Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thriller Thursday - Wounded and Alone

Thomas Peake (1843-1915)
Thomas Peake (my 2nd-great grandfather) was born March 24, 1843 near Holy Cross, Marion county, Kentucky. He was five feet, eight inches tall, with dark hair, dark complexion and gray eyes. He enlisted in the United States Army at Camp Graves on November 4, 1861, enrolling in Company G of the Tenth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The 10th Kentucky, under the command of John M. Harlan, was outfitted at Camp Crittenden, Lebanon, Kentucky, and mustered into service on November 21, 1861.

It is no wonder that so many of the young men of Kentucky flocked to the recruiting offices. One Union meeting at the Springfield fairground opened with a prayer which included an entreaty that the Almighty should "take each erring rebel by the nape of the neck and the seat of his breeches, and shake him over the fires of perdition, which may have ben heated seven times hotter than was prepared for thy servants Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the days of old,...until these rebellious and sacrilegious souls may, like the prodigal son, return to the Union..". This was followed by a speech and exhortations by ex-Governor Charles Wycliffe for the young men to volunteer to "save the country". The 10th Kentucky marched to Springfield to attend a picnic in their honor at the fairgrounds: " thousand men four abreast, came winding itself like some great monster along the road, with Colonel Harlan and his staff at their head."[1]

Between December 31, 1861 and September 19, 1863, Thomas Peake and the 10th Ky. engaged in numerous battles ranging from Kentucky to Tennessee to Mississippi to Alabama to Georgia.[2] The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19 and 20, 1863, was the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and involved the second highest number of casualties in the war following the Battle of Gettysburg. The 10th Kentucky was in the thick of that battle from start to finish. Of the 471 men available  for duty at Chickamauga, the 10th Kentucky suffered 166 casualties, including Thomas Peake. At some point in the two days of fighting, Peake was wounded and, as described by him, was lost in the woods for several days while making his way to the rear. Feverish and alone, he feared that he would die of his wounds before reaching safety and medical attention. His fears were put to rest by an apparition of the Blessed Virgin, who assured him that he would be saved.

An assessment of Peake's wounds is contained in the Surgeon General's report, which states that he received gunshot wounds to the right arm, thigh and leg, described as flesh wounds, but serious. There was no exit wound for the shots to the leg indicating that the balls were still there for the rest of his life.[3]  The Oct. 8, 1863 edition of the Cincinnati Daily Commercial listed the Union casualties of Chickamauga, describing Thomas Peake's condition as "severely wounded".
Surgeon's Report illustrating Thomas Peake's injuries.
Thomas returned to his unit on March 22, 1864 and engaged in the Atlanta campaign with the rest of the 10th Ky with the exception of a brief hospitalization due to illness in August 1864.  On December 6, 1864, the surviving members of the regiment were mustered out in Louisville and were allowed to return home. 

Thomas Peake married Theresa Elizabeth Culver on February 6, 1866. They lived in Larue County in 1870 but returned to Nelson County by 1880. The couple had eight children: Robert Damascus Peake (my great-grandfather), born December 11, 1867; John O. Peake, born November 19, 1870; Gabriel T. Peake, born December 7, 1873; Mary R. Peake, born October 22, 1877; Annie L. Peake, born May 11, 1880; Alice V. Peake, born July 25, 1884; Frances N. Peake, born October 18, 1885; and Florence E. Peake, born September 14, 1888.[3]  
First Row (seated on ground): Phillip Peake, John O. Peake holding Bessie Peake, Joseph Carl Peake;
Second Row, standing: Mary Helen (Ella) Peake, Minnie Peake;
Second Row, seated: Teresa Elizabeth Culver Peake, Thomas Peake, Catherine Peake Culver;
Third Row: Martha (Lola) Fogle Peake holding Eddie Peake, Florence Peake Watson, Alice Veronica (Bonnie) Peake Hall, Sid Hall, Frances (Fannie) Peake.
The pain from his wounds increased as Thomas grew older necessitating the use of a cane when walking. By the time he was 47, he had developed a severe case of rheumatism as a direct result of his war wounds. He received a veteran's pension until his death on December 28, 1915 due to influenza.[3]

For a more detailed account of the movements and engagements of the 10th Ky, visit Chapter 7: Thomas Peake - The Civil War of The Peakes of Nelson County, Kentucky by Robert Zwicker and John Stewart.

Thanks for dropping by.

  Thriller Thursday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers.

[1] Washington County, Kentucky Bicentennial History, 1792-1992, Turner Publishing Company, Paducah, Kentucky.
[2] Union Regiments of Kentucky, Thomas Speed et al., 1897. Reprint, Morningside House, Dayton, Ohio (1984).
[3] Pension File for Thomas Peak, National Archives, 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D. C.

1 comment:

  1. It must have been awful to deal with that pain. What kind of work was he able to do? Or did he just plug through it?