West: The true story behind Fannie Battle
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 2:56 pm
By MIKE WEST
Back when I was a youngster I would beg my mother to put a light in the window so the Fannie Battle carolers would stop by and sing Christmas carols.
The answer to that terrible dilemma was simple. The Fannie Battle Singers were in Nashville, which was something the TV and radio ads never specified.
Born in the Cane Ridge community near the Davidson/Rutherford County line, Fannie was a teenager when the Civil War began.
Her father, Joel Allen Battle, raised a company at Nolensville and was soon the commander of the 20th Tennessee Infantry. Her three brothers joined the Southern war effort. Two of them, Joel Battle Jr. and William Searcy Battle, were killed at Shiloh where the father was captured and transported to the Federal prisoner of war camp at Johnson's Island near Sandusky, Ohio. A fourth brother, Frank, fought with distinction at Stones River, but was captured late in the war.
Fannie, like many other Southern women, wanted to play a part in the war effort.
OFFICE SPECIAL COMMISSIONER,
Maj. L.C. Turner, Judge -Advocate:
As to Miss Fannie Battle, aged nineteen years, of Davidson County, Tenn., arrested on the 7th day of April, A.D. 1863, by order of Col. Truesdail, chief of police at Nashville, and brought to Camp Chase on the 15th day of April, 1863, charged with being a spy, with smuggling goods and with getting a forged pass, I have the honor to report that the prisoner denies the allegation of having been a spy but admits that she is a rebel and she had a forged pass. She further denies that she was smuggling goods at the time she was arrested. There can be no doubt from the manner of the prisoner in replying to inquiries that she has been engaged in smuggling. The prisoner is affable and attractive and well qualified by manners and mind to be influential for evil to the loyal cause. She is a daughter of the rebel General Battle. I recommend that she be exchanged and sent beyond our lines as soon as it may be convenient to our Government.
OFFICE SPECIAL COMMISSIONER,
Maj. L. C. Turner, Judge -Advocate:
As to Miss Harriet Booker, aged twenty-four years, of Davidson County, Tenn., arrested on the 7th day of April, A.D. 1863, by order of Col. Truesdail, chief of police at Nashville, and brought to Camp Chase on the 15th Day of April, 1863, charged with being a rebel, a spy, with forging a pass and altering the same and with smuggling goods through lines and conveying letters and information to the enemy, I have the honor to report that the prisoner denies the charge of smuggling, of being a spy or conveying letters to the enemy, but admits herself to be a rebel and to have altered a foraged pass, knowing the same to have been forged for the purpose of being fraudulently used. The prisoner is less intelligent than Miss Battle and more ingenuous. She has been obviously under the control of Miss. Battle. There can be no doubt as to her active and cordial co-operation in the acts of Miss Battle. If she could be removed from the influence of [that] designing woman she would be harmless. I recommend that she be exchanged and sent beyond our lines, and if convenient and practicable that she be separated from the companionship of Miss Battle.
Fannie's father, finally receiving word of her arrest, approached Tennessee Gov. Isham G. Harris for assistance in freeing both women. Harris, in turn
And the tradition continues on ... but just in Davidson County.