Age of Jackson
John Holman and Spencer Talley
John Holman and Spencer Talley

John Holman and Spencer Talley

Both John Holman and Spencer Talley were born in Wilson County Tennessee, in 1841. They were apparently acquaintances, possibly friends, as they joined the 28th Tennessee Infantry on the same day in September 1861, at Camp Zollicoffer in Overton County.  John was elected 2nd lieutenant and later became a major. Spencer was elected 1st lieutenant.

The 28th fought in many of the major battles in Tennessee including Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga, and finally Franklin. Spencer’s brother, John Talley, was mortally wounded at one engagement, and Spencer wrote about sitting and talking with him through the night before his brother died in the morning.

At Franklin, Holman was killed as he was leading a charge, and Spencer took over his command.  After the battle, Spencer, who had been knocked unconscious, went back on the field to find Holman’s body to see that it was buried and properly marked.  Later Holman’s widowed mother and a servant came to Franklin, found his body, and took it home to bury in the family graveyard.

Spencer never went back to his regiment after Franklin and in January 1865 took the oath of allegiance to the U.S. so that he could remain with his family.

Spencer married Francis Kittrell in March 1865. They lived at Taylorsville, first running a store and then later moving to a farm.  Spencer, at the behest of his granddaughter, wrote his memoirs in 1918 at the age of 77.

Spencer Talley’s description of the Battle of Franklin

Our brass bands were playing "Dixie" while the cannons gushing thunder from both sides was almost deafening. The order to charge was given. The rebel yell was terrifying as we never heard it before. We rushed on and on through a field and opening in which was no protection.

The battle raged with fury and swiftness from start to finish. Our men were mowed down like grain before the sickle. Our company started in this fray with fifty seven fighting men and only eight or nine escaped death or being crippled and wounded.

Reminiscences of Lt. Spencer Talley, 28th Tennessee Infantry,


Picture Credits:
  • John Holman and Spencer Talley, Photo courtesy of Donald Harris

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