Confederate Germantown: Shelby Grays, 4th Tennessee Infantry Historical Marker
Germantown, TN

Address: 2276 West Street, Germantown, TN 38138


Historical marker recounting the 4th Tennessee Infantry, erected by the Tennessee Civil War Trails. The inscription reads:

Although in 1860, Germantown numbered fewer than 300 people, almost every able-bodied man—85 of them—enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861. They formed the Shelby Grays and were designated Co. A, 4th Tennessee Infantry. The regiment, under Col. Rufus P. Neely, was composed of companies from Collierville, Memphis, Raleigh, and other west Tennessee towns. With great fanfare from Germantown residents, newly sewn flags from the ladies, and a carnival atmosphere, the new unit was mustered into service in May 15, 1861. The men boarded the Memphis & Charleston Railroad train to Memphis and then took a steamboat to the training camp at Fort Wright and then to Fort Pillow.

They first saw action on April 6-7, 1862 at the Battle of Shiloh, where the 4th Tennessee captured a Federal battery at a cost of almost half their 512 men. The regiment, with the Army of Tennessee, later served in the Battles of Perryville (1862), Murfreesboro, Chickamauga (1863), Missionary Ridge, Atlanta (1864), Franklin, and Nashville, where they joined Forrest’s cavalry to fight a successful rearguard action in December 1864.

In January 1865, after a 30-day furlough, the regiment assembled again at West Point, Mississippi. It then rejoined the army under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and was present at the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina in March 1865. It surrendered at Greensboro, North Carolina on April 26, and was paroled on May 1. At war’s end only half of Germantown’s Shelby Grays survived to return home and start life anew.

Pvt. John Anderson Kirby (July 26, 1842-Nov. 19, 1929) was born near Danville, Virginia. His family moved to Germantown early in 1860. He was a bookkeeper in a local store when he enlisted in the Shelby Grays at age 18 in May 1861. He fought at Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862. On November 25, 1863, he was shot in the leg and captured during the Battle of Missionary Ridge, and imprisoned at Rock Island, Illinois. He was later released on parole on April 15, 1865, took a steamboat back to Memphis, and returned to Germantown.