Tolbert Fanning — Advocate for Peace in 1861 (Part XIII)

In the last issue of the Gospel Advocate during the Civil War, December 1861, Fanning noted the death of an “old friend,” Pierce Butler Anderson. It is Fanning’s last comment on the Civil War until the Gospel Advocate was rebirthed in January 1866.

Fanning is gracious in reporting his death knowing “the Lord of all the earth will do right.”

P. B. Anderson (1806-1861) was the son of U. S. Senator Joseph Anderson (1757-1837). Joseph Anderson was the first senator from Tennessee sent to Washington, a lawyer who served eighteen years and then as the United States Treasurer from 1815 to 1836. He served in the American Revolution from the Battle of Monmouth in NJ through Valley Forge to the victory at Yorktown, and was discharged at the rank of Major. He served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1843-1847.

P. B. Anderson attended West Point with Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. He resigned from the Point when he was permanently disabled by a bayonet through the wrist after three years at the institution. He returned to Tullahoma, TN, where he studied law as an apprentice. At the start of the Mexican-American War, he raised a volunteer company from Tennessee and participated in major engagements in Mexico. He practiced law but also taught mathematics at Franklin College for two years.

Joining the Confederate army on April 25, 1861, he raised a company of volunteers in Tennessee at the start of the Civil War, and then raised an artillery corp of 100 men.  He joined Robert E. Lee’s command in Western Virginia as a Captain. He died in the battle of Greenbrier on October 3, 1861.  He was killed when he mistook a Union advance line for a returning Confederate picket line and invited them into the Confederate trenches. He was killed immediately. He was 56 years old at his death and was buried in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

****Fanning’s Notice****

Tolbert Fanning, “A Brave Soldier of His Country Has Fallen,” Gospel Advocate 7.12 (December 1861) 364.

We learn from recent dispatches that our old friend and quondam brother, Pierce Butler Anderson, fell at a late battle in Western Virginia. He was educated at West Point, was for sometime a legislator of the State from McMinn, served bravely through the Mexican war, afterwards spent some two years as Professor of Mathematics in Franklin College; while with us submitted to the King of Zion, but soon afterwards, from bad health and other causes, retired to Tullahoma, where he led a quiet and perhaps not a very profitable life till the opening of the present civil war. He went to Virginia in Col. Turney’s regiment, soon after was appointed Captain of Artillery by Gen. Lee, and conducted himself as a soldier till he was called from earth.

He was a high-toned soldier, and were we superstitious we might conclude he had a presentiment of his fatal death. When he bade us farewell in Nashville, he said, with tears in his eyes, he would go to the war but never expected to return. The Lord of all the earth will do right. His will be the reward of an honored defender of his country. Our old friend has fought his last battle.

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