SUBMITTED BY: Joanne Wickman Farris (edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter)
Editor’s Note: The following story is based on information contained in Terrell T. Garren’s historical fiction novel, The Secret of War: A Dramatic History of Civil War Crime in Western North Carolina (2004), which was centered on the oral history passed down to him from older relatives about the lives of his great-grandparents, Joseph and Delia Youngblood, supported with the results of historical research, and embellished with fictional elements.
Joseph and Delia Russell Youngblood’s War Stories
This is the story of my Great-Aunt Delia Russell and Joseph Youngblood, two young sweethearts from Henderson County, North Carolina, who vowed to marry each other after the war.
Delia Russell and her family lived at Hoopers Creek, North Carolina. At one point during the Civil War, the family left their home and went up deep in the mountains to escape the coming of the Union Army. Afterward, Delia’s father was worried about the possible discovery of a sum of money he had hidden in the brickwork of the fireplace, so he sent Delia back to the house to retrieve it. Before she could get the money and leave, a group of Union soldiers invaded the Russells’ house. They assaulted Delia. Those men hurt the young woman physically, mentally, and emotionally, but she survived.
Meanwhile, Joseph Youngblood was going through trials of his own. Joseph served in Company H, the Cane Creek Rifles, of the 25th North Carolina Infantry. According to Garren’s novel, in September 1862, Joseph was captured after the Battle at Sharpsburg/Antietam in Maryland, then imprisoned at Camp Morton, a Union prison camp at Indianapolis, Indiana.
Joseph and Delia reunited after the war’s end and were married in 1868. This story just confirms that with endurance and strength, people can overcome much and rebuild their lives.
With loving memory, Joanne Wickman Farris
Editor’s Follow-up: Unlike the submitted stories that are based on oral traditions or historical research, this story was based on a historical fiction novel that combined oral histories, historical research, fictional characters, and other creative elements. As a result, the lines between fact and fiction were blurred; however, Delia and Joseph were real people who lived through the Civil War and whose stories were really passed down orally and through surviving records. For example, the story about Delia Russell was told to Garren by a family member, then substantiated by more than one of Delia’s descendants. As a result, this submission is being included in this collection, but the following paragraphs will present the information that pertains to Joseph Youngblood, and his two brothers [Hiram Youngblood was his cousin: His true relationship was changed for the novel], that was recorded in existing documents.
According to their compiled military records, Joseph and his older brother, William Youngblood, both enlisted in the Confederate Army at Henderson County, North Carolina, on July 15, 1861. They served as Privates in Company H of the 25th North Carolina Infantry. A year later, on July 16, 1862, William was discharged after furnishing a substitute—Private James L. Case—to serve in his stead. Meanwhile, a couple of days earlier on July 10th, William’s and Joseph’s eighteen-year-old brother—Jasper Newton Youngblood—had enlisted in the Confederate Army at Henderson County. Jasper served in Company D of the 60th N.C. Infantry. After he was discharged, William returned to the Youngblood’s farm in Henderson County, N.C.
According to Joseph’s military record, he was listed as having deserted two months later, on Sept. 15, 1862 (an estimated date)—right around the time of the battle at Antietam, Maryland. Solely based on that compiled record, the question remains as to whether Joseph deserted the Confederate Army or was taken prisoner by Union forces; however, it is clear that, at some point, Joseph was captured eventually because it was recorded that he took the Oath of Allegiance on Sept. 20, 1864 at Knoxville, Tennessee.
According to Jasper’s military records, he was hospitalized on March 15, 1863, then deserted after serving a little over a year: On Sept. 10, 1863, Jasper was recorded as having “deserted to the enemy.” The next entry situated Jasper as being in the same place as Joseph in September 1864—Knoxville, Tennessee. However, instead of taking the Oath of Allegiance there, Jasper was transferred to Chattanooga, then to Louisville, Kentucky. On Oct. 22, 1864, Jasper took the Oath in Kentucky and then was released.
Meanwhile, the Youngblood brothers’ first cousin—Hiram Youngblood—enlisted in the Confederate Army at Rutherford County, North Carolina, on Aug. 14, 1863. Hiram served in Company F of the 58th P. Rangers Infantry. He was noted as “absent without leave” on Feb. 12, 1864. Almost a month later, on March 8th, Hiram was arrested for desertion and was court martialed on April 12th. Hiram was sentenced to be shot. On May 4, 1864, Hiram was executed for desertion, along with several other men, at Dalton, Georgia.
After the war, the Youngblood brothers all returned home to Henderson County. Joseph and Delia Russell married in January 1868, then had a family. William helped his mother, Elizabeth, run the family farm in Hoopers Creek and married a woman named Sarah. Jasper settled at Hoopers Creek, too, and married a woman named Mary, and the couple had at least six children.
Sources for Editor’s Notes: North Carolina Troops 1861-65, A Roster; 1860, 1880, & 1900 Henderson County, North Carolina, U.S Census Records, accessed on Ancestry.com, June 18, 2020; North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741 – 2011, accessed on Ancestry.com, June 18, 2020; Mobley, Joe A., “Review [of] The Secret of War: A Dramatic History of Civil War Crime in Western North Carolina,” Civil War Book Review: Vol. 7 : Iss. 2. (2005); Giles, Jennie J., “Listening to Aunt’s tale inspires author to pen Civil War novel: An Interview with Terrell T. Garren,” Blue Ridge Now, Jan 24, 2005.