The assumption that all people who lived in the South between 1861-1865 were supporters of the Confederacy would be mistaken. Not only were there supporters of the Union living in the South, but a regiment formed in New Orleans in 1864, the 1st Regiment New Orleans Infantry, was made up of Southern Unionists.
Timothy Lawrence Welch, born in Jones County, Mississippi, was one such person. In fact a large number of men in the county took up arms and fought against their Confederate neighbors. In their minds they had never seceded from the Union. They had elected an anti-secessionist to attend the Mississippi state convention, but under pressure, the man voted to secede.
Welch, along with several of his kin, joined the band of men called the Knight Company formed by Newton Knight. They took control of the county and by 1863 become so powerful that the Confederates had to bring in extra troops to help subdue their guerilla warfare attacks.
Finally, in a Confederate raid, some of the men were captured — Timothy Welch being one of them — and they were forced into Confederate service. At the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia, Timothy, his brother, and his cousin — all formerly of the Knight Company — were taken as prisoners of war and sent to an Illinois prisoner of war camp.
After the war, Timothy and his wife, Mary Etta Matthews Welch, moved to Louisiana. Their graves in the old Winnsboro Cemetery are small and plain with a wide berth between it and the other graves surrounding it. I’ve always wondered if his politics followed him to the grave…
Timothy L. Welch is my husband’s great-great-grandfather.
© 2011 Melinda Holloway All Rights Reserved
Source: The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War by Victoria E. Bynum