Samuel T. "Sam" Poteet
1847 - 1864
White County, Tennessee
RELATIONSHIP TO ME: His mother, Sarah "Price Savage Poteet, was a sister to my 2nd great-grandfather, Thomas Price. Therefore, Samuel T. Poteet is my first cousin twice removed.
NOTES: It is possible that his middle name was Thomas. His paternal grandfather's name was Thomas, and he had a maternal uncle named Thomas.
BORN: He was born on 17 April 1847 in White County, TN. He was the third son and fourth child born to James Poteet and Sarah "Sally" Price (widow of Kendall Savage).
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: He was 5' 6" tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, and light hair
1850 Census: 1850 White County, Tennessee Census (Page 78), dated 22 September 1850
1850 - 1860: The family moves to Springfield, Limestone County, TX. Sarah Poteet writes her sister, Catherine Price Walker, that her husband James died 1 March in 1857. She expects to stay in Texas perhaps another year before coming back. Sarah died 16 May 1860. It is unknown whether she made it back to Tennessee or not. The children were back in Tennessee by the 1860 Census. The census day was 1 June, but the census taker took the information on 17 June 1860. The children were living with their half-sister Mary Polly Savage Cash, who married Elias Cash.
1 March 1857: His father, James Poteet, dies.
16 May 1860: His mother, Sarah "Sally" Poteet dies.
1860 Census: 1860 White County, Tennessee Census (Page 67), dated 17 July 1860
4 June 1860: George P. Hampton is appointed administrator of the estate of Sarah Poteet, late of White County, TN. Abraham Saylors was appointed guardian of minor heirs: Samuel Poteet, Sarah Poteet, Andrew Poteet, all of whom are under 15 years of age.
White County, TN Chancery Court Jul 1858 - Jan 1873
4 Jun 1860
9 April 1861: The Confederate States of America fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina
8 June 1861: Tennessee seceded from the Union
25 July 1861: Sam enlists with the 25th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, CSA, Company E in Tullahoma, TN for 12 months. He was enrolled by Lt. A. B. Hardcastle. He was fourteen years old at this time. Between 25 July - 31 October 1861, he was present. On a roll dated 6 April 1864, he was listed as discharged August 1862 by reason of being a non-conscript (he was under age). On a company muster roll dated 1 October 1861 at Camp Myers, he was listed as "sick." His age is listed as 25 years old. That's the last record of him for this company.
31 October 1861: Sam's maternal grandfather, George Price, dies in White County, TN. In his will, he completely cuts Sam, his brother (James Poteet), his half-sister (Polly Cash), and his cousin, Marion Price, out of his will.
"Further it is my will and desire that all the rest and residue of my estate both real and personal or mixed, debts due or to become due, after the payment of my debts shall be equally divided between my children. I do not intend that my Grand children shall have any part of my land. But I order and appoint that my Executors shall pay over to each one of my Grand children whose farther or mother is dead at this time and who may be alive at my death (except James Poteet and Samuel Poteet and Polly Cash who shall receive nothing of my estate) the sum of one hundred dollars each in full of their respective claims. I also except Marion Price. I don't intend for him to have a dollar of my estate."
August 1862: Discharged from 25th Tennessee Infantry CSA because of being a non-conscript.
3 December 1863: Sam enlisted in the 1st Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment, USA, Company B, in Carthage, TN. He is listed as being 19 years old. He is only 16 years old at this time.
22 January 1864: He was mustered into service by a Captain J. R. Paxton
Enlistment - 30 April 1864: He is listed as present.
12 March 1864: He is promoted from Private to 3rd Sergeant
July & August 1864: He is listed as present.
September & October 1864: He is listed as present.
November & December 1864: He was killed by Guerillas in White County, TN on November 28, 1864
28 November 1864: While attending a revival at the Cherry Creek Church, Sam was killed by someone in Champ Ferguson's gang of merry men. He was shot through the head and probably dead before he hit the ground. Amanda McDowell attended the revival that night and recorded the events in her diary. Below is her account of what happened that evening.
Fiddles in the Cumberlands
by Amanda McDowell (1861-1865)
Lela McDowell Blankenship (1943)
November 28, 1864 - Wednesday
I hardly know where to begin at to write this time. We all got so frightened on Monday night that we hardly know ourselves yet. I reckon I had better begin at the beginning and write it all down if I can think of it. On Monday evening the meeting was still going on at the church, but it was very muddy and disagreeable and I did not want to go much, for I knew there would be no preaching at all, only singing (and poor at that) and shouting and crying, but some of the girls wanted to go and I went with them as [sister] Mary would not. Pat and Fayette [Amanda's brother] and William and others of the boys went; Lucetta, Margaret, Carrie, Celete, Nannie and myself were all the girls that went. When we got there, there were several Federal soldiers there, but it was a common thing and no one seemed to care anything about them. But they got information some way that these renegade Rebels that prowl about up the river were going to come and attack them that night. Some of the congregation had heard it but did not believe it. Fayette told the boys that he did not think there was any danger if they would keep a good lookout. Pat told them to look sharp. They went out after the congregation gathered and ordered all the stragglers into the house and told Pat to let no one pass out, and they went off and hid their horses and put Charles Burgess out to watch. And they would come in the house some but were out most of the time. I saw Pat keeping the door, but thought Mr. Hickman had ordered it. Two or three professed [their faith], and from the time the first one professed there was such a noise that nothing was distinct. Some shouting, some laughing, some praying, some crying, some singing and all crowded as close round the altar as was possible to get, and at least two thirds of the crowd were between the window and door and the pulpit. I with others got near the altar as possible in order to see, and also to assist in the singing. They pressed on me so that I perched myself on the edge of the pulpit. There was no one on it but little boys. Lucetta sat up there with me. Carrie and the others were near on a bench. Most of the people were up on the benches. In the midst of the noise a shot was heard at the window and in an instant another. I jumped from my seat, in order to get out of the way of the bullets, for I saw flashes and heard the shots faster than I could count them, unless I had been more composed than I was. Someone pushed me down off the bench I was standing on right on the women, for everyone in the house nearly were down as near the floor as they could get by this time. I tried to find room for my feet on the floor but could not and had to remain on my knees on someone for ever so long. There was so much noise and confusion that I could not distinguish anything, and I could not imagine what was up. I had to pull Celete down to keep her from being hit; she was so frightened that she was standing on top of a bench screaming with all her power, and making no effort to keep out of danger. I tried to pull her and Cetta both down and make them hush, but they were so frightened they could not understand me. It is no use saying what I thought about it. But I thought when I saw so many shots fired right toward the crowd that they were surely firing at the people just to see how many they could kill, and I had a strong notion of going round there and asking them what they meant, but I could not get out and then I had my hands full trying to take care of the girls, and then I though I might get shot before I could get around there. The instant the firing ceased I started to hunt the boys and see what was the matter, for I had never thought of the Rebels. I had to get Carrie to hold Celete, and told the girls to say together. The whole house was in an uproar, the soldiers swearing and roaring and the women screaming. The first person I found was Hamp Clark. I asked him what it meant, he said they were shooting at "them boys"; but I did not still take the hint, for some of the Rebels had on blue Yankee clothes and I thought they were Yankees. I pushed round through the crowd asking everyone I met for Fayette and Pat. I found out that there was man killed and got to him as quick as I could and there were two soldiers sitting on the benches, and one of them had the dead man's feet up on the benches, and one of them had the dead man's feet up in his lap. I asked him if the man was dead. He said, "I don't know. I thought I would tie his feet together." I examined him and saw he was a stranger to me. The man's indifference about who it was that was dead made me know that it was not a personal enemy quarrel, and the though flashed over me that they were Rebels.I asked him and he said, "Yes." I met Sam Stone, and he said, "Don't be scared. I don't think Fayette is badly hurt." I asked him if Fayette was shot; he said, "Yes." I then asked if it was done on purpose; he said he reckoned not. I found Fayette lying in the altar where he had sat down on the mourners' bench and fallen over and P. Cameron had caught him. I asked him if he was badly hurt, and if it was done on purpose. He said "No" both times. He then told me to go and get leave to carry him home. I didn't know where to go, but there was a man standing on a bench walking and swearing at a great rate and I made my way, to him and he said, "Yes, of course, take him home." Then Fayette came to himself and spoke to the man and told him they had been in the war together and to call him "Beson." The man seemed slow about recognizing him, but told us we could go. I ran back to where the girls were and got them not out of the house but in the middle of the floor and went all over the house as fast as I could, hunting for Pat, but could not find him. We got Fayette to wait and lie down on the writing bench. I thought it would be dangerous to start. But every little bit he would get frenzied and want to start anyhow, but one soldier advised us not to go. I met several of the [Confederate] soldiers and tried to talk to them. I found only one that had any civility about him. I found Emma Williams, when I first started out, lying on the floor, and asked if she was shot. She said she did not know and, I, knowing her as I did, did not expect there was anything the matter and sure enough there was not, but Ann Gooch was wounded in the thigh and lower part of the abdomen, one bullet making four holes. And the boy that I saw was badly hurt, but I did not get to see either of them again.Some of the women fainted and looked like they never would come to. At last the soldiers went out and got on their horses and came back to the door swearing about the Yankees' horses and wanting someone to go and show them where they were. Several of us told them that they were in the yard when we came in. One man swore that was a dead man in the yard under the window. I got a candle and looked but could not find one. And there was no one there. At last they told the congregation to get away from there. Jim Cooper told me he saw Pat go out at the door. And a soldier told me that me some men ran and he shot at them and heard a man holler. I felt uneasy but thought I would get them all started with Fayette and if he did not come to us in the lane, I would get some one to help me hunt him, but he came to us before we got far. Fayette got home very well by one walking on each side of him, but was out of his mind off and on all night. It was Sam Potete that was killed, and the man was taking off his spurs in order to get his boots off, so I have heard since. They did take his boots off and held me up and called to know who they would fit, took his coat and hat too, but dropped the hat. P. Camron asked leave to take him away, but they said, "Let him lie there," and he lay there all night,but they carried the wounded to Mrs. McGhee's. Fayette says he had got up on a bench to try to get them to quit shooting, and a man snapped a pistol at his breast and them pressed to his head and fired. He is not certain but thinks it was Beson and that he did it on purpose but don't want it known.
Legends & Stories from White County, TN
George Peabody College for Teachers
June 1930 as a requirement for Master of Arts Degree
( posted at the Daniel Hastings website by Wayne Hastings)
At another time Jessie Hickman was holding meeting at the same place; he had been warned not to hold night meeting for the bushwhackers had planned a raid on the church house that night. Four Union soldiers were attending, but they had posted a guard below the house. He was to fire a shot in case of danger. The bushwhackers surprised the guard and he fled without firing as he had been instructed. The bushwhackers surrounded the house, spotted the Union boys and fired. One bullet entered Sam Poteet's head in the back and came out at the forehead. He fell dead. As the boys fled, the bushwhackers fired time after time. No other soldier was hit but some of the bystanders were struck by stray bullets.
When Poteet was shot the bushwhackers entered the house and one called, "If you don?t hush, I?ll make it silence for you in hell." There was complete silence for a moment but suddenly an old woman rushed to the back door, jerked it open and yelled, "God-dern, come out of there, I've got the door open now." There was another general stampede as the bushwhackers fired again and again.
Poteet was left lying in the church until the next day, when the Union boys reinforced came back and took the body for burial. He had been stripped of his boots and other clothing. Hildreth [Abner Hildreth?], one of the bushwhackers, was discovered with them on his person when he was shot under his own woodpile by Mont Weaver [Montraville Weaver]. Weaver drew the body out from its hiding place and ran his horse over the body. He was put in jail, after the war, for his brutal murder of Hildreth, but the case thrown out of court when tried because it was committed in the war period.
Reference: Mrs. Bill Wilhite, June, 1930.
History of White County
Cherry Creek. Some Federal soldiers belonging to Captain Charles Burgess' command attended church at Cherry Creek. Burgess advised against the attendance, and remained under the hill having laid down the fecne so that easy egress was possible. It was night, and Rev. Jese Hickman was preaching. Soon Burgess heard hoof beats. Captain Champ Ferguson was coming. Ferguson and his men opened fire. They were singing in the church and Sam Poteet was shot in his open mouth and a woman, Ann Gooch, was accidentally wounded. One Federal soldier remained in the house while all the others made a hasty exit out the back door. The one remaining was a lad who laid down on the floor between the benches and the woman put their feet on him, thus hiding him with their dresses.
Memorable Historical Accounts of White County and Area
E. G. Rogers
The Cherry Creek Community was the scene of much skirmishing during the Civil War. According to Blankenship's Fiddles in the Cumberlands, it was on a rainy Monday night that several of the community had gathered at the church for services where a meeting was to be held. The meeting was still in progress, and some Federal soldiers, belonging to the command of Captain Charles Burgess, attended church that evening. Burgess advised against their attendance, since he suspected trouble. He waited outside and laid down the fence for a possible quick escape. Confederates led by Champ Ferguson who quickly opended fire. Sam Poteet was shot in the mouth and Ann Gouch was wounded. One Federal remained in the house and was hidden by the skirts of women crouched upon the floor while the others made their exit by the back door. Another says Fayette McDowell was also wounded. "The whole house was in an uproar -- soldiers swearing and roaring and women screaming."
Summer of 1999: My father took me out to the Saylors Cemetery in White County, TN. We quickly located the Price Family section located in the very back of the graveyard. Buried not far from the Price graves was the tombstone for Samuel T. Poteet and Frances A. D. Poteet. No other Poteets were near by. At this time, I had no idea who these people were, but I felt that they were related in some way to the Prices. I became intrigued with Sam, because the death date on the tombstone indicated that he died some time in the Civil War. Further in my research, I discovered "how he was related."
Due to the passage of time and the effects of the weather on the tombstone, the dates were extremely difficult to read. The death date was easily confirmed by military records. However the birth date could be April 7, April 17, 1842 or 1847.
Summer 2006: I ordered a military headstone for his grave.
8 December 2007: The Sons of Union Veterans from Missionary Ridge Camp #63 drove to the Saylors Cemetery in White County, TN. They helped to dedicate the military marker for Sam's grave.
The following Missionary Ridge Camp #63 members participated in the event:
Shown here, from left, are: Mark Steele (holding National Colors), Sam Jones, Robert Dobbs, Tommy Smith (kneeling), Charles Engle, Wes Davis (holding Camp Colors), James Fletcher, and Mark Kemp. ( Click Here for their website)
These men did an absolutely WONDERFUL job in the dedication ceremony.