Chapter 9: Colonel Amous Nanney

Wade Nanney wrote about “the most noteworthy of my recent ancestors. He exemplified an ancient tradition of duty, leadership, and service. Amous Nanney, born August 8, 1827, was a grandson of Shadrack Nanney. And also the grandson of Perminter Morgan the pioneer preacher who founded the Baptist religion in western North Carolina.

Amous grew up in an intensely hard-working farm environment, among many close family members. In those days, young men from the Baptist churches at Union Mills and Montford’s Cove would ride their horses through Painter’s Gap by Pinnacle Mountain visiting the church at the opposite end of the journey so as to scout out potential brides. When Amous was age twenty, he found a wife in the Montford’s Cove area, Tempie Wilkerson, also a grandchild of Perminter Morgan. The couple married on December 16, 1847, Tempie’s 21st birthday. No doubt this was an advanced age for a girl to be getting married in those days, but she still had time to produce thirteen children.” The first one was born in 1848 and the others at intervals of two years with a four year break for the war.

Wade gave an amusing description of his great grandmother. (Which might account for the reason she was still available at 21.) “I want to make it clear that Tempie was no fading violet. In fact, her face in the couple’s portrait made when they were old shows tremendous sternness, resolution, and conviction that she was always right. She had the reputation of never telling but one lie in her life. This momentous episode occurred near the end of the war when a band of Yankee soldiers came through. They inquired as to the whereabouts of the boys and older men who were still at home. Tempie told them that those males had gone into town. In actuality, these fearful souls were hiding back in the woods, peering out through the bushes!”

Background info for those years of strife: According to the Weekly North Carolina Standard, in 1858 the population of North Carolina was 869,000 compared with Virginia at 1,421,661 and New York at 3,097,394. In that same paper, along with the concern of fish dying in the Mississippi River, and a report that 24 people in Charleston died in one week from Yellow Fever, there was a lot of political discussion. Out of a committee report in Philadelphia. “Resolved: That the American party having arisen upon the ruins and in spite of opposition of the Whig and Democratic parties cannot be held in any manner responsible for the obnoxious acts or violated pledges of either; that the systematic agitation of the slavery question by those parties has elevated sectional hostility into a positive element of political power and brought our institutions into peril.” There was even a party called “Know-nothings.” (

Blog note: The more I study, the more it seems history repeats itself. Very scary, indeed.

"Graveyard" by scottchan/ Image courtesy of

“Graveyard” by scottchan/ Image courtesy of

Wade continues, “When that most hideously destructive war in this nation’s history burst on the scene, many Southerners had some hard, painful decisions to make. Although my family was clearly against slavery, they viewed the conflict as really concerning other matters. It was passed down in the succeeding generations that ‘it was not about slavery!’ Thus, Amous and all four of his brothers, as a matter of honor and duty, enlisted in the Confederate Army. Amous enlisted as 1st Sergeant, Company G, 50th Regiment, Rutherford County, NC, on March 24, 1862. Preparing for the conflict, he trained soldiers on an old parade ground at Montford’s Cove. Amous left Tempie with eight children and the ninth arrived that July.” (Wade’s grandfather, Amous Perminter Nanney, was then 15 months old.)

“Amous probably would not have survived the war except for the fact that a special talent of his soon became evident: he had an unusual gift for “doctoring.” He spent many of his war days laboring in the grisly field hospitals, trying to salvage some of those who were sick or wounded. No doubt he had to saw off many a limb with benefit of little or no painkillers. The non-industrial South was notoriously short of supplies and equipment.”

Of the five young Nanney men in Shadrack’s family from son Thomas, only two got home alive, Amous and Drury. Cebren, William, and Martin Lee were killed in battles in Virginia. In addition there were numerous cousins and at least one brother-in-law who died. Wade had a particularly sad tale about a cousin born out of wedlock, James Harvey Hanney. He grew up in the hills of Nanneytown with the other Nanneys and wed his half first cousin Louisa in 1857, had three kids and left for war with the others.

James was wounded in one of the Virginia battles and ended up in a Confederate field hospital where he got scurvy. He was “in such bad shape,” said Wade, “they decided to let him come home for thirty days so he could get recovered. And then go back.” Wade showed me copies of the documents issued to James to get him released. One was signed by the senior surgeon of the Board of Examiners there at the hospital. Soldier’s furlough in September, 1863. “He also had to sign an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy before they would let him go. He had a fine looking signature,” observed Wade. “And this was his pass on the Petersburg Railroad to Cherryville from whatever railroad line came down from Virginia towards Charlotte. James still had a ways to get home. I don’t know how he did it. They found him crawling a short distance from his house, and he wouldn’t let ’em take him on home until they brought him soap and hot water to clean up with. James lasted three weeks, and they said before he died great chunks of his jawbone came out.”

It was James’ youngest grandson, Charles Nanny, who was the WWII pilot I mentioned in Nanney Saga Chapter 3. Wade described Charles as “one of the most educated men I’ve ever known. He had a textile engineering degree from NC State. After the war, he became a highly esteemed Baptist pastor.”

On March 26, 1864, President Lincoln refined his earlier Proclamation of Amnesty which had originally pardoned all who had engaged in the Confederacy with the exception of officers. The clarification applied amnesty to those who were “at large and free from arrest,” provided they take an oath of allegiance to the Union with the purpose of promoting peace and establishing a national authority.


Copyright@May 2014 Georgia Wilson




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