John Parrott III, my 1st cousin 3 times removed, was born on September 30, 1800, in Parrottville, Cocke County, Tennessee. He is the 4th of 9 children born to John Parrott Jr. and Elizabeth Hall. He moved with his family to Fayette County, Ohio in 1814 but returned to Parrottsville in 1820. Here he met and married Mary Nancy Copeland in 1825. They quickly moved back to Fayette County and had 2 children, a son, and a daughter. Mary died on March 8, 1850.
John then married Rachel Whitcomb in 1852. They had no children. When the Civil War broke out, John signed up with the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, also known as Mosby’s Rangers. It was a battalion of partisan cavalry in the Confederate army during the Civil War. They were known for their lightning strike raids on Union targets and their ability to consistently elude pursuit, the Rangers disrupted Union communications and supply lines.
The 43rd Battalion was formed on June 10, 1863, at Rector’s Cross Roads, near Rectortown, Virginia, when John S. Mosby formed Company A of the battalion. Mosby was acting under the authority of General Robert E. Lee, who had granted him permission to raise a company in January 1863 under the Partisan Ranger Act of 1862, in which the Confederate Congress authorized the formation of such units. By the summer of 1864, the battalion had grown to six cavalry companies and one artillery company, comprising about 400 men. After February 1864, the Confederate Congress revoked the authority of all-partisan units, except for two, one of which was the 43rd Battalion. The battalion never formally surrendered but was disbanded on April 21, 1865, after Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House to Ulysses S. Grant, but not before attempting to negotiate a surrender with Major General Winfield S. Hancock in Millwood, Virginia.
What to call the Confederate 43rd Battalion was a matter of contention during the war. The members of the battalion were referred to as soldiers, partisans, rangers, and guerillas. The Union viewed them as a loose band of roving thieves. Northern newspapers and Unionists referred to them as guerrillas, a term of disgrace at the time. One of Mosby’s men stated in his memoirs published after the war that “the term guerrilla was not applied to us in the South in any general way until after the war, when we had made the name glorious, and in time we became as indifferent to it as the whole South to the word Rebel.” Mosby himself avoided overtly militaristic words like “troops” or “soldiers” or “battalion” in favor of the more familial “Mosby’s Men” or “Mosby’s command”
After the war, John returned to Fayette County, Ohio and it appears he was able to put aside his actions during the war and live a respectable life. In his obituary, it states that “Mr. Parrott was highly respected by all who knew him. He was a kind husband and father, and a zealous and consistent church member.” John died on June 26, 1873. I have never discovered why he had the nickname “Blackbearded”.
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