Grand Theft Equine….

Week three of blogging about our #52 Ancestors prompt for  No Story Too Small.

It’s funny how a story grows and takes on a life of its’ own. How a common criminal becomes a Prisoner of War. Instead of serving time for his crime, he becomes a hero to his children and grandchildren. Many of the stories of the Civil War were embellished and added to and took on their own lives. Recently I read a story of the last Union and Confederate soldiers to die. Both had told their war stories over and over. Both had been honored in parades and write ups in the paper. Only one had served. These young men went off to fight a war for various reasons. They believed in the cause. They needed the money. They wanted to prove their bravery. Perhaps they’d heard of free land for earlier wartime service and went off hoping to earn their own. Whatever their reasons, they came home very different people. War changes people. Here’s just one story of a young man who told his family stories of being held prisoner in a Civil War prison. Of having surgery in that prison. Of being held for two years after the war. The truth is, he was in prison. But not for the noble cause he gave his family:

Joseph Houston Hubbard, son of Green Hubbard and Susannah Parks was born between 12 May 1841 and 1843 in TN.[1][2][3][4] His daughter states he was born in Carroll County, Tennessee. He was most likely born in Washington County, Tennessee, because his father is enumerated there in 1840. The father paid taxes in Lincoln County, Tennessee in 1848, and we can only assume the family moved there some time during that year.

Joe had a relatively uneventful life growing up in Lincoln County, TN and sometime after the 1850 census was taken his mother passed away, leaving Joseph living with his father Green. Green Hubbard was a pump borer by trade. We assume that young Joseph, who was age 7 in 1850, was their only child.

Joseph Houston "Joe" Hubbard enlisted with the 1st Tennessee Infantry on 27 APR 1861. He served under Captain Ezekial Y. Salmon. According to Joseph’s granddaughter, Mrs. Mary Morgan Hickerson, Joseph was “taken prisoner of war and was held captive for two years after the war in a prison, possibly in North Carolina.” * While we will see it is true, Joseph did spend time in prison, he was not in North Carolina, nor was he a prisoner of war. None of his compiled service records mention him being imprisoned. He did serve with the 1st Tennessee at places like Harper’s Ferry in May 1861.

Joseph was mustered-in in Lynchburg, Virginia. They were issued smooth-bore muskets instead of rifles, but after an eloquent speech by Jefferson Davis, they agreed to use the muskets.


Smooth bore rifle like the one Joseph was issued.

Sometime around September or October of 1861, Joseph fell ill. We do not know what he was sick with, but his service records state that he was absent and sick.

In September, the regiment, still in the II Corps, took part in the Maryland Campaign, fighting at Harper’s Ferry, Sharpsburg, and Shepherdstown. Returning to Virginia, it was part of the II Corps at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Here Colonel Turney sustained the wound which removed him from active command; a year later he was to take over a semi-administrative command in Florida. It was here, in Fredericksburg,  that Joseph claims he was injured.  It’s possible that he was injured and that is why he was listed as sick in September and October of 1861.  And he may very well have had surgery during that time.

He apparently reenlisted in March of 1862 with his same unit.

His service records state that he was paid on August 31, 1862, and that he was present in September and October of that year, but apparently he’d also been arrested for desertion. In November and December of 1862, Joseph was listed as absent without leave. Whether this is when he was imprisoned or not is not known, but it is clear his commanding officer did not know of his imprisonment. By February 1863, Joseph is back with his unit and has been paid. The last record his unit has of Joseph Hubbard is in June 1863. He is listed as “Deserted about 17 June, 1863.[4]

It’s not clear what happened to Joseph at that point, but we find he paid taxes in Lincoln County, TN in 1865. So he must have been living back at home during that year. Where he was from June 1863 and when he paid taxes in Lincoln County, TN are unclear.  This is the time period he claims he was in a Federal Prison at Camp Chase.

In February 1866, John Dance accuses Joseph of stealing a horse from him. Joseph is arrested and held in the Lincoln County jail. Payments to the jailer indicate that Joseph was in jail during February 1866, but apparently only for about two weeks when he broke out of jail and ran away. In July 1866, Joseph Hubbard married Martha McAlpine in Davidson County, TN. [5] Soon after their marriage, an alias copias was issued for Joseph in Lincoln County, Tennessee.[6] An alias capias was the writ or process commanding the officer to arrest the person named. It seemed law enforcement in Lincoln County, Tennessee could not find young Joseph to bring him to trial.  We call them arrest warrants today.  In December 1866, they issued an alias copias for Joseph in Davidson County, Tennessee, so they must have known that he had moved there.   It’s about a 30 minute drive from Fayetteville in Lincoln County to Antioch in Davidson County, where Joseph was now living. In 1860, the two counties were worlds apart.

He had his first daughter with Martha in Davidson County in 1870 and 7 more children would follow between then and 1884. Six of their children would live to adulthood. Joseph and Martha lived their lives out in Davidson County, Tennessee. While I haven’t been able to find them in 1910, we know that Martha McAlpine Hubbard died of TB and that Joseph remarried in 1912 to Mary Hobbs in Rutherford County, Tennessee. [7]

Joseph filed for a Pension on 23 Jun 1900. He claims to have had seven bones removed from his arm. He says that he was captured at Camp Chase, Ohio. He was operated on while in prison. He was in prison for 12 months. Joe’s application was denied. According to his application he took the oath of allegiance 4 years later when he wanted to vote. According to his attending physician, he was shot through the right arm and lung. He has a cough that can be attributed to the wound on his lung.  I do not doubt that Joseph sustained these injuries, or that he had surgery on them. However, his Compiled Service Records do not mention him being held at Camp Chase.

On his pension application, the doctor states that Joseph had part of his arm missing and we cannot discount the fact that this very well could have been an injury he sustained during his Civil War service and the reason he was sick during September and October 1861.  Whether he was injured or not, he did fight on some pretty serious Civil War battlefields. Nearly 18,000 men were killed at Fredericksburg alone during December 11-15, 1862.  It is possible that Joseph was taken a POW at Fredericksburg and taken to Camp Chase and that was why he was AWOL.  Someday I hope the records of Camp Chase will be more easily accessible and searchable, so that I can actually see if Joseph was one of the many men held there.

Joseph had to have members of his unit testify to his Civil War service and imprisonment for his pension application. One of those men was William P. Tolley. Tolley wrote:

Col, My recollection is that Hubbard was a good soldier, but cannot recall that he was wounded. There are those who know definately  [sic]whose names and addresses I list below: Felix Motlow, B. H. Berry, and Claiborne Felps all of Lynchburg, TN. Yours is the first information I have had of Hubbard since soon after the war when he left about Lynchburg suddenly and under a cloud (illegible) he has performed and is entitled to a pension.

Respectively, Wm. P. Tolley

Another was Felix Motlow. Motlow wrote:

Lynchburg, Moore Co., TN

Capt. Jno T. Hickman

(Secretary of T. B. T. Ex)

My dear comrade-

Yours of 6 mth did not reach me till a few days ago. In reply I will honestly state that J. N. Hubbard was a brave soldier (a lad, though illiterate) as any Tennessean that ever marched under Joe Johnston, Stonewall Jackson, or Gen R. E. Lee’s banner. He happened to be in the rear rank and your humble servant in the front rank during the battle of Seven Pines in VA ( when Johnston was wounded and carried off the field, just before Gen. R. E. Lee took command)

Page 2:

(Written upside down was) Robt. Hatton, then or Brig. Gen made a short talk to his three Tenn Regt. Turney’s 1st, The 7th and 14th Co.

(Then the letter continues)

That was before our command captured more fine rifles from the enemy than we could use. During that "Seven Pines" fight our guns were simply the old smoothe (sic) bore musket-amunition (sic) "Buck and Ball"-(three Buckshot and musket ball) a very unreliable weapon "at long range"- but very effective at close quarters-.

But those old guns would kick harder than a "toe headed" mule. We fought after night, and Hubbard, being a little fellow, (I don’t suppose he was twenty years old) every time he fired his old musket

Page 3

(written upside down) Turney’s Regt. fired the last volley in that battle. Fair Oaks or Seven Pines

(and then the letter continues) it would kick him down and also envelop (sic) me in fire. I laughingly told him, after the battle, that I was more uneasy on account of his old musket in the rear, than the enemies’ fine rifles in the front. (but that was not his fault)

Our company left home about 100 men and boys. Our time had expired and we were conscripted for "three years or during the war." Consequently, the most of us who had come from the "Old Volunteer State" (before the state had left the union) were very much dissatisfied, in asmuch as the yankees were invading our Tenn. homes and we did not know what


(written upside down) A negro woman, with a no. of children slept under mother’s bed with her children to protect them from the yankees. Great (rest illegible)

(and the letter continues) develment (sic) they might be guilty of or capable of doing to our "dear ones at home." Consequently on account of desertion home-sickness and c we carried only twenty five muskets in the Seven Pines battle. (The Yankees called it the battle of Fair Oaks, I believe) I hope you will excuse my voluminous letter; but my excuse is I think my comrade- Hubbard deserves a pension, and I would like for justice to be done "he did leave our county under a cloud You ask what was the cloud & I can not answer. …

Page 5

It was clear from Tolley and Motlow’s letters that they believed any man who had served against the Yankees deserved payment of a pension after the war and that they had remembered young Joseph. They both commented on the fact that  the young man had left Lincoln County “under a cloud”, but did not know the details.  Motlow’s  letter did continue past that point, but what it had to say did not impress the parole board. Joseph Hubbard’s pension application was denied.

Joseph Hubbard died on 15 August 1924 of bladder cancer. His will was written on 15 April 1924 and left everything to his daughter, Elsie.

I, J. H. Hubbard of Smyrna Rutherford County, Tennessee do make and publish this as my last will and testament hereby revoking any and all wills by me heretofore made. I direct that all my debts be paid by my executor as soon after my death as possible out of any moneys or personally that I may die possessed of.

I give to my daughter Elsie McDade the place on which I now live containing ten acres more or less. It being the same place which I purchased from James Manus which is located in the 3rd Dist of Rutherford County, Tenn. I appoint my daughter Elsie to settle my affairs without bond or legal qualification.

J. H. his mark Hubbard

The foregoing will was signed by the testator in our presence and we attested in his presence and at his request.

This April 15, 1924

R. L. Neal

Mattie Neal Witnesses

Joseph is buried in Mullins Cemetery in Smyrna, Tennessee in an unmarked grave. As far as I know, he never served time for stealing a horse. Over time, his short prison term became time in a POW prison. It is possible that he did serve time in Camp Chase, Ohio as well. The fact that his pension was denied and his compiled service records do not mention it, leave me to believe it was just one of those stories old men told of the Civil War to impress young men. By the mid 1980s, his granddaughter, Mary Hickerson made a tape reminiscing about her ancestors and Joseph’s one year turned into two years in a Prison of War camp. Camp Chase became somewhere in North Carolina.  No mention was made of Joseph stealing a horse or spending time in Jail in Lincoln County, Tennessee.  I am sure Mary and her siblings never heard that story. No matter what, Joseph’s Civil War record is impressive. His unit trained with cadets at the Virginia Military Institute.  He served under Stonewall Jackson at Harper’s Ferry.  They fought at the First Battle of Manassas, and the Battle of Fredericksburg.  Horse thief or not, no one can argue that Joseph Hubbard was not a brave man nor can they say he did not serve the Confederacy well.  He was only 20 years old when he enlisted.

*This is very different from the testimony given by Joseph in his pension application.

Copyright 2014 Teresa Elliott All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the author. 

[1] Green Hubbard household, Lincoln County, TN, Dwelling 890, page 96B. 1850 Federal Population Census, Lewis, Lincoln, & McMinn Counties, TN, (National Archives Microfilm M432, Roll No. 887), National Archives, Washington, D. C. Photocopy in possession of author. Estimated date(s) of birth: He is 7 years old. Hereinafter cited as 1850 Lincoln Co., TN-Green Hubbard: #1690.

[2] J. H. Hubbard household, Davidson County, TN, Supervisor’s District 6, Enumeration District 121, Sheet 8 A, [National Archives Microfilm T623, Roll Number 1565.]. 1900 Federal Population Census, Davidson County (part), TN, (National Archives Microfilm T623, Roll No. 1565), National Archives, Washington, D. C. Photocopy in possession of author. Hereinafter cited as 1900 Davidson Co., TN-J. H. Hubbard: #1674.

[3] J. H. Hubbard Pension File; Application Number 2846,; Case Files of Disapproved Pensions. Hereinafter cited as "J. H. Hubbard, Pension Application". HUBBARD (1)

[4] Joseph Hubbard, Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Confederate Soldiers who Served in the State of Tennessee (: Huntsville Public Library, Huntsville, Al. Photocopy in possession of author.). Hereinafter cited as Joseph Hubbard, Service Records: HUBBARD (1), Pvt, 1st Turney’s Infantry, Micropublication M268, Roll 108.

[5] Joseph H. Hubbard to Martha E. McAlpine, Marriage License, 29 Jul 1866, Book 5, Page 293. Original copy can be found in Davidson County, TN, Marriage Books 5-6 1864-1876, Roll 0471, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville TN, Family History Library Film 200296. Photocopy in possession of author. Hereinafter cited as Marriage, Hubbard-McAlpine, #2162

[6] State of Tennessee vs. Joseph Hubbard, Lincoln County Circuit Court Min. Books: Page 130. Official copy held by Lincoln County, TN, Circuit Court Minute Books Civil and Criminal Jul 1859-Jul 1867, Roll 037, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville TN. Photocopy in possession of author. Hereinafter cited as State of Tennesse vs Joseph Hubbard: HUBBARD (?), #2161.

[7] J. H. Hurberd to Mary Hobbs, Marriage Certificate Transcription, Reference Number p 150-519, Tennessee Marriages, 1796-1950, digital indexes, viewed online on 03 Mar 2011 at Orignal copy can be found in Rutherford County, TN, Marriage Records 3-6 (4 and 5 missing) 1907-1920, Roll 245, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville TN, Family History Library Film 379651. Herein cited as: Huberd-Hobbs, Marriage, #3291.


4 thoughts on “Grand Theft Equine….

  1. It’s fascinating how you were able to put Hubbard’s story together and almost map how the family lore got “warped,” if you will. I find I am inordinately fond of my black sheep ancestors.

  2. Thanks Schalene. I was lucky, my great aunt recorded her memories for me after her first stroke. Her information has been surprisingly very accurate and I have been able to find people and proof for most everything she has said. I am so thankful she took the time to do so because I wouldn’t have found his Civil War records without it.

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