For myself, some of the most interesting family members that served during the Civil War has to be the Pybass brothers of Gibson County, Tennessee. I have always been drawn to these boys for some unknown reason. The parents of the Pybass brothers were Nathaniel Pybass (b. 1810 Rutherford Co. Tenn.) and Paulina Allen Vaughn, they would have a total of eleven children and settle in Gibson County, Tennessee by 1850. The boys Grandparents (authors 4th Great Grandparents) were William Pybass and Elizabeth Greer; both natives of North Carolina. They were living on the banks of Bradley’s Creek in Rutherford County, Tennessee by 1810. William enlisted in the Tennessee Militia during the War of 1812. He would not return home, he died a soldier on Feb. 6, 1815 at New Orleans. His wife would receive a soldiers pension for his service, she would later marry a Mr. James Yearwood.
Nathaniel Pybass would move his family into the West Tennessee community of Trenton, where he ran a tailor shop on the town square. At the outbreak of the Civil War his son Samuel Newell Pybass would leave his job as a tailor and enlist at the age of 23 at Germantown, Tennessee as a member of the ”West Tennessee Riflemen” on May 15, 1861, this was one of the first Confederate units raised in Gibson County. The “West Tennessee Riflemen” would become company F, 4th Tennessee Infantry. After learning drill the 4th Tenn. was moved to Columbus, Kentucky on September 5, 1861. Their mission was to fortify the high bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River; a major waterway that was thought to be the Union Army’s main route for the invasion of the south. Conditions, as well as the weather were very poor, many men became ill at this place. At some point Samuel became very sick, he would be confined to a bed in the army hospital. Samuel Newell Pybass would die of disease; inflammation of the bowels on October 18, 1861. His body was returned home and he was laid to rest in the Oaklawn Cemetery at Trenton.
On December 20th, 1862 Samuel’s brother Parks Jefferson Pybass would enlist in company F, 12th Kentucky Cavalry. Another brother; James Thomas Lewis Pybass enlisted on July 25, 1863 in company D of the 12th Kentucky Cavalry. A few companies of this regiment were raised in Kentucky, but more than one half of the regiment was raised from West Tennessee men. They would be in Lyon’s Brigade of cavalry that served under General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who’s name was known and feared by Union commanders throughout the western theater of operations. Forrest’s men carried no saber’s, they were mostly armed with captured weapons; each trooper carried a rifle musket and two revolvers. These men fought more often then not dismounted, advancing as infantry. P.J. and James would fight many actions in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. Both boys were engaged in the battle of Brice’s Cross Roads, Miss.; a battle that is still studied by military students to this day. P.J. would be captured during Forrest’s raid on Memphis, Tennessee and spend some time in a Union prison camp. By order of the Confederate War Department James would be transferred, along with the other Tennessee men in the 12th Kentucky Cavalry; into the 19th/20th Consolidated Tennessee Cavalry. James served until the surrender of Forrest’s command at Gainesville, Alabama on May 10, 1865. He would pass away July 19, 1872 at the age of 39, most likely from the hardships he endured during his Confederate service. He is buried beside his brother Samuel in the Oaklawn Cemetery; Trenton, Tennessee.
P.J. filed for a Tennessee Confederate pension, which was granted to him. On August 25, 1927 he gave a written statement of his service in the 12th Kentucky Cavalry to the Tennessee State Pension board:
” I Parks Jefferson Pybass, native of the State of Tennessee, resident at Trenton, Gibson County, Tennessee; do solemnly swear that I was born October 10, 1844, in Gibson County, Tennessee. I enlisted in the Confederate Army on December 20, 1862, in Company F, 12th Kentucky Cavalry; Colonel Faulkner, Commander; John M. Carroll, Captain; General Lyon’s Brigade. In battles at Tishomingo Creek (Brice’s Cross Roads), Harrisburg Mississippi, Athens Alabama (Sulphur Trestle), Pulaski Tennessee, Oxford Mississippi and other smaller skirmishes, was not wounded. I was captured near Memphis, held in prison at Alton, Illinois for about three months, and exchanged at City Point, Virginia. Paroled at Gainesville, Alabama.”
After the war P.J. would return to Trenton and marry Stella Hooker, they would raise a family of two daughters. P.J. would be active in the United Confederate Veterans, attending veteran reunions. He would live a full life, passing away on September 19, 1934. He is buried beside his wife in Oaklawn Cemetery, Trenton, Tennessee.
Written by Scott Busenbark