Civil War Veteran John Denton; about 1890.

Civil War Veteran John Denton; about 1890.
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Image by David C. Foster
John Denton volunteered to join Company B (Monroe County, Tennessee), 3rd Tennessee Regiment of Confederate Volunteers in Knoxville, TN on May 23rd, 1861. He participated in the First Battle of Manassas and while serving under Brig. Gen. Kirby Smith (and Col. Arnold Elzey) helped crush Union Col. Oliver O. Howard’s brigade to begin the Union retreat back to Washington, DC. Later deserted the CSA while back in East Tennessee and on May 7, 1863 enlisted for three years at Lebanon, Kentucky in Company D, 11th Tennessee Cavalry, Union Army Volunteers. All three of the Denton’s are my great grandmother Mary Denton-Moser’s older brothers. This photo was taken in Texas.

Great grandpa Louis Henry Moser had five uncles that served in the CSA. Three surrendered at Vicksburg and took the oath of allegiance. Peter Moser Jr., while serving under General Longstreet, died of disease and was buried in a mass grave in Strawberry Plains, TN. Andrew Jackson "Blind Jack" Moser was blinded during the war. None of the Moser’s served in the Union Army. Unfortunately I have no photographs of the Moser’s that I’m aware of.

There is much more to the story of Uncle John Denton. Most of the story is here: . Family lore relates that John Denton was captured by Confederate soldiers that lived near him and sent off to be executed for desertion; he escaped his captors. It is known that Alfred Denton, the father of the Denton brothers, was a “strong Union Man”. The Brick house where the Curtis brothers of the Confederate Army were murdered by John Denton was said to be haunted by their ghosts. A lady who lived in the house for many years told me she never witnessed any ghosts and that the murders took place in the stairwell to the second story. The ante-bellum Curtis house was demolished by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for Tellico Lake about 1970. If the house was haunted, the ghosts are under the cold waters of Tellico Lake.

Also, in 1865 John Denton married Cordelia Howard, the daughter of a wealthy merchant from Monroe County, TN named Johnson Howard. I once saw a photo of Cordelia and she was a stunningly beautiful woman. It’s rumored that Cordilia was pregnant out of wedlock, by one of her fathers slaves and John was paid ,000 to marry her to “legitimize” the baby boy and state that he was "part Cherokee" to explain the dark complexion of the baby. Three more children were born to John and Cordilia until they divorced and abandoned the children to the care of Dorcus Click-Denton, John’s elderly widowed mother. When Dorcus Denton passed away the children went to live with the Howard’s. Cordelia met another man and went to Ohio with him where she committed suicide by hanging herself. For more on Cordellia see this link: John Denton lived a “loose” lifestyle for the rest of his life and is buried in Monroe County, TN near Ballplay Road. He was especially close to his little sister Margaret Denton-Mullins and would stay for long periods of time at their home in Monroe County, Tennessee telling stories of his life to his numerous nephews and nieces. Cordelia was the Aunt of Tom Howard who was a central figure in and was killed in the Howard-McGee feud that took place in Monroe County and Knoxville in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. John’s nephew, a Murr, was also killed in the first round of shooting in the feud. The feud can be found in the book "Valley So Wild" by Carson Brewer and will rival the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s.

John Denton died on Aug 12, 1912 and on his grave marker in the Prospect Cemetery is inscribed: "Died Age 70 Years.
Uncle you have left us,
left us yes for ever more
but we hope to meet you on that bright and happy shore"

John Denton’s granddaughter was Nan Denton of Denton’s Orange Julius. Life can take unpredictable twists and turns.

From NPS:

John Denton (First_Last)
Regiment Name 3 (Lillard’s) Tennessee Mounted Infantry.
Side Confederate
Company B
Soldier’s Rank_In Private
Soldier’s Rank_Out Private
Alternate Name
Film Number M231 roll 12

3rd Regiment, Tennessee Mounted Infantry (Lillard’s)

Also called 3rd Confederate Infantry; 3rd Tennessee Cavalry Regiment; or 3rd Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment (Lillard’s)

Identified in Units of The Confederate States Army by Joseph H. Crute, Jr., as the 3rd Infantry Regiment Provisional Army with the following history:
3rd Infantry Regiment Provisional Army was organized in May, 1861, at Knoxville, Tennessee, and mustered into Confederate service in June at Lynchburg, Virginia. Its members were recruited in the counties of Knox, Monroe, Jefferson, Polk, Blount, McMinn, Meigs, and Sullivan. The unit was engaged at Manassas, then during February 1862, returned to Tennessee. It then fought at Tazewell and Cumberland Gap and later was involved in the Kentucky operations. It moved to Mississippi and East Louisiana, it was captured at Vicksburg on July 3, 1863. Exchanged and reorganized as cavalry, the regiment was assigned to Vaughn’s Brigade. It participated in the Knoxville Campaign, fought at Piedmont and with Early in the Shenandoah Valley, and skirmished in East Tennessee. In April, 1865, it moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and became part of President Davis’ escort, until surrendering at Washington, Georgia, on May 9.

This unit reported 4 casulties at First Manassas, 187 at Raymond, and 47 at Piedmont. In May, 1864, it had 199 officers and men fit for duty.
The field officers were Colonels Newton J. Lillard and John C. Vaughn; Lieutenant Colonels David C. Haskins, John J. Reese, and Samuel Tool; and Majors Joseph C. Boyd, William C. Morelock, and George W. Morgan.


John Denton (First_Last)
Regiment Name 11 Tennessee Cavalry
Side Union
Company D
Soldier’s Rank_In Pvi
Soldier’s Rank_Out Pvi
Alternate Name
Film Number M392 roll 4


11th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry

Organized at large May to October, 1863. Attached to Willcox’s Division, Left Wing Forces 23rd Army Corps, Dept. of the Ohio, to January, 1864. District of the Clinch to April, 1864. 1st Brigade, 4th Division, 23rd Army Corps, Dept. of the Ohio, to January, 1865.

SERVICE.-Joined DeCourcy at Crab Orchard, Ky., August 24, 1863. March to Cumberland Gap September 24-October 3. Operations about Cumberland Gap till February, 1864. Mulberry Creek January 3. Tazewell January 24. Near Jonesville January 28-29. Skirmishes on Jonesville and Mulberry Roads February 12. Gibson and Wyerman’s Mills on Indian Creek, and at Powell’s Bridge February 22. Duty at and about Cumberland Gap guarding communications with Knoxville till January, 1865. Action at Johnsonville, Tenn., November 4-5, 1864. Mustered out by consolidation with 9th Tennessee Cavalry January 9, 1865.