NAME: James Franklin Holliman
DATES: 1861 to 1865
HIGHEST RANK: First Lieutenant
UNIT: 58th Alabama Infantry Regiment
SERVICE RECORD: Enlisted as a private in the 9th Alabama Battalion, Company B, for one year. Participated in the Mississippi campaign (Shiloh, Farmington and Blackland). He reenlisted in September 1862 as a first lieutenant and was transferred to Mobile, Ala. In April 1863, the 9th proceeded to Tullahoma, Tenn. They had several engagements, especially at Hoover’s Gap. In July 1863, two additional companies were attached to the 9th to form the 58th Alabama. In winning the Battle of Chickamauga, they took great losses. The 58th moved to Missionary Ridge, Tenn., and were overwhelmed on November 25, 1863. Holliman was captured and spent the remainder of the war in prison on Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie. He was paroled on June 13, 1865.
James Franklin Holliman was the second of 13 children born to Uriah Holliman and Mary Polly Lucas Holliman. James was born in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, on January 28, 1839, but Uriah soon moved the family north into Fayette County, Alabama, where he obtained Federal homestead land for farming.
When the clouds of war covered the South, a wave of sympathetic enthusiasm swept over the family. Uriah and four of his seven sons joined the Confederate Army. The war would take its toll: Of the five who enlisted, only three survived.
James enlisted for a year as a private in the 9th Alabama Battalion, Company B, in Fayette, Ala., in September 1861. The following spring, the 9th proceeded to Corinth, Miss., and was engaged at Shiloh and Farmington. At Blackland, Miss., the battalion lost about 20 killed and wounded, and disease wreaked havoc at Corinth and Okolona, Miss. Among those who died at Okolona were Uriah and James’ brother Charles Daniel.
James Holliman reenlisted in the 9th Battalion in September 1862 as a first lieutenant and was sent to Mobile, Ala., remaining there until April 1863. At that time, the battalion proceeded to Tullahoma, Tenn., and was placed in Maj. Gen. Henry D. Clayton’s brigade. The 9th was in several small engagements, especially at Hoover’s Gap. In July 1863, at Tullahoma, two additional companies were attached and the 58th Alabama Infantry Regiment was formed. The 58th was in the thick of the fighting at Chickamauga on September 19-20. On the 19th, the 58th captured four pieces of artillery, and on the 20th they broke the enemy line in a suicidal charge, with the loss of 148 out of 254 men. In November the 58th was merged with the 32nd Alabama.
The consolidated regiment had 400 present at Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863, but sustained 250 casualties. Holliman was captured and shipped to a military prison in Louisville, Ky., and then to the infamous prison for Confederate officers at Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie, near Sandusky, Ohio. There he remained until he was paroled and took the Oath of Allegiance on June 13, 1865. He was then described as being 26 years of age and 5 feet 9 inches tall with a dark complexion, dark hair and gray eyes.
After his release, Holliman returned to Fayette County to resume farming. He became a schoolteacher and married Rebecca Utley Stewart, his wartime sweetheart, on July 2, 1865.
“Becca” bore Holliman four children; she died in 1883. He remained single until he was 57 (1896), when he married a former student, Bertha Lee Powell, 20. She bore him five children. Holliman, 67 when his last child was born, died in 1911.
Originally published in the February 2006 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.