Petition of William B. Looney
Submitted by Sandy Hockinson & Liz Elrod
From the Valley Leaves, December 1975
To the honorable Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled:
Your petitioners, citizens of North Alabama, who remained loyal to the Government of the United States during the late Rebellion, would respectfully petition your honorable bodies that a pension for life be granted to William B. Looney of Winston (County) Alabama.
Your petitioners would respectfully represent, that Mr. Looney has rendered most able and efficient service to the Government from the beginning of (the) Rebellion to its close. From the mountains of Ala. to the Federal lines at Corinth, Mississippi, and to Decatur, Ala. during the period of three years (from 1862 to 1865) over twenty-five hundred deserters from the Rebel Army, besides a large number of Union men who were never in the Rebel Army – were piloted by Mr. Looney. He brought into the Federal lines over five hundred men who joined the Union Army. His travelling was done on foot, and principally in the night. He also made many trips far into the Confederate lines for the purpose of obtaining information useful to the Federal Army, and never failed to bring correct statements of troops, position etc. He was familiarly known by both Armies as the Black Fox, a name given him by the Rebels for the skill and cunning with which he wrought mischief to their cause. Large rewards were offered by officers of the Rebel Army, both in money, and a permanent discharge from the Rebel service, to any soldier who would take him, dead or alive. A brigade under General (Roddy) spent nearly a year striving to capture him, without success.
After all this – for dangers, hardships and toil untold, for the services rendered his Country, Mr. Looney has never received pay to exceed one hundred dollars. The little property he possessed was destroyed by the Rebels, and he is now so completely broken in health and constitution as to be wholly unfit for labor, while his needs are great.
Your petitioners earnestly pray that you will take immediate notice of this petition.
C.C. Sheets, U.S. Comm, Northern District of Ala.
W.H. Hyde, sgt. (Bureau?) R.F. & A.L. for Winston County Alabama
F.S. Cramer, late Col 1s Ala Cavly & Brvt Brig Genl
Peyton Baughn, JPC
John M. Cole, Post Master at Houston
Thos. M. Peters
A. Worley Patterson
John E. Penn
John W. Gaylor (Taylor?)
John G. Seagers
S.M. (or H.) Nelson
Wm. Williams, Jr.
C.M. (or W.) Shipman
George E. Spencer, Late Col 1st Ala Cavly & Brevet Brig Genl U.S. Vols.
David R. Snelling, Late Lt Comder Co I (?) 1st Ala Cav
Jacob Henny, P.M., Decatur, Ala.
J.Y. Cantrell, Late Surg U.S. Vols. Examn Surg – Pensioners
J.H. Austin, Col Internal Rev. Morgan Co.
J.J. Hinds, Late Capt. 1st Ala Cav
J.M. Hinds, Late Lieut. 1st Ala Cav
Wm Miller, U.S. Comr
Wm. B. Semore
A.B. Hays, Late Sergt. Maj. 2nd Tenn Mtd. Inf. Vols.
Denis C. Cantrell
Thos. J. Seagers
Wm. W. Sheets
J.N. (or M.) Shipman
J.W. (or M.) Walker
J.M. (or W.) Steel
David H. Speegle
Wm. L. Swin, Late Sergt. Co. I
I hereby certify that I have carefully examined Wm. B. Looney referred to in accompanying petition and find that he is suffering from an injury received in the spine (about the lumbar region) by falling from a bluff bank while a scout in the Federal Army and that in consequence of said injury and the general broken down condition of his health and constitution he is totally disable from obtaining his sustenance by manual labor. I therefore respectfully recommend that a pension be granted him by a special act of Congress in accordance with the desire of your petitioners. Dated at Decatur Ala this 26th day of June 1867. J.Y. Cantwell, Exam-Surg for Pensions
Washington Mar (Nov?) 1, 69
Wm. B. Looney of Alabama was employed by me as a scout while I was in command of the Left Wing of 16 A.C. and as such (?) scout rendered the government valuable services in bringing in the Loyal men of Alabama to our Lines who entered our services and also valuable information in relation to the enemy.
He was paid far less than any of the other scouts only asking his expenses. When I left that country he was inside of the enemy lines on duty and I never paid him fully for his services. I consider him as one of my best volunteer scouts. I am certain and fully believe (while?) in this service he was totally disabled and I consider him justly entitled to the pension and request it may be given him. Yrs Resp
G? M? Dodge
Late? Maj? Gen? USV
SENATE - 40th Congress, 3d Session - Rep. Com. No. 204 (S. 147)
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, February 8, 1869, Mr. VAN WINKLE made the following REPORT. (To accompany bill S. 900.)
The Committee on Pensions, to whom was referred the petition asking for a pension for Wm. B. Looney, of Alabama, having had the same under consideration, report:
It appears that William B. Looney, of Alabama, was a spy, or scout, for the federal army during the rebellion from 1862 to 1865, during which time he rendered valuable services to the country, and that he has never received over $100 compensation for such services, which were attended with great risk to his life, and was surrounded by perils and dangers.
Dr. J. Y, Cantwell, examining surgeon for pensions, testifies that Wm. B. Looney is now suffering from injuries received while in the United States service, by falling from a bluff bank while a scout - that his constitution is thereby broken down, and that he is unable to earn his living by manual labor.
The committee think this is a case which appeals to the sympathy and generosity of the government, and therefore recommend that his name be placed upon the roll of invalid pensioners at the rate of $15 (marked thru and 8 written in.-Ed.) per month, and report a bill accordingly.
CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE, May 12, 1870, pp 3430-3431
WILLIAM B. looney. Mr. Benjamin also, from the same committee, reported back the bill (S. 147) granting a pension to William B. Looney of Alabama, with an amendment. The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to place on the pension roll, subject to the provisions and limitations of the pension laws, the name of William B. Looneys of Alabama, late a scout in the service of the United States, and to pay him at the rate of eight dollars a month, to commence on the 8th day of May, 1865. The amendment reported by the committee was to strike out the words "on the 8th day of May, 1865," and to insert in lieu thereof, after the word "month," the words "from and after the passage of this act." The amendment was agreed to. The bill, as amended, was ordered to be read a third time and it was accordingly read the third time, and passed. Mr. Benjamin moved to reconsider the vote by which the bill was passed and also moved that the motion to reconsider be laid on the table. The latter motion was agreed to.
This material was transcribed and contributed for publication by Mrs. Leola L. Hessom, 4016 Maple Street, Fairfax, Virginia 22030. The men signing the petition were from all over North Alabama (many related to Mrs. Hessom.) Most of them lived in Lawrence and Morgan Cos., and some probably were from Winston County. Some of the signatures were hard to read and therefore there may be some errors in her transcription.
William Bauck Looney of Winston Co. was a son of Moses Looney. Moses and his wife, Mary Guest Looney, are buried at Friendship Cemetery on the county line near Danville. Moses and his brother, John, came to Alabama from Tennessee about 1820.
There was a former Black Fox in North Alabama, and it was possible that stories concerning him were still alive at the time of the Civil War. The Cherokee Chief Enali was called Black Fox and signed treaties as such. He died and is buried in Blount County Ala. Enali had a nephew, John Looney, who was also a treaty-signing chief, John Looney lived at Creek path, an Indian village near the present site of Guntersville. Mrs. Hessom thinks William Looney could have been a descendant of Enali's nephew, John Looney, William was born in Morgan Co., Ala, about 1827 and was just a child at the time of the Cherokee Removal and could have remembered or heard stories of the other Blace Fox. She does not know what became of William Looney. He is thought to have moved to Memphis, Tennessee.