Monday, January 17, 2011

Chapter 2 My Father's Line

The Field family has been in the United States for a long time. Our first ancestor to come to the States was Henri Field and he arrived in Jamestown, VA in 1635 from England. His son and grandson were both members of the Virginia House of Burgesses. His grandson was a Colonel in the Continental Army in 1776.

Also on my father’s side of the family, my GGGrandfather, Thomas Townsend, was born in Logan County, Ky on September 28, 1789. His son, William Purnell Townsend, was born September 28, 1822 in Columbus Mississippi. He came to be better known as Major Townsend due to his rank with Hood’s Brigade in the War Between the States. Major Townsend’s lovely daughter, Virginia, was destined to become my grandmother when she married my dad’s father, Harry Field. Major Townsend was a friend and confident of General Jubal Early who came to the Major’s home in Calvert, Texas after the war and stayed a week or two. At his departure, General Early, having no money, gifted the Major with one of his pistols and his sword. The sword was eventually passed down to me.

My dad, George Addison Field, Sr., was named for the brothers George and Addison Harvey of Mississippi. Addison Harvey was captain of a Confederate outfit called “Harvey’s Scouts” and his brother George was the first lieutenant. Dad’s father, Harry Field, was in this outfit along with his two brothers Scott and Thomas. They had all enlisted together at Canton, Miss. at the start of the War Between the States. Thomas Field was killed in the war.

Harry apparently had a reputation of being a man with a lot of courage. In about 1906, my father’s sister, Ada, was traveling by stagecoach out west of Ft. Worth when the coach pulled up to a stop. A distinguished looking man climbed in and introduced himself to Ada. She told him her name was Ada Field from Robertson County. In those days people would identify their home by their county of residence; this was common into the 1920’s. When she told him her last name was Field he asked if she knew Harry Field in Robertson County. Ada said,” Harry Field, sir, is my father”. He then told her that Harry Field was the bravest man he ever knew. I have often wished I knew the rest of their conversation. Was that gentleman a member of Harvey’s Scouts with Harry? Where had he met Harry? What incident resulted in his opinion of Harry?

I can remember some of the stories I heard that dated to the War Between the States when Harry was with Harvey's Scouts. The scouts’ job was to range behind the enemy lines gathering all the information they could about the Yankee movements and numbers. During Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea, Harvey’s 23 scouts were the only Confederate Cavalry to remain in the area. They “were everywhere, doing good service” according to one report.

One time Harry, his brother Scott and about four other scouts were way behind the enemy lines and it was a cold rainy day. When they stopped for the night they built a fire to dry out and try to get warm. Harry took the horses down to a creek below the campsite and while down there he heard a lot of commotion. He edged back to the area where the fire was and was greeted with the scene of a Yankee Cavalry surrounding the rest of the Scouts. Harry quickly picked the best horse he was holding, mounted and burst into the clearing at a gallop. He went directly for Scott who swung up behind Harry and they galloped off into the dark night and made their escape. They rejoined the main body of Scouts and reported the capture of their fellow Scouts.

Another time Harry was with a scouting assignment behind the enemy lines, when an entire company of Union Cavalry discovered his small group. The chase was on and the Confederates took off as fast as their horses would run. The Cavalry was in hot pursuit. Harry was riding a horse he was just breaking and it was hard to handle. The Confederates came to a fork in the trail. The scouts took the trail to the right and Harry's horse took the left. As the Union Cavalry came to the fork they all took the left. Harry soon came to a bluff overlooking the river and with the Union troops pounding along right behind him he had to make a quick decision. He swung his horse around moving back from the edge and again facing the cliff he dug his spurs in to his young horse and away they went right over the bluff and down into the river some distance below. When they hit the water the horse’s head flew back and hit Harry in the face breaking his nose. Harry and his horse swam across the river and escaped and the only injury he received was the broken nose. Virginia Townsend with four grandchildren

After the war, brother Scott went on to become a State Senator. Harry settled his family in Calvert, TX. The Fields were well known in their community. Harry’s wife, Virginia Townsend Field-daughter of Major Townsend-was an accomplished gardener with a love for flowers. She had a greenhouse which was quite a rarity in that time. It was half below ground and the upper half  that was above ground was all glass. Certainly, she left her own mark; today, there is a city park in Calvert that is named “Virginia Field Park”.

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