Brown County Historical Society Scrapbook

William F. Taber and his wife, Elizabeth (Bettie) Louise Coggin Taber were long time residents of Brown County. Elizabeth’s father was Levi Coggin.

William F. Taber was seriously injured in the Battle of Gettysburg and died in 1871 at age 34 as a result of those injuries. Levi Coggin moved to Brown County in 1871. He was the father of William F. Taber’s wife, Bettie, and Moses Jackson (Mody) Coggin, and Samuel R. (Sammie) Coggin, who were called the Coggin Brothers, and were well known for banking and ranching in Brown County.

John Walter Taber was a son of William F. Taber and Elizabeth Louise Taber. In the 1950s, John Walter Taber told memories of his life to his daughter, Virginia Taber Early, who recorded them. J. Walter Taber told about events of his father and relatives in the Civil War.

Lee Smart married Iran Taber (Walter Taber’s sister), after the Civil War. He only had one arm, but chopped wood well. He was a die hard Baptist. Lee Smart bought a slave for $1,000 on credit, before he went to war and lost his arm. He hadn’t been married too long. The slave was freed by the war, but he still paid for him.

Lee Smart lived out from Holley Springs, Miss. Along the road were wild grape vines, big enough for soldiers to make a bridge across the Tallahatchie River, and take cannons across it. There was a big flag pole at Abbeville. General Forest’s army crossed the Tallahatchie River on a bridge that had been made out of these big grape vines, and, after the army and cannons, etc. crossed, the vine bridge was stretched down into the water a foot deep, and barely holding up.

Jesse Couch was in Forest’s cavalry and told Walter Taber about it. General Forest was not a very religious man. He captured a chaplain among some other soldiers. The chaplain had heard so many tales about how tough and non-religious Forest was. He didn’t know what was going to happen to him. Forest invited him to sleep in his own tent and asked him to return Thanks at both supper and breakfast. After breakfast one day, Forest said “I’d like to keep you but they need you so bad on the other side that I’m going to send you back to them,” and he sent him back under a flag of truce.

Northern troops were encamped near Abbeville, Miss. They would make raid on homes in the country and take everything they wanted. They even took tombstones to use as tables. One day the troops went to the Coggin’s neighbor’s house. The smokehouse was a log house and they could climb up between the logs. They had taken all of the hams, except one, which was hanging very high. There was a barrel of lard buried in the ground to keep the Yankees from finding it. When a Yankee climbed up to get this last ham, he threw the ham to the ground, then jumped down. He broke through the thin covering of dirt over the barrel of lard, and sank up to his arm pits into the lard. He was furious.

The Yankee soldiers took all of Mrs. Coggin’s jelly because they wanted the glasses. They took it out by the well in the back yard and dumped all the jelly out of the glasses onto the ground. One of them took a taste of the jelly and said “Boys, this stuff is good,” so they all tasted it and ate all of it down to the ground. (The Yankees had whole troops of foreigners. This may have been some of them because American troops would have recognized jelly.)

Northern troops camped at Abbeville, who were mostly Germans. They were sent out to forage. Six or eight went to Levi Coggin’s house. Bettie Coggin’s younger sister, Fannie, had a gold ring on her finger. The soldiers demanded it and she couldn’t get it off. One of the soldiers grabbed her by the hand and pulled the ring off her finger and a lot of skin with it. Her finger was bloody. First Lt. William F. Taber (and six or eight men with him) came home that night. He and the other soldiers set out in search of the foraging party and found a bunch of the same description, and took them back to the Coggin’s home. They lined them up in front of Fannie and asked if the man who had pulled the ring off her finger was in the bunch. She said “No, he was not there.” The man was there, and she recognized him and he was shaking like a leaf. She did not want them to harm him. The Yankees were taken and turned over to General Van Dorn of Holley Springs. The ring that was stolen from Fannie was an engagement ring, presented to her by P.A. Booker, whom she later married.

Abbeville was on the Illinois Central Railroad between Oxford and Holley Springs, and is still there. The Illinois Central Railroad ran from Chicago, straight through to New Orleans.

General Bragg was stationed on top of Look Out Mountain, and a Federal army was going up the hill to fight him. His scouts reported another Federal army coming in from the rear.  He withdrew to Chickamauga, Tennessee Military Base, and left 63 men (one of whom was S. L. Coggin) to shoot and make the Federals think there was a large force there. They did a lot of shooting and this gave Bragg a chance to get away. The Federals followed him to Chickamauga, and he defeated them. He could have defeated them more easily at Look Out Mountain, if the other army had not been coming up from the rear.

There are pictures of the “Battle of Look Out Mountain” called the “Battle of the Clouds,” but no history book or military record uses that name.