McAllister Letters

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.


A.H. McAllister

Ballentine's Partisan Rangers

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 my ability.

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.

John J. McKinney

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.

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