Major Robert McFarland

Kinsman of Charles Christmas

   Robert McFarland was born in Jefferson County Tennessee on April 15, 1832.  As a boy he gave no promise of distinction but was quiet, unobtrusive, somewhat melancholy and apparently indifferent, if not indolent.  His education was such as the old field schools of the time offered supplemented with a brief

term at Tusculium College.  His occupation was not of his own choosing but was chosen for him by his family.  His brother William was the main family member that chose Roberts occupation.  The choice, however, was a happy one.

   Being directed toward the study of law, he entered his studies at the age of 19 in the office of his brother-in-law, the elder Judge Barton, at Greenville.  Securing a license in 1854, he entered upon the the practice of law in Green County.  For a time he was partnered with Robert Johnson, son of future president Andrew Johnson.  In 1859 he married Jennie Baker of Greenville.  They moved to Danridge in Jefferson County Virginia.

   He entered the Confederate Army as a volunteer with the 31st Infantry in the later part of 1861.  The 31st., three hundred and sixty three strong,  was organized in Knoxville on March 28,1862 under Kirby Smith, commander of the department of Tennessee.  McFarland rose to the rank of Major.

   On May 3td 1862, the Regiment was reorganized as the 39th Infantry under command of William M. Bradford.  On September 18, 1862 it set out to join General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee.  The 39th joined just after the Battle of Perryville and joined the retreat back to Knoxville.  The March was 700 miles and the men were often without food, shoes or shelter.

  In December they were sent to Vicksburg where they participated in the battle and suffered through the bombardment.  After being captured at Vicksburg and paroled, the Brigade was divided with half with one half staying in east Tennessee and the other to the Valley of Virginia under command of McFarland.

  Under the command of Early, Breckenridge and W. E. Jones, McFarland's men fought in many battles including Kernstown, Darksville, Martinsburg, Monoceacy, Hagerstown, New Hope, Piedmont, and Winchester.  Out of 118 men, 46 were killed or wounded.

   The Regiment was then reunited at Bristol Tennessee and operated in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.  It participated in the Battles of Greenville, Morristown, Saltville, Marion, Wythville and Bulls Gap.  They were marching to re-enforce General Lee when they received the news of his surrender.  The commander, General Echols, disbanded the Regiment and sent them home. Some of the men refused the order and went with Jefferson Davis as part of his escort.  They were captured and paroled in Georgia.  The 39th War was over.

   After the war he resumed his law practice and filled several temporary vacancies on the Tennessee Supreme Court.  In 1871 he was appointed to a permanent seat on the Court with his term ending in 1886 but he died on October 2, 1884.

   He is resting in Morristown Cemetery, Morristown, Hamblen County, Tennessee.


Click on image to enlarge