James B. Pirtle

Senior 2nd Lieutenant, Company E

9th Texas Infantry

By Billie Galyean Brown

592 Belden Ave.

Camarillo, CA 93010-6510

The Brother Named James B. Pirtle

I began my search for only one person. I knew he was a great grandfather. He could have been from the family of Lyons, Brummettes, or the Pirtles. He had been the person who had provided my grandmother the opportunity to tell the wondrous tales of his adventures. She would gather the grandchildren (or anyone else who was willing to listen) and talk of him. She remarried, but she was not happy in that marriage, and returned to her Pirtle name, in the records of the Oklahoma census. She told of the events that occurred while he was trying to reach his home, after he escaped from confinement. The records indicate he had been confined by both the North and the South, and had been present when Fort Hudson fell to the North. She told of his tribulations in the war, too. (That story is in the web site <http://gen.1starnet.com/civilwar/pirtlerj.htm> .) During my four or more years of searching for one specific individual, I have become acquainted with over 1,000 others. Me and my trusty PC have been very busy, with the gracious help of many others.

Now, I needed to write about the other brothers, individually, as I have R. J. There may be others, but the brothers, I have found that have documented CSA service are: James B. Pirtle born in 1830 in TN, Robert J. (we believe the initial represents Joseph or Jeffrey) born in 1832 in TN, Isaac Newton Pirtle Jr. born in AR in 1839, and Jenks B. Pirtle born in 1842 in AR. There are younger sons, but they were too young to be in the Civil War. They are Allen T. Pirtle born in 1849 in AR, and Walter Jefferson Pirtle born in 1853 in AR. There were three sisters, Lucy Ann J. Pirtle born in 1836 in AR, Mary Elizabeth Pirtle born in 1844 in AR, and Martha C. born in 1847 in AR.

James and Jenks have records that use only their initials, J. B. I have found the initial J. within the family represents James, John, Joseph, and Jeffrey. The initial B. has no family representation in current records. There have been nicknames of Bob and Bud recorded. I did find a record of a Benjamin Pirtle born in 1836, but have not been able to document a relationship. That has made it difficult to ascertain which brother the record documents. I have spent much time trying to separate the records. I need to spend more time obtaining details before I can do that. I hope as I have the opportunity to review more records, I will be able to revise this writing, as well as the one concerning Jenks Pirtle.

In this writing I will not review in detail, any other family members, with the exception to briefly mention the wife and offspring. One of the reasons for that decision, is that I found I have 24 Pirtle relatives with the first initial of J. I am so pleased that only two of those have a second initial of B.

From the Lamar records I have surmised that the four Pirtle brothers went to war together with at least one friend, a neighbor Henry. R. Miller. The friend lived in the farm next the Pirtle family. There is a John P. Pirtle born in NC in 1829 living in the Lamar County town of Deport at that time. I believe he may have been in the Civil War also. I am just starting to find his records and have not formed a family connection. There are five in the group that I have documented. They seem to have enlisted in the beginning of the Texas fervor to help the South. The year was 1861 and the South had bombarded and captured Fort Sumter, SC that year. Senator Jefferson Davis delivered his farewell address to the Senate and his state seceded from the union. Tennessee decided to join the South. Those were very emotional times for young men of "fighting age". The age range of those allowed to participate was quite wide. I have found some records of 13 year old soldiers. My great uncles, were ages 20 to 31, but there are records of men much older. They were considered mature men, and had been recorded as farmers from the age of 15. Still they went willing, to participate in a horrible war. Besides the agony of battle, they were very ill (in and out of hospitals). Even though all the brothers were ill some of the time, later records show that three of them returned, as did their friend Henry, and that was a very good percentage.

My family of Pirtles originated in Kentucky in the 1700s, as various of the older members were born there before the turn of the century. My great-great-grandfather Isaac Newton Pirtle, Sr. was born there, in 1809, and the families left soon after. There is a record of an Isaac Newton Pirtle, Sr. and Eunice Cunningham marriage in Hardeman County, TN on December 13, 1828. That year the Cherokee agreed to cede their traditional lands in Arkansas, and Andrew Jackson became president. There were no political campaigns in those days; it would be nice if it were so today. Their first child, a son named James B. Pirtle, Sr., was born there in TN in 1830. Joseph Smith began the Morman church that year. The population of the United States rose to the 13 million mark. Robert Joseph Pirtle, Sr. was born there in 1832. President Jackson's practice of rewarding government jobs to his political supporters, caused debate that year and was defended by William Marcy of New York. He proudly called it "To the victor belong the spoils. . . ." When Robert was about four years old, the family decided to move into the lands the Cherokees had ceded in Arkansas.

The next child, Lucy Ann J. Pirtle, was born in Arkansas in 1836. Therefore, the family trail leads from KY in 1820s to TN, then in 1830s they went from TN to AR. The remainder of that family was born in Arkansas, before the family migrated to Texas. The Arkansas births were Isaac Newton Jr., Jenks B., Mary Elizabeth, Martha Mattie C., Allen T., and, Walter Jefferson. I suppose the rewards of the journey to AR had not been good enough to keep them there beyond the fifties. The era was when Washington Irving said the Americans began their devotion to the almighty dollar, and said it became a "great object of universal devotion throughout our land." I believe the Pirtles were looking for land, rather than dollars, but they may have been one and the same at that time. In my life time I have heard the expression "land poor." They may have become "land poor" later in TX.

The year was 1854 and Henry David Thoreau began his experiment in living in an isolated cabin eating only what grew wild or he had planted himself. His holiday ended as he was jailed for refusing to pay taxes for the support of the Mexican War. More interesting to my family, would have been the news of the trotting horse named, Flora Temple. She became the fastest trotter in the country, even though she was 14 years old, and had many owners. Jonathan Vielee bought her for $175.00 and she sold for $4,000.00.

That was the climate in the era, in which the Pirtles moved to Texas. They arrived in Texas shortly before the mother died in 1857 and after the first grandchild was born in AR in 1854. The death date that is recorded in TX, April 12, 1857, is for the mother of the family, Eunice Cunningham Pirtle. She is buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery, Center South, in Lamar County. Using those two records it appears they arrived just in time to get settled a bit before the Civil War began. They had about four years to obtain land, build, and buy cattle. Those were the things that most everyone else was doing. The year great great grandmother died there was a panic in New York City. The Seaman's Savings Bank had failed as well as 4,932 companies throughout the nation. She probably was not concerned, she had eight children and their families for which she was concerned.

There are records that indicates the Pirtles move from AR to TX may not have taken on a lengthy journey. I may review the map one day to see if the change of 19 counties, north of Sabine River that moved to Texas records made moving to another state, just a crossing of the Red River or only a change in the official census records. The land once considered a part of the Territory of Arkansas; was ceded to Texas by Arkansas. It became a part of The Republic of Texas. On of my grandfathers was always confused as to which state to record in the census, as the land where he was born was in the ceded area. His birth in AR was later recorded as TX. There was one county, Miller County that comprised most of Southeast Oklahoma and part of Southwestern Arkansas, with that information I have surmised, the Pirtles and my other relatives may not have moved far as they "moved" into Texas.

According to the information published by the Texas General Land Office, Texas encouraged new land owners, like the Pirtles. The Eastern end began to attract families with the offer of head rights. The records of head rights that I have seen have not included any of my direct ancestors. As there were 406,000 abstracts on record, I am sure I have not seen them all.

I have notes of property purchases, wills, court cases, and various other indications that the family was prosperous. One indicates that one member of the family group purchased 336 horses and mules, and of 420 cattle. In today's prices that would be a considerable sum and the land needed to sustain that herd would be large. That family would not be considered poor.

When the war began James B. Pirtle, Sr. was married with a family. He went to war leaving a wife with two small children, Unice P. Pirtle, 7 years old and John Newton Pirtle, 5 years old. James came home once when he was ill, on 5 January 1862. After the war over, in the 1870 Lamar County Census his wife, as a widow, is living with Jenkins B. and his wife. I have no record of James being in the county after the war. I did find a record of his son John in the marriage records of 1880, and death records of 1929.

The only record of James B. Pirtle after the 1860 Lamar County Census are a war service entry. I am sure it is of James, rather than the confusing J. B. It is a Confederate Service Record of James N. Pirtle, although I believe it should read James B. Pirtle. It is a very short. The record reflects a 2nd Lt, Company E of the 9th Texas Infantry, as being present for duty on December 1861. This was the year of an exciting communication advance. In October that year, the first telegram was sent across the continent. The message was sent from California to President Lincoln. It must have affected the war in some dramatic way, but I wonder if it helped the everyday serviceman. I doubt they knew anything about the event.

There is a record of Jenkins B. Pirtle enrollment in the 9th Texas Infantry 26 September, 1861 at Sanders Creek, Lamar County, TX, under the command of James Hill. A statement, on the Affidavit of Witnesses on his 2nd wife's Widow's Application for a Pension, it confirms that Jenks B. was in the Confederate Army, enlisted as a volunteer in the year 1861, in Captain James Hill Company, and Sam Bell Maxey's regiment. It confirms that he served until the close of the war 1865, when they both (the signer and Jenks) received honorable discharges. The document is signed by H.(Henry) R. Miller. Henry is the friend who went to war with the brothers and is brother of Mary Miller, wife of Isaac Newton Pirtle, Jr. Isaac is one of the four brothers. Jenks named his first son after Isaac, Jr. (or the grandfather Isaac Sr.), which gave me three identical names in each of the generations (the troubles one encounters when doing genealogical research).

It is difficult to realize that war extended all the way to CA. There were California Union Soldiers fighting the Texas forces in New Mexico. Col. Edward Richard Sprigg Canby's force were volunteers from NM and CO. Col. James Henry Carleton from CA marched his group 800 miles to the Rio Grande in NM, to link up with Carleton's group. They were defeated by the Texas group on 21 February 1862 the month after James was reported as ill, at home in Paris TX. The record indicates James N.(B.) Pirtle is absent, then it confirms he was sick in Paris, TX, January 5, 1862. His whole world was at war.

James B.(N.) Pirtle was recorded present for duty, in April 1862. It indicates he was promoted to 2nd Lt, by Bragg on April 22, 1862. This provides another mystery as he was a 2nd Lt. on the records of 1861. Only a short time later, on May 5, 1862, he was not reelected at the reorganization of the regiment. He was relieved of duty, and succeeded by T. H. Ligon. Where he went then, when he was not reelected, is unknown. No reason was given, and I have found no documentation as to what happened to him next. In my search I have found a James B. Pirtle in KY Census for 1850 age 31 with wife Martha J., and daughter Sarah E. Pirtle. In that same census I found a James Pirtle age 22 listed as a Tailor. I also found a record of a James Pirtle who was the Treasurer of Polk County AR in 1845. Our James was in his teens in Ouachita County during that period, but those individuals could complicate my future research.

Jenkins B. Pirtle was in the General Hospital, Memphis, TN on 2 May 1862. He was in the hospital again 21 June the next year, in Canton, MS. James N.(B) Pirtle was sick 1 May 1862 in Paris, his home. His older brother Robert J. Pritle was recorded as being sick at Port Hudson, 6 May 1863. The other brother Isaac Newton Pirtle, Jr. was sick for a long time, July and August of 1864, he resigned due to hepatitis and a bad heart. The medical records show that he had been sick for most of two years. I have not reviewed the records of their friend Henry Miller, perhaps he was ill too. The conditions must have been very bad. Illness was common, with the food they had to eat, and the swamps they fought in. Many were sick each year, both at home and in the war. Could a flu virus have been raging like it does each year now. Lincoln's son Willie died; the president's heart must have been heavy with grief, for he worried about the war, and then the family tragedy surely compounded it.

An entry, credited to Jenkins B. Pirtle, of joining for duty in Fannin County, TX, 1 August 1862 for 3 years of service, seems likely to fit the trail of James. The other brothers have that date on their records for joining. They were already serving in 1861. I believe the group of five signed up for one year in the beginning. The South was confident that they would win the war and return home in a short time. When that was not evident, they were required to join for three years. James had been released from service, as the records show, but he could have gone to another county, a few months later, and signed up again. In reviewing the records of J. B. being relieved of duty 5 May 1862, and rejoining 1 August 1862, seems plausible. At that time, I don't think they would have been reluctant to accept a trained person. I have no documentation that supports my assumptions.

As I can find no record of James B. Pirtle's death. I believe he died in the war. Over 600,000 men died. It would be impossible for them all to have documented records. There must be many who have no death records, and many burial records lost. The burials after battles, or after deaths in hospitals, were not always performed with time given for the details to be recorded. If he did not die in the fighting, I am sure he died of the horror of dysentery; which many of men suffered from, and many died from, during that war. I believe that after he was not reelected he found another way to serve and returned to the battle, never to return. While there is no confirmation that James survived into the 1870s, there are many records that show Jenks lived into the 1900s.

Jenkins B. Pirtle was the younger brother, listed as 20 years old, when he joined as a Fifer, assigned to Company E, 9th Texas Infantry. Had the records all contained the ages, it would have been the resolution, to my attempt, to separating the records of the two brothers.

Another record indicates a J. B. Pirtle age 20, a musician (Fifer) was discharged, at Corinth, MS, on May 5, 1862, and he is recorded as 2nd Lt. in Co. B. and as resigning on 15 July 1863. James N.(B.) was relieved of duty May 8, 1862, as a 2nd Lt., but the record does not indicate the location where that action took place. It is difficult to believe that a Fifer would be a commissioned officer, but there is an entry that Jenkins B. Pirtle, 2nd Lt, Co. B., age 21 (James would have been 31) appears on the Company Muster-in Roll for Burnet's Battalion, 1st Texas Sharp Shooters.

Then the mystery thickens as there are "present for duty records" into the 1863s. If they were both relieved of duty, then they (or one) must have joined again. That is indicated by the appointment as commissioned officer 1 August 1862 in Fannin County, and another record that is credited to Jenks the enrollment on 26 September 1861 at Sanders Creek, Lamar County, TX, for 3 years of service (which shows on the other brother's records too). No rank or rating was given on that record perhaps it was only on the beginning of the page of entries.

One brother was out of the service on 5 May 1862, and 15 July 1863, the other on 8 May 1862. The entry for the Officer's Commission was credited to Jenkins and so was the 3 year enrollment.

In my review of the correspondence, I note, that J. B. is used throughout. I have not included that correspondence is this writing because it is previously recorded in the information I have provided for Jenks. I am still in doubt about the person with whom the J. B. entries are concern. The letter requesting leave, for recovery of health, was requested by J. B. Pirtle, 2nd Liutenant. The answer was addressed to Lt. J. B. Pirtle. The surgeons letter referred to 2nd Lt. J. B. Pirtle . It appears that one brother is in the 9th Texas Infantry and the other is in the 1st Battalion of Texas Sharp Shooters. The names are confused by the consistent us of the initials only. It was common in the South to use initials for everyone. One of my friends was called J. B. all through our school years, I never knew his full name. I see him at class reunions, this experience makes me want to know what the JB stands for, I must ask him.

When Jenks died August 17, 1912 it was a very different world he lived in. They were taking of statehood for Arizona and New Mexico. The land of cactus, sand and sage brush, that was purchased, so the Nation could have a passage to California and some of the war was fought there. Japan sent us Cherry Blossom Trees, I wonder if Jenks would have cared.

Jenks B. Pirtle, lived such a full and long life, he died in 1912. The statements within the Pension records did not indicate he was ever commissioned, but did record J. B. was discharged because of disability. Which brother was the officer is not yet determined, but I believe he was a very ill person. The fact that James B. Pirtle has no record, after 1870, has led me to believe it is him. Wasn't everyone ill from that war, even those left at home. There was little medical care in those days, but it is hard to believe he was ever that ill. I will continue to search for his records as his story can not be completed. That will keep his memory fresh in my mind, and I will become closer to my great grand uncle, of whom I am very proud.


Various files of the Lamar County Genealogical Society.

Various publications of the Lamar County Genealogical Society.

The 1860 Lamar County Federal Census, TX, by Mary Claunch Lane and Elizabeth Blevins Booth.

The 1870 Lamar County, TX Federal Census, compiled by Mary Claunch Lane.

The Death and Cemetery Records of Lamar County, Texas by Ron Brothers.

Fannin County, TX Cemetery Inscription Vol. I, by Dean and Patricia Newhouse.

Census View CD of 1880 Census of Lamar County, TX.

Arizona Highways, May 1999, publisher Nina M. La France.

Chronicle of America, Publisher Jacques Legrand, Editorial Director Clifton Daniel.

The History of Sevier County and Her People (1803-1936) by Betty McCommas.

Confederate References:

James N. Pirtle

James N. Pirtle is listed in a draft copy of General Samuel Bell Maxey, C.S.A. a Military Biography, by Louise Horton, Granger. TX. 1984, P. 197.

James N. Pirtle, Sr. 2nd Lt., Co. E, is found in the Compiled Service Records of the 9th Texas Infantry on microfilm at the National Archives.

Confederate Service Record:

9th Texas Infantry, 2nd Lt. Pirtle, James N. - present, December, 1861;

absent sick in Paris, Texas, 1/5/62;

present, April, 1862;

promoted to 2nd Lt. by Bragg, 4/22/62;

not reelected at reorganization of regiment, 5/8/62, relieved of duty.

Succeeded by T. H. Ligon.

Appreciation to Wally Brown for editing and The Lamar County Genealogical Society and Ron Brothers for the opportunity to display the history of my family.

©Ron Brothers and Billie Galyean Brown, 1999, All Rights Reserved.

Return to 9th Texas Infantry Biographies Page

Return to 9th Texas Infantry Main Page