Gun used by Civil War sniper, its owner and its historian to be in Logan Saturday
By Jim Turner

Posted on April 8, 2014 9:14 PM

There’s always a Logan County Connection, even when the subject is a 17-pound, 150-year-old rifle which figured prominently in the War Between the States, although a soldier never fired it.

That rifle, which is adorned with 36 notches for ‘kills,’ is believed to have been used to end the lives of over 100 Yankee soldiers and their allies. And it’s coming to Logan County this Saturday night thanks to a family connection between the gun’s owner and a Russellvillain.

The gun is believed to have been fashioned and used by West Tennessee farmer Jack Hinson to avenge the deaths of two of his sons by Yankee soldiers, who not only killed the young men but impaled their severed heads on the fence in front of the Hinsons’ West Tennessee farmhouse.

Jack Hinson had tried to stay neutral during the war and offered eyewitness accounts of what was going on in Benton County to both sides. He had even spoken with General Ulysses S. Grant—a future president himself. But when soldiers mistook his squirrel-hunting sons for guerillas, executed and dismembered them, and then flaunted their remains, Mr. Hinson turned from peaceful to vengeful. He reportedly sent what was left of his family away, freed his own slaves, had the heavy gun built, and then turned into an executioner himself. Among those he killed were the officer who commanded his sons’ execution and the underling who seemed to enjoy depositing the boys’ heads in sight of their grieving parents.

Hinson reportedly took to the woods and lived in a cave, coming out to set up perfect locations on what came to be known as “Jack’s Ridge,” where he could pick off boat loads of northern soldiers.

Although massive search efforts were launched, he was never captured and died of old age, research shows.

The story of Jack Hinson and his rifle will be told at the Historic Old Logan County Courthouse Saturday, thanks to the efforts of Russellville financial planner Trevor Coe and the Russellville Lions Club. Doors to the courthouse will open at 6 p.m. with the program to begin at 6:30. Admission is free.

Featured speakers will be Lt. Col. Tom C. McKenney of Lebanon, Ky., Judge Ben Hall McFarlin Jr. of Murfreesboro, and Barry Kennedy of Russellville.

Col. McKenney—a Marine officer who fought in both Korea and Vietnam—spent  15 years researching Hinson’s story before writing the book Jack Hinson’s One-Man War. His research led to finding the gun in perfect condition and belonging to Judge McFarlin. Together they have been presenting programs on the Jack Hinson story in recent years.

Kennedy, a graduate of Russellville High School, is associate professor of history at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College. His role will be to set the stage for those in attendance about what life was like during the War Between the States in a place like Logan County, which had sympathizers for both sides with in its borders.

McKenney found Judge McFarlin and the gun while doing his research. McFarlin, a retired major in the U.S. Army Reserve Military Intelligence, has owned the gun most of his adult life. It was passed down to him through family members, who came into possession of the famous weapon as a gift from the legendary Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. The general had given the rifle to one of the judge’s ancestors—Forrest’s adjutant general, Charles Anderson—soon after the war ended.

Judge McFarlin is the father of Elizabeth Coe, whose husband Trevor is sponsoring Saturday’s event.

Col. McKenney has told Jack Hinson’s story in Logan County a couple of other times, once to an overflow crowd at Logan County Public Library and another time to the Logan County Pastfinders Club. A large turnout is expected this week, too, since many people in the area are interested in Civil War history.

Among the presenters will be Pete Lehman of the Lions Club and Pastfinders leader David Guion. Marlin Coe, who works at Logan Aluminum, will sing two songs, including an original he wrote with a Civil War theme.

Col. McKenney, who will have copies of his interesting book for sale, will spend the night at historic Federal Grove in Auburn while he’s here.

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