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Azariah Dorton

When you look at the monument placed in Memorial Park on Main Street by the local camp of Sons of Confederate Veterans, you will see that Cumberland County was divided almost 50/50 between those who served in the Union and Confederate armies. This is the only monument known in Tennessee to honor men on the same marker who served on both sides during the war. In the next two articles we will look at two families who served in the Federal forces.

James M. Dorton, age 24, served as 1st Lieutenant in Company D, 2nd Regiment Tennessee Federal Infantry. He was taken prisoner in Hawkins County, Tennessee, but escaped, rejoining his command 20 days later. He was again captured on leave in Grassy Cove, but released in a destitute condition the same day. He served as Provost Marshall in Maryville, Blount County, and was again captured. He escaped after four days and returned to Knoxville, where he served out the remainder of his term in the army, being mustered out October 8, 1864. He returned to Blount County where he lived until his death in 1870.

Azariah Dorton, age 22, served as Sergeant Company D, 2nd Regiment Tennessee Federal Infantry (later mounted infantry,) enlisting at Camp Dick Robinson, Kentucky.  Some of the 27 battles in which he served were Mill Springs, Stone River, siege of Knoxville, Blue Springs. Wildcat Gap, Cumberland Gap. He was taken prisoner and released after five days, then captured again and escaped. He returned home from Knoxville at the expiration of his enlistment, October 6, 1864, and served in the Home Guards. He is buried in Haley’s Grove Cemetery.

In a letter home, quoted from Stella Harvey’s book, Azariah said, “Mother I have been made to tremble when I walked over the bloody field of Murfreesboro. I looked around and beheld the carnage and goar at one sight I could behold a thousand men which had just crest the chilly waters of Jordon.”  He also wrote, “I understand that there has been some of the good old friends of the Rebellion deceast not long cince all I hated about it was there hadn’t been a few more of them went the same way.” This helps you understand the climate of the war years in Cumberland County.

James and Aziarah’s eldest brother, Moses Dorton, was murdered in his home by guerillas on a night around the end of the war, leaving a wife and four children. Moses had just returned from getting a wagon load of commercial commodities from Kentucky, including salt, coffee, and other household goods, all which were stolen. A family story relates that, after finding out who did the murder, a family member went after the man. On the way to avenge the murder, he saw a tent, went in to see what was going on, and got saved, so he came back home, leaving vengeance to the Lord.  As is the case in all wars, it isn’t over when it’s “declared” over.