Tuesday, July 9, 2013

George A. Borgman's Great Great Uncle, Robert J. Rhodes

George A. Borgman had several family members who took part in the Civil War on both sides. His great great grandfather Frank Borgman served in two regiments for the Union. However several more served in the Confederacy.

Robert J. Rhodes was one of those relatives. He was the brother of Texana Rhodes who was George's great grandmother.

Card with all the engagements he participated in on back.
Rhodes was born on August 11, 1844 in Fayette Co., Tennessee. He joined Capt. C. S. Shulyer's Company E, 3rd Tennessee Cavalry Regiment commanded by General Nathan Bedford Forrest on March 12, 1862 and was sworn in at the Reid Hotel in Southern Somerville, Tennessee.

He married Martha Neville on April 15, 1865 and had at least two children a boy and a girl.

For the rest of his life he was interested in the history of the Civil War and only missed one regimental reunion. He worked, one year, as a census collector for a special Civil War veterans census.

In 1908, Rhodes went traveling to one of his Confederate Veteran's reunions and visited a house, now known as Pope's Tavern in Florence, Alabama where he and several of his Confederates were treated for battle injuries over 40 years before.

After arriving home he wrote a letter to the Lambeth family who showed him around their house.
Robert J. Rhodes in later life.

"Many thanks to you for your kindness to me the few minutes I spent with you in your home on my return from (the) reunion. I've often asked myself the question if after 45 years of time had rolled around with so many changes, would I be welcome to enter and look at the house where I spent many sleepless nights watching and waiting on many of my comrades. Again, I want to thank you for I believe I was welcome and I'm sorry I couldn't stay longer with you good people."

The original letter is now on display at the Pope's Tavern museum. Read an article 150 Years Later: Pope's Tavern Among Civil War Sites by Sarah Carlson.

Rhodes was an avid reader of the Confederate Veteran Magazine and even wrote for it. Here is a sample of one of his musings.



Comrades, when I begin to think of what I should be thankful for, I am
overwhelmed, and then think of the things for which I am not thankful.
The good Lord in his loving-kindness has gently led me through life. I
don't know the taste of that awful enemy to mankind, whisky; neither
that of coffee nor tobacco. Yes, I am thankful that I am at peace with
our Heavenly Father. I served thirty-two months in the cruel war under
General Forrest. In one of our charges in the battle of Iuka, Miss.,
my horse threw me. Our captain, Rufus Brooks, was wounded and
captured with others. I am thankful that the enemy thought I was dead
and left me on the field, so I was never a prisoner. To all comrades
who wore the gray and the blue I am thankful to have a heart full of
good wishes." 

Robert J. Rhodes died in winter on February 29, 1916 in Whitesville, Tennessee. His obituary was dutifully printed in his favorite publication Confederate Veteran.

"ROBERT J. RHODES, one of the most prominent men of Whiteville, Tenn., and an honored Confederate veteran, passed into eternal rest February 29, 1916.

Mr. Rhodes was born in Fayette County August 11, 1844, and was married to Miss Martha Neville  April 15, 1865. He leaves this loyal, noble wife, a devoted daughter, Mrs. Rhodes of Hot Springs, Ark., and a faithful son, Festers Rhodes, cashier of the People's Bank, Whiteville, Tenn.

At the age of seventeen Robert Rhodes enlisted with Capt. C. S. Schuyler, Company E, Forrest's old regiment, at New Castle, March 12, 1862. Soon after he was sworn into service and fought faithfully and bravely throughout the war. A faithful Confederate to the end, he missed but one Reunion in his life. He loved the gray and treasured the small bronze cross. He was ever thoughtful of the old veterans and in many ways added to their happiness. At any public meeting it was his pleasure to have his old comrades share the very best. He loved to entertain them. He was a patriot; he loved his country; he loved his state; he loved his kind.

Clad in his gray uniform and resting in a casket of gray, the "clay tenement" of the grand old Christian soldier was lowered by loving hands into the bosom of mother earth, there to await the glorious dawn of the resurrection morn."

Rhodes was laid to rest at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Fayette Co., Tennessee where his prominent gravestone can still be seen. His wife Martha passed away June 14, 1932.

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