Mary Polly (Hull) Beaty, my grandmother of the Civil War era, understood firsthand the pains of War. In less than a decade, she watched as her life went from being a farmer’s wife with a healthy family to a widow who lost not only her husband, but two sons, a son-in-law, a nephew and a grandchild. Her husband and grandson were the only two not killed by the war. The other four men died, not in battle or from battle wounds, but instead they died of starvation and disease inside a Confederate prisoner of war camp.
Several situations had to increase Mary’s pain. One, her sons were buried away from home is a military graveyard and second, the way her sons and family members were captured.
These seasoned soldiers were victims of a well-planned ruse by Confederate sympathizers. The ruse would eventually cost two of her sons, Thomas and Andrew Jackson, their lives. Her oldest boy, Jonathon would survive the ordeal, but his brother-in-law Andrew Owens and cousin Morgan Hull would not.
We learn more about how the Beatys, members of Company B, were captured on Nov. 6, 1863 near Rogersville, TN in a book written by a fellow soldier. Twenty years after the capture, in 1883, John Ransom, published a book based on a diary he kept (but later destroyed) as a prisoner of war with Company B. In John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary: Life Inside the Civil War’s Most Infamous Prison, he describes the way company was captured.
The rebel citizens got up a dance at one of the public houses in the village, and invited all the Union officers. This was the evening of Nov. 5th. Nearly all of the officers attended and were away from their command nearly all night and many were away all night.
At dawn, with many of the Union officers missing or incapacitated from the previous night, the Rebel Calvary attacked Company B.
[The] Rebels had us completely surrounded and soon began to fire volley after volley into our disorganized ranks. Not one in five officers were present.
According to Ransom, the battle lasted 10 hours and when the unit finally surrendered 100 men were dead and another 400 were wounded. Once captured, it became apparent that the Confederate Army had no intention of treating the capture men humanely. The first order of business was to take personal belongings (blankets, etc) from all the Union soldiers.
Then the Army executed several soldiers accused of deserting the Rebel cause.
It set the expectations for what the captured men could expect. Within six months, the last of the four captured family members, Thomas, was dead.
Based on pension records filed by Mary in 1868, we further discover Mary was dealt one more hard blow — she lost her source of livelihood.
Thomas supported his mother both financially and physically, during the War. Each month, Thomas gave his mother all — or nearly all — of his Army stipend –and since his father, Alexander, was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis, Thomas planted and harvested the crops.