Upland Chronicles: Daniel Emert fought for North and South in Civil War

Sep. 29, 2013 @ 11:47 PM

Last week I received a call from Sue Rolen who called to tell me that while working in the Fair Garden Cemetery she had discovered the graves of a man that she believed to be a confederate veteran and his wife.

She wanted to know if I knew anything about them. Sue uncovered the flat grave makers when she removed some roots growing from an old tree. After years of being covered with dirt and roots, the inscriptions were illegible until she went home and returned with some cleaning agents to clean the old stones.

Once Sue cleaned the debris off the markers, she was able to read the inscriptions: Daniel George Emert, 1844-1902, and Lucy Inman Emert, 1846-1893.

Intrigued, I began researching archives for information about Daniel George Emert. I discovered the Daniel Emert in question was a son of Frederick Locke Emert and Nancy McMahan Emert.

Born October 15, 1844 at Emert’s Cove, Daniel was a great-grandson of Revolutionary War veteran Frederick Emert who settled in what became known as Emert’s Cove in 1784. His maternal grandfather was Archibald McMahan ll, who arrived in Pearl Valley around 1800.

Daniel G. Emert was raised in Emert’s Cove. According to a pension letter of his found in the United States War Department records, he served both Confederate and Union armies at different times during the Civil War. He had to send the letter when his pension from the Union was discontinued because of his Confederate enlistment.

It appears from the records that he enlisted December 28, 1861 in Company A, 31 of the Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A. for one year; that he was promoted to corporal, sergeant, and orderly sergeant, and left sick at Rutledge on October 27, 1862, and there is no record of his presence at any later date in the Confederate army.

It was claimed and satisfactorily shown, that when he “left sick at Rutledge” as shown by the Confederate records, he was playing off sick so as to get away and join the Union Army. This was a scheme which had been planned in advance with his neighbors in Sevier County. Evidence filed on his behalf proved that Emert was always loyal to the Union and he joined the rebel army only for the purpose of getting away and joining the Union Army.

He did leave the Confederate Army and promptly joined the Union Army, which he served more than two years and seven months, and was honorably discharged.

After his discharge, Daniel returned home. His brother William Brazelton Emert, who was three years older than Daniel, also served in the Union Army with Company H, 9th Tennessee Cavalry. Several months after the war ended William managed to make his way home to Emert’s Cove. However, when he arrived he was in such bad shape from exposure and unattended wounds; he collapsed in the yard of his parent’s home. William never recovered. He died December 4, 1865 at age 24.

On August 13, 1873, Daniel married Lucy Caroline Inman. They lived on a small farm in the Fair Garden Community where they raised their three children: Nancy, David, and Charles. He supplemented the family’s modest farm income by teaching school.

The United Sates Congress passed the Dependent and Disability Pension Act which President Benjamin Harrison signed into law on June 27, 1890, which provided pensions for all veterans who had served at least 90 days in the Union military forces, were honorably discharged from service and was unable to perform manual labor, regardless of their financial situation or when the disability was suffered.

Daniel Emert filed a claim on November 8, 1890 and was granted a pension of six dollars per month from the date of filing for rheumatism and nasal pharyngeal catarrh. He received the pension until September 21, 1896, when his name was dropped from the rolls on the grounds that his allowance was erroneous, he having voluntarily served in the Confederate army.

In the affidavit protesting the discontinuance of his pension, Daniel Emert stated that the county in which he resided was adjacent to the Cherokee Indian Reservation and those Indians entered the Confederate service, and the claimant joined the army to save his own life and that of his family, and joined the Union Army at the first opportunity.

Accompanying Daniel’s statement were affidavits from four witnesses on behalf of his pension claim. A.R. Shults, 79, stated he had known Daniel G. Emert since childhood. Shults said he lived about a half a mile from Daniel’s father during the Civil War and he never knew a better Union boy than he was throughout.

Harriet Ward, 59, of Pigeon Forge stated she had been acquainted with Daniel Emert for over 40 years and lived less than half a mile from Emert during the war. She declared Daniel was with Union men who were accused of making an effort to burn the railroad bridge at Strawberry Plains and she always believed he was a Union man.

David Crockett Maples, 57, stated he had been acquainted with Daniel Emert for more than 50 years. Maples also mentioned the Strawberry Plains bridge incident and he understood that Daniel joined the Confederate service for their protection and his intention was to join the federal army.

Ruben Chelsey Sims, 55, also signed an affidavit on behalf of Daniel Emert. Sims stated he joined the Confederate army with Emert for the same reason. He also expressed that there was never a truer Union man than Daniel G. Emert.

Written by Judge Henry Gibson, the last letter submitted read as follows: “I am personally acquainted with Daniel G. Emert. He is a poor man, old, and feeble in health, with considerable family dependent on him for support. By teaching a small school for a few months each year he manages to keep out of reach of destitution.

“I wish to say that at the time said Daniel G. Emert and his comrades joined the Confederate company his neighborhood was threatened by a raid of Cherokee Indians, whose reservation adjoins the county in which Emert lived and now lives, and these Indians, having been enrolled as Confederated soldiers, were threatening to raid Emert’s neighborhood, whereat he and his neighbors were fearful as an Indian massacre and all its tearful concomitants of rape, arson, and robbery, to guard against which he and some of his neighbors joined the Confederate army, the nearest Union army being then several hundred miles distant and mountains intervening.”

Daniel Emert was restored to the pension roll at 12 dollars per month. Meanwhile, his wife Nancy died in 1893 and he married to Mollie Palmer in 1896. He died November 6, 1902 at age 58.

The discovery of the graves in Fair Garden Cemetery by Sue Rolen led to the uncovering of an interesting story about a man who served both sides during the War Between the States.

Carroll McMahan is the special projects facilitator for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce and serves as Sevier County Historian. The Upland Chronicles series celebrates the heritage and past of Sevier County. If you have suggestions for future topics, would like to submit a column or have comments; please contact Carroll McMahan at 453-6411 or email to cmcmahan@scoc.org; or Ron Rader at 604-9161 or email to ron@ronraderproperties.com