I have multiple Civil War ancestors and this 150th Anniversay of the War would certainly be a good time to recognize and honor them. My husband had Civil War veterans in his family tree - it's likely they fought each other at the Battle of Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas where we grew up. We both have families whose homes were burned by maurading guerillas.
Elias Hays was born 28 Jan 1829 somewhere in Tennessee, or Mississippi, or Alabama, or Illinois - I have documents showing each of these. The most likely is Tennessee. He married Martha Francis Crutcher on 8 Aug 1847 in Tippah County, Mississippi, according to her application for his Civil War pension. The records from Tippah County were burned during the War. Elias and Martha had one daughter born prior to the 1850 Tippah County U.S. Census.
Soon after 1850, the Hays family to include Elias's widowed mother, a young sister, and at least two orphaned nieces, moved to Johnson County, Arkansas. It is possible they joined family there but I cannot prove that. Johnson County is where the Civil War found Elias Hays. He would serve in both the Confederate and Union armies. Northwest Arkansas was a border region - a place where brother truly fought brother in this War - and an area where guerilla warfare took place on a daily basis.
Elias Hays appears on the Muster Roll of Co. C, 17th Arkansas Infantry in November of 1861. He was enlisted at Clarksville by O. Basham for 12 months as a Sergeant at that time. On 14 Jun 1862, he was detailed on extra duty, listed as 2nd Sergt until 3 Jun 1861. By June of 1862, the regiment had become the 21st and he was listed as a Private. On 28 Jan 1862, he was detailed as a Waggoner. Captured at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, Elias was released after signing the pledge he would not take up arms again against the U.S.
Vicksburg, Mississippi, July 7 A.D.1863
To All Whom It May Concern, Know Ye That
I Elias Hayes a Private of Regt 21st Ark Vols. CSA, being a Prisoner of War, in the hands of the United States Forces, in virtue of the capitulation of the City of Vicksburg and its garrison, by Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, CSA, Commanding, on the 4th day of July, 1863, do in pursuance of the terms of said capitulation, given this my solemn parole under oath ---
That I will not take up arms again against the United States, nor serve in any military, Police, or constabulary force in any Fort, Garrison or field work, held by the Confederate States of America, against the United States of America, nor as guard of prisons, depots or stores, nor discharge any duties usually performed by Officers or soldiers against the United States of America, until duly exchanged by the proper authorities.
Signed: Elias Hays
Sworn and subscribe before me at Vicksburg, Miss., this 8th day of July, 1863.
Capt S. W. Forgy, 31st Regt. Ills. Vols., Paroling Officer.
The signature on the above does indeed match his signature on other documents so there is no question about identity although at least two other men named Elias Hays/Hayes served in the Confederacy from Arkansas.
Martha and the children [by now there were at least six children with the seventh born while Elias was away] were suffering at home:
Johnson Co AR County Court Records, Book D, p.232: 21 Jan 1862 "In the matter of Elias Hays being a volunteer in the service of the confederate States and his family being unable to make a support it is here ordered by the Court that the clerk issue a warrent in favor of G. W. Collier for the sum of twenty-five dollars for the support of said family."
After his surrender at Vicksburg, I believe the family was truly destitute. Elias joined the Union Army, I suspect for a pay check, more than politics.
On Jan 20 1864 at Clarksville, Arkansas, Elias Hays enlisted as a Private in Company I of the 2nd Arkansas Infantry (Federal Troops) and was mustered out at Clarksville on Aug 8, 1865 as a Corporal. His widow, Martha F. (Crutcher) Hays, applied for his US Civil War pension based on this service.
Footnote.com has his service record, including his enlistment papers. Elias enlisted as a private for the 2nd Reg't. Arkansas Infanty, 20 Jany, 1864 at Clarksville, AR. He was age 36, occupation, farmer. He enlisted for 3 years. His eyes were grey, hair light, complexion light, height 5 ft 8 in. Mustered in 18 May 1864 at Little Rock. Bounty paid $60. Due $240. Credited to the 3rd Cong. Dist. Ark. He was present 29 Feb to Jun 30, 1864. July & Aug of 1864 he was absent with leave since 24 July. In Sept & Oct, Elias was listed as absent without leave since 24 July. This may very well coincide with the burning of his home and his need to assist his family. Papers with Martha's application for his pension indicate that he returned on Nov 16th 1864 from absent, sick, at Fort Smith. No medical records found, but one report says he was treated in the Regimental Hospital. He was present Nov & Dec, 1864, on daily duty cooking for the commanding officer of the company since 16 Nov 1864. He was present in 1865 and promoted from private to corporal, during May or June. Morning Reports with the pension file show that he was absent with leave for 10 days, 6 Jul 1865 and returned to duty, 18 Jul 1865. He was mustered out, age still given as 36, 8 Aug 1865 - he had been last paid on 24 Feb 1865. Clothing account was last settled 28 Feb 1865, and he'd drawn since $34.22. Bounty paid is $180, Due $120. Private from enrollment to June 29/65, then Corpl. His signature on the enlistment papers, Declaration of Recruit, does also match his surrender at Vicksburg.
Elias and family settled in Crawford County, Arkansas following the War. In 1877, Elias received patent for three tracts of land totaling 160 acres, all under the Homestead Act of 20 May 1862 - under the original Homestead Act an applicant could not have borne arms against the U.S. but this provision was removed in 1867 - and under the Act of 8 Jun 1872 which allowed additional lands. I have a copy of the Homestead packet which includes the testimony of two friends stating he had settled on the land in 1870 and built a house and corn crib and stable and cultivated crops. A copy of his discharge from the Union Army was included.
The small local newspaper, The Van Buren Press, carried a brief notice of the passing of Elias Hays: p.71; 15 Nov 1879. "DIED HAYES Near Figure Five on the 5th inst., Mr. Ely Hayes, aged 53 years." Figure Five was a local community in Crawford Co, and Elias was actually only 50 years old. He also appeared in the 1880 Census Mortality Schedule, as dying at age 50. Martha would testify in her application for his pension that he died of rheumatism and consumption - I'm sure his legacy from the War.
Martha applied for her Widow's Civil War Pension 28 July 1890, Claim #303483. She gave her age as 57, post office as Stattler, Crawford Co, AR. She had been married to Elias Hays who enlisted 20 Jan 1864, Company I, 2nd AR Infantry Vols and discharged as a Corporal, 8 Aug 1865. He died 11 Nov 1879 [the newspaper had said November 5th - I would think the widow more likely to have the correct date]. She was married as Martha F. Crutcher on 8 Aug 1847, by Rev. Nabors, MG at Tippa Co, Miss, neither having been previously married. Stated she had remarried to Stephen Yard in 1886 which said marriage was void because Stephen Yard had another wife or wives still living! She had a son under age sixteen, George Wallace, born 9 May 1875 [he was their 10th child - all of whom grew to adulthood]. Ceremony to Yard was performed by Stephen T. Matlock, JP for Crawford Co. Testimony of George & Mattie Haskett that they were present on 19 Dec 1886 when she married Stephen Yard. [Mattie was her eldest daughter.] Testimony from Parthena Haggard stated that she was present at the marriage of Martha and Elias Hays in Mississippi and she knew Martha before the marriage, had known her for 40 years. [I believe this is Parthena Hays Haggard, sister to Elias, based on the 1850 Census] E. A. Vansant also signed her application, stating he had known her for 15 years. None of the records stated whether or not Martha ever received her pension - I suspect she did not, either because of the second marriage or perhaps it was dicovered that Elias had also served in the Confederacy.
Elias Hays was my great, great grandfather. One of his sons, John Jefferson Hays, born 5 Aug 1856, was my great grandfather - he lived to be almost 94 years old, dying in 1950 when I was ten years old. John-John, as he was called by his grandchildren and great grandchildren, told the story that he remembered while his father was away, soldiers came to their house, ripped the curtains from the windows, the bedding off the beds, and piled it all in the center of the house and set fire to the pile. John, his siblings, and his mother were forced to stand in the yard and watch their house go up in flames. Undoubtedly this horror was in retaliation after Elias joined the Union Army.