Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson

WILSON, T J (dates unknown)

Santa Cruz Sentinel (July 4, 1906)

Col T.J. Wilson who bought the rights of the Coast line railroad out of this city is here to see if he can placate the residents of Chestnut Ave., who are up in arms against the Southern Pacific’s alleged unlawful occupancy of that street as a switching yard.

Santa Cruz Morning News (November 13, 1915)

A Leader Among Men

Col T.J. Wilson, former land agent of the Southern Pacific, now retired, and owning a summer home near Eccles, is a shrewd man of much experience and he has often called our attention to the fact that what Santa Cruz needs most is a leader. By this he means a real leader in the highest sense of the term, not a man who would lead us on to destruction, but a man of such sagacity and personality that not only would our people follow him, but in the right direction. He should be a man of large means, who would put his own coin into all projects which he recommended to others.

Santa Cruz Evening News (Wednesday, September 5, 1917)

They are Comrades Now - They were Deadly Foes Fifty Three Years Ago

By Josephine Clifford McCrackin

If some Frenchman should read this headline, he would immediately ask "ou est la femme?" But there is no woman in this, though it reads like a romance, and it plays in real life, right here in Santa Cruz, on peaceful beautiful Pacheco avenue.

Being an old regular army woman, every soldier that fought in the Civil War is of interest to me, and when the C.L. Lamars bought the pretty bungalow and garden at 91 Pacheco avenue, my own number being 108, it did not take long for us to become acquainted.

I knew in a general way that Mr. Lamar had served in the Civil War volunteers and had advanced to the rank of Lieutenant, and when I heard some time later that Colonel T.J. Wilson, who had seen service in the Civil War, was owner of a large ranch in the neighborhood, and had rented the bungalow 56 on our avenue for the summer, I said to myself, "Now can these two fight their battles o'er again."

No. 56, being not far away from 91 though on the other side of the street and the Lamars being younger than I, they became acquainted with the new neighbors before I did; and one day Mrs. Lamar rushed in to my house, her face aglow with pleasurable excitement and announced: Exactly fifty three years ago Colonel Wilson and Lieutenant Lamar tried to kill each other, and they have only just now found it out."

It was rather a startling announcement to make, and I naturally asked, "Why?"

"Oh well," she said, "they did not know it at the time; it was at the battle of Johnsville, in November, 1864, where Lieutenant Lamar as in charge of the battery at the lower fork, and Colonel Wilson was with General Forrest of the Confederate Army, and serving on Morton's battery."

My! But that was news for my old army heart! And I picked up my scratch pad at once and went with Mrs. Lamar to "get the items." But Lieut. Lamar laughed and said; "I can give you no 'items' for your scratch pad but I have the story of the battle in the form of an address delivered by General Amasa Colb at a reunion of the 43d Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and printed for distribution among the comrades. As for the other side I am sure Colonel Wilson has memoranda of the battle."

Indeed yes! the Confederate account of the "Johnsville Raid" by General Forrest, November 1864.

It is written with the spirit and the dash that characterized every attack of the rebel army (I mean no offense, Colonel Wilson) made on Uncle Sam's men or property; but when you have read both accounts of this one battle, you feel like saying out loud what Sherman said long ago, "War is h---."

It was the 43d Wisconsin volunteer infantry that bore the brunt of the battle of Johsonville, but the gunboats on the river (the Tennessee) were under the command of officers of the navy, and four of them were lying in the middle of the river, in front of Johnsonville, at this time; the Key West and the Undine of the large class of gunboats, and two tin clads of the smaller type. There were transports in the stream, there were large U.S. warehouses on the river bank; great stacks of hay and forage everywhere, and there were two forts that belched fire and flame through the day.

And then you take up the Confederate story again, and you read how one gunboat after another was in blaze, and the transports took fire; and all this time the wounded lay moaning in this living hell and when the battle was over, there was devastation and destruction everywhere and though our two soldier friends tried their best to kill each other that day, they are both enjoying life and prosperity now. And they both learned before the war was over that Sherman was right in what he said.

And so today they are clasping hands before the grand old flag they are both ready to defend, and they are thanking God now for the greatest blessing He bestowed upon the South as upon the North - peace.

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