The McSpadden Affair
In this part of Georgia, slavery was certainly present but, due to the nature of the soil, it was not on the scale required by the plantation system. As a result, the question of secession was more of an issue and many in the upcountry were opposed to it. During the latter part of the war, renegade “scouts” representing both sides were roaming the hills at will with little or no official sanction. Much violence and lawless acts were committed by both sides. The most prominent southern manifestation of this development was a band of guerrillas under the leadership of John Gatewood, an illiterate mountain man from White County Tennessee. The Union counterpart to Gatewood’s “scouts”, and its bitter rival, was a group known at the John Long – Sam Roberts gang.
Ernest ( another account says Emmet) and Christopher McSpadden were brothers who were born and raised in nearby Walker County and had answered the call early in the war. Late in the war, in March of 1865, they were detached from their earlier units and were close to their Walker County home. One of the brothers had became ill and was taken to his mother’s house in Walker county by his brother to recuperate. Word soon reached them that the Long – Roberts gang knew they were there and were on the way to capture or kill them. As a precaution, the brothers relocated to another house in Dirt Town in nearby Chattooga County. The Long – Roberts gang soon found them. In the ensuing shoot out, one of the brothers was shot on the porch defending his sick brother within. The gang soon forced entry and finished off the remaining brother in brutal fashion.
And it gets worse – the story then goes that Rev T. C. Crawford learned of their deaths and sent one of his slaves to dig a grave for them at the Bethel cemetery. The story also says that the Long – Roberts gang prevented the slave from finishing the grave under a death threat, but Rev. Crawford then arrived on the scene with the bodies on a wagon and persuaded the gang to let the brothers be buried at Bethel. We have seen several versions of this sad affair regarding the details, but the basic facts are the brothers were killed by the Long – Roberts gang and buried at Bethel. A sad tale from the crypt but an example of the times in a land that had been devastated by the conflict.