"Tinker Dave" Beaty

David "Tinker Dave" Beaty, Leader of Beaty's Independent Scouts during the Civil War is one of the most famous or infamous individuals that Fentress County ever produced. A man of peace he would prove a worthy adversary at war. He did not choose the war so much as the war eventually came to him. In Beaty’s own words from a recorded statement, “About ten or twelve days after the Mills Springs fight, several of Scott Bledoe’s men came to my house and told my wife to tell me I must take sides in the war or leave the country. They took some of my property, some saddles and other things belonging to me, when they left and as they were going down to cross the creek I fired on them, wounding one man and a horse. After this they kept running in on us every few weeks. I told my boys that before I would leave home or run away that I would fight them to Doomsday and if they killed me, let them kill me. So I took my sons and raised a company of men to fight them.”
His men were all mounted. He had no camp, no wagons, tents, or camp equipage, but stayed were he could best conceal his men. Being so well acquainted with the county, knowing every road and path, it was almost impossible to catch him. If he was seriously menaced, he retired to the mountains. At all times, Beaty had out scouts and pickets; he never permitted himself to be surprised. Whenever an opportunity was presented, he pounced upon a party of Rebels or guerillas, cutting them to pieces, capturing arms, ammunition, and provisions for his scouts. Becoming the perfect terror to his enemies there is no question that he was a guerrilla warfare expert of considerable ability. Although they were received into Federal Service effective January 5, 1862 under the authority of Major General George H. Thomas and General Burnsides. They were never mustered into the regular service. They received no pay, no clothes, no camp equipage, rations, nor military stores of any kind. According to Major John Brents, in 1863, “They are of no expense to the government, yet render as valuable service as the same number of men anywhere. Neither does Beaty impose upon Union citizens. He sustains his brave little band upon the enemy.”