Card Brothers Escaped From Civil War Jail

  • Saturday, June 2, 2001

The Cards were in the North, then in 1850 they cast their fortune on a farm at Soddy. Two of the Card sons were Union scouts, who made a
dramatic escape from a brick prison on Market Street just hours before they were to be executed.

Charles Parker Card and his younger brother, William H. Card, in February 1863 were summoned by Gen. Phillip Sheridan to his camp at
Murfreesboro. He and Gen. George H. Thomas asked the Cards what they knew about the territory leading toward Chattanooga. Sheridan asked about the possibility "of a detail of picked
men getting in the rear of the enemy." Charles Card recorded in his diary, “I told him I was his man if he would let me pick my comrades.”
From several units he quickly chose men “as good and true as ever shouldered muskets.” Traveling at night they made their way to Walden's Ridge, while having several harrowing ad ventures. They burned a railroad bridge and charged a Confederate camp. When “a spirit of mischief took possession” of them, the scouting
party ambushed a group of armed travelers, sending them “in mad haste down the road helterskelter.”

When the group separated to allow some to pay a visit to loved ones, the Card brothers were in an abandoned cabin on Walden's Ridge when
they were surrounded and captured by some of Gen. John Hunt Morgan's cavalry. They were taken to Poe's Tavern at Daisy, where breakfast
was ordered. Twice they tried to break away from their captors at the tavern. After a fierce struggle, they were bound together and taken into the prison in town. They were placed in a second-story cell with a Confederate captain and “an old man named Maddux a political prisoner.” At one point, the captain of the guard
told the sentry to “shoot us if we crooked a finger.” They received a visit from their mother and Charles Card's wife, and the mother started
to faint when she saw her sons shackled. Bill Card reached to help her, but was shoved back by the guard, who took the mother's pocketbook. Charles Card wrote in the diary, “This was the most painful scene of my life to see my mother
abused and not able to help her.”

A brother-in-law, D.R. Grafton, was an influential minister and he tried to intervene in their behalf. However, he came one day and “commenced talking about the fortunes of war and the vicissitudes of life. Finally, after circum-navigating the globe, he said the next day they had decided to execute us as spies.” That night they were joined in their cell by Lt. Cobb of Gen. Hazen's staff. A lively character, he agreed to help in their escape. Cobb gained permission to
close the door of the cell, and he put his bed against the door and began snoring loudly. The Cards had been able to remove their handcuffs,
and they used a shovel from Maddux to pry a board loose from a window. It made a noise like a pistol and the guard came in to check. But Cobb took such a long time moving away from
the door that the Cards were able to get back in bed. After the door was closed again, the Cards peered down and saw they were over the front
door. They had tied bedsheets together, but decided to jump. Bill Card said they might break their necks in the fall, but Charles said it “was a small matter whether we break our necks now or wait a few hours and let the Rebs break them.” They survived the jump, with the heavy
Bill Card apparently landing on the startled guard. The brothers found a canoe by the river and used fence rails to paddle across. They
made it back to Murfreesboro and delivered their dispatches safely into the hands of Gen. Sheridan. Charles Card was in fighting around
Chattanooga and Chickamauga.

The brothers were sons of Edward Shannon Card, a Maine native who later lived with his wife, Rachael, in New Jersey, then in New York
City.

The other sons were Edward J., George S. and Lewis. The daughters were Charlotte who married Gabriel Hoff, Catherine Elizabeth who married William A. Anderson, and Martha Jane
who married Rev. Grafton.

When E.S. Card died in 1878, he specified he be “decently buried in my burying ground on Walden's Ridge.” This was on Mowbray Mountain, though later members of the family were
buried at the Card Cemetery on Card Road at Daisy.

George S. Card was a wholesale fruit and produce dealer. He was living at 803 Bennett Ave. when he died in 1915. He married Martha Grant. His son was Grant Card. Other children included George, Lewis, Rachel, Charles and Elizabeth.

Charles P. Card married Mary Ann Varner, and Bill Card married Esther Adaline Varner. Bill Card was a farmer at Soddy and he served 18 years on the Quarterly Court. He was 90 when he died in 1929. Interestingly, the obituary of
Bill Card says he joined the Confederate forces under Zollicoffer and fought the four years of the war. He did enlist with a Confederate unit in 1861, but was soon listed as a “deserter.” His children were given as James Shannon and Quint of Soddy, L.B. of Claremore, Okla., B.T.
and Kenneth of Chattanooga, C.C. of Cleveland, Tenn., Ruth Shafges of Claremore, Okla, and Mrs. Lena Lane, Mrs. T.D. (Beulah) Craighead, Nora and Jane of Soddy. James Shannon Card
had the first Ford dealership at Soddy as well as the first livery stable. He also had the first bus
line from Soddy to Chattanooga. He was the old est member of the Soddy Methodist Church when he died at age 85. His children were Mrs. Ed Monteath, Mrs. C.L. Locke, Unabell, Rex G., Waldo, William J., Glenn S., James S. Jr. and Paul G.

Charles Card in 1865 helped establish Daisy Methodist Church. He died in 1907, and Mary Ann Varner Card was 101 when she died in 1942. Their children included Ellen who married
George Monroe Thomas, Matthew Edward who married Laura Houston, William who married Prudence Springfield, Marian who married George Cobb, Lewis Audley, Walter who married Callie McDonald, Harry who died in a coal
mining accident, Mamie who married a Connor, Paul who married Mae Carden, Pearl who married Garnet Poe then Pete Lewis, and Warren who married Maggie McAfee.

Children of Matt Ed Card were Charles, Clara, Bertie, Willie who married Clarence Brown, Bruce, Earl, Raymond who married Lometa Armour, Mary, Anita, Matt Ed Jr. and Dorothy who married Mandrell Levi.

Lewis A. Card married Harriet Jeannette Holt, and their children were Russell, Leonard who married Erline Wheeler, Ruby who mar
ried Charles Manning, Alma who married Guy Eichorn, Wayne who married Alberta Shelton, Virgil who married Jean Frields, Harry who
married Vina Curtin, Eugene who married Virginia Cox, and Pauline who married Lynn Wolfe. Virgil and Eugene still reside at Soddy. Virgil's daughter, Jeannette, married attorney
Paul Leitner, and daughter, Lynnda, married Robert Nagle. Lewis A. and Harriet J. Card died in 1963. Children of Harry Card are Charlsie
who married Flavis Roberts, Billie who married Frank Harris, Bobbie who married Alton Moore, James Russell who married Betty Reno, Mary who married Ronald Jenkins,

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