany, Miss.,
writes interesting reminiscences:
Comrade W. H. Lewis, of Hope,
Ark., writes that one of the soldiers buried at Pulaski, Tenn., was "Elias
Roach of Company E, Ballentine's Second Mississippi Regiment." On
page 6, in Veteran of January, 1898, W.E. Roach (W.E. were the initials
of Elias Roach), of said command, was buried in Ohio, I understand at Columbus.
However, Comrade "Bill" Lewis did not make the mistake on account of excitement,
for no man was ever cooler and more self-possessed in battle than he.
Under no circumstances would he run, especially if we were fighting on
foot, which we generally did.
Company E was commanded by Judge
W. W. McDowell, now of Memphis, Tenn. He was gallant, patriotic, and
brave. So was his brother John H., who now lives at Union City, Tenn.
He had the credit of capturing more than a score of Yankees himself.
There were the McKinney boys -- William H. and John L. No better
and braver soldiers wore the gray. All who knew them realized this
fact. William H. and all the other Tennessee members have passed
away, and most of those from Mississippi have answered the last roll call.
Among them was Lieut. A. B. Knox, who died two years ago, after amassing
quite a fortune. He was a prominent physician, but retired from practice
several years before his death. He resided here. Among the living is the
noble and firm Jeff J. Davis, who as a citizen is popular, honorable, and
successful. He is one of the largest planters in our county (Union), whose
latchstring hangs on the outside. This is especially the case of fox hunters,
as he is a loyal member of that fraternity. Of the few left of old Company
E, the writer is the youngest, although I am quite gray. My youngest child,
aged fifteen, is ten pounds heavier than I was when I entered the army.
Six men in blue had surrounded my aged mother, and with the muzzle of their
cocked guns pressing her body, forced her to give them my father's money.
This so aroused my Scotch and Irish blood that, young as I was, I felt it to
be my duty to take up arms for my home and people. About
the time I reached the army, between Jackson and
Edwards, Miss., in the summer of 1863, the Federals advanced on the Confederates;
and I, with others -- McDowell's Company, which I had gone to join --
was rushed to the front. I had neither been "mustered in" nor given rations or gun.
However, in the hurry and bustle to get ready, one man in the company was found to
be violently sick, who tendered me his gun, which I took and used to the best of
After returning from the battlefield,
Orderly W. H. McKinney said to me: "Mack, I will go with you to the ordnance
department, and draw you a gun. On going there we found plenty of "'Mississippi
rifles," the kind that Company E was armed with; though I selected a "Belgium
rifle" because it shot four balls in each charge, which I thought made
it a more destructive weapon. Although it was much the heavier and I was
the lightest (weight one hundred and five pounds) kid in the company, I
kept it until I wore it out, and I left it in a hickory log in Georgia.
My name was put on the roll, and I drew rations
as the other soldiers who had been "sworn in," when there was any to issue.
At the reorganization of the army Capt. McDowell and all the other Tennessee
members, except W. H. Lewis, who remained with us, were transferred to
Tennessee commands. This left First Lieut. Jeff Davis in command. Lieut.
Knox was absent--sick or wounded. The writer, on the reorganization, was
made first orderly sergeant, and in the absence of Lieut. Knox was second
in command. . . . I was captured at Selma, Ala., April 12, 1865, by the
Fourth Michigan Cavalry, who treated me with kindness.
Many other boys were prompted
to go to the front and stay because of the treatment their families received
by the Federals. Of this class were the McKinney boys of our company, whose
father was insulted, robbed of everything, imprisoned, waylaid, and
shot by Hurst's band of Tories, from which wounds he died in the summer of
1867. Mr. McKinney was sent to the "Irwin Block" prison in Memphis, Tenn.,
because he did not see proper to swear falsely in taking the oath of allegiance.
However, the officers of the prison released him for $500 in cash sent by
Dr. Stovall, of Camden, Tenn.
Doubtless all of the surviving
members of Company E, especially McDowell's messmates, will be pleased
to know that Anderson McAllister, my war servant, is still living. He is
getting on quite well; has a comfortable home, and plenty around him, and
is respected by all the good people who know him.
Article from Confederate Veteran, April 1912
John J. McKinney was born in
Lincoln County, Tenn., June 13, 1843 and died January 16, 1912. Camp
Erath, U.C.V. has lost a faithful comrade. He was a brave soldier,
a good citizen, and a kind neighbor. He was an affectionate husband
and father. He belonged to Company E, Balentine's Regiment, Armstrong's
Brigade, Army of Tennessee.
A.H. McAlister in a letter to
the family wrote: "I happened to join the company that he was a member
of when we were beardless boys. Our names beginning with "Mc" threw
us together at once and often. As my mother had been surrounded by
six cocked guns in the hands of as many Yankees, and made to give up father's
money, I went to the army to kill Yankees. I found in John McKinney
as brave a boy as ever wore the gray. He cared less for danger than
anyone I ever saw tried, and he was there for the same purpose.