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
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
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
Luther D. "Dan"