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Col. Hughes, war hero, is honored on Confederate Memorial Day

Posted on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 11:23 am

A Civil War hero with Lynchburg ties was recently honored during Confederate Memorial Day, an annual event since 1927, observed in the Winchester City Cemetery.

Great-granddaughter Emma Jean Parker Carter, of Tullahoma, honored Col. John Madison Hughes with the following remarks:

“In 1861 John Madison Hughes mustered in the Confederate Army as a lieutenant in Livingston, Tenn. (Overton County). He was 27 years old and in the 25th Tennessee Regiment Company. As a young lad, he perfected his marksmanship, which served him well during the war.

“We are not exactly sure when Col. Hughes moved his family to Moore County from Livingston, but it probably was several years before the war. We do know that he owned a distillery on Louse Creek, which is near the communities of Mulberry and Lois. He also owned a lumber business and tannery.

“Col. Hughes was a friend and business partner of Jack Daniel. According to Mr. Tom Motlow, former president of Farmers Bank, Col. Hughes and his son, William Hart Hughes, ‘built up Moore County,’ and Col. Hughes became the county’s hero.

“He was not a West Point graduate, as many of his contemporaries were, but he was an accurate marksman and a cool head in the heat of battle. He rose quickly through the ranks and, upon the death of Col. Fulton on June 30, 1864, Hughes took command. His first battle was the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Va.

“Little did he know that that would be the first of many major battles. Years later, a history devoted to the Confederate heroes said of Hughes, ‘He was one of the most gallant, faithful and effective officers in the Confederate service.’

“He was a stout, active, athletic man and was brave, cautious, discrete, untiring and ever on alert. He handled his firearms in the blaze of battle with the same coolness and accuracy as upon the drilling ground. Calm and self-possessed under every emergency, he was quick to adapt and always ready to execute the most daring and dangerous stratagems. He seemed to court peril and danger and no doubt sent the death ball home to more of the enemy than any other man who used small arms in the service.

“Hughes was ordered to stop the supply train headed for Atlanta. The following is a report he wrote: ‘On March 16 we tore up the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad near Tullahoma and captured a train of freight cars heavily laden with supplies for the Federal Army at Chattanooga. About 60 Yankee soldiers were captured. The train and supplies were burned and the engine destroyed.’

“As the war progressed, food and supplies were scarce. Col. Hughes slaughtered his own cattle to feed his men and used his personal funds for supplies. Unfortunately, he was never reimbursed.

“Hughes’ brave attempt to hold Fort Harrison was in vain. Barely 800 Confederates stood in the way of 8,000 Union attackers. One of Hughes’ officers exclaimed, ‘My God, colonel, what are we going to do?’ Hughes replied, ‘I am going to give them the best that I have before I leave.’

“He rode forward, in full view of the enemy, emptying both pistols into their crowded ranks. Amazingly, he emerged unscathed. Still, this act did little to slow the Union advance or rally his men. As the defenders continued to melt away, the blue coats poured over the parapets.

“Hughes was with Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse when the South surrendered. He came home to Moore County to find his plantation and distillery in ruins, but he faced the rebuilding with the same bravery and courage he had shown in many battles.

“Col. Hughes also remains Overton County’s hero today, and he is honored on many occasions.

“His Confederate tombstone has been placed next to his beloved wife, Sarah Dillion Hughes, who died on Aug. 27, 1847, and is buried in Lynchburg Cemetery. Col. Hughes died April 10, 1898.”

Col. Hughes Confederate Monument stands in the historic Lynchburg Cemetery.

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