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In Memory of Uncle Preston Lewallen

The hand of Providence having removed a friend of mine from the scenes of his temporal labors, and his friends and neighbors who profited by his examples being desirous of testifying their regards for his memory and expressing their earnest and affectionate sympathy with the broken household that survives him, we therefore tenderly condole with them in their bereavement and devoutly commend them to Him who looks with pity and compassion upon the widow and the fatherless.

“Uncle Press,” as everyone called him, was born in Jackson county, Alabama, January 13th, 1832. He spent his boyhood on the farm with the family until he reached manhood, when he married and began to cultivate and cherish the universal desire of humanity to make his imprint upon the world. But it seemed that Providence had willed a cruel and desolating war, and Alabama’s sons were to play their hand in the tragedy.

With but few words, which usually characterized his actions, he sided with the Southern Confederacy and was engaged in many of the hottest battles, not only in this war, but ever engaged in by mortal men. I heard him say: “I was one of the boys that helped whip Gen. Rosecrans’ 60,000 veterans at Chickamauga.” He said that the Union forces thought they had Gen. Bragg on the run from Chattanooga, when he, joined by Gen. Longstreet, suddenly turned and met them at Chickamauga on the 19 and 20 of September, 1863, where was fought one of the most tremendous battles in the world’s records. He said starvation had destroyed so many of the artillery horses that there were not enough left to haul the cannons, and that he and two of his comrades dragged a 10-pounder up Missionary Ridge where it was manned effectively with the other guns. The morning of September 19 was clear and bracing. Mellow with the richness of autumn, the foliage of the “hawk’s nest” scarce tinged with purple and gold, while from behind every bush shot the glimmer of a rifle barrel and shined the sharpened bayonet as Braxton Bragg galloped from peak to peak commanding and watching the evolutions of the two armies making ready to play the play of death. Yet Uncle Press was there and his soul was not shaken.

But not alone in war did he prove himself a man. When the war was over and his country lay in ruins, his home in ashes, he began his life over without any animosity. In 1874 he moved to Sharp county, Arkansas, and stayed a few years, then came to Pope county and settled on lower Gumlog where he cleared up a large farm and lived in simple unpretentiousness.

He believed in and lived a strict member of the Primitive Baptist church, and never doubted for a moment the doctrine of predestination and foreordination, and was happy in the belief that he had been elected.

About his house there were none more hospitable. To his friends there were none truer. His words were few but his purpose steadfast; sympathetic in conversations but reserved in actions. He leaves a wife, one daughter, Mrs. A. J. Matthews, one son, W. P. Lewallen, and many grandchildren and friends who mourn his untimely death.

— J. T. Thompson, in The Atkins Chronicle


W. Preston Lewallen, my great-great-great-grandfather, was born in January 1832 and passed from this life on February 13, 1909. Although I can’t count on seeing him in heaven, I am proud of his service in the Confederate Army.
—Benjamin Bruce

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