Samuel Merrill Raney

Private, 34th Tennessee Infantry, CSA

14 Mar 1847 - 15 Mar 1950

Featured (without picture) in The Paris News Bargain Bulletin, Wednesday, December 6, 1978, page 1E, by Ed Bryson, Staff Writer:

PROVIDENCE CEMETERY - Here on a wide-swept, sun-splashed hilltop in Franklin County is an old, soldier at rest - one of the last Confederate fighters of the great War Between the States.

The grave marker bears this simple inscription:

Samuel M. Raney

PVT. 34 Tenn. Infantry CSA

March 14, 1847 - March 15, 1950

His full name was Samuel Merrill Raney and he was 103 years and one day old when he died. With him, apparently, died the famous Rebel Yell.

In his statewide hunt for the last Rebel Yell, or yeller, Frank X. Tolbert, the Dallas author and newspaperman, once interviewed Mr. Raney and wrote about him in his book titled "An Informal History of Texas." He didn't get a tape recording of the yell, but stated that the yell probably died with the old soldier in 1950.

A great-grandson, Bruce Raney of Paris, also believes Mr. Raney might have been the last yeller of the Rebel Yell. Bruce, owner of the downtown Lamar Seed Store, recalls visiting in the home of his great-grandfather, but admits he did not hear him yell.

"I remember he wore a stocking cap, had a full beard and a pet chicken that perched on his shoulder," Bruce says. "But I never heard him utter the Rebel Yell. I wish now that I had."

Samuel Merrill Raney was an easy man to remember. Besides his, stocking cap and red sweater, which he wore in his later years, Mr. Raney was spry and spirited. A son, George Raney, once said his father was a field music man in the war and that he still had some flutes.

But soldier Raney was quick to remind that he was a fighter, too, and didn't get in the band until late in the war.

Entering the war in 1862, Raney took part in several battles, including Murfreesboro, Bull Run, Cumberland Gap and the Cannaway.

The History of Franklin County 1874-1964 compiled by the Key Club, District T.F.W.C., says Mr. Raney, was born in Lincoln County, Tenn. After the war ended, he worked on a canal on the Tennessee River, then went to Alabama where he married Mahala Cagle and lived there several years before coming to Texas, first settling in Stephens County, and later moving to Franklin County, where he lived until he died. It is also said he farmed between Clarksville and Mount Vernon.

Several Franklin County citizens, including Jess Bolin, remembers the old soldier. "I spent a night in the Raney home," Mr. Bolin recalls. That was about 60 years ago.

"He was a good man," Mr. Bolin added. "All the Raneys were fine folks."

Rebel Raney had a long memory. He never got all the bitterness of the long war out of his mind. Once, when asked about the Yankees, he is quoted as saying:

"Them Yankees is all right if they'll let me alone and not argue with me. I don't want a Yankee to dispute my word."

He also remembered the Rebel Yell and gave his rendition of it before he became too old to do it credit.

When told where to find his great-grandfather's grave, Bruce Raney of Paris said: "I'm going down there to see it. I wish I had asked him to give that old Rebel Yell. Now it's too late."

Yes, too late. The Generals and the Privates of both clashing armies are all at rest. The Rebel Yell, like the whistling minnie ball and the roaring cannon, is resting with them. At least with one of them in the old Providence Cemetery south of Mount Vernon.

As the poet wrote:

"Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment day;

Love and tears for the Blue,

Tears and love for the Gray."


Picture courtesy of Belinda Giebel email: rebelbg5@earthlink.net


©Ron Brothers, April 7, 2002

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