The first account of Clift’s apparition occurred in 1898, just before the Spanish-American War broke out. An elderly man trudging the back roads of Soddy-Daisy claimed the colonel rose from his grave in Mount Bethel Presbyterian Cemetery, accompanied by the sounds of taps and muffled drums.
His place in history suggests that their story is based on some truth. The man was a zealous patriot. Anyone who knew the colonel during life might well imagine that even death could not silence him.
Described as Hamilton County’s first millionaire, in peacetime this influential slaveholder directed his passion toward taming thousands of acres of land he had amassed throughout Hamilton County. But when the Southern states seceded in 1861, Clift was devastated that the differences in values and opinions were literally tearing the once United States apart.
Clift’s stand on the War Between the States was firm—he risked all to follow his heart. At the age of 67, he joined the Army as a Northern officer, determined to preserve the nation intact. Described by historians Govan and Livingood as a man "who never failed to give assistance to the Union cause," his fervor for the Constitution led him to fight against many of his neighbors and even members of his own family.
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