John Taylor’s Southern Claims Commission File

On 3 March 1871 Congress established a commission to act on claims by southern loyalists who had often involuntarily furnished supplies to the Union Army during the Civil War.  (Damages to crops or land was excluded.)  To be eligible for reimbursement, claimants who resided in the twelve states that rebelled had to file claims before 3 March 1873 and meet two criteria:

  • Prove that they remained loyal to the Union during the war
  • Prove that they had stores or supplies taken by or furnished to the Union Army during the war

Claim No. 1769

On 26 April 1871 John Taylor filed a successful claim for a horse valued at $100 that he had furnished to the Army.  On 19 August 1871 John Taylor, accompanied by Henry Taylor, William F. Taylor, and Joseph Carr, appeared in court in Lebanon, Alabama for a hearing on the case.  Claimants were required to answer 41 specific questions designed to evidence their loyalty to the Union, opposition to the Confederacy, and eligibility for reimbursement.  His answers to those questions, taken together, constituted John Taylor’s statement.

Questions to be Answered by Claimants

Question 1: What is your name, age, residence, and occupation?

My name is John Taylor, my age 58 years, my residence near Lebanon in the State of Alabama, and my occupation a farmer & mechanic.

Question 2: Where did you reside from the 1st of April, 1861, to the 1st of June, 1865? If on your own land, what is the size of your farm? How much of your farm was cultivated, and how much was woodland? Where is it situated? What was your occupation during that time? Did you change your residence or business during that time? if so, where was your new residence, and what [was] your new business?

I resided in Marshall County, Alabama ten miles northeast of Guntersville. I resided on government land. I was farming during that time or had it carried on.  I remained at home until July 1864 when I went to the union lines at Bridgeport, Alabama [on the Tennessee river about two miles south of the Tennessee line].  I remained at Bridgeport a few days. Before I went to Bridgeport I joined Captain John Hamlin’s company of scouts, United States Army. There was eighty or ninety men in his company.  I was on duty with my company in Jackson and Marshall Counties until General Hook crossed the Tennessee River with the rebel army. I continued with the army until March 1865. I then went back to my family in Marshall County and lay out until peace was made. I never received a regular discharge from the United States army – none of my company received a discharge. Our captain died at Stephenson, Jackson County just before I returned home. There was  no officer appointed to take his place.

Question 3:  Did you ever pass beyond the military or naval lines of the United States and enter the rebel lines? If so, how often, when, where, and for what purpose, and how long did you stay within the Confederate lines on each occasion?

Yes, when I returned home from the United States army I come into the rebel lines. I come over twice. The first time I come over in the rebel lines to provide for my family. I remained three or five days. I come over secretly in the night.  The second time I came over was after our captain died. I then remained at home and in my neighborhood until the close of the war.

Question 4: Did you ever take any oath or affirmation to bear allegiance to the so-called Confederate States, or to aid or support them in any way, or to “bear true faith”, or “yield obedience” to them? If so, when and where? State fully in regard to the same.

I did. I was forced to do it. In February, not far from the 10th, 1863 at Huntsville, Alabama.  I was arrested at Guntersville, Alabama on account of my Union sympathies and taken to Warrenton four miles from Guntersville and I was then placed in the guard house by the rebels who arrested me. They kept me there from Monday morning to the following Sunday morning, they then taken me to Huntsville under guard. When they got to Huntsville they put me in the guard house.

My family during this time hearing that I had been killed, my oldest son who was 24 years old came over to Huntsville looking after me. He went to the commander of the fort at Huntsville when he found I was in prison. Colonel Lee the commander of the fort told my son if he would go back to my home some fifty miles distant and get a recommendation from my neighbors showing that I did not sympathize with the union cause, and he would (my son) take my place in the Confederate army or would go in the rebel army, he would release me.

My son did go back home and wrote out a recommendation for me, and signed the names of several prominent rebels in my neighborhood to it.  He came back to Huntsville with it and presented it to Colonel Lee.  Lee then sent a guard after me and had me carried to the Provost Marshall’s office. The Provost Marshall qualified me to be true to the Confederate States but it went in one ear and out of the other. I did not intend to heed to it at all. The Provost Marshall then sent me to Colonel Lee’s office. The Colonel gave me a pass to go home.  He also gave my son a showing to go home and return to Huntsville in ten days.  It was part of the condition of my release was that my son should report back in ten days and so into the rebel army after the ten days was up.  I told my son not to go back to Huntsville as we promised we would but to go into the woods and bluffs and remain until the Yankees come near and then to go and join the Yankee army. He laid out about two months when he joined the United States army.

Question 5: Have you ever taken any amnesty oath? If so, when, where, and under what condition? Have you been pardoned by the President? If so, when and where, and upon what conditions?

Yes. In 1865 near Guntersville, Marshall County. I went up and took it voluntarily. Did not need any pardon.

→Questions 5-23 were not relevant to the case

Question 24:  Were you ever arrested by the Confederate government, or by any officer, soldier, or other person professing to act therefor, or for any State in rebellion? If so, when, where, by whom, and how long were you kept under arrest? How did you get released? Did you, for the sake of being released, or upon release, take any oath of any kind to the Confederate government? If so, what? [Put the same questions as to arrest by the United States Government, etc.]

Yes. On the 26th day of January 1863 by a Captain and Major with a squad of men of the rebel army at Guntersville, Alabama.  Captain Davis and Major Clair of the rebel army. I was [kept?] under arrest about fifteen days. I got released by my son agreeing to go into the rebel army and by me taking an oath to the rebel states to be true to the rebel states.  [I was] never arrested by the United States army.

Question 25: Was any of your property ever taken by the Confederate authorities, or by any officer, soldier, or other person acting or assuming to act on their behalf, or in behalf of any State in rebellion? If so, what property, when and for what use, and have you received pay therefor?

Yes sir. Four horses, corn, fodder, bacon, beef and a set of wagon makers tools and various other things. Never got any pay for anything they took.

Question 26: Were you ever threatened with damage or injury to your person, family, or property on account of your Union sentiments? If so, state when, by whom, and what the threats were?

Yes sir. From I can’t tell you the day or the month but at various times, from the time I was arrested through the war, at times they threatened to kill me. They threatened to shoot me and they threatened to hang me, the rebels.  Major Clair and Captain Davis threatened to shoot or hang me. This was on the 26th day of January 1863 the day they arrested me.

Question 27: Were you ever molested or in any way injured on account of your Union sentiments? If so, state fully all the particulars.

My person was never injured, only as I was kept in prison. But they took my property, my horses, corn, fodder, bacon and my wagon making tools and beef, in fact all I had at one time. They left me and my family without anything to eat in the world.

Question 28: Did you ever contribute anything—any money or property—in aid of the United States Government, or in aid of the Union army or cause? If so, state fully as to the same.

No I did not.  The rebels did not leave anything for my family,

Question 29: Did you ever do anything for the United States Government or its army, or for the Union cause, during the war? If so, state fully what you did.

I was in their service for five months in active service. I gave them my service for this time. I never received one cent of pay from the United States government nor from anyone for the time I was with the federal army.

Question 30: Had you any near relatives—any husband, son, brother, or nephew—in the Confederate army? If yea, state his name, whether he is now living, and where he resides. Did you furnish him with any military equipments, any clothing, or any money? Did you contribute in any way to aid or support him while in the rebel service? [Each of the questions under No. 30 must be fully answered.]

None that I know of.

→Questions 31-37 were not relevant to the case

Question 38: Did you ever receive any pass from any officer of the Confederate government, or from any person having or assuming to have authority to issue the same? If so, who gave you the pass; for what purpose; for what period of time; did you sign or swear to any promise or obligation in order to get it; or swear or promise to bear “bear true faith and yield obedience to the Confederate States;” did you use the pass, and for what purpose?

Yes sir, Colonel Lee who was in command at Huntsville, Alabama. It was to pass me to my home in Marshall County. The pass was just for me to go home. I did take an oath for the sake of getting released from prison, I did not sign any oath. I took and oath to bear true faith or to be true to the Confederacy. I used the pass to take me home, did not use it afterwards.

Question 39: Are you or were you under the disabilities imposed by the Fourteenth Article of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States? Have you held any office under the United States Government since the war? If so, what office; and did you take the (so-called) “iron-clad” oath?

I am not, held no office since the war.

Question 40: At the beginning of the rebellion did you sympathize with the Union cause, or with the rebellion? What were your feelings and what your language on the subject? On which side did you exert your influence and cast your vote? What did you do, and how did you vote? How did you vote on ratifying the ordinance of secession? After the ordinance of secession was adopted in your State did you adhere to the Union cause, or did you “go with the State?”

I sympathized with the union cause at the beginning of the rebellion. My feelings were for the success and the welfare of the old government and I so expressed myself. I expressed myself in this way until I was about played out by the rebels. I exerted all my influence and cast my vote on the union side. I voted for the union candidates to the secession convention. I voted for John Bell of Tennessee in the presidential election 1860.1 I did not go with my state after the state had seceded. I adhered to the union cause.

Question 41: In conclusion, do you solemnly declare that, from the beginning of hostilities against the United States to the end thereof, your sympathies were constantly with the cause of the United States; that you never, of your own free will and accord, did anything, or offered, or sought, or attempted to do anything, by word or deed, to injure said cause or retard its success, and that you were at all times ready and willing, when called upon, or if called upon, to aid and assist the cause of the Union, or its supporters, so far as you means and power and the circumstances of the case permitted?

[He gives this oath word for word.]


Questions as the Taking or Furnishing of Property, to be Answered by Claimants and Witnesses.

Question 1: Were you present when any of the articles of property specified in the claimant’s petition were taken?

I furnished the horse to the United States Army.

Question 2: Did you see any of them taken? If so, specify the articles you saw taken.

Yes, I delivered the horse.

Question 3: Begin with the first article (Item No. —) which you have specified that you saw taken, and give a full account of all you saw and heard in connection with the taking of that article? 

Captain Allen, G. F. of Company B of the 1st Alabama Vidette Cavalry was purchasing horses at Larkin’s Landing on the Tennessee River to mount his company in compliance with instructions of Captain Warren, Quartermaster at Stephenson, Alabama. 2  General Smith’s command made a raid from Larkenville over in my country and on through to Lebanon and upon his return from the raid I took my horse and went back with them to Larkin’s Landing.

Captain Allen was with General Smith’s command and we made the trade while we were on the road back. Captain Allen was to take the horse and have him valued then he was to give me a receipt for him. This was not far from the 10th of February 1864.

I gave my horse up to him at Larkin’s Landing. The next morning the company started for Bridgeport, [and] I started also on foot. I went right on the Bridgeport.  When I got there I saw my horse, or the horse I had sold, in Captain Allen’s company. The horse had been branded with “U S” and I saw him frequently afterwards in the company. He was rode by my son who was a member of Captain Allen’s company. I saw him nearly every day for two weeks after we got to Bridgeport. He was all the time in the service, going out on picket duty and going out on raids.

I don’t know what become of my receipt, it was either mislaid or took. I never received any pay  for it. I afterwards presented the receipt to Captain Warren at Stephenson for a voucher, He said he was then under arrest and could not give me a voucher at that time. He told me to come back such a day and he would give me a voucher. He said that the receipt was all right, that he had authorized Captain Allen to purchase horses to mount his company. Captain Warren was the quartermaster at Stephenson, Alabama. I went back at the time Captain Warren fixed for me to return, mbut he said that he was still under arrest.  He did not tell me when to come back again, I told him I could not stay any longer for I had to go back home. I did go back home and never saw him after that.

There was an officer acting as quartermaster in place of Captain Warren bu the name of Killgore (sic). I went to Captain Killgore’s office and called for him and a young man [came] to the door of the house and said he could not attend to it right then. I then went and got on a train that was ready to start and went down a far as Larkinsville and then came across the country home.

The horse was five years ol. He was in tolerable good condition, very good condition according to the times and chance he had. He was a good sound horse.  There was nothing wrong with him. He was worth $125 and union men then in camp told me that if I had taken him to Captain Warren he would of given me $125 for him. I did not care much for that price at the time. I did not intend to take him back with me for I knew if I did the rebels would take him.

(Signed)  John Taylor

Supporting testimony:

Deposition by Henry Taylor

Deposition by Joseph Carr

Deposition by William F. Taylor



  1. Senator John Bell was the nominee of the Constitutional Union party, which took a neutral stance on the issue of slavery.  He campaigned on the theory that secession was unnecessary, as slavery was Constitutionally protected. He won electoral votes from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. []
  2. Captain George F. Allen joined the regiment as a 1st Lieutenant when it was formed on 10 September 1863 and was quickly promoted to Captain, perhaps because he brought 63 men with him.  He was 25 years old. []