Private Dewitt Smith Jobe
Dewitt Smith Jobe was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee in 1840. In 1861, when the war began, Jobe joined Company D, 20th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. His cousin was the lieutenant colonel of the regiment, Thomas Benton Smith who would rise to the rank of brigadier general and eventually meet his own sad end. He had another cousin and namesake in the 45th Tennessee Infantry Regiment named Dewitt Smith who would become famous for avenging his cousins death.
Dewitt Smith Jobe was wounded in his first action at the Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky and captured there. He would be exchanged in time to see action at the Battle of Murfreesboro. When Braxton Bragg began to retreat from Middle Tennessee, Dewitt Smith Jobe was chosen to serve in Coleman's Scouts along with another cousin named Samuel Davis. Davis became known as the 'Boy Hero of the Confederacy'. You can read his blog in my archives of January 7, 2011.
As a scout, Dewitt understood that he faced a more dangerous job than just serving as an infantry private in the Confederate Army. If he were captured he could be sentenced to be hanged. His cousin Sam Davis had been hanged in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1863 because he refused to provide information to the Federals when he was captured.
Dewitt Smith Jobe was operating behind Federal lines near Triune, Tennessee on August 29, 1864 and had just had breakfast with a relative. He was travelling by night and sleeping by day to avoid Federal patrols. He refused to stay at the house for fear his relatives would be punished if he was found sleeping there. He moved to a nearby cornfield to get some rest. Unknown to him, a Federal cavalryman had spotted him through a telescope and moved in with a squad of the 115th Ohio Cavalry.
As the 15 man patrol approached Dewitt, he tore up his dispatches, chewed and swallowed them. This seemed to anger the Federal patrol, who would later be reported as intoxicated. They demanded to know what the dispatch contained and who they were meant for. Like his cousin Sam Davis, a year earlier, Dewitt refused to betray his country.
The Ohio cavalrymen tied his hands behind his back and took a rein from one of their horses and strangled Dewitt in an attempt to get him to talk. Yet, he still refused. They then struck him over and over with a pistol, knocking out his front teeth. He was helpless and bleeding but still refused to provide the Federal soldiers with information.
They screamed and yelled as they continued enjoying their torture of the young man. Neighbors nearby could hear the delight in their voices. They then decided if he wouldn't talk, they would gouge his eyes out. Still the brave young man refused to talk. They then decided to cut his tongue out. After cutting his tongue out, they decided to put the boy out of his misery. They tied a rope around his neck and attached it to a horse and dragged the young man to his death.
The members of the 115th Ohio Cavalry were never punished for their crimes. Legend states that the sergeant in charge of the patrol went mad after sobering up. Some members of the regiment were killed when the Sultana sank after the war returning them from Andersonville Prisoner of War Camp in Georgia.
This wouldn't be the end of retribution for the horrible act. Dewitt's Jobe's cousin Dee Smith is said to have lost his mind in rage when he heard the news. He left Hood's Confederate Army and raised the black flag against Federal troops. He would take no prisoners. He would slit the throats of 14 Federal soldiers in their sleep near Murfreesboro, Tennessee in revenge and kill nearly 50 more before he was wounded and captured. The Federal's planned to hang the wounded prisoner the next day, but Dewitt Smith would die before the scheduled time.
Grave of Dewitt Smith Jobe
Dewitt Smith Jobe was 24 years old. The Federal soldiers who killed him later stated that he was the bravest man they'd ever met. His fiance found his body and placed a handkerchief over his face. Old Frank, a servant on the Jobe plantation placed Jobe's body in a wagon, tears streaming down his cheeks. He would be carried back to his home in Brookhill, Tennessee and buried there.
Carved Sentinel at Jobe's Grave
Jobe's Confederate Medal of Honor
Legend carried down from that time state that the place where these horrible things occurred to Dewitt Smith Jobe is haunted. People traveling by have reported having an eerie feeling at the place. Regardless, Dewitt Smith Jobe was one of the bravest men who ever lived.