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Godfrey Nave Heatherly (August 9, 1834 - June 29, 1899) served as a corporal in Company H, 13th Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry.

Personal life

Godfrey Heatherly was born August 9, 1834 in Carter County, Tennessee to Thomas and Elizabeth (Benden) Heatherlay.[1] He married Amelia Cummings Humphrey (1842-1907) with whom he had ten children.[2]

Civil War service

Before he enlisted, Heatherly and his brother, George, were conscripted by the Confederate Army. As Unionists, they went into hiding, but were discovered by William Brooks, a conscription officer from the 59th Tennessee Infantry and the son of a "wealthy rebel citizen, who lived on Stony Creek." The Heatherlys lived about six miles from Brooks and were described to be on "friendly terms" with the family. William Brooks was devoted to the rebel cause and got together a posse to find the Heatherly brothers. The posse found them "about 2 1/2 miles southwest of the old Speedwell furnace on Stony Creek" when one of the Heatherly brothers opened fire on Brooks "with a musket or shot-gun loaded with slugs, killing him instantly." Brooks had been advised by a Unionist friend that morning not to go, but he refused on the grounds that it would appear cowardly if he did not. According to the regimental history, "This event was greatly deplored by many Union people as well as Confederates as young Brooks was a well-known and a very popular and promising young man."[3] The Heatherly brothers became wanted men by the Confederates. In retaliation, a series of vicious events led to the execution of Eldridge Tipton, a lieutenant in the 37th Tennessee Infantry, by George Heatherly. In retaliation for the killings of Brooks and Tipton, the Heatherly's youngest brother, Thomas, was executed by a rebel force under the command of a Captain B. H. Duvall who commanded the Confederate force at Elizabethton. Area Unionists were afraid to bury Thomas Heatherly, so Major Henderson M. Folsom, a "humane gentleman", who was home in Elizabethton on leave retrieved Thomas Heatherly's body and with a group of Unionists had him buried.[4]

Heatherly enlisted as a private in Company H on October 1, 1863 in Carter County, Tennessee for a period of three years and mustered in February 25, 1864 at Nashville, Tennessee. He was appointed corporal on February 29, 1864.

He is described as 30 years old, 5' 11" tall, dark complexion, blue eyes, dark hair, and by occupation a farmer.

Heatherly is listed as present for duty until March 7, 1864 when he was left sick with chronic diarrhea at General Hospital No. 19 in Nashville. He returned to duty on June 27, 1864.

Heatherly mustered out with the regiment on September 5, 1865 at Knoxville. He had last been paid to August 31, 1864, was owed $7.23 from the government for clothing, and was owed a $100 bounty.

Post-war life

Heatherly was appointed postmaster of Stoney Creek in Carter County on October 27, 1897, which he held until February 25, 1899.[5]

He applied for an invalid's pension on May 14, 1879.[6] Heatherly died June 29, 1899 in Hampton, Tennessee and is buried at Heatherly Cemetery in Carter County. His wife applied for a widow's pension on July 6, 1899.

On August 15, 1883, The Greenville Herald reprinted this story from the Elizabethton Mountaineer:

"Mr. Godfrey Heatherly, of Stony Creek, comes to the front with the following snake story: While out picking whortleberries on Holston mountain one day last week he ran across a large den of rattlesnakes. He killed 24 of the largest ones and as the sun was getting low, he hadn't time to finish counting the small ones. It wasn't a very good day for killing snakes, either."


  1. The family's surname is spelled several ways. In the regimental records, his surname is spelled "Hetherly".
  2. 1900 U.S. Census, 12th Civil District, Carter County, Tennessee.
  3. Scott & Angel, pp. 322-323.
  4. Scott & Angel, pp. 323-327.
  5. Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-1971 (Washington, DC), NARA Microfilm M841.
  6. His pension was increased from $24 per month to $50 per month after a "long deferred claim". See, The Mountaineer, July 7, 1899, p. 3.

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