13th Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry USA Wiki

Martin Luther Helton (January 1842 - aft. 1900) served as a corporal in Company K, 13th Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry.

Personal life

Martin Helton was born in January 1842 in Hawkins County, Tennessee to Joseph and Nancy (Sandidge) Helton. No record that he ever married has been found.

Civil War service

Helton enlisted as a private in Company K on September 13, 1863 in Crab Orchard, Kentucky for a period of three years and mustered in January 26, 1864 at Nashville, Tennessee. He was promoted to corporal on December 1, 1864.

He is described as 21 years old, 5' 7" tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, dark hair, and by occupation a farmer.

Helton is listed as present for duty until December 13, 1864 when he was captured at Kingsport, Tennessee. He was confined to a prison at Richmond, Virginia on December 28, 1864 where he remained until February 17, 1865 when he was paroled at Camp Parole, Maryland. From there he was sent to Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio, but no date of arrival has been located. Helton received a 30 day furlough beginning March 1, 1865. When he returned to the regiment was not recorded.

Helton mustered out with the regiment on September 5, 1865 at Knoxville. He had last been paid to August 31, 1864, owed $12.49 to the government for clothing, had been paid a $25 bounty, and was owed a $75 bounty.

Post-war life

Helton returned to Hawkins County after the war and resumed farming. Former rebel soldiers and secessionists (many of them Klansmen) had violent exchanges with members of the Loyal League, of which Helton may have been a member. In 1869, a Unionist minister in Hawkins County was openly beaten, which prompted Helton to write Governor Dewitt Senter a letter about the incident. He reported that the minister had been robbed, stripped, beaten, and ordered to leave the county, and if he returned he would be killed, all because the minister had a congregation of white and black parishioners. Helton further complained that county officials were too intimidated to punish the Klansmen and Helton, himself intimidated, asked the governor not use his name if his letter was published. Helton specifically requested a commission to recruit a special company of the State Guard to punish the rebel vigilantes. Senter did not grant the request. [1]

Helton applied for an invalid's pension on August 4, 1890. He died sometime after 1900 and the location of his grave has not been found.


  1. John D. Fowler, Mountaineers in Gray: The Nineteenth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. (University of Tennessee Press, 2004), p. 193. See also: Ben H. Severance, Tennessee's Radical Army: The State Guard and Its Role in Reconstruction, 1867-1869 (University of Tennessee Press, 2005), p.