Foundation's fall meeting features talk about David Preston Sherfy's Civil War service

   The Cedar Grove Foundation held its fall meeting in the Nelson Room of the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library on Oct. 20.
   Jackie and Dawn Peters of the Watauga Association of Genealogists were the opening speakers. They spoke on the various sources and resources used to research Civil War ancestry and history. Resource materials ranged from government military Internet sites to local and state library collections.
   The main speaker was George Holly. Holly, a descendent of David Preston Sherfy, grew up in the coalfields of Virginia and worked on the Clinchfield Railroad and became a farmer and educator while maintaining a continued interest in Civil War history. Holly was a welding instructor at Daniel Boone High School and was voted "Tennessee Vocational Association Educator of the Year" in 1980.
   Holly spoke about Sherfy, a man willing to give up his life as a volunteer in the Union army for his convictions and the cause for which he believed. Sherfy left Jonesborough for Bulls Gap in 1855. Eventually he traveled to Louden, Tenn., and secured work as a sections hand, building railroads. Once he saved up enough money, he rode the Arkansas Railroad 14 miles and walked the rest of the way to his sister's home in Arkansas. Once there, he was hired as a miller, running a mill for a large farm owner for whom he worked for until the Civil War broke out.
   After moving to Savanah, Tenn., in March 1862, Sherfy took part in the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7. He was there with company H, first Illinois Cavalry, Army of the Mississippi Unattached. After Shiloh, Sherfy moved through Franklin, Tenn., to Corinth, Miss., and joined Company C, Eleventh Illinois Infantry in August 1862.
   Sherfy saw action in various battles between May 18, 1863, to Feb. 10, 1865. While in the trenches in Vicksburg, Miss., a Confederate sniper shot Sherfy, grazing his head and knocking him unconscious. The Confederate mini ball that grazed his head is now in the collection of war mementos owned by his granddaughter, Margaret Sherfey Holley.
   After the assaults on Vicksburg, May 19 and May 22, the Eleventh Infantry moved to Haines Bluff, Ark., and to Mechanicsburg May 29, 1863. The unit returned to Vicksburg for the surrender July 4.
   Their next expedition was to Natchez, Miss., July 12-13, and they occupied Natchez from July to October. They moved back to Vicksburg, where they remained until July 19, 1864.
   It was here that George Holly's grandpa, David Preston Sherfy, joined the third U.S. Colored Cavalry in March 1864, with the rank of sergeant and acting lieutenant.
   In 1865, while crossing a swollen stream in a brigade near Hamburg, Ark., Sherfy's horse fell on him. Having been attended to by the surgeon, a black trooper by the name of Jackson of the Third U.S. Colored Cavalry was detailed to care for Sherfy.
   The Third U.S. Colored Cavalry, made up of white officers and black troops, ranked as one of the finest cavalry regiments in the army of the Tennessee. They displayed the highest degree of discipline, courage and aggressiveness in battle, while never violating the laws of honorable warfare. The majority of the men were considered "mulattoes," and in many of them, the Caucasian blood was physically predominate.
   Sherfy, serving as a part of the Third U.S. Colored Cavalry, took part in the April 1864 march to the Tenus River and Penhook, Miss., expeditions to Benton and Black River, Miss., on May 4, 1864, expeditions to Jackson, Miss., and Pearl River, Miss., the fight at Grand Gulf on July 16, 1864, and the expedition from Vicksburg to Natchez, Port Adam and Woodville, Miss.
   George Holly had two great-grandfathers serving in different armies during the war. His great-grandfather, Lasanders Steffey, ran supply wagons for the Confederate army and was captured by General Custer near Appomattox, Va., and his other great-grandfather, George Washington Campbell, was a Cherokee Indian who served as a blacksmith with the Union army in Virginia.