- [S106] The Mountain Press, 2 Jul 2015.
Upland Chronicles: Fox remembered for his sacrifice in the Civil War
Tommy McGaha displays the saber used by Christopher Fox while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Discharge document submitted as documentation of Christopher Fox’s service in the 9th Tennessee Cavalry, Company F.
While observing the annual Decoration Day at Fox Cemetery last year, Tommy McGaha noticed there was not an American flag on the grave of Christopher Fox.
Through family tradition McGaha had been told that Fox served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Therefore, he asked Bill Henry, who was in charge of flag distribution, why a flag had not been placed on Fox’s grave. Henry informed him that since the Fox monument did not indicate that he served in the military, they simply did not know that Fox was a veteran.
Research by McGaha and his mother, Charlene Keeler McGaha, led to the placing of a new flat granite marker issued by the Bureau of Veterans Affairs. Several items required for documentation were inherited by Charlene McGaha from her first cousin Earl Keeler when he died in 2009.
Born October 5, 1817, Christopher Fox was almost 46 when he and his son Simon enlisted on September 13, 1863. Father and son served together in Company F of the Ninth Tennessee Cavalry. Christopher was a son of Adam Fox Jr. and Mary “’Polly’ Schrader Fox. He married Elizabeth Byrd on January 13, 1843, and they raised a family of 10 children.
The Ninth Tennessee Cavalry began organizing in the fall of 1863. Many local men had shunned service up until then, but the war was getting closer to home. General Ambrose Burnside arrived in Knoxville to liberate East Tennessee from Confederate control. With Longstreet’s troops on their way to Knoxville, many of those who had shunned service decided to take up arms.
Company F, in which Christopher and Simon Fox enlisted, consisted mostly of men from the mountain areas of Sevier, Blount and Jefferson counties. Before it could be mustered in, the regiment participated in the Siege of Knoxville. Escorting prisoners captured at Knoxville, the regiment marched to Camp Nelson, Kentucky. Here the Ninth was placed in a brigade with the Eighth and Thirteenth Cavalry and transported to Nashville. The three regiments became the “Tennessee Governor’s Guard,” commanded by General Alvan Gillem.
This brigade was for the use of Military Governor Andrew Johnson and was utilized in guarding the state Capitol and the railroad supply lines, which were frequent targets of Confederate raiders. It was on duty in West Tennessee until August 1864, when Governor Johnson ordered the brigade to East Tennessee.
During the summer of 1864, East Tennessee had been invaded by Confederate forces, which were carrying off the crops being raised by farmers, and using them for consumption by the Confederate Army. This angered Governor Johnson, who had a home in Greeneville.
In August 1864, Governor Johnson ordered General Gillem and his brigade to Knoxville, and from there to the outpost of Strawberry Plains, where they soon began frequent encounters with Confederate forces. Gillem and his command began at once on a mission to drive the Confederates out of East Tennessee.
On Sept. 4, 1864 Gillem and his forces shot down the legendary Confederate General John Hunt Morgan. This led to another confrontation at Greeneville on October 12 in which a large number of the Eighth and Ninth were killed or wounded, and several others were captured. The Greeneville encounter resulted in the Battle of Morristown on October 28 where Gilliam again was victorious. However, on Nov. 12, Gillem and his forces were defeated at Bulls Gap.
As the destructive conflict inevitably neared its end, Gillem received assistance of General George Stoneman, who led the 20-day destructive raid to Virginia in which the brigade destroyed countless miles of Confederate railroad tracks, as well as the Confederate salt works at Saltville, used to supply the Confederate Army. This raid was conducted in mid-December when the temperatures were so cold that on the way back hundreds of soldiers lay along the roadsides, their limbs literally rotted with frostbite, and in many cases amputation had been attempted to relieve their agony.
After the Virginia raid, the Ninth returned to Knoxville after a march of 461 miles, and was sent to camp at the Fair Grounds. It spent the remainder of its service scouting and going after bushwhackers.
According to his discharge papers signed April 5, 1865, Christopher Fox was a sergeant under Captain James B. Sharp. He was listed as 5 feet 10 inches tall with dark complexion, grey eyes, and dark hair, and by occupation, when enrolled, a farmer. His discharge date was listed as March 24, 1865. No doubt the hardships he endured, especially at his age, resulted in him returning home in a weakened condition.
Fox served to almost the duration of the war, but the hardships of the conflict took their toll. He returned home and died the following year on July 2, 1866, at age 48. His son Simon survived the war but did not remain in Sevier County. He moved to Williamson County, Texas where he reportedly lived out his life.
Fox Cemetery is among the oldest burying grounds Sevier County. The grave of Mark Fox, great-uncle of Christopher, is the oldest marked grave in the entire county. Mark was scalped and killed by Indians on June 21, 1787. His grave is marked by a hand-inscribed fieldstone as well as a modern-day flat granite marker.
At 7 p.m. on Thursday July 2, 2015, the 149th anniversary of his death, a sundown ceremony will be held at Fox Cemetery to unveil the new government marker. In case of inclement weather the ceremony will be at Fox United Methodist Church. At the event, an 1853 British import saber used by Fox during his service in the Union Army will be displayed. The public is invited. Fox Cemetery is located on Newport Highway about 10 miles east of Sevierville.
Carroll McMahan is the Special Projects Facilitator for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce and serves as Sevier County Historian.
The Upland Chronicles series celebrates the heritage and past of Sevier County. If you have suggestions for future topics or have comments; please contact Carroll McMahan at 453-6411 or email to email@example.com; or Ron Rader at 604-9161 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- [S71] Sevier County Republican Extracts, Beulah Linn, (http://sevier.tngenealogy.net/research-assistance/records-resources/27-newspapers-a-publications), 4 Jan 1933.
Caswell Fox obituary
- [S112] Census, 1850.
Name: Christopher Fox
Event Type: Census
Event Year: 1850
Event Place: Jefferson county, Jefferson, Tennessee, United States
Birth Year (Estimated): 1820
House Number: 1002
Household Role Gender Age Birthplace
Christopher Fox M 30 Tennessee
Eliza Fox F 27 Tennessee
Survion Fox M 6 Tennessee
Mary Jane Fox F 4 Tennessee
Caswell Fox M 3 Tennessee
Matilda Fox F 0 Tennessee
"United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11105-84285-47?cc=1401638 : accessed 16 July 2015), Tennessee > Jefferson > Jefferson county > image 144 of 277; citing NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).