Joel Allen Battle

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Joel Allen Battle

Birthplace: Davidson County, Tennessee, USA, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, United States
Death: August 23, 1872 (60)
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, United States (Chronic Dysentery)
Place of Burial: Battle Cemetery, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Isaac Battle and Lucinda Atkinson Battle
Husband of Adaline Battle and Sarah M. Battle
Father of Joel Allen Battle, Jr.; Francis Marion Battle; Sarah Lucinda Battle; Fannie Battle, Spy & Angel of the Poor; Elizabeth Stancil Scales and 5 others
Brother of William Mayo Battle

Military Service: Col. (CSA)
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Joel Allen Battle

Joel A. Battle was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, Sept. 19, 1811. His father was originally from Edgecombe County, North Carolina, and his mother was Lucinda Mayo Battle, who inherited a large landed estate in Tennessee. It was through this channel that young Joel A. Battle became possessed of large landed interests. He has left an orphan at an early age, and his early education was limited, as there were no good schools near him. He was much beloved by his elders, and he, in turn, showed remarkable fondness and respect for the aged at this early period of his life. In his nineteenth year, he was married to Miss Sarah Searcy of Rutherford County, Tennessee.

Two years after their marriage his wife died, leaving an only son, William Searcy Battle, who grew to manhood and married Miss Louisa Holt, the second daughter of Thomas Holt, one of the wealthiest men of Williamson County. She died at the birth of her second child. William Searcy Battle joined the Confederate service, Twentieth Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, C. S. A., and was killed at the Battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862.

Joel A. Battle, shortly after the death of his young wife, raised a company near his home, and enlisted in the Florida War. After his return from, the war he met Miss Adeline Sanders Mosely, a lady who was remarkable alike for her native refinement, her firm, Christian character, and her gentle lovable disposition. Six years after his first marriage, he was united to Miss Mosely, near the Hermitage, and carried her to his comfortable home near Cane Ridge in the Sixth Civil District of Davidson county, to live the life of a quiet farmer's wife, at the old home of his ancestors. It was here that his children were born and raised (until 1861), surrounded by all of the comforts that a country life could afford at that time. (The writer of this sketch was often a partaker of its generous hospitality.)

In 1835 he was elected brigadier-general of the State militia, and in 1851 - 52 he represented Davidson county in the State Legislature, having as his co-Representative Hon. Russell Houston.

Battle was a zealous Whig, but he allowed no partisan spirit to interfere with his devotion to public interest, and his constant adherence to the principles of right and justice. As a friend, he was as unwavering as the north star, and his attachments for his friends in adversity were as unbroken as the eternal hills; his determination to overcome all obstacles that came in his path was unsurpassed. Nothing that he possessed was too dear to lay at the feet of a friend in distress. Noble, generous, and brave to a fault, the big heart seemed always looking for some kind act to perform. He was by nature far above the average man. He was a near neighbor of my widowed mother, and I can as a boy count a number of kind acts that he rendered her and her children. It was in the company of such a man that your writer, at the age of seventeen, wedded the cause of the Confederacy, from which he has never been divorced.

In addition to his large landed estate, Colonel Battle was a large owner of slaves, all of whom loved and respected him for his kindness and fatherly care of them. As a proof of their respect for him after the war, when any freed man was allowed to choose his own name, almost to an individual the Battle negroes retained the name of their former master.

Colonel Battle was always in deep sympathy with his slaves. Your writer remembers the time when he was in need of money, and he hired seven negro men of his to run on a steamboat that plied between Nashville and New Orleans, and while the boat was on the Mississippi River it sank and the men were all lost. Their worth was about $10,000, but Colonel Battle did not seem to care so much for the value of his slaves as he did for the love and affection he had for them. How beautiful was the tender tie that existed between the kind and considerate master and the confiding slave.

The Northern people who have never witnessed this domestic tie, find it difficult to realize it, for no one outside of the mother herself is so much beloved by the family as the "Old Black Mammy," whose protecting wing was always thrown over the family circle in the absence of "Old Missus." Her authority was acknowledged by both white and black, and her will was supreme.

At the beginning of our Civil War, in April, 1861, Joel A. Battle raised a company at Nolensville, Williamson Co., Tenn., which he named the "Zollicoffer Guards." It was afterward Company B in the Twentieth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. Battle was elected captain, Dr. William Clark, first. Thomas Benton Smith, second, and W. H. Matthews, third lieutenant. This company was mustered into the State military service on the 17th day of May, 1861, and sent to Camp Trousdale, near the Kentucky line, on the L. & N. railway, to enter upon the duties of soldiers. It was here that other companies came until enough had gone into camp to form a regiment of ten companies, and by an almost unanimous vote of the ten companies Capt. Joel A. Battle was elected colonel. This regiment was known throughout the four years of war as the Twentieth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry.

It remained in the camp of instruction until about the last of July, 1861, when it was ordered to Virginia. We struck our tents and boarded the cars going by way of Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, as far east as Bristol, where we were ordered into camp for a few weeks, and then returned to Knoxville, where Battle's regiment was put into a brigade commanded by Gen. Felix K. Zollicoffer.

After a few weeks of camp life here Colonel Battle was ordered with his regiment to proceed to Jacksboro, forty miles north of Knoxville, on the road to Cumberland Gap. The stay of the Twentieth Regiment at Jacksboro was only about three weeks, and then we passed through Cumberland Gap over to Cumberland Ford, in Knox County, Kentucky, some fourteen miles from the Gap. Colonel Battle, in command of the Twentieth Tennessee Infantry, believed that they were the first Confederate infantry to pass through Cumberland Gap at the breaking out of our war.

While Zollicoffer's brigade was at Cumberland Ford, the enemy had a force of five or six hundred at Barboursville, some eighteen miles farther north. So General Zollicoffer fitted out an expedition against them, consisting of two companies from the Eleventh Tennessee Regiment, two from the Ninteenth Tennessee, two from the Twentieth Tennessee, and two from the Fifteenth Mississippi, and a battalion of cavalry under Colonel McNairy. Colonel Battle was entrusted with the command of the whole, and right nobly did he carry out his orders and disperse the enemy. Colonel Battle's little command returned to Cumberland Ford in triumph.

In a short time, General Zollicoffer made his celebrated move on the enemy at Wild Cat, Ky., in which Battle's regiment was often in the front. His regiment fought the enemy at Laurel Bridge, Ky., and next day was in front in the approach to Wild Cat. The fighting on the part of the Confederates was done mostly by the Seventeenth Tennessee Regiment, under Colonel Newman, and the Eleventh Tennessee under Col. James E. Rains.

After the battle of Wild Cat, Zollicoffer's command fell back to Cumberland Gap, over the same route that they had advanced, and then went westward down the mountain to Jamestown in Fentress county, Tenn. They then crossed over into Kentucky again by Monticello, to Mill Springs on the south bank of the Cumberland River. Here General Zollicoffer crossed a portion of his command to the north bank of the river, and the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment was included in this detachment.

Colonel Battle remained here with his regiment until the night of Jan. 18, 1862, when his command was ordered to the battle field of Fishing Creek, which they reached next morning at daylight. As the skirmishers began firing, a few minnie balls, began to sing about the boys, and some of them began to duck their heads, when Colonel Battle cried out, "Don't dodge men, don't dodge!" About this time a shell came screaming through the woods and passed uncomfortably near Colonel Battle, and he dodged. His men began to laugh at him, and he said to them: "Boys, dodge the big ones, but don't dodge the little ones."

This grand old man led his regiment all through that bloody engagement, in the rain, while the brave boys were armed with the old flint lock muskets, that carried three buck-shot and one round ball, and not one musket in ten could be fired. His regiment, with the Fifteenth Mississippi, under Lieutenant-Colonel Walthall, bore the brunt of the day's fighting. Colonel Battle carried into this engagement 400 men and had 133 killed and wounded; the noble Mississippians carried in 400 and lost 220 killed and wounded; and forever after that day, these two regiments were fast friends. Colonel Battle brought his decimated regiment back to his camp, and recrossed the river, retreating to Gainsboro, Tenn., with the balance of the army. This retreat through the mountains occupied eight davs in dead of winter, and the men lived on parched corn.

Colonel Battle was next ordered from Gainsboro to Murfreesboro. Here he met the forces of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston on their way to the battlefield of Shiloh. Colonel Battle with his regiment camped for a while at Iuka, Miss., then moved twelve miles down the M. & C. railway to Burnsville, and from there he carried his regiment to the bloody field of Shiloh. Here on this field, in Statham's brigade of Gen. John C. Breckinridge's division, he for two days, the 6th and 7th of April, 1862, led his men to glory and many of them to death. Of the 380 carried into this fight, 158 were killed and wounded. Two of Colonel Battle's sons were among the killed, as stated before, one of them being Joel A. Battle, Jr., his second son, who was the gifted and talented adjutant of his regiment, who did duty all day on the field of battle with one arm in a sling, from the effects of a wound that he had received at the battle of Fishing Creek. Colonel Battle was wounded and captured in this engagement, and carried to Johnson's Island. ( A prison camp near Sandusky, Ohio.)

After his exchange, Gov. Isham G. Harris appointed him State Treasurer of the State of Tennessee in the fall of 1862, which position he held to the end of the war.

The State funds were taken south on the evacuation of Nashville in the spring of 1862. When the end of the war came, it found State Treasurer Joel A. Battle, with the assets of Tennessee on deposit in Augusta, Ga. The men who were conducting the affairs of the State at that time were Isham G. Harris, Governor, J. F. Dunlap, Comptroller, J. E. Ray, Secretary of State, Joel A. Battle, Treasurer, and G. C. Torbett, President of the Bank of Tennessee, with John A. Fisher, Cashier. Governor Harris was with Gen. Joe Johnston's army in the Carolinas until it surrendered, then he came through Augusta, Ga., on his way to the trans-Mississippi department; from there he went to Mexico, then to England, and did not return to Tennessee until 1867.

In May, 1865, there was on deposit in Augusta, Ga., a considerable sum of money belonging to the Bank of Tennessee, which was turned over by its officers to the Federal authorities and shipped back to Governor Brownlow at Nashville. Governor Brownlow, in his message of October, 1865, referred to the State's funds thus: "I advise that out of what is left of the Bank of Tennessee, the Common School Fund shall be, as far as possible, replaced," etc. He further said: "The amount returned, $444,719.70, sold for $618,250, and was invested in 7:30 US bonds."

When Colonel Battle returned with the archives of the State, he was arrested and put in prison. His wife and daughters applied to Col. Jordan Stokes to use his influence with Governor Brownlow to have him released, when Colonel Stokes replied: "Never mind, it will be all right, we three know each other;" as if to say, we were old-line "Whigs" before the war. Your writer personally knew that when Colonel Battle returned home, he was penniless, he and his family did not have one dollar; and yet he through the long dark night of poverty, was the ever faithful, honest, and brave custodian of this fund, and gave an account of every cent.

After the war, Colonel Battle moved to Nashville, and in 1872 was appointed by Gov. John C. Brown superintendent of the State prison, which position he retained until his death, and it was said by those in authority that he inaugurated a number of important changes in the prison discipline. This grand old Roman laid down his life on Aug. 23, 1872, a victim of a severe attack of dysentery, and as his remains were being carried through the city of Nashville to their last resting place at Cane Ridge, the old ancestral home, the remnant of his old regiment accompanied them to the city limits, and with bowed and uncovered heads and hearts full of sympathy and love, bade forever adieu to one of the grandest types of manhood that the State of Tennessee has ever furnished.

The beginning of the war in 1861 found Joel A. Battle and his family wealthy, surrounded with all the comforts of a country life; and when that terrible drama closed, they had not a roof to shelter them from a storm, and two of the family had been slain on the battle field. This family was like thousands of other families of the South that came out of the war poverty-stricken, but this poverty was a passport for lovalty and courage.

Col. Joel A. Battle was a Knight of Pythias, and to show the high esteem in which his brethren of this order held him, several years after his death a lodge was organized in Nashville, named Joel A. Battle Lodge in his honor, and a magnificent hall was built near the Peabody Normal College, at a cost Of $15,000. It can be said of Colonel Battle and his family that they were not like some, who neyer encountered danger, and remained behind the lines to fatten and grow rich off the misfortunes and absence of others. At Colonel Battle's death, he left to survive him his lovely Christian wife, one son, Captain Frank, and four daughters, namely, Miss Fannie, a noble representative of the Battle family, who has devoted her life to the relief of the poor; Miss Sallie, who married Capt. Dick Herbert of the Twenty -fourth Tennessee Volunteers; and Miss Betty, who married Mr. Scales, and moved to Texas soon after the war, as did her younger sister, who married Captain Giles of the Eighth Texas Cavalry.

[ Taken from: History of the Twentieth Tennessee Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. by W. J. McMurray ]


Col. JOEL ALLEN BATTLE was born in Davidson County, Tenn., Sept. 11, 1811. His father came from North Carolina when the great flood of emigration swept from that section to the Cumberland Valley. His mother, who was MISS LUCINDA MAYO, was of a very wealthy family and died young, leaving the child, JOEL, extensive lands and also many slaves. At ,an early age he developed a fondness for old people, which followed him through life. When 19 years old he married to MISS SARAH SEARCY of Rutherford County, Tenn. She died 2 years afterwards, leaving him an only son, WILLIAM SEARCY BATTLE, who was killed in the great conflict at Shiloh, April 6, 1862.

Shortly after the death of his wife, he raised a company for the Florida War. Six years later he was married a second time to MISS ADELINE SANDERS MOSELY. She lived near the Hermitage, she was a woman of Christian character. This union was blessed with two sons and four daughters.

In 1835 he was elected Brigadier General of Militia. He organized the 12 Tennessee Regiment and this company became Company B. He was chosen its Colonel and the regiment was made part of Gen. Zollicoffer's Brigade. His son, JOEL A. BATTLE, JR. who was the Adjutant of the regiment, was badly wounded and was carried off the field on the shoulders of a comrade at Fishing Creek, Ky. Col. BATTLE fought at Shiloh on April 6 and 7, 1862. Three of his sons fought under him on this field. His regiment of three hundred and fifty men lost, in killed and wounded, one hundred and fifty-eight and among the killed were two sons, WILLIAM SEARCY and JOEL A., JR., his Adjutant. Col. BATTLE was captured the same evening while trying to recover the dead body of his gallant boy. He was carried to a Northern prison, was afterwards exchanged and returned South, when he was appointed Treasurer of Tennessee by Gov. Isham G. HARRIS.

COL. BATTLE was a fine specimen of Southern manhood- patriotic, generous, chivalrous and the devoted to principal...

Joel Allen Battle: Born: September 19, 1811 Birthplace: Davidson County Tennessee Father: Isaac Battle 1775 – 1846 Mother: Lucinda Mayo Battle Unknown – 1849 1st Wife: Sarah Searcy Battle 2nd Wife: Adeline Mosely Battle 1814 – 1883 Children of this union: 1. William Searcy Battle 1834 – 1862 (Killed during the Battle of Shiloh) 2. Joel Allen Battle Jr. 1838 – 1862 (Killed during the Battle of Shiloh) 3. Frank Battle 1841 – 1917 4. Mary Frances "Fannie" Battle 1842 – 1924 5. Sarah Battle 1845 - 6. Elizabeth Battle Scales 1847 - 7. Ann "Annie" Watson Battle Giles 1850 – 1916

Occupation before War: Davidson County Tennessee Farmer 1851 – 1852: Tennessee State Representative General in Tennessee State Militia Served in the Seminole War

Civil War Career: 1861: Captain of Company C 20th Tennessee Infantry Regiment 1861 – 1862: Colonel of 20th Tennessee Infantry Regiment 1862: Wounded and Captured during the Battle of Shiloh 1862: Prisoner of War held at Johnson's Island Union Prison 1862 – 1865: Tennessee State Treasurer

Occupation after War: Hotel Owner in Nashville Tennessee Superintendent of Tennessee State Prison

Died: August 23, 1872 Place of Death: Nashville Tennessee Age at time of Death: 60 years old Burial Place: Battle Cemetery Nashville Tennessee

A Big Thank You goes to Find A Grave contributor Rob for this information
* Reference: Find A Grave Memorial - SmartCopy: Aug 29 2020, 19:19:16 UTC

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Joel Allen Battle's Timeline

September 19, 1811
Davidson County, Tennessee, USA, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, United States
October 1835
Davidson, Fentress County, Tennessee, USA
Nashville, Davidson County, TN, United States
April 5, 1841
Nashville, Davidson County, TN, United States
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
February 14, 1847
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
November 22, 1849
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, USA
November 16, 1851
Nashville, Davidson, TN, United States