Original Civil War home dedicated in Jasper
by Jennifer Cohron
Aug 01, 2010 | 5337 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mr. and Mrs. Harold Daniels and Shirley and David Davis pose on the steps of the log cabin that once was the home of Confederate Capt. William Felix Hanby (Photo Special to the Eagle)
Mr. and Mrs. Harold Daniels and Shirley and David Davis pose on the steps of the log cabin that once was the home of Confederate Capt. William Felix Hanby (Photo Special to the Eagle)
A piece of Civil War history has been transported through time and place to Burrow's Crossing.

The little log cabin that now sits on the property of Dr. Robin and Carmen Roberts of Jasper was once the home of Capt. William Felix Hanby.

Hanby led the "Jefferson Warriors," a group of men who marched from Pinson to Huntsville in the summer of 1861 to serve in the 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment under the command of Col. "Fighting Joe" Wheeler.

Many of the men of Company C enlisted inside Hanby's home, which was then located at Mt. Pinson.

Surviving soldiers from the company, including Hanby, attended their 43rd reunion at the cabin on Aug. 12, 1904.

Roberts and his wife bought the home three years ago from the Holmes family, who had moved it to Lassiter Mountain.

The couple had the cabin's fireplace rebuilt after it was moved to Walker County, but everything else in the home is authentic.

Robin Roberts said the logs on the cabin probably date back beyond the Civil War to the founding of the nation.

"Some of these trees that they cut down to make it could have been 100 years old at that time. So if you go back to when we were signing the Declaration of Independence, these logs were just little saplings," he said.

The Robertses use the home for personal gatherings and church functions such as prayer meetings for Philadelphia Baptist Church.

When members of Camp Hutto 443 Sons of Confederate Veterans learned about the house, they asked for permission to hold a dedication ceremony there on July 18.

The local group brought reenactors who stood in for the soldiers of Company C and offered a 21-gun salute in their honor.

One of the reenactors, Shirley Davis of Dora, had four relatives who enlisted in Hanby's home 150 years ago - Thomas F. Duncan of Arkadelphia, Joseph Dean and Jesse Dean of Pinson and Thomas Chamblee of Blountsville.

Duncan left his home on Aug. 8, 1861, and arrived at Hanby's cabin three days later. According to family legend, Duncan warmed himself by the fireplace at Hanby's.

"After I found out it was on Aug. 12, I knew he might have asked for some cold water but he didn't warm himself," Davis said.

Duncan was later captured at the Battle of Chickamauga and taken to Chicago's Camp Douglas, which was known as the worst POW camp in the Union.

"During his stay there, 6,000 Confederates died of pneumonia, various diseases and malnutrition," Davis said.

Duncan was taken to Kentucky for a possible exchange between the two sides. However, Davis fears that Duncan's training as a doctor was revealed and he was starved to death.

Chamblee was killed in the siege of Atlanta, as was Duncan's youngest brother.

Davis said although most people assume that Southerners were fighting to preserve slavery, she doesn't believe that is why her family members went to war.

The Duncans were poor farmers whose names appear on indigent rolls begging for salt. They only had one house servant named Aunt Cassie.

"They loved her. When the war ended, she cried when the Yankees said she had to leave and they cried because she had to go," Davis said.

Before Cassie left, Davis' great-grandmother gave her a red shawl. It was her prized possession until the end of her life, when she asked that it be returned to the Duncans. Davis' aunt wrote a poem, "Aunt Cassie's Shawl," about the story.

Forty-one years after Company C's first roll call, Hanby compiled a list of his men that included their names and circumstances of their death if he knew them. It was presented "to his surviving comrades as a token of his love and esteem."

The 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment included about 1,000 men when it was formed, but only 76 members were present at its surrender on April 26, 1865, at Saulisbury, N.C.

Hanby was put on post duty after being wounded in the Battle of Shiloh, where the men of Company C helped Wheeler capture 2,000 Union soldiers.

Ron Harris, commander of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp, said last month's dedication ceremony was meant to honor Hanby and his men. However, the program also included a performance of "America" as well as a tribute to all soldiers, whether Northern or Southern, past or present, black or white.

"We are not a racist outfit like some people make us out to be. We're all about heritage," Harris said.