Corporal James Copeland

By Kent Worley

He did not own a plantation. He did not own slaves. He was not wealthy. He was just a simple farmer with a family from Roane County, Tennessee. During the war of northern aggression he saw his county split in half. Half of the men fought for the Union and the other half for the Confederacy. The courthouse, most of the local churches, and many farms were looted and burned.

Choosing sides was a tough decision for him. His family first came to Virginia in 1607, served in the House of Burgess, and helped found North Carolina and Tennessee. His great-grandfather and grandfather served the cause of liberty in the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

But the fight became personal when his church was destroyed and his family threatened. In response, Cpl. James Copeland joined the Confederate Army to fight and defend his homeland. He joined the Tennessee 7th Mounted Infantry. His unit fought at some of the fiercest and bloodiest battles. He served in the Battle of Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, and lastly at the Siege of Petersburg.

At the conclusion of the war, he was paroled and returned to his farm and family.