Reuben A. Potter (February 22, 1845 - September 13, 1930) served as a private in Company I, 13th Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry.
Reuben Potter was born February 22, 1845 in Watauga County, North Carolina to Enoch and Hannah Elizabeth (Stout) Potter. He married Elizabeth Jane "Louisa" Wallace (1848-1923) with whom he had at least eleven children.
Civil War service
Potter enlisted as a private in Company I on January 15, 1864 in Taylorsville, Tennessee for a period of three years and supposedly mustered in October 25, 1864 at New Market, Tennessee. His brother John Potter was serving in Company I at the time.
Potter is described as 18 years old, 5' 7" tall, dark complexion, blue eyes, and dark hair, and by occupation a farmer.
Meanwhile Potter is reported in the records of the 4th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry as enlisting as a private in Company H on June 15, 1864 at Elizabethton, Tennessee. This would have been after enlisting in the 13th Tennessee Cavalry in January. His muster record with the 4th Tennessee Infantry for July 1864 has him recorded as present for duty. He is then listed in the September/October returns as deserting on September 18, 1864 and that he owed the regimental sutler $100. On December 31, 1864, company records state that he was restored to duty by Special Order Number 104, Headquarters 4th Division, XXIII Corps issued by Brigadier General Jacob Ammen with loss of pay from August 15 to December 1, 1864.
His only surviving muster record in the 13th Tennessee Cavalry is for July and August 1864 and he is listed as present for duty, but it is noted that he had not been mustered in. He was charged with desertion December 7, 1864 at Knoxville. However, Potter's service record is very complicated. He is definitely included in the company's records as enlisting and being mustered in.
The Adjutant General's Office of the U.S. War Department notes in a document dated January 3, 1887: "The record of enrollment, muster-in and service of this man in this organization [the 13th Tennessee Cavalry] is cancelled, as he deserted (without having been mustered in) prior to June 15, 1864, and he was a deserter from Co H 4 Tenn Vols, while serving in this organization (and at date of his muster-in Oct 25/64) from Sept 1864 to Decr 7/64 when he again deserted and rejoined Co H 4 Tenn. Vols".
Another record from the War Department on the same day states: "This man deserted [the 4th Tennessee Infantry] Sept. 18, 1864, returned Dec'r. 1, 1864, and was restored to duty by S.O. No. 104 Hedqrs Dept. of East Tenn. and 4 Div. 23 Army Corps dated Dec'r. 5, 1864 without trial but upon conditions which appear to have been complied with. The charge of desertion does not therefore does not stand against him but the record of the fact that he was absent in desertion from September 18, 1864 to Decr 1, 1864, cannot be expunged[.]"
Potter's service records are further complicated by a record dated February 20, 1908 from the Adjutant General's Office of the U.S. War Department stating: "It has ... been determined by this Department from the records that the charge of desertion of December 7, 1864, in the case of this soldier is erroneous, and that he was discharged [from] the service December 1, 1864, by reason of his return to duty as a member of Company H, 4th Tennessee Infantry Volunteers."
When the 4th Tennessee Infantry mustered out on August 2, 1865 at Nashville, Tennessee he owed $104.93 to the government for his clothing; he was listed as present for duty every month from his return to the regiment to muster out. When the 13th Tennessee Cavalry mustered out on September 5, 1865 at Knoxville, it is noted that he owed the government $2.26 for clothing in kind or money advance and that he was not furnished with a discharge due to desertion.
Potter applied for an invalid's pension on June 28, 1880.
He died September 13, 1930 in Trade, Tennessee and is buried at Potter Cemetery Cemetery in Trade with a government headstone that notes his service with Company H, 4th Tennessee Infantry.
- 1900 U.S. Census, Johnson County, Tennessee.
- A final note states: "Notation of Sept 19 74 is cancelled." What record this note is referring to has not been found."