Becton Eckford, Sergeant, 4th
Tennessee Infantry Regt, CSA
William Wallace Eckford, Sergeant, 4th Tennessee Infantry Regt, CSA
Becton Eckford and his younger brother William Wallace Eckford must have
been very close, even for brothers. They were about two years apart in age,
served in the same company during the War Between the States, and they
married sisters on the same date one year apart. Becton and William were
born in Scotland to Thomas and Delitha Eckford. Becton was born on 28
January 1839 and William was born in late 1840 or early 1841.
Thomas brought his wife and children to the United States between 1844 and
1847. An older brother of Becton’s, Fredrick Thomas Eckford, would serve as
a Confederate cavalry officer and would not survive the War Between the
Becton was the first to enlist. He was 21 years old. He joined the 4th
Infantry Regiment, Provisional Army of Tennessee (State Troops) at
Germantown, Tennessee on 15 May 1861 for one year “unless discharged
sooner”. Becton was enrolled by Colonel W.H. Carroll and assigned to
Captain John B. Turner’s Company where he was appointed or elected 3rd
The 4th Infantry moved immediately to Randolph, Tennessee where it was
assigned to the River Brigade under the command of General John L.T. Sneed.
By 17 August the regiment had moved to Fort Pillow, Tennessee and was
mustered in to the Confederate States Army. Becton remained a Sergeant
after the mustering in. From Fort pillow the 4th Tennessee, as the regiment
was now known, moved to Columbus, Kentucky. From Columbus, the regiment
patrolled the area around Columbus, Kentucky and New Madrid, Missouri and
down to Island No. 10. During this time William, who had most likely been
traveling with the regiment unofficially, was mustered in as a Private by
Captain J.A. Smith.
After the fall of Fort Donelson the 4th Tennessee moved to Corinth,
Mississippi, arriving on 2 April 1862 with Becton, William and 510 of their
comrades. One week later they participated in the Battle of Shiloh. Becton
and William fought in Brigadier general Charles Clark’s Division on 6 and 7
April 1862 and were instrumental in the capture of a Federal artillery
One hundred ninety-one men were killed or wounded in the attack on the
battery, and nearly half of the 4th Tennessee fell in the two days of
battle. Among the wounded was Sergeant Becton Eckford. He was severely
wounded in the leg and was in the hospital at Corinth on 10 April 1862.
About this time the 4th Tennessee was reorganized and paid and Becton was
demoted to Private on 25 April. On the same day his younger brother William
was promoted to 2nd Sergeant. Perhaps William took the wounded Becton’s
place. From Corinth, William and Becton withdrew with their regiment to
Tupelo, Mississippi and then moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee via Mobile and
Montgomery, Alabama. During the hasty retreat, William lost his weapons and
On 17 August, Braxton Bragg’s Kentucky Campaign began. This campaign took
Becton and William through Pikeville, Sparta and Gainesburg, Tennessee and
on to Munfordsville, Kentucky. The latter city fell to the 4th Tennessee on
19 September 1862. The regiment lost 85 men in the Battle of Perryville,
Kentucky on 8 October 1862 and then retreated through Knoxville, Bridgeport,
Tullahoma, and ended up in Murphreesboro, Tennessee. At this time the 4th
Tennessee was consolidated with the 5th Tennessee Infantry.. Becton and
William were assigned to Captain John T. Barret’s Company.
At the Battle of Murphreesboro on 31 December 1862 and 1 January 1863,
Becton and William and their comrades formed the right wing of Stewart’s
Brigade. On 3 January they retreated to Shelbyville and went on outpost
duty at Guy’s Gap until 28 June 1863.
William was “reduced to the ranks” (i.e. demoted to private) by Lieutenant
Colonel Andrew J. Kellar on 23 March 1863. He was sent to the hospital on
15 August 1863 and stayed there until the end of February 1864. On 7 March
1864, Private William Wallace Eckford became a prisoner of war. He was
either on his way home to recuperate, discharged because of his health, or
returning to his unit in Dalton, Georgia. William was arrested near
Bolivar, Tennessee and sent to the Military Prison in Louisville, Kentucky.
He arrived in Louisville on 17 March 1864. On 2 April 1864, William was
sent to Camp Chase, Ohio by order of Brigadier General Burnbridge and
arrived on 3 April. Willaim remained at Camp Chase until his release on 9
January 1865. On this date William signed his Oath of Allegiance and went
home to Tipton County.
Older brother Becton, meanwhile, remained with the 4th Tennessee and fought
in the Battle of Chickamauga on 19 and 20 September 1863 and the Battle of
Missionary Ridge on 26 November 1863. From Missionary Ridge, the 4th
Tennessee covered the retreat of the Confederate forces to Dalton, Georgia.
The 4th Tennessee went to winter quarters at Dalton. Becton was promoted to
Corporal on 30 April 1864.
>From 7 May through November 1864, Becton and the 4th Tennessee were
engaged in the attempt to stop Sherman’s march to Atlanta. Becton fought in
now-famous battles at Dug Gap, Mill Creek Gap, Resaca, Ellsbury Mountain,
Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, and Jonesboro, Georgia. On 12 August, Becton
was paid for the first time in eight months.
>From Jonesboro, Becton and the 4th Tennessee marched north to Spring Hill,
Tennessee in General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee. They arrived in
Spring Hill on 29 November 1864. On 30 November, the 4th Tennessee planted
its colors on the Federal works in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Two
weeks later at the Battle of Nashville, the 4th Tennessee was in the Granny
White Pike area and assisted Major General Bedford Forrest’s cavalry troops
in covering the retreat of the Army of Tennessee to the Tennessee River.
They arrived at Corinth, Mississippi on 5 January 1865.
The 4th Tennessee was given a thirty day furlough and ordered to assemble at
West Point, Mississippi. From West Point, Becton and the 4th Tennessee
traveled by rail to join General Joe Johnston’s last stand in North
Carolina. They reached Bentonville, North Carolina on 19 March 1865 and 9
April the 4th Tennessee was assigned to the 3rd Consolidated Infantry
Regiment commanded by Colonel James D. Tillman.
Corporal Becton Eckford, Company I, 3rd Consolidated Tennessee Infantry
Regiment was surrendered at Gainesville, North Carolina on 26 April 1865 and
sent to Memphis, Tennessee. Becton was paroled at Memphis on 25 May 1865.
William married Annie E. Warmath on 12 December 1865 and one year later
Becton married Annie’s older sister, Mary J. “Mollie” Warmath on 12 December
Becton became a saloon keeper. Becton and William’s younger sister, Martha
G. “Mattie” Eckford married their brother-in-law, John N. Warmath. John
Warmath had also served in the 4th Tennessee. Thus, the Eckfords and the
Warmaths were joined together by three marriages and one war.
Mollie died in August 1887 and Becton’s death followed in December 1887.
Five of their six children were under the age of eighteen.