Sergeant James D. Cunningham

Sergeant James Dabney Cunningham, C.S.A. was born in Trigg County on July 26, 1831, one of nine children of Dabney Carr and Rebecca Wimberly Cunningham. His paternal grandparents, William and Nancy Cunningham, came to the county in 1818 from Albemarle County, Virginia.

In September 1862, he was one of eighty-seven men to organize Company "D" for Confederate service on the Summers farm between Cadiz and Hopkinsville. They served as partisan rangers under Lt. Col Thomas G. Woodward in skirmishes throughout western Kentucky and Tennessee until it disbanded in December, 1862.   James and twelve other former Woodward cavalrymen then rode to Williamsport, Tennessee on the Duck River near Columbia.  At Williamsport, Colonel Woodward formed a cavalry regiment under General Nathan Bedford Forrest who began a campaign against Union forces in West Tennessee. James enlisted for a three-year-term as a private on December 9, 1862.  He was assigned to the 2nd Kentucky (Woodward's) Cavalry's Company "B" commanded by Captain Given Campbell.    Woodward's 2nd Kentucky was also known as the 15th Kentucky Cavalry.  As a part of larger units, the Woodward's Cavalry fought under Confederate generals other than Forrest including W.C.P. Breckinridge, George Dibrell and Joseph Wheeler.

James participated in the following  battles: Forrest's West Tennessee raid  (Lexington, Jackson, Humboldt and Huntington); Thompson's Station, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Taylor's Ridge, Charleston, Atlanta Campaign, Dug Gap, Sugar Valley, Snake Creek Gap, Resaca, Cassville, Cartersville, Allatoona, Marietta, Roswell's Ferry, Noonday Creek, Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Atlanta Siege, Saltville, Savannah campaign, Carolinas campaign, Columbia, Monroe's Crossroads, and Bentonville.  Company "B" served as Jefferson Davis' personal escort from Greensboro, N.C. to the final meeting of the Confederate government in Washington, Georgia in early May, 1865.  With his company, James surrendered to Union forces at Washington, Georgia on May 9, 1865.  At Chattanooga, their horses were taken from them, and they were sent to Nashville where he was paroled on May 22, 1865 after he swearing his allegiance to the Union.  He then returned to his Trigg County roots and resumed his life as a farmer.

On February 12, 1868, he married Melissa Ann Boyd.  They had six children: Levi, Locksley, Modia, George Dabney, Florence, and Amos. They lived on a 200-acre farm on Blue Spring Creek in the Mount Pleasant community about five miles west of Cadiz.  They were very active in the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

James Cunningham died on March 29, 1898.  He was sixty-six years old.   Just before Veterans Day in 2012,   I was pleased to be able to erect a granite veteran's marker (pictured above) at his grave in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery recognizing his service to the Confederacy.

Clatie R. Cunningham III of Clifton, Virginia  assisted me in the research for this story. Clatie is a great-great grandson of James Cunningham.  Clatie's great- grandfather, Locksley and my grandfather,.  George Dabney, were two of James' sons.   I am very proud of my great grandfather's service.

Luther D. "Dan" Thomas                       
Marietta, Georgia