Capt. Hinson in the Civil War
John W. “Jack” Hinson, “Old Jack” (1807–1874) was a farmer in Stewart County, Tennessee who operated as a Confederate partisan sniper against Union forces in the Between-the-Rivers region of Tennessee and Kentucky during the American Civil War.
Hinson, a prosperous plantation owner of Scotch-Irish descent, was neutral at the outbreak of the war but took up arms after two of his sons were executed as suspected bushwhackers by Federal troops; their heads were cut off and stuck on the gate-posts to Hinson’s home. Hinson used a custom made 50 caliber 41-inch barrel Kentucky Long Rifle to target Union soldiers more than a half-mile away on land, transports, and gunboats along the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River, killing as many as a hundred. Hinson also served as a guide for Nathan Bedford Forrest in his assault on the Union supply center at Johnsonville, Tennessee in November 1864. He was the father of Robert Hinson, who served as the leader of a highly effective partisan band in the Between-the-Rivers region until his death in combat on September 18, 1863. Jack Hinson was never apprehended despite the commitment of elements of four Union regiments to pursue him, and survived the war, dying on 28APR1874 (according to the 16MAY1874 Clarksville Weekly Chronicle, via the Dover Record) in the White Oak/Magnolia area of Houston county, Tennessee. He is buried in the family plot in the Cane Creek Cemetery (with a different birth year of 1793 and death year of 1873), just off White Oak road (near McKinnon, Tennessee). A marker was placed in the Boyd Cemetery far away to the North, in the Land-Between-the Lakes (LBL) area.
He is commemorated in a roadside marker in Kentucky, and his story has been told in two books by Tom McKenney;
- Battlefield Sniper: Over 100 Civil War Kills, Tom C. Lt. Col. McKenney
- Jack Hinson’s One Man War.
Was Jack Hinson at The Battle of Nashville?
We will never know for sure, but this would have been Hinson’s last chance to bag more of the 5th Iowa Cavalry that he relentlessly hunted. The 5th regiment had brutally executed his two civilian sons earlier in the war. They were assigned to the 6th Cavalry Division under Brigadier General Richard W. Johnson, of MG Wilsons Corp, at the Battle of Nashville. The Confederate Cavalry covered the ground around Charlotte Pike from the western flank of The Army of Tennessee, to the Cumberland River.
Hinson was a compatriot of Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest and worked with him on several operations. Some of Forrest’s regiments were assigned to Nashville under General Chalmers, on the Cumberland River, during the Nashville campaign. Hinson was familiar with the area and had been with Forrest on the daring Johnsonville raid only weeks before. He had a history attacking naval vessels with his .50 caliber sniper rifle. The Navy and the 5th Iowa were in Nashville in December 1864. Nashville was only three counties away from his home near Dover, Tennessee.
There are reports of “deserters” from the 5th Iowa. Why would any US Army solider desert at the climax of the Union Civil War victory? – the last major battle of the American Civil War. Were they never found? Buried in unmarked graves? Assumed to have run off?