August 29, 2012 in Editorials

Standing on the hillside of the farm of James (Jim) and Barbara Young of Etowah, Tenn., one would never dream that 150 years ago these same beautiful pristine hillsides were only a few miles away from the sounds of battle. A raid took place on Starr Mountain, and both Union and Confederate troops most likely marched atop these hills just days before. Jim Young’s farm has a view of the mountains and just several hundred yards away, you can get a clear view of tombstones in a cemetery where some soldiers were buried that fought in the Confederate and Union Armies.

In McMinn County, there were brothers against brothers and fathers against sons during the Civil War. Jim Young began to learn about some of his ancestry several years ago and because he was such an avid history buff, it sparked the fire that was building. During Jim Young’s research, he found out that authors Bill Atkins and Kenneth Langley, both from McMinn County, had written a book telling about the Raid on Starr Mountain and how families in the area didn’t always take the same side. Jim learned that he had several uncles from his mother’s family who served in Thomas’s Legion – in fact there were three different men who served from the Postell family.

Mr. Young is often regarded as a General Robert E. Lee look alike. He will tell you that after studying General Lee, he found they had several things in common – their hair was totally white by middle age, and short legs and a long torso. He told me that General Lee appeared to be very tall riding his horse, but once he got off Traveler, (the name of General Lee’s famous horse), General Lee stood no taller than Mr. Young. Young also owns a horse that looks just like Traveler, and is so named and of course is the horse he rides during historic portrayals and Civil War re-enactments.
Because of his fascination with the history of the Civil War a number of years ago, Young became interested in the different organizations that help to preserve the history of the Civil War and those who fought. He has belonged to Sons of the Confederate Veterans in McMinn County, where he worked hard to help lead and earn monies to clean up different burial grounds, and to replace or place headstones of those who fought in the Civil War. He also has done exhibits and re-enactments all over the southeast.

Over the last few years, Young has also schooled himself in knowledge of those who served in the Union and can relate vividly the different battles that took place in the Civil War, who served and fought in them, as well as the dates of the battles and the different outcomes.

“After reading a lot about President Lincoln, I truly believe he really wanted to preserve the Union but we don’t all agree with how he went about it,” Young acknowledged.

Jim Young has met and befriended many over the years who share his love for history of America, not just about the Civil War, but including the heritage and history of the Cherokee Indian.  From the Young’s ancestry he found that his Indian heritage is quite strong and interestingly enough, it entwines with the history of the Civil War battles at times as well.

For several years, Mr. Young, along with his wife Barbara and friends, the Thomas Wright and Joe Barkley families, as well as many others, have participated in re-enactments of battles that took place in different areas over the southeast. They have gone to schools, museums, organizations representing preservation of history and to many memorials for veterans that served during different battles through the years. They set up camps at festivals, expos, July 4th celebrations, and many traditional events to demonstrate how the battles were fought, the guns and cannons that were used, period of dress, traditional foods, books that were read and games played. They often join the Daughters of the Confederate Veterans and Daughters of the Union Veterans who hold fashion shows. All the groups hold re-enactments to celebrate the freedom that all participants acknowledge with great pride as they strive to preserve the history of our country.

Because of the history within Jim’s county, he wanted to hold something that represented Etowah and the area close by, called Starr Mountain, while helping preserve the history. Jim and Barbara Young, with the help of a lot of other portrayers of the Civil War will hold a special event Saturday, Sept. 29-30 at the Young farm, located at 724 County Road 475, in Etowah, Tenn. This event will be a re-enactment of the Confederate and Union Battle known as the “Raid on Starr Mountain”. Everyone is invited to bring a chair or blanket and enjoy two days of family fun and history. There will be booths with crafts and merchandise of the time period and today. There will be great food and family fun and festivities on-going all day, with music by two award-winning bluegrass bands called Reliance and Just Us. You will enjoy the portrayals of the generals that lead the battles as well as Thomas Wright who will portray President Abraham Lincoln. The Young farm is set up where the generals and their camps will stay the weekend and enjoy the fellowship while sharing stories about the history.

There will also be an antique car and tractor show and representatives with Cherokee heritage will be demonstrating the Living History of the Cherokee Indians. The cost will be $5, with children under 10 free. Etowah Masonic Lodge #653 will sell BBQ and there will be exhibits and a swap meet of Civil War memorabilia.

For details or vendor information, call Jim Young at 423-263-3070, Tom Wright at 865-482-1680 or Joe Barkley 865-804-5942. Visit their web site at http://raidonstarrmountain.com. Make sure you plan to attend this event representing 150 years passing of history.

By Maxine B. Jones, Ocoee, Tennessee