Wednesday, October 8, 2014

52 Ancestors: #37 James Harvey Latham, Survived the Battle of Shiloh

Pen-and-ink and watercolor map by Captain Leon J. Fremaux.
My 4 times great-grandfather, James Harvey Latham, was among the 111,000 men who fought at the two-day battle at Shiloh. The carnage amounted to the greatest devastation known on the American continent to that date -- more than 23,000 casualties.  Yet somehow he survived the horrible battle.

James was born on February 5, 1823 in Todd County, Kentucky. His parents were Stephen R. Latham and Mary Elizabeth Sears.

On September 25, 1844, James married Susan H. Driskill in Montgomery County, Tennessee. He was 21, and she was 17.  The Lathams raised their family in Greenville, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. They had nine children: George Washington, John Wesley (my 3rd great-grandfather), Sophronia, Mary Susannah, Cordelia Josephine, twins Robert Oscar and Stephen Finis, Margaret Marcella, and Harvey Edward Latham.  Tragically, two of their children, three-year-old Cordelia and newborn Stephen, died from scarlet fever in 1856.

James enlisted as a private in Company K, 11th Kentucky Infantry, which was attached to Fifth Division of the Army of the Ohio.  On April 6, 1862, his regiment engaged in the Battle of Shiloh. Colonel Pierce Butler Hawkins, commander of James' brigade, in his report of the battle stated:

The enemy ... [was] drawn up in considerable numbers in the brush and playing upon us from their batteries ... We were compelled to fall back to the original line of battle. I then by your order charged the enemy, and succeeded in driving [them], found and captured one piece of artillery ... holding it until the engagement ceased.

Shiloh was the first battle for the men in the 11th Kentucky Infantry. For James Harvey Latham, it was also his last battle.

James' gravestone at Nashville National Cemetery
On August 18, James was sent to General Hospital #1 in Nashville, Tennessee. He died ten days later on August 28, 1862, from typhoid fever at the age of 39.  He was buried the same day in Nashville City Cemetery and was later re-interred in the Nashville National Cemetery. By the end of the war, the 11th Kentucky had lost 214 enlisted men by disease.

Two years after his death, James' widow Susan married a man named Edmund Hawthorne.  Mr. Hawthorne became the legal guardian of the four minor heirs of James Latham (namely, Mary Susannah, Robert Oscar, Margaret Marcella, and Harvey Edward) and helped them obtain a pension of eight dollars a month.

Like countless others, James had his life cut short by disease during the war.  James Harvey Latham's grandfather, Elijah Stephen Latham, lived to be 102 years old.   Elijah's father, Jeremiah, died at the age of 104.  Jeremiah's father, Phillip Latham, was born in 1710 and died in 1820.  Yes, that's 110 years!  I wonder how long James Harvey Latham would have lived if he had not been struck down by typhoid fever.

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