Dr. Hugh William "Will" Caffey

This has been placed here through the loving persistance of my cousin, and Will's great-great granddaughter,

Sherry Anita "Calloway" Howard
From "COLLIRENE, THE QUEEN HILL" by Rosa Lyon Traylor & June Middleton Albaugh

    He was fourteen when his widowed mother moved to Collirene.  When he was nineteen, in 1852, he traveled along with his cousin, Edward Clayton Dunklin, to Charleston, South Carolina, to enter medical school.  They graduated in Mary 1855 and set up a partnership practice in Collirene, as Edward Clayton's father, Dr. James Washington Dunklin, had retired.
    His interesting description of the Charleston of his student days survives and reads:   ". . . I boarded on Queen Street the first winter, the second winter on Wentworth Street, and the third winter with a widow lady, a Mrs. Jacobs, on Queen Street.  The house was a two-story brick and was on the block between King and Meeting streets not far from the College buildings, which were situated on the same street.  The town was then of considerable size and the people very refined, cultivated and hospitable.  My landlady had two daughters and I used to accompany them to the Presbyterian Church on Sunday mornings.  It was in Charleston that I first saw pennies used.  Small boys peddled  pencils and boxes of matches about the street, which they sold for a penny each.
    "Charleston was a city of many antiquated customs, perhaps running back to Colonial times or, it may be, brought over when the settlers emigrated to this country.   I think there was much pride of ancestry among some of the citizens, and they were chivalrous, high-toned, hospitable and polite to strangers.
    "When I was in Charleston there were bells in the lofty steeple of St. Michael's Church and when the chimes announced the hour a watchman cried in a loud voice, 'All is well!'  The Battery was a favorite place of resort on Sunday afternoons and afforded a beautiful view across the bay of Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie.
    "There was a peculiar feature about certain birds which were privileged characters in the city, and safeguarded by the laws protecting them from harm.  The turkey buzzards could be seen stalking about the streets in their awkward, ungainly manner.  They were very gentle and took no notice of anyone's passing.  I suppose the motive in protecting these disagreeable looking birds was because of their scavenger habits.
    "There was a class of citizens in Charleston that were 'sui generis.'  It was composed of mulattoes who were free, many of them owning their own homes and slaves, maintaining [torn] and having no affiliation with the Negro race.  They were educated, neatly and [smudge] dressed and polite and courteous in their deportment. . .
    "There was something like 150 students in attendance.  Ten of these were from Lowndes County, Alabama.  The rate of board was $5 per week. . . .

    Hugh William's Collirene sweetheart, Jerusha May Rives, became his bride in January 1856, and for her he built the house that still stands (1975) at the foot of the Hill on the north side.  It is thought that Smart, the slave who was bought and brought by Green Rives to Collirene to rebuild Bethany Baptist Church in 1850, also built this house.  The same style wide board panelling is used in both.  Jerusha May died of "brain congestion" in the fall of 1861, leaving Hugh Willliam with three small children.
    A few months later he enlisted in the Confederate Army, Company G, Forty-Fourth Alabama and left the children in the care of his mother and his sister, Irene.  Hugh William served as a doctor in base hospitals and with the Surgeon General's department throughout the War.   He enlisted in April 1862 and was stationed in Selma, Alabama, at the induction camp.  His work was with soldiers who were desperately ill with measles, many of whom relapsed to "die from pneumonia or Typhoid fever."  However, he, by numerous letters, kept close reign on his home affairs and on the rearing of his children.  Of the War, Hugh William reported that rumors had them moving from Selma to help fight at Corinth, Mississippi.  Of the family in Selma (Uncle Hance's family), he reported:  "John's [John Thomas Dunklin] child has been very sick, but is better this morning."  For himself, he wanted "Clayton to bring my black pants, blue coat and comfort."  He had a problem--a pig had been sent to him as payment for a medical bill.  He added at the end of his letter, "Kiss the children for me.  Tell them not to forget to say their prayers.  Carrie [the future Mrs. Frank Gordon Dudley] must attend to her books so that she can read for Papa when he gets back. . . and remember me to the Negroes."
    Hugh William's regiment did not go to Corinth; in July he found himself on the way to Richmond, Virginia.  On arrival he wrote:  "Tedious and fatiguing trip, via Atlanta, Augusta, Columbia, Charlotte, Raleigh, Weldon and Petersburg. . . cars were very crowded and in connection with the heat and dust rendered the journey exceedingly disagreeable."
    From his new position, first in Anderson's division hospital at Drewry's Bluff and then with the Surgeon General in Camp Hinder near Richmond, Hugh William was able to keep tab on the Collirene boys.  All were with units of the Army of Northern Virginia and were quartered nearby.  Whether they were wounded or just sick, Hugh William would see them or have report of them.
    The next preserved letter of Hugh William's was written in July 1862, after the fighting at Malvern Hill.  In it he reported that Willie Dunklin had been wounded in two places--left shoulder and right thigh, "but was doing well," with Robert Hardy and John Hrabowski in attendance.  Hooper Caffey, his brother; Clayton Dunklin and Dunklin Pierce, his cousins, were stationed nearby in the camp.  Herb Dunklin, Dr. James W. Dunklin's son, had been at the hospital with a slight wound but had returned to camp.  Of others of the Collirene community, he reported that "Nathan May died last night" and of Hugh Hardy, son of J.W. Hardy:  "I think will die also."  Bill Stanley was shot in the face and had had his leg removed.  John (Stanley?) was wounded also, but Thomas, Hugh William's brother, was in the same battle and escaped unhurt.
    On Christmas coming, 1862, in a letter home, Hugh William mused:  "The prospect for a Merry Christmas is rather gloomy.  What momentus [sic] changes have occurred in the homes of many a happy family since the 25th of December last.  How many hearts have bled--how many hearthstones been rendered desolate. Eternity alone can reheal the anguish and unspeakable misery which has resulted from this [letter torn] and wicked war. . . let us thank God with devout gratitude that as yet our family circle remains unbroken and invoke His continuous care for preservation from every peril and speedy reunion around our fire sides at home."
    Shortly after Christmas Hugh William [Caffey] was notified that Dr. Blevius, the Assistant Surgeon of the Forty-Fourth Alabama Regiment, had resigned and that he, Hugh William, stood to be appointed to that position.  He was very tempted to go back with his old unit, but he felt that by remaining in the Surgeon General's department he could reach a surgeon's position in six months.  "Besides, the exposure is far less."
    So, Hugh William chose to remain where he was, and wrote this in early January [1863]:  "On Tuesday last I went before the Army Medical Board & stood my examination successfully for Assistant Surgeon, & today have received orders to repair to Camp Holmes, near Raleigh, N.C. for the purpose of examining Conscripts. . . .  The news recently is quite cheering, both East & West--the clouds appear to be breaking away from our horizon, & the auguries for peace at no distant day seem more hopeful. . . .  The fortune which has crowned our armys at Fredericksburg & Murfreesboro will doubtless intensify these feelings.  Confidence is fast forsaking our enemies, & despair taking its place in their hearts--a thousand hearthstones have been desolated by these battles, & they begin to ask for what purpose?. . ."
    Unfortunately, there were also those in the Southern armies asking, "to what purpose."

    The next of Hugh William Caffey's letters is the last of the preserved ones.  He had a great insight into the military situation and foresaw the coming events very clearly as history now proves.  On July 18, 1864, he wrote:
    "Dear Sis,
         "I have heard nothing from home for more than two weeks past, & am beginning to entertain some anxiety.  I am aware of the confusion existing in the mail arrangements all over the Country, & think the failure is probably attributed to this cause--The proximity of the enemy to Atlanta, & tax upon the rail road transportation in that region to supply demands of Johnston's Army I presume, interferes seriously with the carrying of mail.
    "It appears Johnston has fallen back upon the last defensible point of any strength between the enemy and Atlanta.  If he is flanked again. or loses the fight with Sherman, Atlanta will pass into Yankee hands, & the Confederacy again be bi-sected, & our own State subjected to the ruthless ravages of a merciless foe.  Should this misfortune occur this may be the last letter you will receive from me for a long time.
    "I sincerely hope & pray we may be spared this additional misfortune, but should it occur we must rely upon a merciful God to shelter & defend, & bring us together under happier auspices.  I shall try to come home this fall if it is possible to get there.
    "I have heard nothing from Tho's since writing you last.  The Yankees are between us and Petersburg, & keep the R. Road cut so that no mail passes & very little news.  Grant must be dislodged from his present position or the fall of Richmond is only a question of time.  This is a disagreeable admission, but sadly too true.  His base rests upon the James River, defended by gunboats & communications free & uninterrupted to Washington City & Fort Monroe.  His line has doubtless fortified it to the utmost.  Occupying such a stand point his object will be, not to assault any further our entrenchments around Petersburg, but to preserve intact his own, & through raiding parties harass the Country around by destroying crops, driving off stock, mules, Negroes etc., & keeping communications with Richmond & the South cut off by destroying portions of the only two roads connecting them.  In this manner The Capitol will be besieged, & no provisions can be carried in, & when the supplies already accumulated there are exhausted.  Lee must either abandon Richmond & Virginia to their fate or capitulate.  To my mind, this is clearly Grant's design, & it cannot be denied it looks feasible, & the situation is full of peril to us.  What Lee's & Beauregard's plans are cannot be divined.  The people confide in their military sagacity---pure patriotism, & the heroic valor of the Army.  They command, & feel assured that no efforts will be spared within the limits of human power, to baffle the designs of our enemy. 
    "The crisis through which we are now passing is graver than any we have been called upon to face since the war began:  the next thirty days in all probability will decide whether triumph & the prospects of a speedy peace are to gladden the hearts of our people, or by witnessing the downfall of Richmond & Atlanta insure the prolongation of this bloody and heartbreaking struggle.  May God give us the victory!
    "Please write soon.  Best love to Ma, Irene & Grandma.  Kiss the Children, & remember me to the Negroes."
   Yr Bro H

    Failing to be assigned again to service with his regiment, Hugh William served as a captain until the end of the War in the Surgeon General's department.  He was "paroled" at Salisbury, North Carolina, after the surrender of Joseph E. Johnston's Army.

      Very little would be known about war times at Collirene and the war experiences of her sons, except for the letters of Thomas Caffey and his brother, Dr. Hugh William Caffey.  Luckily, a dozen and a half of each brothers' letters have survived the years.  From Hugh William's letters something can be seen of Collirene life as he wrote about many things--his children's education, management of the Negroes, plantation business, and faith in the "cause."  Interestingly, being centrally located at Richmond, he was able to pick up bits of news of all the village's servicemen and to relay their requests for their various needs.
    Thomas Caffey's letters presented the combat soldier's point of view.  Unlike his brother Hugh William, he was in the midst of the bitter conflict and gave a first hand account of the ordeals of his Black Belt cousins, his friends, and himself.  Together, Thomas and Hugh William's letters are the basis for most of the Civil War chapter. [of the Collirene book by Rosa Lyon Traylor and June Middleton Albaugh.]

    In a memorial tribute to Dr. Hugh William Caffey, printed in the CONFEDERATE VETERAN, February 1920, Joe H. Bowman of Franklin, Tennessee, wrote about the Collirene Hospital.  He had been one of the patients there and reminisced:
    "I first became acquainted with Dr. Caffey in the winter of 1864, when he came home on furlough.  I was at that time an inmate of his home in Alabama, being one of a number of soldiers who were wounded on the 22nd of June, 1864 near Marietta, Ga., and sent to Montgomery.  Finding all hospitals in that city full, we were sent out to a field hospital on the banks of the Alabama River.  The good people of Collirene in Lowndes County, sent Robert Rives to get some of the wounded for them to take care of.  The last night in June about twenty-five of us were put on a boat, and when we reached Benton the next morning we were met with carriages and other pleasure vehicles and taken ten miles through the country to one of the prettiest hamlets one would wish to see.  A great round hill with a level top was where the Dunklins and Pierces lived, while Dr. Caffey's mother, two sisters, and his three children lived on the north side of the hill, and Mr. Robert Rives on the south side.  Mrs. Lizzie (Ann Elizabeth) Pierce gave the use of her handsome home as a hospital, each and all of the good citizens contributed toward the deeping up of the home, for such in truth it was.  The elderly ladies took week about as matrons.  Some of the wounded boys went out in the neighborhood, but most of us stayed at the home, so Dr. Clay [Clayton] Dunklin, who gave his services as surgeon, would not have to ride so much.  It was an ideal home.  Close by were the schoolhouse and the Baptist Church, and such an elegant and cultured citizenship!  Is it any wonder, then, that a man growing up with such surroundings should be a model Christian gentleman?"
    Hugh William Caffey was paroled in Salisbury, North Carolina, and traveled to Alabama.  He arrived in Montgomery with fifty cents in his pockets and was lent a horse and carriage by his Caffey cousins in which to drive the final long miles to home and to his children.


After his return he married Miss Alabama Gordon, October 25, 1865.  She was the daughter of Major Francis Gordon of Gordonville.  At the wedding the bride's nephew, Frank Gordon Dudley, spotted Hugh William's eight year old daughter, "Carrie," in a little red dress and swore he was going to wait for her to grow up and would make her his own.  He did on November 21, 1875.
    Alabama presented Hugh William with five more children, including twin boys.  They continued to live in Collirene where he practiced medicine and managed what was left of his plantation.  After Reconstruction he served the community and the county in many ways.  In 1880, having been elected to a county judgeship, he moved his family to Hayneville.  He should have never left the Hill, for the heat of Hayneville convinced Hugh William that he had to leave Lowndes permanently for the cooler climes of Chilton County, Alabama.
    After the move (1886) Hugh William continued his practice of selfless service to his community, Verbena, and to the Baptist Church.  On his death at eighty-six, October 15, 1919, one of his children remarked, "My feeling is more of thankfulness that my father was spared so long than of sorrow that he is gone.  In his long, useful, happy life, he has left me the best heritage that was possible."
    Hugh William, though a country man, was a most outstanding person.  Dr. W.B. Crumpton, a widely known Baptist minister and state church official, said in an obituary that, "He was reared in the best circumstances of life...culture and wealth and religion were a trinity of circumstances that surrounded him."  Together with his innate gentility, these circumstances produced an individual of the highest instincts.  Hugh William's cousins and his son, Francis Gordon Caffey, became nationally known in the military and judicial worlds, but his renown lay in those human qualities which made him beloved by all.

    The first children of Hugh William Caffey and Alabama Gordon were twin sons.  It was as though the Almighty was giving Hugh William a dividend for being so faithful and trusting during the hard years after his first wife's death, and the years during the War.  And "Dr. Will" must have been delighted in the brilliance of the little twin, Francis Gordon Caffey, and in his rise to become the United States Attorney and Federal Judge for the Southern District of New York.
    Being Alabama Gordon's first babies, Francis Gordon and his twin, William Hooper, were born in Gordonville in the home of their grandmother.  They were reared and schooled in Collirene until 1900 when Dr. Hugh Caffey moved his family to Hayneville.

    Hugh William Caffey wrote personal remembrances of his grandfather THOMAS in his Bible.  Excerpts from them follow:  "I remember [THOMAS CAFFEY] as a stout man about 5 feet in height weighing probably 200 pounds, of jolly disposition, and very fond of relating anecdotes....He had a remarkable memory (as did his grandson, Thomas) and related in minute detail .... He owned negroes and in consequence of his easy disposition, was indulgent to them.... His wife...strict disciplinarian, and an energetic, industrious, hard working business woman ... strict in her dealings with her servants...and it was amusing to see the efforts that Grandfather made to hide their delinquencies from her, to keep her from punishing them."

BETTY SMITH BEARD:  On the 1880 Lowndes County census he is in Collirene (Image 29/76).  Hugh W. is 47, a physician.  Alabama is 38.  Hugh T. is 20, Francis G. is 11, William H. is 11, Evelyn is 7, Guy H. is 1.  His brother Thomas, 49, lives with them, and is a farmer.


~~ 6th Alabama Infantry Regiment ~~
Company E Roster
CAFFEY, Hugh W., (Private Company E, 6th Alabama Infantry Regiment) Dr. Hugh William Caffey was born February 20, 1833 in Lowndes County, Alabama; died October 15, 1919 in Chilton County Alabama the son of Jane Caroline Dunklin and Hugh Patrick Caffey. He married 1st January 2, 1856 in Lowndes County Alabama to Jerusha May Rives born March 5, 1837 in Lowndes County Alabama; died March 26, 1861 and buried Collirene Cemetery, Collirene, Lowndes County Alabama the daughter of Jerusha May Paisley and Green Rives. Hugh married 2nd to Alabama Gordon.

Children with Jerusha May Rives are:
1st) Caroline May Caffey born February 14, 1857 in Lowndes County Alabama; died March 20, 1939 in Lowndes County Alabama and married November 21, 1875 in Lowndes County Alabama to Francis "Frank" Gordon Dudley.
2nd) Pelelia "Maude Mae" Caffey born June 17, 1858 in Lowndes County Alabama; died August 12, 1938 in Verbena Chilton County Alabama and married February 17, 1876 in Dallas County Alabama to John Smyly Catts.
3rd) Dr. Hugh Thomas Caffey was born December 16, 1859 in Lowndes County Alabama; died March 15, 1927 in Lowndes County Alabama and married September 6, 1887 to Lillian Dawson Minter.

Children with Alabama Gordon are:
1st) Francis Gordon (Frank) Caffey and his twin, William Hooper Caffey, born October 28, 1868 in Gordonsville, Lowndes Co., Alabama.  Frank Caffey never married and died September 20, 1951 in Verbena, Chilton Co., Alabama.
Harvard Law School:
Howard College, Alabama, A.M., 1887
Harvard University, A.B., 1891
Harvard University, A.M., 1892

Professional Career:
Lieutenant Colonel, Third Alabama Infantry, Spanish American War
Private practice, Montgomery, Alabama, 1894-1902
Judge advocate general, Office of the Governor, Alabama, 1900-1902
Private practice, New York City, 1902-1913
Solicitor, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1913-1917
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, 1917-1921
Private practice, New York City, 1921-1929
Hooper died June 12, 1946 in Columbus, Georgia and married Elizabeth Olive Hunt.
3rd) Evelyn Caffey born August 24, 1872 and died December 05, 1956.  She married Gaston Reedy Buford.
4th) David Hamilton Caffey born September 23, 1874 and died June 14, 1875
5th) Guy Hamilton Caffey born August 17, 1878 and died May 02, 1965.e married Mamie Barbour.

Submitted by James McFerrin Key of Conway Arkansas  http://home.att.net/~al_6th_inf/company_e_roster.htm