1st Alabama Cavalry - Est. 1862
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It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Glenda McWhirter Todd. She passed away on September 3, 2017 surrounded by her family. She was a historian, genealogist, and author who prided herself on being a descendant of Andrew Ferrier McWhirter of the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USV. Her work over the past two decades and her dedication to the 1st Alabama Cavalry has created a legacy that will last for years to come.

Her life's work has touched thousands of people through the years, and I am glad that I had the pleasure to work with her as long as I did. My hope is that her work will live on for years to come to educate and inspire a new generation.

Stories about Troopers from the 1st Alabama

Picture Tombstone Combined Service Record

Thomas A McWhirter
McWhirters in the 1st Alabama Cavalry

When talk of the Civil War broke out in northwest Alabama, approximately 2500 men in the area had one thing in common - they were totally against secession. While they did not want to fight against their southern neighbors, they certainly did not intend to fire on the "Old Flag" of their country.

Many of the anti-secessionist hid out in the hills and caves of north Alabama, wishing to remain neutral. The caves and deep gorges of Winston County provided a natural sanctuary for these men. When this attempt failed, these men chose to remain loyal to their country and the result of their choice was the First Alabama Cavalry, USA, which was formed in 1862. One of these men stated: "I have slept in mountains, in caves and caverns till I am become musty; my health and manhood are failing me, I will stay here no longer till I am enabled to dwell in quiet at home, I am going tomorrow to the Union army."

Three of these men included Andrew Ferrier McWhirter and two of his sons, Thomas Andrew and George Washington McWhirter. When their attempt to remain neutral was denied them, they saddled their horses and rode over one hundred miles through the dense woods, dodging the Confederate Soldiers, to Huntsville, Alabama to enlist in the Union army on 24 July 1862.

On 8 September 1862, the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USA was ordered to report "without delay" to Nashville and was assigned to the Army of the Tennessee, Major General Ulysses S. Grant Commanding. After arriving in Nashville, there was an outbreak of measles and on 8 October 1862, Andrew Ferrier McWhirter's son, George Washington McWhirter died from this disease in Army Hospital #14. On 23 October 1862, just over two weeks later, Andrew Ferrier McWhirter also succumbed to this disease in the same hospital. Army Hospital #14 was in fact the Nashville Female Academy which was held by the Union Army from 1862 until 1865. It was also used as headquarters for the provost marshal and as a shelter for refugees.

Andrew and his son, George, were buried in the Nashville City Cemetery, later being disinterred and reinterred in the Nashville National Cemetery. Several other men who belonged to the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USA are buried in this cemetery.

Thomas Andrew McWhirter was forced to continue the war without his father and brother. He was involved in many battles, captured by the enemy and held prisoner on several different occasions and was with General William Tecumseh Sherman on his famous "March To The Sea".

Thomas McWhirter survived the Civil War and was mustered out in Nashville, Tennessee on 19 July 1865. He returned to his home in Marion County, Alabama to face the hostilities of his southern neighbors.

The loyal men who served in the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USA followed their heart and fought for what they believed to be the right thing to do. They paid a terribly high price for their loyalty and convictions. Even after the war, some were threatened, some murdered, and all were scorned by their southern neighbors. Many of them moved west to escape the persecution.

Thomas A. McWhirter chose to remain in Marion County, Alabama. On 15 February 1866, he married Mary Jane Hallmark and they had ten children, several of whom died at birth or shortly after. He died 27 August 1917, and is buried in the Old Poplar Springs Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

Colonel Streight estimated that Union sympathizers outnumbered the secessionists "nearly three to one" in sections of Marion, Walker, Fayette, Morgan, Blount, Winston and Jefferson Counties. He also had this to say about the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USA:

...surrounded by a most relentless foe, mostly unarmed and destitute of ammunition, they are persecuted in every conceivable way yet up to this time most of them have kept out of the way sufficiently to avoid being dragged off by the gangs that infest the country for the purpose of plunder and enforcing the provisions of the rebel conscription act. Their horses and cattle are driven off in vast numbers. Every public road is patrolled by guerilla bands, and the Union men have been compelled to seek protection in the fastnesses of the mountainous wilderness...When it is taken into consideration that these people were all hid to avoid being taken by the rebels...this case is without a parallel in American history - I have never witnessed such an outpouring of devoted and determined patriotism among any other people....Never did people stand in greater need of protection. They have battled manfully against the most unscrupulous foe that civilized warfare has ever witnessed. They have been shut off from all communication with anybody but their enemies for a year and a half, and yet THEY STAND FIRM AND TRUE. If such is not to be rewarded, if such citizens are not to receive protection, then their case is deplorable indeed.

Long after the Civil War ended, tensions between Union and Confederate sympathizers in northwest Alabama, remained high and for some, the war was never over.

An article published in the Marion County Herald on 30 May 1889, entitled "A REMARKABLE FAMILY", stated:

Marion County has one of the most remarkable families within her borders, probably, that exists within the limits of the State. It is the family of Andrew F. McWhirter.

Some 50 years ago Mr. McWhirter moved to Marion County, from Tennessee, and settled near Goldmine, where he lived to the date of his death which occurred during the war. At the time of his death he had 5 children, 4 boys and 1 girl. The daughter married Mr. Harbin and lives near the old homestead. The boys are all temperate men, two of them never even drank a cup of coffee and not one of them use tobacco. The combined weight of the four men is over 800 pounds. The four have 22 living children and 7 dead. Three of them are farmers and one a preacher. The oldest, T.A. (Thomas Andrew) is a farmer and is 47 years of age; W.H. is a farmer and 35 years old; and A.J. (Andrew Jackson), who is the baby, is 30 years old and weighs 211 pounds. He also is a farmer (and preacher) and holds the office of county commissioner, and by the way he is one of the best commissioners in the State. The are highly respected, and gentlemen of moral worth, and men of which any county might well be proud.

About the Author
Glenda McWhirter Todd is a descendant of Andrew Ferrier McWhirter (Great, Great daughter) and a historian with special interst in the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USV and has published First Alabama Cavalry, USA: Homage to Patriotism detailing many records, stories, and pictures of the 1st Alabama Cavalry.

Database created and maintained by Ryan Dupree.

Service records compiled by Glenda Todd and used with her permission. This and other information about the history of the First and the men who fought with the unit can be found in her book, First Alabama Cavalry, USA: Homage to Patriotism.

If you would like to contribute to our collection, please feel free to contact us.

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