Private, Co. C. , 33rd Tennessee Infantry, CSA, September 13, 1861 - May 1, 1865
Marion McDonald Brigham (b. Apr. 21, 1840) was the 6th oldest son of Albert Clausel Brigham, Sr. (b. Feb. 10, 1800; prob. in Sullivan Co. TN - d. Nov. 30, 1875, Stewart Co. TN) and Mary “Polly” Byrd (b. 1810 - d. Aug. 17, 1892, Stewart Co. TN). He, along with his 13 brothers and sisters (HorseAnn Caroline, b. Mar. 25, 1827; Mary, b. Jan. 27, 1828; Thomas L., b. Oct. 11, 1829; Samisa, b. Dec. 19, 1830; Quintus C., b. Feb. 4, 1832; Harriet A., b. Mar. 25, 1834; James H. b. Jan. 26, 1836; Albert Clausel Jr., b. Feb. 1, 1838; Minerva Jane, b. July 29, 1842; Constantine Polk, b. Sept. 27, 1844; Arcanthus Missouri, b. Aug. 17, 1845; John Wesley, b. Mar. 7, 1848; Elizabeth Tennessee, b. Apr. 15, 1851) was born somewhere in District No. 8 near Lick Creek (now Byrd Creek), Stewart County Tennessee and next to the Tennessee River, in what is now Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL). Marion M. Brigham was also the nephew of Luna Louisa Brigham Byrd (b. 1797, Sullivan Co., TN - d. Dec. 5, 1875, Stewart Co. TN) and therefore first cousin to her sons who also served in the CSA, George Wesley Byrd and Robert Payne Byrd.
According to CSA service documents, Marion McDonald Brigham enlisted in the 33rd Tennessee Infantry in Union City, TN on Sept. 13, 1861 along with his older brother, James H. Brigham. Since Calloway County, KY is directly across the Tennessee River from where the Brigham family lived in Stewart Co. TN, it does not seem to strange to see that they both enlisted in Co. C of the 33rd Tennessee Infantry, commanded by Captain Wm. Frank Marberry -- Co. C was made up almost entirely of men from Calloway Co. KY. Staying at home to fight, another brother of Marion M. and James H. Brigham, Albert C. Brigham, Jr., enlisted in Captain Jesse Taylor’s Co. B, 1st Tennessee Artillery at Ft. Henry, TN with his cousins George W. Byrd, Marion M. Bailey, and Thomas M. Bailey.
Pvt. Marion M. Brigham’s service records indicate that he was present with the 33rd Tennessee Infantry during Mar. 1-July 1, 1862; July 1, 1862-Jan.1, 1863; Jan. & Feb., 1863; Mar. & Apr., 1863; July & Aug., 1863; Sept. & Oct., 1863; Jan. & Feb., 1864; Mar. & Apr., 1864; June, 1864; and at the muster roll of April 28 and parole of May 1, 1865. We can be fairly certain that he was a participant in the battle of Shiloh along with his brother, Pvt. James H. Brigham, and at battles that occurred during the dates he is recorded as being present. After reorganization following Shiloh, Pvt. Marion M. Brigham and the 33rd Tennessee Infantry likely saw action at Corinth MS (April-June, 1862), Perryville KY (Oct. 8, 1862), Murfreesboro TN (Dec. 31, 1862-Jan.3, 1863), Chickamauga GA (Sept.19-20, 1863), Kennesaw Mountain GA (June 27, 1864), and probably at Bentonville NC (Mar. 19-21, 1865).
During the battle of Perryville KY, Pvt. Marion M. Brigham and the 33rd Tennessee Infantry was under the direct command of Colonel Warner P. Jones and in the brigade of Brigadier General A.P. Stewart. Also in Stewart’s Brigade were the 4th, 5th, 24th, and 31st Tennessee Infantries together with Stanford’s Mississippi Battery; this brigade was in the Division of Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham and the Right Wing of the Confederate Army of The Mississippi, commanded by Major General Leonidas Polk. Overall command of the Army of The Mississippi was by General Braxton Bragg. On this day, Cheatham’s Division numbered about 4,500 men; Stewart’s Brigade (aka the 2nd Brigade) contained roughly 1,400 effectives, like the other two brigades (Maney’s and Donelson’s) in the Division. General Bragg determined that the Federal Army of The Ohio, commanded by Major General Don Carlos Buell,was vulnerable to attack on its left flank, located northwest of Perryville and west of Doctor’s Creek. At about 11:00 a.m. on Oct. 8, Bragg sent Cheatham’s entire division on a circuitous route out of Perryville, looping around to the northeast, then back toward the Chaplin River. Cheatham’s movement was shielded from Federal observers by a series of hills and isolated patches of forest so the Federals were unaware of this massive buildup near their left flank.
Confederate cavalry reports suggested that the Federals were extending their left flank more to the north, so General Bragg directed Major Generals Polk and Cheatham to place their force on the east side of the Chaplin River, in an area called Walker’s Bend. Here, at Walker’s Bend, Cheatham’s Division, including Pvt. Marion M. Brigham and the 33rd Tennessee Infantry, were hidden by high bluffs on the western bank of the Chaplin River, and amazingly enough, still undetected by the Federal forces! Polk and Cheatham stacked the three brigades of Donelson, Stewart, and Maney in that order, from front to back, and waited for orders to begin their attack. At about 2:00 p.m., Donelson’s men moved across the shallow Chaplin River and climbed the bluffs; at this time, the only Federal activity involved their periodical shelling of Confederate cavalry just west of Walker’s Bend. At 2:30 the battle formally began with Donelson’s advance regiments (15th and 15th Tennessee) making first contact with members of the 123rd Illinois and 33rd Ohio regiments. The Federals responded quickly and began shelling the advancing Confederates from two placed batteries: Parson’s to the north and Harris’ to the south. As he led his Division, Major General Cheatham exhorted the advancing Rebels to “Give the Yankees hell!” Alongside him was Major General Polk, an ordained Episcopalian minister, who added “Give them what General Cheatham says, boys! Give them what General Cheatham says!”. Maney’s brigade zeroed in and advanced upon Parson’s battery while Donelson’s soldiers made for Harris’ battery -- Stewart’s brigade and the 33rd Tennessee Infantry was at this time, about 2:45 p.m., directly behind Donelson’s brigade.
According to Dr. Kenneth Hafendorfer in his book, Perryville - Battle for Kentucky, by 3:00 p.m. Donelson’s brigade was actively assaulting the position of Harris’ Indiana Battery while Maney was going against Parson’s Battery to the north. Stewart’s Brigade, including Pvt. Marion M. Brigham and his brother, Pvt. James H. Brigham, in Colonel Jones’ 33rd Tennessee Infantry, was moving at a right oblique and aiming for a gap between Donelson’s and Maney’s commands; at this point the 24th, 5th, and 4th Tennessee Infantries made up the first row of Stewart’s assault, with the 31st and 33rd Tennessee forming the second row immediately behind them. A member of the 33rd Tennessee Infantry described the contact between the 5th Tennessee and the 80th Illinois thusly: “..on they (5th Tennessee) went as the volleys from the guns would mow a swath of brave fellows from their ranks; they would close up their ranks and keep on that dead run.”
The 33rd Tennessee was then ordered forward by General Stewart once his first row (24th, 5th, 4th Tennessee) was fully engaged on the crest of the so-called Open Hill; as the soldier in the 33rd Tennessee recounted this moment: “Orders were passed down the line, “reserve your fire,” and we got up running, not a double-quick but on a dead run.” Here the 33rd Tennessee was going directly against the 50th Ohio, 24th Ohio, and 80th Indiana regiments and actually approached to within about 400 feet ofLt.-Colonel Silas Strickland’s 50th Ohio Infantry -- the 33rd Tennessee and 50th Ohio stood and exchanged volleys at each other as Harris’ Battery continued to blow canister at both the 33rd and 31st Tennessee men. At this point in the battle, about 4:00 p.m., repeated attacks and counterattacks surged back and forth between the Rebel and Yankee combatants. By 4:30, Stewart’s Brigade was falling back in an orderly fashion and exchanging volleys with the 50th Ohio and 80th Indiana as they retreated. Colonel Jones’ 33rd Tennessee Infantry had lost 10 killed, 65 wounded, and 7 missing during this relatively brief, albeit intense, encounter. As far as can be determined, neither Pvt. Marion Brigham or his brother were seriously injured this day. Total Confederate casualties at Perryville were 3,396 (Cheatham’s Division had 43% of this total) and Federal casualties were 4,211.
At Murfreesboro TN (Dec. 31, 1862 - Jan. 3, 1863), Pvt. Marion Brigham and fellow-soldiers in the 33rd Tennessee Infantry were consolidated with members of the 31st Tennessee (due to casualties at both Shiloh and Perryville) and commanded by Colonel E.E. Tansil. The 31st/33rd Tennessee Infantry was once again in Brigadier General Alexander P. Stewart’s 2nd Brigade, Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham’s 1st Division and the Corps commanded by Lieut.-General Leonidas Polk; overall command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee was by General Braxton Bragg. The night before battle, both Federal troops (Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Major General William S. Rosecrans) and Bragg’s Confederate soldiers could see each other’s campfires; a poignant “battle of the bands” took place as both Yankee and Rebel musicians all joined in playing “Home, Sweet Home” to the assembled armies.
Amazingly enough, both Bragg and Rosecrans decided on the same strategy -- feint towards their opponent’s right flank and strike quickly to the left; campfires were built up on the right side of both armie’s lines to deceive the opponent. The Confederates struck first, however, surging out of the fog toward the Federal right at 6:22 a.m., Dec. 31 and moving in a gigantic wheeling maneuver towards the right; this in order to force the Federals against Stone’s River and cut off their escape route on the Nashville Pike. By 7:00 a.m. Cheatham’s Division, including Pvt. Marion M. Brigham and the 33rd Tennessee Infantry, was in movement and encountered serious resistance by Federal soldiers commanded by Brigadier General Philip H. Sheridan near theWilkinson Pikeat about 9:00 a.m. Christopher Losson in his book, Tennessee’s Forgotten Warriors - Frank Cheatham and His Confederate Division (1989), describes Major General Cheatham personally leading the charge of Stewart’s, Withers’, and Anderson’s Brigades against Sheridan’s stronghold near the Harding House -- a feat all the more amazing since, according to several eyewitnesses on both sides, he was almost certainly drunk at the time! By noon, the cedar thickets and rock outcrops had broken up the integrity of Bragg’s right-wheel, and isolated pockets of Yankee resistance bought time for Rosecrans’ retreating soldiers. One such pocket was the one at the so-called Round Forest, near the intersection of the Nashville & Chattanoga RR and the Nashville Pike; here, repeated assaults were made by Cheatham’s men against massed Yankee artillery and muskets commanded by Colonel William B. Hazen. On this day at Murfreesboro, Cheatham’s Division (5,859 effectives) suffered 1,939 killed/wounded/missing, a 35% casualty rate.
Three days before receiving some new clothing on June 30, 1864, Pvt. Marion M. Brigham and his brother, James, were positioned with their comrades in the 33rd Tennessee Infantry on so-called Cheatham Hill during the battle of Kennesaw Mountain GA. Here the 33rd Tennessee was in Brigadier General Otho F. Strahl’s Brigade within the division of Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham, Lieut. General William J. Hardee’s Corps of the Army of Tennessee, commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston. On this day, Federal Major General William T. Sherman, impatient and frustrated by the numerous flanking and retreat maneuvers of Johnston, launched a massive assault against the strongly entrenched Confederates. Cheatham placed the brigades of Vaughan, Maney, Carter, and Strahl on a ridge of Kennesaw Mountain; he also placed and camouflaged several artillery batteries (10 guns in Phelan’s, Perry’s, Mebane’s batteries) along this ridge. Strahl’s Brigade, including the 33rd Tennessee Infantry, was approximately 3,000 feet southeast from a 45 degree salient held by Vaughan’s and Maney’s brigades, this salient was soon to be named the “Dead Angle” by the bloodied Yankee soldiers.
At about 9:00 a.m. on the morning of June 27, after 40 minutes of Federal artillery fire, Sherman ordered forward his Divisions against Johnston’s entrenched men. Federal brigades under the command of Colonels Daniel McCook and J.G. Mitchell moved against Cheatham’s ridge. Cheatham’s men were ordered to hold their fire until the Federals were within 60 yards of their position; the Rebels’ initial volley almost completely wiped out the advance column of the advancing Federals. Obstacles constructed by Cheatham’s men impeded the Federal assault, making them easy targets for the Confederate soldiers. The masked cannons on Cheatham’s ridge opened up only when the remaining Union lines advanced upon their position, this time only 50 yards away. Federal Colonel Mitchell’s brigade (113th Ohio, 121st Ohio, 98th Ohio, 78th Illinois) were enfiladed by Cheatham’s cannons and muskets of Carter’s and Strahl’s men as the beleaguered Yankees struggled up the inclined slope of the salient. One Ohio regiment lost 153 men in about 20 minutes as the noise rose to a level so loud that Cheatham’s men relied on their rifles’ recoils to let them know when their guns fired. Afterwards, Sherman estimated his casualties at 3,000 but Johnston placed total Federal casualties at a number twice that of Sherman’s. Cheatham counted at least 350 Federal dead just in front of the Dead Angle salient; Cheatham’s total casualties were 26 dead and 169 wounded or captured. On June 29, during an arranged truce for removal of Federal casualties, Pvts. Marion and James Brigham may have witnessed several Yankee soldiers approach Major General Cheatham and ask for his autograph, which he kindly gave them. One of the Union gawkers from Illinois described Cheatham thusly: “He wore nothing but a rough pair of grey pants tucked under the tops of an unpolished pair of boots, a blue flannel shirt and rough felt hat completed his attire. He had neither coat or vest and was without any....manner to indicate his rank. He looked as if he had made his headquarters in the ditch with his men...”
Pvt. Marion M. Brigham was surrendered as a member of Co. G, 3rd Tennessee Consolidated Infantry on April 26, 1865 by General Joseph E. Johnston; like his brother James, he was also paroled on April 1, 1865 at Greensboro NC. In the 1870 Federal census for District No. 8, Stewart Co. TN, Marion is shown living with his parents, brother James, and his other brothers/sisters back home in the “Land Between The Rivers”, along the banks of the Tennessee River. At the present time, the exact date and place of his death is not known to the writers of this biography.
June 25, 1998
- - by Kenneth E. Byrd, Indianapolis, IN
- Cleo Cherry Grogan, Murray, KY
- Fifth cousin of Pvt. Marion M. Brigham; great-great-great-great-nephew of Albert Clausel Brigham, Sr.; great-great-great-grandson of Luna Louisa Brigham Byrd.
- Third cousin of Pvt. Marion M. Brigham; great-granddaughter of Luna Louisa Brigham Byrd.
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