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A Brief History of the 3rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry

By Jeff Berry

Field and Staff of the 3rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, 1898
The field and staff of the 3rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry

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The 3rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry served out its term of service within the continental United States.

Unit History:

The Third Tennessee Volunteer Infantry was mustered in to federal service between May 18 and the 23, 1898 at Cherokee Park; a southwest suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. The regiment consisted of 46 officers and 948 enlisted men from National Guard units in East Tennessee.

The Third was the first regiment to be mustered into service from the State of Tennessee. With the overflow of men wanting to serve with this regiment, they filled out the company ranks of the First and Second Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. All three Tennessee regiments were encamped at Camp Bob Taylor named in honor of the Governor at the time of mustering into service.

The Third Tennessee regiment was the first of the Tennessee regiments to leave Camp Taylor on May 23, 1898. They were sent to Camp George H. Thomas at Chickamauga Park, Georgia as part of 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Corps. The brigade was commanded by Col. Osmond D. Clark of the 1st Vermont Volunteer Infantry. The 3rd Tennessee was brigaded with the 1st Vermont Volunteer Infantry and the 8th New York Volunteer Infantry. In June the brigade was commanded by Brig. Gen., Leonard W. Colby, United States Volunteers.

The Third Tennessee was under the command of Colonel James Perry Fyffe, son of a civil war colonel with the Union army. James P. Fyffe began his military career with the Tennessee National Guard and was made Captain of the Lookout Mountain guards. He was sent to Coal Creek, Tennessee to help stop the uprising of miners in 1890-91 and received his commission as Colonel of the Third Tennessee Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish American War. His military career went on to include service in the Philippines and World War One.

General Order number 111 from the War Department, dated August 2, 1898, had the Third Tennessee reporting to Major General J. F. Wade, U.S. Volunteers for organization and deployment to Puerto Rico. This order was received by the men of the Third with a shout of excitement and patriotism at the thought of being sent overseas. However, the order is withdrawn within three days and the armistice was reached by the United States and Spain ten days later on August 12, 1898. The Third was not sent to Puerto Rico and the regiment soon settled back down into the daily activities of camp life at Chickamauga Park.

Camp Thomas is overcrowded, had improper sanitation, drainage, water supply, and a high disease rate among the regiments. By mid-July and early August, most of the regiments were relocated to states north or south of Chickamauga Park in hopes of providing better camping grounds for the Army regiments. The Third Tennessee is ordered to Camp Shipp at Anniston, Alabama on August 28, 1898, after spending three months at Camp Thomas.

The regiment left Camp Thomas, Chickamauga Park, Georgia, marched to Lytle, and boarded a train for Camp Shipp on September 5, 1898. The 3rd Tennessee was in the Second Brigade, Second Division, 4th Army Corps, along with the 2nd Arkansas Volunteer Infantry and the 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. The brigade was commanded by Brig. Gen. Leonard W. Colby, U.S.V. The Third Tennessee regiment arrived at Camp Shipp and went into winter quarters until they were mustered out of service on January 31, 1899.

At the time of mustering out, the regiment consisted of forty-seven officers and 1052 enlisted men. During the Third Tennessee's enlistment, two officers were discharged and one officer died of disease. Forty enlisted men were transferred, twenty-one discharged for disability, thirty-eight discharged by order, eighteen men died of disease, one man committed suicide, and seventy-three men deserted. A total of fifty officers and one 1,343 enlisted men were accounted for on all muster rolls.


Correspondence relating to the War with Spain and Conditions Growing Out of the Same Including the Insurrection in the Philippine Island and the China Relief Expedition. Vol. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902) 530-533, 535,538-539, 619. -Spanish American War Camps

Statistical Exhibit of Strength of Volunteer Forces Called into Service During the War with Spain; with Losses from All Causes. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899).

The Chattanooga Times (Chattanooga, Tennessee 1898, January 1926)

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