Alabama Chastains in the Civil War

Updated
03-14-11


1st Alabama Cavalry recruitment flier (reenactment). Click for more information.During the Civil War, many families were split, with members fighting on both sides. Chastains were no different. Including alternate spellings and misspellings (Chastain, Chastaine, Chasteen, Chasteene, Chastian, Chastine, Chesteen, Chestine), military rosters from the war list 128 Chastains in the Union Army and 355 Chastains in the Confederate Army. Most were descendants of Pierre.

The James Edward Chastain family of Northwest Alabama was loyal to the Union, but other Alabama Chastains fought for the Confederacy. The Chastangs originating in Mobile, Alabama also fought on both sides. The Civil War was a hard time for everyone.

For an extensive list of Chastains and related spellings in the Civil War (and other wars), see Chastains in the Military.

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Edward Chastain
The 1st Alabama - Union
Chastains in Alabama Confederate Forces
Chastangs and Chestangs
Major Sources
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Edward Chastain

In 1859, Edward Chastain moved his family from Georgia to Thornhill in Marion County, Alabama. The next eight years were sad ones for Edward's family, with several war-related deaths and Edward's accidental death two years later. When the Civil War began, Edward supported the Union instead of the Confederacy. This was a dangerous position to hold anywhere in the South, and even though Northwest Alabama was a stronghold of Union sympathy some of Edward's neighbors paid dearly for supporting the Union.

Don Umphrey's 2002 work, Southerners in Blue paints a picture of Edward that is more than simply sympathetic to the Union. It presents Edward as pro-active in supporting those who hid to avoid being drafted into the Confederate Army. He also cooperated in recruitment efforts for the Union Army. His home was a regular stop on the "underground railroad" that facilitated the hiding and movement of Alabama men on their way to join Union forces. At least once he paid a scout to lead a group of recruits safely to the Union camp, and he helped feed and support the families of local men who joined Union forces. When Edward had the opportunity, he traveled 100 miles to a Union facility in Glendale, Mississippi and took an oath of loyalty to the United States.

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The 1st Alabama - Union

Edward had four sons, three of whom were in the fight. Pierre Chastain and His Descendants, (henceforth PCD) contains an error. Volume 2, page 139, states that James K. Polk Chastain "was a Confederate soldier in Company K. 1st Alabama Cavalry." The information is correct except that the 1st Alabama Cavalry was Union.

James K. Polk Chastain enlisted in the 1st Alabama (Union), in July of 1862. He was promoted to sergeant less than three months later. He was a prisoner of war in November of 1862 and evidently was returned as part of a prisoner exchange. He was missing in action at the battle of Vincent's Crossroads in October, 1863. He was mustered out July 19, 1865. His younger brother, David D. Chastain, enlisted in the 1st Alabama (Union) in January 1864. David was mustered out June 12, 1865, but died February 22, 1866 of complications from military service.

Ryan Dupree has compiled a tremendous amount of information on the 1st Alabama Cavalry and participates in a 1st Alabama reenactment group. The recruitment flier above was created by Ryan Dupree for the reenactment group and is used with his permission. The 1st Alabama was an important element of Sherman's march through Atlanta, Savannah, and the Carolinas, serving as scouts in the march to Atlanta and as Sherman's personal escort in the march to Savannah. Apparently, all three of Edward's sons were involved in the march across Georgia.

Current states:

From April to September 1864 the First Alabama then took part in William T. Sherman's campaign for Atlanta, acting as scouts (whose value Sherman himself acknowledged) and as rear guards for the supply line. And from September to December the Alabamians joined in the march from Atlanta to the sea...

During January - March 1865 Spencer led the Third Cavalry Brigade as Sherman's army moved from Savannah up though the Carolinas...After advancing into North Carolina, Spencer's brigade fought off another Confederate attack in what developed into the battle of Monroe's Cross Roads. One morning at reveille his men awoke to find the enemy charging their camp from opposite directions - under the lead of two of the most famous rebel cavalry commanders, Wade Hampton and Joseph Wheeler. The rebels overran almost the entire camp before Spencer's men, "By desperate fighting behind trees," succeeded in driving them off. For two and a half hours the Federals stood up against repeated charges, until finally "the enemy retreated in confusion," leaving behind more than a hundred of their men killed, a larger number wounded, and a few dozen captured. "Our loss... was 18 killed, 70 wounded, and 105 missing."

Among the missing at the battle of Monroe's Crossroads, North Carolina was David Chastain who became a prisoner of war in that battle. James K. Polk Chastain had been captured by the Confederates at the battle of Vincent's Crossroads, Mississippi on October 26, 1863 and was released in Savannah on November 20, 1864 as Sherman's army approached the city. There is no evidence that he rejoined the 1st Alabama at this time, as he may have been sent north by the Confederates. He is next found in the hospital at Annapolis, Maryland on December 4, 1864, by which time Sherman had not yet taken Savannah.

Meanwhile, Edward's older son, Martin Shelton Chastain, whom he had left in Georgia, served in Georgia's 52nd Regiment Volunteer Infantry, Company E of the Confederate Army. The Georgia 52nd served in the west, like defending Vicksburg, Mississippi, but the 52nd was moved the east to confront Sherman's army in the Atlanta campaign, along with many other units. The 52nd was in North Georgia from May to September, 1864 and participated in a number of battles: Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, New Hope Church, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta, Ezra Church, the Atlanta Siege (July-Sept 1864), and Jonesboro. It is possible that David and Martin unknowingly fired on each other, but we really do not know whether the Georgia 52nd ever engaged the 1st Alabama.

Martin contracted measles, apparently during the Atlanta campaign and traveled home while he was still recovering. Shortly after he arrived, he died at his uncle's home in Acworth, Cobb County, Georgia on August 4, 1864 (PCD, volume 2, page 136). Disease was often rampant in military camps on both sides and resulted in a high number of deaths. Since the Georgia 52nd was in North Georgia, perhaps Martin's journey home was a short one.

Edward's youngest son, William Howell "Cobb" Chastain, was just over 10 1/2 years old when Alabama seceded from the Union, so he was too young to fight in the army.

Edward's sons-in-law, Hiram Lambert, husband of Sarah Chastain, served in the 1st Alabama; he and David Chastain joined at the same time. Six months later Hiram was in the hospital with typhoid fever. He was discharged June 28, 1865. Nancy Ann Chastain married John Sterling Cantrell. They had a son born in Georgia in 1860, but they could have moved to Alabama within the next couple years, and Nancy is buried in Marion County. Pierre Chastain and His Descendants, volume 2, page 137, shows that Cantrell died in the Civil war, but does not state how, nor whether he served in either army. The records of the 1st Alabama lists a John S. Cantrell. This is likely our John Sterling. He became a prisoner of war on January 18, 1864 and was killed by Confederates while a prisoner of war June 18, 1864 in Franklin County, Alabama, not far from his home. In addition, Thomas L. Dykes, the brother of James K. P. Chastain's wife, was also in the 1st Alabama and died during the war.

For much more on Edward Chastain and his family during the Civil War, see Edward Chastain.

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Chastains in Alabama Confederate Forces

James and David were the only Alabama Chastains we know of in the Union Army, but there were a dozen Chastains in the Confederate Alabama Army, most of whom we cannot match:

1. Castan, James S.
2. Chastain, Alexander
3. Chastain, John P. * Tenuous Match
4. Chastain, T. W. * Possible Match
5. Chasteen, G. E.
6. Chasteen, Henry
7. Chasteen, J. W. * Possible Match
8. Chasteen, L. E.
9. Chasteen, S. P. * Tenuous Match
10.Chastine, J. P. * Tenuous Match
11.Chastine, W. H. * Tenuous Match
12.Chatain, C. B. * Tenuous Match

Some of these may have been recruited or conscripted from outside Alabama. W. H. Chastain could be Edward's young son, William Howell (see more about this above). Some may be members of other early Alabama Chastain families. There are five such families known besides Edward's.

1. William Chastain (3-John, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre), Edward's uncle, was a Baptist minister who served churches in North Alabama and South Tennessee. His first child was born in Alabama in 1827 and his last in 1852. The 1860 census shows him in Madison County, N Alabama (Huntsville area), so his sons are candidates for the Alabama military. By the 1870 census, William is in Illinois. However, none of his sons matches the Chastain names in the Confederate list, though PCD indicates that John D., born 1834, possibly died in the Civil War. (PCD, Volume 1, pages 77, 78, 192-194).

2. William Firth Chastain (4-Elisha, 3-Abraham, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre) had eleven children in Clarke County, SW Alabama between 1847 and 1873, the year of his death in Clarke County. His son, John W. (born 1849) is a candidate for the J. W. Chastain on the Confederate list. However, he died January 26, 1861 in the short time between the election of Lincoln on November 6, 1860, which precipitated the formation of the Confederate Army, and the first hostilities in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. This would not be unusual, though, in that there were more deaths among Civil War soldiers from accidents and disease than from battle. (PCD, Volume 1, page 198; addenda to Volume 1, page 61).

3. Rainey Chastain (4-William, 3-Abraham, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre) had children born in Alabama between 1839 and 1843 (his last child). The county is unknown, though his brother, Joseph Berry Chastain, lived in DeKalb and Cherokee Counties in NE Alabama. Rainey's son, Thomas William L. Chastain (born 1836) may be the same as T. W. Chastain on the Confederate list. (PCD, Volume 1, page 206).

4. Samuel D. Chastain (Lineage Unknown) lived in Cherokee County in NE Alabama at the 1850 census. His children ages 1-10 were all born in Alabama. His sons, William, Baldwin, Samuel, John, and Washington would all have been at or near military age during the war. William or Washington could be W. H. in the list; Baldwin could be C. B.; Samuel could be S. P.; John could be John P. and/or J. P. Without middle initials, it is difficult to know. Forum Posting by Joy Gallagher.

5. Joseph Berry Chastain (4-William, 3-Abraham, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre) had children born in DeKalb and Cherokee Counties in NE Alabama in the 1850s. His children were all girls. (PCD, addenda to Volume 1, page 63).

Chastain descendants with different last names may have served in Alabama forces, but we have not researched their names in the military rosters. Here are other early Chastain descendents in Alabama arranged by date. Some of them left Alabama before the Civil War period.

1. Littleberry LeSueur (3-Peter LeSueur, 2-Elizabeth, 1-Pierre) was married in 1813 in Madison County, North Alabama and had children there from 1819 to 1824 before having additional children in Tennessee. Some of his grandchildren were born in Alabama. (PCD, addenda to Volume 1, page 32-33, 107-110).

2. Elijah Blythe (4-Martha, 3-John, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre) had a son in Jackson County, NE Alabama in 1820 before moving on to NE Mississippi. (PCD, Volume 1, page 155).

3. Mary Lavina Chastain Bowling (3-John, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre) seems to have lived briefly in Madison County near her brother, William Chastain. Her children were born from 1821-1844 in Franklin County, Tennessee, except for one who was born in Alabama in 1826. (PCD, Volume 1, page 78).

4. Violet Chastain Akin (3-John, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre), another sister, lived in the same area for an unspecified period. (PCD, Volume 1, page 77).

5. Ammon Carter (3-Judith, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre). Ammon and his family lived in Lawrence County, NW Alabama. He was in Lawrence County by 1830 and died there before 1851. (PCD, Volume 1, page 62, 139-141).

6. Samuel LeSueur, Jr. (3-Samuel LeSueur, 2-Elizabeth, 1-Pierre) moved his family to Russell County, SE Alabama. He died there in 1841. All six of his children were married there between 1839 and 1845, and many had children there in the 1840s. (PCD, addenda to Volume 1, page 30-31, 103-105).

7. Edward Jordan Chastain (5-Rainey, 4-Edward Brigand, 3-John, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre), was a traveling teacher. He taught for a while in Marion County, Alabama, which was the same county in which Edward's family was to live. Edward Jordan married one of his students there in 1847, but they had settled in Mississippi before their first child was born in 1848, more than 10 years before Edward moved from Georgia. (PCD, Volume 2, page 94).

8. Joseph Chastain (4-Edward Brigand, 3-John, 2-Peter, Jr., 1-Pierre) had a child in Georgia in 1844, another in DeKalb County, NE Alabama in 1848, and another in Mississippi in 1849. (PCD, Volume 1, page 163).

9. James Milton LeSueur (4-James LeSueur, 3-Samuel LeSueur, 2-Elizabeth, 1-Pierre) was married in 1849 in Tuscaloosa County, West-Central Alabama, and had children born there and in Fayette County, West-Central Alabama between 1850 and 1859. (PCD, addenda to Volume 1, page 102, 103).

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Chastangs and Chestangs

The Chastangs and Chestangs are a separate family group from the Chastains. They originated in Mobile in S Alabama. See more information on this family at Chastangs and Chestangs.

Cyrus, Henry, R. B., Rufus, and W. H. Chastang served in the Alabama 2nd Artillery Battalion of the Confederate Army. Cyrus, William H., and William Rufus Chestang are also listed with the Alabama 2nd Artillery Battalion.

According to the Index to Alabama Civil War Soldiers, "The 2nd Alabama Artillery Battalion, was formed at Mobile in January 1862, with five companies later reduced to three. It was attached to the Department of the Gulf, and after January, 1864, the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. The unit was stationed at or near Mobile throughout the war and participated in the conflicts at Forts Gaines and Morgan, Spanish Fort, and Fort Blakely. With 64 officers and men, it surrendered on 4 May 1865."

Harrison Chastang and Harrison Chestang are listed as serving in the 8th Infantry Regiment, and R. Chastang in the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.

Amazingly, there are few candidates in the Chastang genealogy to match the various names listed, though there are gaps in the genealogy that allow for potential unknown candidates. Civil War rosters often include duplicate names with different spellings, so based on a search of the Chastang genealogy it is very possible that the names listed can be reduced to five:

  1. Cyrus (1843-1912)
  2. Harrison (1840-1862)
  3. Rufus Blue (1846-?)
  4. William Henry (1843-1899)
  5. William Rufus (unidentified)
If this is the case, four of the five are brothers, sons of Augustus Chastang, son of Pierre Joseph, son of Joseph Pierre, the older brother of Dr. John Chastang. A review of the genealogical notes for these brothers confirms that they all served in the Confederate Army. Cyrus and William Henry are twins, both being born on October 30, 1843. Harrison was killed in September of 1862 at the Battle of Sharpsburg at age 21.

No matches were found for William Rufus.

The National Park Service Civil War Soldier List contains names not found on the Alabama List. Click on Research On-Line; scroll down the left column and click on Colorado; click on Soldier List; enter last name and hit Submit Query.

Raymond Chastang, and August and Raymond Chestang, served in the 32nd Regiment, Alabama Infantry. The 32nd Infantry Regiment was assembled at Mobile, Alabama, in April 1862. Raymond is unknown among both Joseph's and Dr. John's descendants. There are 10 Augustus' or Augustins in the first six generations, six in Joseph's lineage and four in Dr. John's. However based on birth and death dates only three are likely candidates.

Born 1833 (3) John (2) Joseph Eugene (1) Joseph Pierre
Born 1842 (4) Augustin (3) Sidoine (2) Joseph Eugene (1) Joseph Pierre
Born 1842 (3) Catherine (2) Bazile (1) Dr. John

Of these three, the most likely is Augustin born in 1833. The descendant of Dr. John through Bazile would have been a Creole and, due to the changed social situation by the 1860s, it is not likely he would have served in the Confederate military unless he could pass for white. The same is true of the 1842 descendant of Joseph because he was also a Creole descendant of Dr. John. His lineage from Dr. John is (4) Augustin (3) Isabella [married Sidoine] (2) Marguerite (1) Dr. John.

The list also shows two Union soldiers--John B. and Zedo Chestang of the 96th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. Dr. John's middle name was Baptiste, but there is no John B. Chastang among his known descendants during the appropriate time period. However, there is one John (born 1834), and he is son of John Baptiste, Jr., so there is good reason to think he may have been John Baptiste, III. There is also one John during this period in Joseph's line, born in 1828.

No Zedo is found in either genealogy, but if this is a misprint for Zeno, there are numerous children and grandchildren of Dr. John's son, Pierre Zeno, Sr., who carry the name Zeno or the initial Z in their names.

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Major Sources

Pierre Chastain Family Association, Pierre Chastain and His Descendants, 2 volumes, Southern Heritage Press, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1995-2002.
Umphrey, Don, Southerners in Blue, Quarry Press, Dallas, 2002.
Glenda Todd, Correspondence
1st Alabama Cavalry, United States Volunteers
The Civil War in Alabama
The Civil War in Georgia
Chastang Genealogy

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