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Matthew Nixon Love, Colonel
Posted by: Edwin Peeler (ID *****1333) Date: May 11, 2003 at 09:14:32
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Matthew Nixon Love, Colonel b 21 Feb 1831, d 15 Dec 1887, Henderson County, NC. married Mary Ann Johnson 1867, she was b 5 Sept 1845, d 17 Oct 1922. Both are buried on the Love Family Cemetery, Henderson County, NC.

Colonel Matthew Love

He was a mountain man and he was proud of it. He was proud of these majestic Blue Ridge Mountains where he was born and raised and where he spent his life except for the four long years that he marched, fought, bled and suffered. He walked tall among men; tall, slim and erect, although during the last part of his life he walked with a limp because of a Yankee bullet that struck him in the hip during one of the many battles that he took part in fighting for the Confederacy. His eyes were blue; as blue as our mountain sky on a clear June day, piercing blue eyes, an acquiline nose and lips that were firm, Those blue eyes were calm; the eyes of a self-controlled man that could sparkle with humor, yet on the battlefield were steady with courage but could flash with anger when Angel was justified. This was Colonel Matthew N. Love, soldier and officer of the Confederate States Army.
Of Scotch-Irish ancestry, he was born February 21, 1831, the son of Robert and Eliza E. Love who were pioneer settlers in what in now Hender-son County. This was a wild area in 1831. The only settlements in the entire wilderness were a little village on the bend of the French Broad River called Horse Shoe and the beginning of one that we know today as Edneyville. Matthew Love would be seven years old before the North Carolina Legislature would take a part of Buncombe County and create a new one called Henderson. He would be 16 years old before a charter would be issued to a little village that was springing up around a new court house and was called Hendersonville.
Matthew Love was born in a log cabin in the Clear Creek Section on the original Love home place. His childhood days were those of every pioneer boy; hard work and long hours of it; toiling with his parents and brothers and sisters, wringing the necessities of life from the soil. It was a continuous fight against nature to survive, And yet at times it was a happy life for a boy because during the winter game was plentiful and there was hunting and fishing and trapping which was fun for a growing boy even if the hunting, fishing and trapping was done with a seriousness that present day boys know nothing of because in those days it was part of survival, and a source of food, and the hides and furs provided articles of trade to be swapped for necessities of life that could not be grubbed from the land. It was a way of life a modem boy can only imagine,
There was little chance when Matthew Love was a boy for a formal education because even the old field schools had not yet come into existence. An occasional itinerant schoolmaster would sometimes establish himself in an area for a few weeks or at most a few months and set up a subscription school for those boys and girls whose parents could afford the money and could spare the child from work to attend. In those rare intervals that Matthew Love was exposed to the bare fundamentals of learning, he learned to write and to spell and to do simple sums of arithmetic. Who his early teacher was has been long forgotten but he must have been an excellent one because Matthew Love wrote a beautiful hand, a legible flowing script attested to by letters more than a century old, written from the battlefields during the four years of war and still preserved by his descendants. He was an intelligent boy with an inquiring mind. He read and studied anything and everything that he could get his hands on.
After a long hard day of work, when most boys were in their beds asleep, Matthew would study far into the night with only the light from the glowing embers of the hearth fire to see by. By the time he reached early manhood he was the best educated man in the entire area, self-taught though he was. By this time, North Carolina had established what is referred to as subscription, old field schools which were open for three months of the year. Matthew was among the first to teach in these schools in Henderson County which he was able to do because the schools were run during the time of the year he could best spare from his farm.
From the end of the American Revolution until 1860, each county in North Carolina was divided into sections and each section was required to maintain a militia company. Drill was held regularly. A quarterly muster was held and once a year there was a county-wide muster which was called "the Big Muster." "Big Muster" was an event of the year when people from the entire county gathered to hear the rolls called and to watch the militia men in their uniforms. In April 1853, David S. Reid, governor of the State, commissioned the tall-erected, blue-eyed self-educated, 22-year-old Matthew N. Love a captain to command the Clear Creek Company of the 86th Regiment of North Carolina Militia. It was the best known and the best drilled group of men in the county. The old mustering grounds where the Clear Creek Company met to drill and where the quarterly muster was held was in the vicinity of where Ebenezer Baptist Church and Moore's Grove Methodist Church now stands near each other on Highway 64 East.
The next few years of the young captain's life were devoted to farming, teaching, and to his military duties. During those years the atmosphere was tense as states rights, slavery and secession approached a showdown. On May 21, 1861, North Carolina joined the Confederacy. The governor called for volunteers to defend the state from invasion. The farmers of Western North Carolina were small landowners who tilled the soil with their own labor and the labor of other families. Very few were slave owners, as we re the large plantation owners of the deep South.
Robert and Eliza Love owned no slaves but when the governor called for the men of the state to take up arms the five sons of Robert and Eliza Love volunteered and enlisted at once. There were Matthew, Robert, Ervin, George and Wesley and the five brothers fought through the entire four years of the war.
The volunteers from Western North Carolina were assembled at Camp Patton near Asheville. There were men from Henderson, Jackson, Haywood, Cherokee, Transylvania, Buncombe, Clay and Macon Counties. These men were organized and mustered in as the 25th North Carolina Regiment, Confederate States Army. The remarkable thing about the 25th Regiment was that very few of the men, officers or those in the ranks, owned or had ever owned slaves; 90% of the regiment was composed of farmers or farmers' sons; and 80% of them were homeowners or sons of homeowners. Company A of the 25th Regiment was composed entirely of Henderson County men and Matthew Love was commissioned a lieutenant.
The regiment marched from Asheviile to Morganton where they were loaded on railroad cars. What an exciting trip that must have been because railroads had not come to the mountains in 1861 and this was the first railroad, the first railroad coaches and the first steam engines that most of the men had ever seen.
The regiment saw fighting in eastern North Carolina and in all of the major battles in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania until the end at Ap-Appomatox. In 1863, Matthew Love was given a captain' s commission. Later he was promoted to the rank of Major and then to Lieutenant Colonel. Four long years of fighting. Most of the promotions of Matthew Love were made on the battlefield for gallantry in action. He was twice wounded. He walked the rest of his life with a limp because of a wound in his hip and he carried a Yankee bullet in his head.
The war over the South prostrate, Matthew Love came back to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Henderson County. Here he started a new life with the same courage and determination that he showed leading his troops. Soon after he came home he married Miss Mary Ann Johnson of Horse Shoe. Together they built their log cabin on 50 acres of land and raised seven children. Colonel Love's log cabin where he raised his family and carved a new life still stands, vacant and deserted, on the Bat Cave Road; one room with a lean-to kitchen.
The letters that Matthew Love wrote home vividly describing the hard-ships of the war are written in a beautiful script as legible today as when written. Preserved through the generations by his family, many of them are now in the archives of the N. C. Historical Commission because of their historical value. Not too long ago, two of his daughters, Mrs. Grace Anderson who was 83 years old and Miss Jennie Love, 77 years old at the time, showed me two pictures of their father with the piercing blue eyes and the acquiline nose. In early manhood he wore a short, neatly clipped beard that in later life became a full flowing one. Colonel Matthew Love died from pneumonia on December 15, 1887.
The notice of his death, written by Calvin J. Edney, the grandfather of Kermit Edney, was published in the Hendersonville Times of December 20, 1887, attests to the high esteem in which the man and the soldier were held. "The community was startled by the intelligence of the death of Colonel M. N. Love at his home in Clear Creek Township. He entered the Confederate Army at the beginning of the War as a private and gradually rose to the rank of Colonel. He was in the fighting from the beginning and was a gallant and brave soldier. In private life, he was honest, greatly esteemed by his neighbors and died regretted by all who knew him."
Matthew Love peacefully sleeps in the Love family graveyard on the farm and near the house of his parents on the Clear Creek Road where he was born and grew to manhood. There is a simple headstone: "Matthew Nixon Love, Lieut. Colonel, 25th N.C. Infantry, Confederate States Army, Feb. 21, 1831 -Dec. 15, 1887."
A man among men, Colonel Matthew Nixon Love, soldier, officer and hero of the Confederacy, the ground where he sleeps is hallowed ground.

Earl Peeler




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