There was no such thing as “Robertson County” during the American Revolution. There were however, patriots who would later live in this area and be designated as Robertson Countians.
There would be patriots from here during the War of 1812, the Seminole War and the Texas Revolution.
Next would come the Mexican War. Tennessean James K. Polk pledged in 1844 during his campaign for the presidency to annex Oregon and Texas. His campaign promise would come true – and he would become President.
In 1846, war erupted between the United States and Mexico over boundary lines. When the call for 2,800 Tennessee volunteers came, 30,000 responded. The War of 1812 had provided the initiative for calling Tennessee the Volunteer State, but the Mexican War made the nickname valid.
Historians tell that in the summer of 1846, state officials set up a lottery system to decide who would fight and who would stay home.
Jo C. Stark had organized a regiment in Springfield. They did not “win” the lottery and did not go to Mexico.
Tennesseans would however, have another opportunity to fight outside the country by the end of the 1800’s during the Spanish-American War. Regiments would go to Cuba and to the Philippine Islands. At the time, Spain was attempting to suppress rebellions in both places.
The fighting in Cuba lasted four months in 1898. In May of that year, the U.S. Navy had begun to attack in the Pacific. The Battle of Manila Bay lasted seven hours with only one fatality. That sailor died of heat stroke. (Woolen uniforms were being worn.)
President McKinley later in the summer sent 10, 000 troops to the Philippines. After confronting the Spanish, there were battles with Filipino rebels, mosquitoes, the jungle, malaria, the heat and so on.
The First Tennessee Infantry was the only Tennessee regiment to see combat at that time and it “served with gallantry.” The regiment was made up of men from Nashville, Waverly, Columbia, Lawrenceburg, Clarksville, Big Sandy and Springfield.
Samuel Ogburn (S.O.) Murphey of Springfield was commander of a company in the first Tennessee Regiment. Later he purchased the “Springfield Herald” and was its editor for many years.
There would be no end to war in the next century – the 1900’s and there would be no end to the soldiers whose lives would be lost.
Louis Leffew, John Baxter Powell, William Binkley Johnson, Douglas Murphey – these are only four of the names on the monuments around the Robertson County Courthouse.
And wars continue. A t-shirt may be purchased that reads, “Land of the free because of the brave.” Perhaps the saying is trite, but it is also true.
May we remember those who fought and honor those who are fighting – not on special days, but every day.
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.