AN EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE FALL OF NASHVILLE AFTER THE CONFEDERATE DEFEAT AT FORT DONELSON, FEBRUARY 14-20, 1862, - ENTRIES FROM DR. JOHN BERRIEN
14, “To the 500 in the barracks we distributed a gill each, of brandy from the Hospital stores.” Entry from Dr John Berrien Lindsley’s Journalas the wounded from the battle of Fort Donelson arrived in Nashville
After breakfast notified Post Surgeon Pim that my hospital was not in readiness; but would be (D.V.) in two days.He … replied that he must send the convalescents as the Bowlinggreen sick were arriving in large numbers.On conversing farther found out that it was intended to establish also a camp for convalescents on the University grounds.Meeting Medical Director Yandell, I remonstrated – He agreed with me that the Hospital and encampment would greatly interfere with each other.I hastened to Capt. A.J. Lindsay, commander of the post, and after much persistence got an order to remove the encampment, if the tents were not already pitched.Hurried up to the University, & fortunately they were just laying out the camp.Capt. Cottles civilly received me, and agreed at once Feb. to carry out the order if I would shelter his men for the night.Snow was still upon the ground.All day crowds of 40, 60, 100, or 120, were pouring in from the different hospitals, or from the Bowlinggreen [sic] army.They were tired & hungry, some had not breakfasted, none had dined – By night we had not less than 700 in the Stone College & Barracks.We managed by very hard work to get them something to eat by 8 or 9 P.M.To the 500 in the barracks we distributed a gill each, of brandy from the Hospital stores.Both buildings were comfortably warmed.Drs. Hoyte, Humphrey Peake, Wheeler & Lane, with Thomas (of Demoville & Bell) were my assistants.Gartlan also.
Dr. John Berrien Lindsley’s Journal,February 14, 1862, TSLA, ed. Kathy Lauder
15, “Night speaking at the Capitol – Triumph over the repulse of the gunboats.” An entry from Dr. John Berrien Lindsley
Saturday – Hard work all day to feed the big crowd.Tom Woods & Menifee very useful in dining room. [Marginal note in different handwriting: “color men”]All of us perfectly worn out with the task of feeding some six hundred convalescents, & taking care of one hundred or more quite ill persons --Reports & rumors of the battles at Fort Donelson.Night speaking at the Capitol – Triumph over the repulse of the gunboats.
Dr. John Berrien Lindsley’s Journal, February 16, 1862, TSLA, ed. Kathy Lauder
16, “Nashville was a panic stricken city.The Union men alone seemed to have their wits about them.” An entry from Dr. John Berrien Lindsley
Sunday – Johnston’s army passing by the University from 10 A.M. until after dark – camped out near Mill Creek.Light of campfires very bright at night.The army was in rapid retreat – the men disliked bitterly giving up Nashville without a struggle.The Southern army however was too small to make a stand against the overwhelmingly superior numbers of Union troops.About 12 M. a doctor in uniform rode up & gave me to read an order addressed to all the Surgeons of hospitals in Nashville – to wit:imperative directions to assemble all the men who were able to walk, place them under charge of a Surgeon or Sargeant [sic], with orders to report at the camp on the Murfreesboro pike. This order was executed and by 2 P.M., we had but little more than one hundred.(In the forenoon Capt. Cottles had reported to me that his encampment for convalescents at the fair grounds was ready; and had carried off with him at least 200 men; getting a promise from me to send them dinner.I went out to the fair grounds with the Capt.On the way heard of the fall of Fort Donelson..)About 3 P.M. after dining all my men and starting off the last to the camp, went to work getting dinner for the men who went to the Fair Grounds in the forenoon – while doing so an officer came with an urgent request from the men not to forget my promise.Gartlan pressed a wagon & took out two loads to them.He kept the wagon for getting commissary stores – it turned out to be Stokes of Triune –4 P.M.Buildings now looked vacated – so all hands were set to cleaning up the buildings for the reception of the wounded from Fort Donelson who might arrive at any moment.Drs. Peake & Hober, with Saunders & ten or 12 men and boys, pretty well fixed up the lower floor of Stone College, with bedsteads &c. purchased from the Faculty by permission of Sehon given the Friday previous.They were kept hard at it until 2 A.M. of Monday; then until daylight doing same for barracks.During all Sunday from about 10 A.M., when the news of the fall of Fort Donelson reached here, the wildest excitement prevailed in the city.Very many persons left the city in vehicles – many on the cars – the Gov. & Legislature decamped
Nashville was a panic stricken city.The Union men alone seemed to have their wits about them. About 9 P.M., with Stokes wagon & six of my patients as guards went to the commissary; got bacon & six sacks of coffee.Made a second trip after midnight: found the stores closed except to the moving army.In all my Commissariat affairs Lieut. John King McCall was very kind and useful to me.
Dr. John Berrien Lindsley’s Journal, February 16, 1862TSLA, ed. Kathy Lauder
17, “Hurried to the Commissary’s – great crowd there, everybody carrying off bacon.Gartlan had our wagon getting a load.While waiting on him I had a fine opportunity of witnessing the scramble – all sorts of vehicles in use – stout men walking off with sides and hams – Irish women tottering under the same.Some persons secured large amounts.” An entry from Journal of Dr. John Berrien Lindsley describing the panic in Nashville during the retreat of the Army of Tennessee from Fort Donelson
Monday – At daylight dismissed Deubler & company.Waked up Dr. Peake, and made out a requisition for 750 men for 90 days on Capt. Schaaf, Commissary.This was on the supposition that many wounded men would speedily arrive from Fort Donelson, and that when the Federal army occupied the city we would have some four or five hundred patients.In case these men were not recognized as prisoners of war we would thus have a fund to support the hospital say six weeks until they were well: or in case the rules of war were observed the hospital would be turned over to the Federals well supplied.
After breakfast it rained very hard.I walked to Dr. Yandell’s office.Called twice – saw Childers – neither Yandell not Pim in – Went to the Quartermaster’s Office – fortunately found Major John Sehon in – he was packing up busily to leave – explained my requisition to him – he wrote a few lines of approval.
Hurried to the Commissary’s – great crowd there, everybody carrying off bacon.Gartlan had our wagon getting a load.While waiting on him I had a fine opportunity of witnessing the scramble – all sorts of vehicles in use – stout men walking off with sides and hams – Irish women tottering under the same.Some persons secured large amounts.This promiscuous and irregular scramble was so much in the way of parties getting supplies for their regiments that Gen. Floyd stopped it about noon.
Had now about 100 men at the University.Mrs. Lindsley & Mrs. Hoyte did good service this day with kitchens & stoves in cooking for us.
Much work done in fitting up hospital.
After dinner learned at Pa’s that Dr. Yandell was anxious to see me at Dr. Martin’s.Found him there.He told me that himself & Dr. Pim were obliged to accompany Gen. Johnston, and that they wished me to under-take the duties of Post Surgeon.Agreed to it.Loaned my carriage to the Dr. to take his family to the Depot – it being nearly 3 o’clock.In taking this work it was understood that Dr. Pim would attend to the duties of the office for two days so as to give me time to get my hospital ready – and also that I was to retain my post as Acting Surgeon at the University.Had a few minutes interview with Dr. Pim: said the hospitals were in great confusion as several of the surgeons or assistants had suddenly left; and that it would be necessary to send to each one to ascertain their present status.
About 5 P.M. Dr. Hay, Assistant Surgeon at the Johnson hospital, came to the University greatly troubled: he had a house full of wounded men, and owing to Dr. Eve’s sudden departure the day previous, every thing was in confusion.Went down at once with Dr. Peake, who after looking around agreed to take charge immediately. On Saturday I had engaged one of Carroll Napier’s [marginal note in a different hand: “A coller man”] carriages – found it very useful now.
As a day of panic and terrified confusion this was equal to the preceding – Large bodies of the retreating army were hastening through, and getting their supplies as they passed.
Many citizens and their families left on the cars and in vehicles.So absorbed was I with my special work as to be but little struck with the universal terror; it was not until my attention was called to it afterwards that I realized it.
What I saw of Johnston’s army to day and yesterday fully equaled any description I have ever read of an army in hurried retreat before a superior force, whose fangs they must avoid.There was hurry, confusion, alarm, and on the part of many a sullen dissatisfaction at not being able to fight.
Went to bed in good season – perfectly worn out.
Dr. John Berrien Lindsley’s Journal, February 18, 1862TSLA, ed. Kathy Lauder
18, “About 1 A.M. the gunboats at Broadway landing were fired – a brilliant conflagration – fire alarm was given, the people aroused from their slumbers, and great excitement occasioned until the truth was known.” An entry from the Journal of Dr. John Berrien Lindsley
Tuesday – About 1 A.M. the gunboats at Broadway landing were fired – a brilliant conflagration – fire alarm was given, the people aroused from their slumbers, and great excitement occasioned until the truth was known.Mrs. L in great terror waked me up – hurried over to the University had my carriage up – alarmed Dr. Peake and my young assistants very uselessly – then drove to Mr. McGavock’s and brought Ma up to my house.Pa went to Franklin on Monday, and as Ma was by herself we were naturally much frightened at the idea of a general conflagration.After making a visit to Mrs. L. I took Ma home: it being now not far from day.
From Sunday on there had been a great deal of pressing of all kinds of vehicles: a carriage or wagon of any description could with great difficulty be retained unless guarded by a soldier or two with musket & bayonet.I made up a guard of some ten or fifteen men from my convalescents; and they proved invaluable in guarding my vehicles and getting me access to the public stores.I was welcomed by the officials employed in the latter on condition of detailing several of my men to guard their doors and keep out intruders.The military authorities during the last few days of Confederate reign sadly neglected their duty in respect to guarding the government stores, and thus threw a great deal of additional labor upon the civilians occupied in the various departments. It was a matter of wonder to me that the latter discharged their duties so coolly and faithfully.With sufficient guards the retreating army could much more readily have been supplied; much larger quantities of stores saved to the Confederate Government; a regular distribution made to the citizens instead of an irregular & disgraceful, as well as demoralizing, pillage & scramble.
During this ante-daylight excursion after Ma, I brought Carroll’s other carriage to the University Hospital for the sake of protection; and while he was getting ready made quite a visit to Mrs. Porter’s. Good success this forenoon at the Commissary’s – secured among other items 50 boxes of star candles, also 50 boxes of soap.
Gave directions about consolidating the hospitals – moving the Meredith to the Academy &c.
3 to 5 P.M. at Medical Head Quarters – office work.Gave the printer copy for a hand-bill – an appeal in behalf of our sick & wounded – Dr. Childers, the clerk and assistant of Dr. Pim; showed to Van & myself that the whole number now could not be much over one thousand.
Went to Ma’s with my family for the night.Children made a row – I did not get much sleep.
Dr. John Berrien Lindsley’s Journal, February 18, 1862, TSLA, ed. Kathy Lauder.
20, “By this time (3 to 4 A.M.) the suspension and railroad bridges were all in flames.I have never witnessed a more strikingly beautiful scene than that which met my eyes while standing on the platform at the door of the college mess hall, about 4 A.M.The Wire Bridge was a line or flooring of fire, the Rail Road Bridge a perfect frame work of flame; the whole lit up brilliantly the quiet sleeping city and suburbs.” An entry from the Journal of Dr. John Berrien Lindsley
Thursday.About1 AM Nelson waked me up saying that Carroll was at the door anxious to see me.So I dressed in a hurry and went out.I had placed two guards in his stable for protection, but it so happened that a party of fifteen armed men had come to impress himself and carriage for some official, and there was likely to be a fight between them & my two men; when Carroll bethought him of my certificate as Post Surgeon, which he showed them, stating that he would call me in person to confirm it.When we reached the stable they had departed, being doubtless satisfied with the paper.A guard of three men at the stable opposite, of Morehead’s Mounted Kentucky Rifles, who were watching their officers’ horses, had given their countenance to mine.So I treated them all to a good lunch and drink of whiskey furnished me by Nelson.
At 2 A.M. Nelson gave me a nice breakfast, hot coffee &c, which was shared by Dr. Bowlecock & Mr. Colvin both from Memphis; whom I met at the Corner of Cherry& Deadrick inquiring for a coffee house. Had a good chat with them. The Dr. was with Walker in Nicaragua. They told me that they belonged to a company of artillery stationed at Fort Zollicoffer were moving their guns and ammunition and would be off about daylight – the last train on the Chattanooga railroad.
After breakfast went back to the stables & got young Rogers, one of the Kentuckians, to accompany me to the University.He had previously informed me that the Clothing Depot was opened for soldiers, who were allowed to get as much made-up clothing as they could carry.Reached the University about 3 A.M., found the guards about the stores awake.Sent for Dr. Wheeler to see that all was right at my home (where he had been stationed for the night).Then had all my sick folks aroused – those who were well enough formed into a line, and so marched down to the Quartermaster’s to get their share.They needed clothing, and when I made the announcement they prepared eagerly for the march.By this time (3 to 4 A.M.) the suspension and railroad bridges were all in flames.I have never witnessed a more strikingly beautiful scene than that which met my eyes while standing on the platform at the door of the college mess hall, about 4 A.M.The Wire Bridge was a line or flooring of fire, the Rail Road Bridge a perfect frame work of flame; the whole lit up brilliantly the quiet sleeping city and suburbs.
The men now being collected by Dr.Wheeler we marched down Market street.By the Rutledge lot I met Major John Sehon [John L. Sehon was a prominent Nashville lawyer; his wife Annie was the youngest daughter of Judge Thomas Maney.], Quartermaster, on his way from Nashville.Bade him farewell.Asked his opinion as to my mode of paying hospital debts; which he approved.On reaching the Clothing Stores, corner of the Square and Front street, I showed the men how to proceed, and took a walk up to the Capitol for the fire-lit view.The Ordnance works just west of the State Prison [which was on Church Street, between 16th and 18th Avenues] were now in full blaze and added to the brightness of the illumination.Passing by Aunt Felicia Porter’s found the house lit up and the children at the window.Went in and chatted a few minutes.
At 5 A.M. Carroll’s carriage was at Pa’s.Took Nelson and returned to the Quartermaster’s stores.Set Nelson to getting shirts, drawers and pants, of which he brought several carriage loads to Mr. McGavock’s office, to save distance.Before dusk these were removed to the University Hospital.
About 7 A.M. had another breakfast.Then drove to University.Found breakfast not ready, although all concerned were notified to have it very early as all hands were needed for the grand campaign for Quartermaster’s & Commissary’s stores.This was no trifling backset.
Found Mr. Hogg, and went back to town: Met Mr.Brigham at Sehon’s official quarters: he joined us.Passing A.V.S. Lindsley’s office, saw a negro man coming out of the cellar.It proved to be Bradley, Van’s waiter.Told him that if he would open the office for us and attend on us all day he should have one hundred dollars.He went along at once.Mr. Brigham got Mr. Forest to assign us the side-basement entrance on Front street.Stationed Lawson to guard it.Hogg went regularly to work selecting the most valuable unwrought goods, and sending them down to our door.No small task as these goods were in the upper stories of afloored warehouse.So we got up a corps of some twenty assistants who were admitted on my password.(Post Surgeons Lindsley) Hogg, Brigham, a McGowie accompanied each carriage full to my brother’s office where they were deposited, and the door locked up.
We had not been long at work before the Mayor R.B. Cheatham, & John M. Lea came to get my carriage to convey the commissioners on behalf of the Corporation to the place of conference with the Federal authorities.They could procure a vehicle no where else.So I willingly obliged them by letting James Napier [inserted note in different hand: “Carroll son”] go.After a while Carroll came up with the other carriage and continued the transfer of goods.About 11 A.M. Mr. Hogg told me that a wagon or two was now indispensable for moving bales of rough & heavy cheap articles.So I went to Dr. Atchison’s office and got his buggy and driver which were of essential service for the next three hours – Drove out to Garthan’s & the University and all about the city in this buggy.Dr. Mayfield went out to Mr. Litton’s with me.Thus succeeded in getting a couple or more of vehicles by means of which we carried away as much as was thought desirable of the Quartermaster’s goods before 4 P.M.
As I was driving down Market street [Second Avenue] below the Medical College, Capt. Hawkins [later Major James M. Hawkins, Nashville Battalion Infantry.] company of Home Guards were marching up the hill on their way to the army.The company was quite full & I recognized many familiar faces.They gave in response to my bows a hearty farewell cheer.It was very sad indeed to see these poor fellows in obedience to stern military rule, leaving their homes and families just on the eve of the enemy’s advance.
The scenes of confusion, pillage, and pilfering at the various Government storehouses this day tobe witnessed baffle all description.At the Commissary warehouses as on Monday bacon and other stores were freely given away.This occasioned a promiscuous rush after provisions which interfered very much with the details of soldiers, horsemen mainly, occupied with getting supplies for the last Confederate troops leaving for the South.At the Quartermaster’s corner large crowds were attracted by the hopes of a similar distribution of the clothing &c.Here however little was given out except for the moving army, the hospitals, and to individual soldiers who were allowed to take away made up clothing.Very many persons however went in dressed as soldiers & helped themselves liberally.
The Irish women made themselves very troublesome at these store houses.Frequently the horsemen would charge upon them
with brandished swords to make way for their wagons.Yet they did no Feb. damage, and intended none.Considering the pressing wants of the retreating army, and the great annoyance and hindrance occasioned by the mob of beggars, it is surprising that the soldiers exhibited so much patient forbearance.An officer whom I met about Mid-day told me that he had thirty, sick, starving men to feed near the Chattanooga Depot; and could get neither conveyance nor food.I told him to press a small contraption which was hauling bacon for a citizen, and went with him to Broad street where we got flour &c.; he then went on his way happy enough.
Dr. J.W. Hoyte during this day added largely to our commissary stores.
At night we paid off all our impressed wagoners quite to their satisfaction.
Dr. John Berrien Lindsley’s Journal, February 20, 1862, TSLA, ed. Kathy Lauder.
 Throughout the Civil War Lindsley served as post surgeon of Nashville hospitals and alone protected the library and laboratory of the University of Nashville from the occupying army.
Stearin candles – The most common candles – tallow –were inexpensive, but were very smoky and drooped in warm weather; beeswax candles were better, but more expensive. Stearin, also called adamantine (like stone), was a commercial candle made from animal fat that was mechanically and chemically processed – it had a higher melting point than tallow and a longer burning time.