The Georgia Humanities Council in partenership with the University of Georgia notes that the soldier's name was Isaac Newton Giffen. So, did the family of Volney just assume the poem was about their ancestor?
There was an Isaac N. Giffin born in Tennessee in about 1845, which makes him the possible confederate soldier. Possible listings for him are found in the 1850 Census in Dickson County, TN and 1860 Census in Montgomery County, TN.
Now back to Volney Giffin and what was discovered about him. For general family information there are two listings in Rootsweb.com family trees that portray a fairly accurate family history. Nothing was found on familysearch.org. in the family trees.
Ancestry.com provided the following records For Volney Giffin. Census records for him for the years 1920, 1910, 1900, 1890, 1880, 1870, 1860 with his mother who had remarried, 1850 with his parents, two brothers John S. and George Washington Lafayette and his sister Celestial. His death certificate, clearly lists his parents Bartley Giffin and Ailsey Edington, his birth 22 March 1844 in Tennessee, his death 14 July 1924 in Knoxville and that he was widowed.
In the U.S. Southern Claims Commission Master Index, 1871-1880 found at ancestry.com there was a link to fold.3 that has a forty-three page file on two denied claims filed for Bartley Giffin. In his testimony within that file, he notes that he has three sons fighting with the 6th East Tennessee Infantry, John, Volny and Lafayette and three nephews Frank, John and William Kidd. The file contains testimony of family members, friends and relatives. They provide a wealth of family history information. By his own testimony, Bartley was a Union sympathizer during the entire war. He neighbors said he was a "fool hardy Union man"; "in fact was just as loyal to the Union cause as it was possible for anyone to be."
Bartley continues to note that he is age 56 and lived here seventeen years. He resides three miles south of Knoxville, he was born in Blount County, Tennessee, and he lived in Knox County since he was a man child. At the commencement of the war he was farming and lived in his home until 29 August 1863 when he left home and went to the state of Illinois. He remained there until October 1863, returning to Knox County, Tennessee. He assisted in piloting Union refugees of East Tennessee to Kentucky and helped his nephew escape the Rebel Army after which the nephew became a Union soldier. He furnished his sons with money and supplies when they left to join the army. Bartley said he was given a permit by the U.S. authorities to sell goods of any and every kind.
In his testimony Bartley claims he was threatened and abused by Rebel soldiers, but they did provide him a pass. Later the Union soldiers camped about three miles away, with some pickets stationed in his field about 100 yards from the house. He claimed that they took a heifer cow weighing 200 pounds, three or four hogs, and about fifty bushels of corn. There were witnesses stating they had seen the items taken and acknowledging his faithfulness to the Union cause. He was asking for $142 in the first claim and $125 in the second, but both were denied.
Now I realize how long this story is, so I have decided to write a third part for Wednesday which will cover the Compiled Military Service Records of the three sons, one possible nephew and a little more on Isaac Newton Giffin. Please bear with me. Then I will share who I feel the real Little Griffen of Tennessee is.