118 Forest Avenue
P. O. Box 2049
Cartersville, Georgia 30120
|David Bailey Freeman
By David B. Parker and Alan Freeman
Historical Photo courtesy of P.M.B. Young chapter
United Daughters of the Confederacy
His fellow Confederates called him "Little Dave." He was the smallest soldier in his unit, and he rode a spotted pony. He later recalled that whenever his unit rode into a town, "By the diminutive size of myself and steed, I attracted much attention." During his two year enlistment, Little Dave witnessed the bloody fighting at Chickamauga, and during the last months of the war fought against Sherman's Campaign for Atlanta, seeing action in Resaca, Cassville, and Kennesaw Mountain with General Joseph E. Johnston.
Little Dave was David Bailey Freeman, the youngest Confederate soldier, and the youngest soldier of both armies to serve in the Civil War, enlisting at the ripe old age of eleven. Today, he is one of the "forgotten folk" buried in Cartersville's Oak Hill Cemetery.
David Freeman was born May 1, 1851 in Ellijay, Georgia, the son of Beverly Allen Freeman, a lawyer, and Mary Ann Reynolds Murray. During the first year of the Civil War, David's brother Madison Montgomery Freeman, almost a dozen years David's senior, raised a cavalry company in Gilmer County. Madison worried about offering his unit for Confederate service because he suffered from "White Swelling" (phlebitis, an inflammation of the veins in the legs), so much so that he was almost crippled at times, and was afraid he would not be accepted for service. Madison asked their mother if David could accompany him to camp as his aide; David was only 10 years old, a month shy of being 11, yet his mother consented. Offered the position of marker with the company's surveyor team, David enlisted in the 6th Georgia Cavalry, Company D, on May 16, 1862, just two weeks after his eleventh birthday.
Freeman moved to Cartersville in 1888 and began the longest and most memorable segment of his journalistic career. William and Rebecca Felton had established the Cartersville Courant in 1885 as a means of promoting their political views. The constant work of editing a weekly newspaper proved too strenuous for the couple, however, and in 1886 they sold it to A. M. Willingham and Douglas Wikle, who renamed it The Courant-American. Freeman had become friends with Willingham and Wikle while still editor of the Advertiser, and the editors often exchanged news and views (favorable) of each others hometowns. This is the newspaper Freeman purchased, with partner Elam Christian, in July 1888.
After 1921, David Freeman became increasingly involved with the United Confederate Veterans, moving from leadership in the local camp to Brigadier General of the Northern Brigade, Georgia Division, of the U.C.V. Thus did the youngest private in the Confederate army become General Freeman. (Incidentally, one of the charter members of Cartersville's Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp, now known as the Stiles/Akin Camp, was Robert C. Freeman, David and Callie's youngest son.) During this time he also wrote a book documenting the pioneer citizens of Atlanta and a series of articles for The Journal Sunday Magazine on the lives of "old Atlantians," and composed several poems and songs, including the once renown "Dixie, the Air That Thrills."
Late on the evening of June 18th, 1929, at the age of 77, General David Bailey Freeman quietly and peacefully died of a heart attack in his apartment in Atlanta, Georgia. He had been ill for several days, and had just returned from a Confederate Veterans Reunion in North Carolina ten days earlier. At the time of his death, he was making plans to appear before the state legislature to address the need of increasing veterans pensions. Freeman's body was transported by train to Cartersville, for burial beside his wife's remains in Oak Hill. Among his pallbearers was his successor to the Cartersville News, Milton Fleetwood, and at the graveside services, Mrs. A.B. Cunyus sang sweetly, "When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder," the soldier's last muster call to his heavenly home.
David Parker is Associate Professor of History at Kennesaw State University. Alan Freeman, a computer software designer (and genealogist) currently living in Texas, is the great-great-grandnephew of David Bailey Freeman.
|Learn more about the youngest Confederate soldier in "David Bailey Freeman" on page 20 of the Spring 2001 edition of Cartersville Magazine, on sale at newstands now.|
|© 2001 David Parker|
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