Saturday, February 12, 2011

Memphis Captain gives Promotion

Mississippi Historical Society publication of Centenary Series Vol. II 1861-1865

Excerpt 1:
The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry---Deupree

"In camp that night, the men of our company indulged in chess, checkers, cards, and other amusements, necessary to relieve the anxieties of the day. As is well known, chess is emphatically a game of war;
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and our company contained more than a dozen devotees . . . Among them was our first Captain, H. W. Foote; then, T. J. Deupree, who as First Lieutenant had been in command of the company since the death of Captain King near Florence, was an excellent player; also, Lieutenant S. B. Day, James Rives, Alec McCaskill, Frank Adams, and J. G. Deupree were more or less expert amateurs. There were others, whose names I cannot now recall. By a seeming coincidence, Lieutenant Deupree that night was ordered to appear before a board of officers, presided over by Captain Porter of Memphis, for examination with a view to his promotion. The Lieutenant rode several miles on the pike towards Nashville to face this board. On arrival at headquarters, he was at once challenged to a game of Chess by Captain Porter, who said: "Beat me and I shall add another bar to your collar, Sir." The reader will bear in mind that a First-Lieutenant wore two bars and a Captain three. There was no dodging. Porter opened the game with "Pawn to Queen 4", and proceeded speedily and skillfully to marshal his forces. The Lieutenant replied with "P to King 3", and having much at stake concentrated his mind on the game and likewise proceeded to develop his forces to the best advantage. The game was long and hotly contested. At length, by a judicious sacrifice of a rook, the Lieutenant overreached the Captain and effected mate in a style that would have done credit to a Morphy or a Capablanca. There was no need of further examination. Courage and coolness in action had been tested in actual battle many times, and intellectual power was proved in this game of war. Captain Porter and his board unanimously recommended Deupree's promotion, and thus the Lieutenant became Captain. In this connection, it may be added that he was a favorite of Colonel Pinson's, who when in command of the brigade always appointed T. J. Deupree to a staff position."

Excerpt 2:


"We were challenged one afternoon by three beautiful and amiable and expert Chess amateurs, Misses Duck Foote, daughter of our first Captain, Judge H. W. Foote, Pattie Lyle, afterwards famous as Mrs. Pattie Lyle Collins of the Dead Letter Office in Washington, and Fannie Lucas, afterwards Mrs. Featherstone of Brooksville, to play a consultation game of Chess that evening at the hospitable home of Judge Foote. In the exuberance of joy, we accepted, knowing full well the great pleasure in store for us. When we arrived, we found all preparations had been made. Two tables and sets of Chess-men had been arranged, one in each of the double parlors. Around one table sat the three queens of grace and beauty while at the other the cavalrymen took their places. Judge Foote, himself a good player also, was chosen referee by unanimous vote; for though we knew his innate gallantry would incline him to give the benefit of any doubt to the ladies, we felt sure his rare judicial temperament would make him a just arbiter of any disputed point that might arise in the progress of the game. By drawing, the ladies won the Whites and the initial move. They moved Pawn to King 4. We replied the same. Shortly after we had passed the mid-game, the cavalrymen by skillful maneuvering outwitted the opposing team and were preparing to give the coup de grace. Each side had a passed Pawn on the seventh rank. It was the Black's turn to play. After some consultation, the cavalrymen decided they would advance the passed Pawn to the eighth rank, claim a Knight, and thus at the same time check the white King and menace the white Queen. But, foreseeing this impending disaster, the ladies executed a novel strategy to prevent it. By the tintinnabulation of a tiny bell, they summoned.  .  . seven foaming glasses of egg-nog, better far, from a soldier's view-point, than the nectar of Olympian Jupiter. The ladies sipped gently, while the soldiers drained their glasses. While there is no positive proof that these last glasses were extra-strong, it is certain that an instantaneous thrill sped along the nerves of the cavalrymen, obfuscated their reasoning faculties, and kindled their imaginations. Caring naught for hazard or peril, they shoved the passed Pawn, and, forgetting their decision to claim a Knight, they called for a Queen, which did not check, as the Knight would have done. This was fatal. The ladies then quietly pushed forward their passed Pawn and very properly claimed a Queen, which checked our King and after a few moves effected a mate. Thus ended the game and an evening of delight. How sad it is now to reflect that I am the only survivor of that most felicitous evening's entertainment!"

Excerpt 3:


"We next went into camp six miles north of Grenada, at Antioch Church.  .  .  When not on duty, the men spent their time in various ways. Most of them were devout believers in Christianity and read their Bibles daily with pleasure and profit. Many indulged in sports of all kinds, a goodly number playing checkers or chess on oil-cloth diagrams spread on the ground, with pieces and men hand-carved, which they carried in their haversacks,"  

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  1. I was intrigued by Judge HW Foote's daughter's name "Duck" Foote. I mistakenly thought that such a name would be unique and easy to research.

    I did learn that HW Foote on Macon, Ga.had been married to Lucinda Frances Dade, who died in 1855. Together they had 7 kids, 3 of whom were girls:
    Ann, who married Dr. Early C. Clements, of Sharky county, Miss. ;
    Catherine Lewis, who married T. J. Patty, of Macon, Miss. '
    Emmie, who married H. M. Patty and moved to Atlanta.
    Foote later married Mary Foote and had one more daughter, Mary Frances, who married T.T. Patty of Macon, Miss.
    I don't know which of the first 3 girls was "Duck."

    Pattie Lyle was actually born Martha Louisa Lyle and married a Memphis lawyer, N. D. Collins, in 1866. One newspaper account said, ""Mrs. Pattie Lyle Collins, daughter of the late Dr. Lyle, of Macon, Miss., and one of the most brilliant Southern women in Washington, was promoted on the 27th of July (1885) from a fourteen hundred dollar clerkship in the Dead Letter Office of the Post-office Department to a sixteen hundred dollar position in the office of Foreign Mails. In addition to her official duties, Mrs. Collins has found time to win an enviable position in literature, and her contributions are eagerly sought by leading periodicals.''
    A different paper claimed: "An accomplished lady is Mrs. Pattie Lyle Collins, who is engaged in the Dead Letter Department at Washington to make out difficult superscriptions. All written languages, except Russian and Chinese, are read by her."

    Fannie Holt Lucas was born on Sept. 5, 1845. Her father was E.P. Lucas. She married James William Eckford on Oct. 17, 1867 in Macon, Noxubee Co. They had a daughther, Fannie Lucas Eckford, born Jan. 31, 1869. Her husband, James, died of Yellow Fever in Sept. 1873. Fannie was pregnant at the time. She had a son, James grew up to be a successful doctor and died on Jan. 5, 1946. The next year, 1874, her daughter also died of Yellow Fever. Fannie married Dr. John S. Featherstone who had married her first cousin Emma n 1869 (and who died a few months later) in Feb. of 1877. They had no children. Fannie died on March 9, 1899.

  2. I, too, was curious about the three chess-playing ladies and am so glad Sarah Beth posted their stories.

    The three cavalry officers were J. G. Dupree (telling the tale), Alex McCaskill, and S. B. Day, my husband's great-grandfather. While I don't know about McCaskill, Dupree and Day lived through the war, surviving many battles and surrendering at the Battle of Selma in 1865.

    Day returned to Noxubee County where he married the widow of a fellow cavalry officer, started a mercantile store, ran a school, and served as a representative to the Mississippi Legislature. He died in 1881 at age 46 from yellow fever, when his daughter, my husband's grandmother, was 4 months old. In writing of his death, the local newspaper said that the town's "grief was too deep and sacred to relate."

    Fortunately, Sam Day passed on his love of chess to many of his descendants!