Raising The Sultana

Life Story of the McCoy Brothers from Ohio at The Battle of Franklin

Sylvia Clemons | 09 July 2014 | Comment(s)
William Henry McCoy is one of three children born to John and Phebe (Roberts) McCoy.  William was born in Highland County, Ohio in 1842.  He meet and married Maria Fletcher the daughter of John and Ellen Sharp Fletcher on May 1, 1863.  They had two children together a daughter Enola who was born in 1863 and a son Henry Edwin born in 1864.  Sadly their daughter died in 1864 and is buried at Carmel Cemetery, Highland County, Ohio.  During this same year William McCoy enlisted in the US Army Signal Corps on February 17, 1864 which was suppose to be for three years.  However, he was discharged from that service in July.  On September 24, 1864 he was appointed Captain of Company "F" of the 175th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment in which his brother Lt. Col. Daniel Webster McCoy had organized.    However, William Henry was captured during the night of November 29, 1864 by Confederate forces at Thompson Station, Tennessee.  He became a prisoner of war and imprisoned at Cahaba, Alabama, and later sent to Camp Sumter to the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia.  He remained there until being paroled in late March 1865. 

On April 24th he boarded the river boat "Sultana" at Vicksburg, Mississippi to reach Ohio where he would be mustered out of service and finally head home. However, on April 27, 1865 just few miles after leaving Memphis Tennessee around 2a.m. the Sultana exploded killing several instantly and throwing others into the over flooded freezing water. William Henry was among those killed. His body was believed to have been recovered, but his final resting place has not been discovered at this time. 

Mariah never remarried.  On April 18, 1866 she appeared before Highland County Probate Court Judge William M. Meek and was able to make her case requesting for a widow's pension.  On that date she appeared before Highland County Probate Court Judge William M. Meek and after being duly sworn according to law, "doth, on her oath, make the following declaration...." Maria made her case. Her statement was extracted and paraphrased from William H. McCoy's service record. She told the judge that she was the widow of Captain William H. McCoy who was of company "F" of the 175th Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  Her husband was killed on April 27, 1865 by an explosion of the steamer "Sultana" on the Mississippi River, about eight miles from Memphis, Tennessee.  They had been married since May 1, 1863 by the Reverend H. Stokes and they had one living child under sixteen years of age, Henry Edwin McCoy who was born on October 30, 1864.  She then concluded by declaring that she did not engage, aid or abetted any rebels in the United States.  Judge Meek granted Mariah the widow's pension in the amount of $20.00 per month plus an additional $2 for her only child, Henry Edwin McCoy.  They lived in Brushcreek Township, Highland County, Ohio in 1866, but by July 1874 they moved to Bainbridge, Ross County, Ohio.  In this same year her pension was increased to $30.00 per month and she continued to receive that amount until her death in January 14, 1926. Mariah, her son Henry Edwin and his wife May Jones McCoy are all three buried in Bainbridge Cemetery, Ross Co. Ohio.

Battle of Franklin 

This foregoing account of the Battle of Franklin was written by First Lieutenant Francis M. Posegate, Regimental Quarter Master of the 175th Regiment. The article was published in the "National Observer" about 1879 and was read as a tribute to Daniel W. McCoy at a G. A. R. reunion at Sabula, Iowa. Lieutenant Colonel McCoy was wounded seriously three times at the start of the battle and carried from the field. His battle wounds always bothered him - his right arm and one leg gave him a great deal of trouble. Contributed by Richard B. Osburn, great-grandson of Colonel Daniel W. McCoy.

About sundown the regiment came out on a hill overlooking Spring Hill and witnessed the repulse of a rebel cavalry charge south of that place. Our extra colors were again utilized, being displaced at each point so as to give the enemy the best possible view. My impression is that the sight of these colors had much to do with deterring the rebels from making further effort on the Federal line. We understood, upon reaching Spring Hill, that it was Gen. Opdycke's Brigade that had repulsed the cavalry charge. Our wagon train was found intact at Nashville on our arrival there. Capt. Henry McCoy with six men, in charge of prisoners, who through a misconception of orders, attempted to pass around the rebel right, were captured, but as he and the six men were lost by the explosion of the steamer Sultana, no evidence could be had as to the effect of our maneuvers at Thompson Station upon the rebel forces in our front. After the surrender of Gen. Johnston, however, I met a paroled Confederate officer at Columbia, Tenn. who told me that the cavalry in front of us at Thompson Station on the 29th was supported by Chalmers' division of infantry, and that the whole force was misled by our campfires the night before; and that Gen. Hood, being present with Chalmers, when our fleeing trains came in sight, pointed them out, and ordered Chalmers to gain possession of the pike; and that the prompt advance of our skirmisher and efficient use of our extra colors held Chalmers on the defensive, thus giving us time to accomplish our purposes. Taking all the circumstances into consideration, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the presence of the 175th Ohio regiment at Thompson Station on the night of 28th of November, 1864, the display of its fires that night, and its strategic and energetic movements on the 29th deterred Hood's right not only from taking possession of the pike at Thompson Station but caused cessation of the rebel attack upon Gen. Opdycke in the afternoon at Spring Hill. Be that as it may, the exploit of saving the trains and extricating the command from its perilous dilemma was worthy of a bright page in the history of the war, and one that should have placed a star upon the shoulders of Maj. Mullenix and Capt. Deniston. I never knew what report McCoy made of the action of his regiment in this affair, but I do know that soon afterward he made Brevet Brigadier - General, and during the balance of his term wore a star. The 175th regiment left Spring Hill about daylight, among the last troops on the morning of November 30th

and passed into our lines at Franklin, between the toll - gate posts near the cotton - gin, not an hour before the commencement of the battle, It was assigned, if I remember correctly, to Riley's brigade and placed in reserve perhaps 150 yards in the rear of the cotton - gin, its right resting, if not on the pike, at least very close to it. Certainty no other troops were between it and the pike. Immediately in its rear was a frame barn or cotton - shed. After the regiment was in position I went with a small detail across the Harpeth River to the commissary, near the burned chimneys, to secure rations. Before these could be issued word came that the rebels were advancing and by the time I reached the line the enemy were close to our works. I rode from the regiment over to the Carter House to report to Gen. Cox, and had scarcely reached there before our line was broken near the cotton - gin and within a few minutes thereafter I noticed the 175th regiment, led by Maj. Mullenix, in full charge towards the works. The lines were restored and I know this gallant regiment did as much to restore them as any other regiment there. I do not know what regiments were in front of it or on its flank, but I do know the 175th Ohio was in the thickest of the fight, and that it did not leave the works until after the fires which were raging were out. The regiment was unknown in Schofield's army, from the fact it only joined the column temporarily at Spring Hill the night before. During Hood's investment of Nashville the 175th regiment occupied Fort Negley, and after the rebel retreat the regiment was ordered back to Columbia, Tenn., where it remained until mustered out in June 1865. F. M. Posegate, R. Q. M. , 175th Ohio Regiment, St. Joseph, MO.

Find A Grave Memorial #32174225
Find A Grave Memorial #22368537
Roots Web:
Baptism of Fire Interview:
Eye Witness Account Battle of Franklin written by First Lieutenant Francis M. Posegate, Regimental Quarter Master of the 175th Regiment