Honor Cross Awarded After 64 Years Time

From the San Antonio Express 3/39/1929:
(Special Correspondent)

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CUERO, Tx, March 28-Sixty-four years after John H. Pridgen, a young "Johnny Rebel," had returned to his home on the Chattahoochee River from four years fighting vainly in defense of the Southland, he has been awarded a Cross of Honor. A life-time has passed since that day so long ago, but today the white-haired 80 yr-old veteran wears proudly the badge of his bravery and tells vividly of those troublous days of the 60s.
A native of Alabama but a Texan by adoption, Pridgen has spent the years since reconstruction at his home in this country, having settled on Price's Creek at the close of the Civil War, bringing with him his young bride and establishing his home where today stands the thriving little town of Thomaston. Asked how he chanced to choose a home so far away from that of his birth, Pridgen tells an interesting coincidence by which at the Battle of Vicksburg, he met a Pridgen from Texas of no known relation that with whom was begun a friendship that was renewed after the war through correspondence resulting in the Alabama boy's decision to come to Texas
Of his experience in the war between the states, the old veteran also gives an interesting recital, telling of his enlistment in the 87th Alabama Infantry under Captain Skipper, of the first engagement in which his company entered, followed finally by some of the outstanding battles of the war in the far South. We had a tough time at the Battle of Vicksburg. The fighting was hard and the rations were scant. Mule liver and pea bread were the principal food, "and they were pretty good eating," he declared. An occasional "parole of honor" gave the soldiers of the South a brief respite from the months of hardship and fighting that followed the fall of Vicksburg.
The young Alabamian was in fighting at Lookout Mountain and at New Hope church, sharing the fortunes of his company which finally brought them to the aid of their fellow-Confederates at the seige of Atlanta during which young Pridgen was captured.
The remaining 12 months of the war were spent in the Federal prison at Camp Chase, Ohio. When released Pridgen made his way by devious ways back to his home on the Chattahoochee, where he rejoined his parents and younger brothers and sisters. The family fortunes were depleated and the slaves were gone, but there was reason for rejoicing in that their home was still standing and the family happily reunited.
The Cross of Honor which has come to Pridgen as a memento of those days of service in the Army of the Confederacy is the badge of distinction given to the soldiers of th Lost Cause by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

From copy of newspaper article on file with The Center for "American History" The University of Texas at Austin.

Correction to the above article by: James E. Pridgen, Sr.

"Scanning the Internet, my son, James E. Pridgen, Jr., has found that there is little or no information concerning our segment of the Pridgen family in Texas. In addition, there is a major mistake in print concerning a post Civil War honor received by my grandfather, Mr. James Hill Pridgen. The records erroneously stated that my great uncle, Mr. John Bowden Pridgen received this award. Further information about these subjects will be presented.
First I would like to demonstrate the error concerning the award of the Southern Cross of Honor to my Grandfather, Mr. James Hill Pridgen, on his 89th birthday in 1929. An error made by the editor of the Cuero, Texas newspaper, "The Record", has confused these two names in such a way that the mistake has been continued in the San Antonio Express Newspaper and later into the files of the University of Texas history. I have a copy of the original article with the mistaken name from the Cuero Records of 1929, which will be presented here. Next I have a copy of the medal in my safe keeping drawer and herewith present a picture of it which bears his name, the name of the award with his age on the back of the medal which was awarded on the occasion of his 89th birthday in 1929. A further point of evidence of this mistake is that my great uncle, Mr. John Bowden Pridgen, was born in 1848 and died in 1898 as seen in picture; he died 31 years prior to the time that my grandfather, Mr. James Hill Pridgen, received the award. The final evidence is seen on the headstone on my grandfather, James Hill Pridgen, the date he was born in 1840 and died in 1937; both of these headstones for my great uncle and my grandfather are seen today in the Thomaston Cemetery.
We will begin with our segment of the Pridgen family in Texas and we'll consider my grandfather's lineage first and then my great uncle, John Bowden Pridgen.
My grandfather, Mr. James Hill Pridgen, came to Thomaston in 1870, to visit and explore the possibility of moving there. After visiting in Thomaston he went back to his home near Milton, Florida, where his wife and two children were and returned with his family to Thomaston, Texas in 1872 where he remained until he died in 1937 at the age of 97.
He and his wife, Margaret Hart Pridgen, sailed from Pensacola, Florida on a sailboat called the Ajax in 1872, landing in Indianola, Texas, and traveled by oxcart to Thomaston, Texas where they lived until they died. My grandmother died in 1913, and my grandfather died in 1937, both of whom are buried in the thomaston Cemetery and the tombstones are presented here. Their children wer Jenny Pridgen, died at 20 years of age in childbirth delivering twins; Dr. James Edward Pridgen; Lila Pridgen, Dr. James Howard Pridgen; and Warren Lewis Pridgen.
James Hill Pridgen went to Thomaston in 1871 at the recommendation of Wiley Pridgen, Jr., a fellow P.O.W. whom he met in prison camp at Vicksburg during the Civil War. Wiley Jr's father, Wiley Sr., another segment of the Pridgen family from North Carolina, came to Texas with Stephen F. Austin Colony in 1836 to Gonzales and Wiley Jr. moved to Thomaston in 1849 or earlier."
James E. Pridgen, Sr.

The following was taken from the Genealogy Report by Betty Baade:
From the Cuero Record

Funeral services were held at Thomaston for James Hill Pridgen, 96 Civil War veteran, and resident of DeWitt County for the past 64 years. Pridgen died at his home. He was a member of Hood's Brigade during the Civil War, seeing service in both the siege of Vicksburg and the Fall of Atlanta.

He was a native of Alabama, coming to Texas in 1872, landing at Old Indianola, and a few years later taking up residence in Thomaston, where he lived until his death.

As per Dr. James E. Pridgen, James Hill Pridgen moved to Thomaston in 1872

According to the Soldier's Application For A Pension, #43462, filed 11/14/1927, approved 11/14, 1927 and reproduced from the holdings of the Texas State Archives, J. H. Pridgen Sr was born in Woodville, Henry County, Alabama, was 87 on date of application, had lived in Texas for 55 years in DeWitt County, Texas. The command in which he served was organized in Alabama. He served 3 years and 2 months. He enlisted March 29, 1862, at Woodville, Alabama and was discharged at Camp Chase, Ohio on May 13, 1865. He was in Company E, 37, Alabama Infantry, C.S.A. . His commanders were J. F. Dowdell, Col. and J. L. Skipper, Capt. .

There is a typed note attached to the Soldier's Application For A Pension, from the War Department, The Adjutant General's Office, Washington, dated 10/14/1927: "Respectively returned to...Dr. J. T. Fowler, Commandant Jefferson Manly Falkner Soldiers Home of Alabama, Mountain Creek, Alabama. The records show that J. H. Pridgen, (also borne as James L.H. Pridgin) pvt., Co. E, Ala. Inf., C.S.A., enlisted Mch. 29,1862, at Woodville, and on Co. muster-in roll dated Auburn, Ala., May 2, 1862, (only roll on file) his presence or absence is not stated. Union Prisoner of War records show him captured July 22, 1864, near Atlanta, Ga., sent to Military Prison, Louisville, Ky., transferred to Camp Chase, Ohio and released at that place, on Oath of Allegiance, May 13, 1865. Place of residence shown as Henry County, Alabama. J. F. Dowdell (or Dewdell) served as Col. of the above named Regt. and J. L. Skipper as Capt. Co. E." Signed Lutz Wahl, Major General, The Adjutant General , by A. G. H. and referencing file #43462.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jewell Pridgen (Donnelly), daughter of Dr. James Edward Pridgen (known as "Dr. Ed"; b. 3/12/1872, d. 5/7/1934) and wife Josie McManus [(Pridgen); b. 6/3/1873, d. 12/5/1924] found the following "Biography Of James Hill Pridgen", original author was Nellie Murphree, superintendent of Thomaston schools, which she wrote on the 94th birthday of James Hill Pridgen: Biography of James Hill Pridgen On April 30, 1840, in their home in Woodville, Alabama, Pa (John G. Pridgen) and Ma (Bethany Carity (Pridgen) were rejoiced over the arrival of a blue eyed, bald headed baby whom they named James Hill. Pa Pridgen was a slave holder and at an early age James selected little kinky headed Clem as his chief playmate. On school days James hurried home to teach what he had learned to Clem. As James grew to manhood he became more and more interested in the people of Clem's race. When the Civil War came on, he was very eager to do his bit toward helping the South to keep and care for its slaves. He joined the army and was trained at Auburn, Alabama. He fought at Iuka, under General Hood at Rasaka, and at Lookout Mountain. During the long siege at Vicksburg, James' sense of humor helped him and his comrades to laugh and joke over their meals of mule meat and pea bread. After his capture at Vicksburg, he was among the group of prisoners exchanged for Federal soldiers. Soldier James was soon back on the firing line. He was captured again at the fall of Atlanta and taken to Camp Chase, Ohio. There the prisoners were glad to get out in the open air even to dig ditches and build forts - anything to get out of that unsanitary, lice-infested prison. The close of the War brought release from this place. James hurriedly worked his way home and was the first of his regiment to reach there. His parents had heard he was dead and it was a happy surprise when he awakened them at two o'clock one morning. As soon as he had rested up, citizen Pridgen took up logging on the Yellow River in Alabama. Later the timber business took him to Milton, Florida. One day while "sitting on a log, petting his dog", romance came his way. Soon the log had another occupant. Before long, Miss Maggie Hart had become Mrs. James Hill Pridgen. About 1872, Mr. Pridgen made a visit to his Texas friend, Wiley Pridgen, whom he had met up with during the War. Then he decided to move his family to Texas and go into the store business. Mrs. Pridgen, little Lilla - now Mrs. C. W. Oakes - and young Edward - Thomaston's beloved "Dr. Ed" - came from Pensacola, Florida to Indianola, Texas on the storm tossed lumber vessel, Ajax. From Indianola they came over the newly constructed railroad to Thomaston. In addition to his duties as store keeper, Mr. Pridgen was for many years Thomaston's postmaster. Later he became a successful farmer. There were three Texas born Pridgen children - Jennie, who died in young womanhood; Warren, a real estate agent of San Antonio; and James Howard (Pridgen), who is now an efficient pathologist at the Burns Hospital at Cuero. Uncle Jimmy Pridgen is a splendid Christian gentleman. As long as he was able to get about, he was always in his place at Sunday School and Church. I love him because he is kind and interested in children. He did many helpful things for the school. For the past two years Uncle Jimmy has been confined to his home most of the time. All the community regret that he cannot be among us as he used to be. We love him and hope this April 30th, his 94th birthday - may have many happy returns and that he may live to set a new record of long life!

Provided by Jimmy Pridgen

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