Patriotism & Veterans
By: Ricky Long
Jackson and Madison County have a strong history of supporting their region, state, and nation in times of military conflict, whether at home or abroad. For 200 years the men and women of this county have proved their patriotism by stepping up to help defend our freedoms.
Although the area was not yet settled during the American Revolution or the War of 1812, veterans of both wars were among the earliest residents. Several prominent early leaders, such as Dr. William E. Butler and Robert Chester , had served in the Tennessee militia during the War of 1812.
The war for Texas independence was not officially an American war, but affected Madison County nonetheless. Many of the men at places such as the Alamo and Goliad were Tennesseans, with Micajah Autry and Charles Heiskell both Madison Countians who died.
The Mexican War of 1846-1848 saw Tennessee supply 20 regiments of volunteers, including Madison County’s Avengers. Led by William Haskell of Jackson, they saw action at Vera Cruz and Cerro Gordo, where casualties from Madison County were heavy.
The Civil War was devastating to Madison County. While many counties in the state were deeply divided on the issue of secession, Madison County voted heavily in favor of it. However, this by no means meant that all of the residents were in sympathy with the Confederacy. Families and friendships were divided as each person had their own perspective of what was right or wrong, and in their family’s best interests. The 6th TN Infantry of the Confederate Army was made up almost entirely of Madison Countians, as were numerous other companies. A number of formerly enslaved men signed on to fight for the Union Army, in the 61st U.S. Colored Infantry. Madison County saw battles at Britton Lane and Salem Cemetery, and at various times the county was occupied by both armies. The citizens were deeply affected as well, as the horrors of war in their own back yards came for the first time.
During the Spanish American War, a company was raised in Madison County, serving stateside. The entry of the U.S. into World War I, saw over 1850 young men from Madison County serve. Many of them saw combat in Europe, and 48 of them died either from battle or illness.
The Second World War, from 1941-1945, saw the greatest and most concentrated war effort ever in the United States. The 117th Infantry from Madison County saw extensive combat action in Europe, and three Jackson men, Hugh Mainord, Earnest Frankland, and Ben Ammons, each served as battalion commanders in the 30th Old Hickory Division. Thousands of men and women from the area served, and the citizens of Madison County supported them by making sacrifices to aid the war efforts. Almost 200 young men from Madison County gave their lives in the service of their country.
Over the past 70 years, men and women of this county have served, fought, and often died in conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Mideast, and Afghanistan. Jackson and Madison County have a rich heritage of being there when their nation calls.