Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 19 - TN Civil War Notes

  19, 1861, Some notes fleshing out secessionist Zeitgeist in Memphis
Military.—The members of the German Turner Society have organized a military corps for the protection of the city of Memphis. The company may be used in some cases better than others, as they are all active gymnasts. George Steinmeyer was elected as captain.
Schools.—The school we mentioned yesterday as having been attacked, was a private establishment, not one of the public schools.
A Call on the Patriotic Ladies.—The undersigned wish to form an association for the purpose of serving the several companies in the city by making flags, uniforms, etc. Those disposed to aid, are requested to call on Mrs. M. Cochran and Mrs. A. Street.
Memphis, April 18, 1861.
Editors Appeal: We ask a place in your columns to suggest to the merchants and business men generally, the propriety of closing our places of business at an early hour—say, seven and a half o'clock, P.M.,--so as to afford opportunity to the employes, as well as employers, to attend meetings etc., of the military and other organizations to which they severally belong, or may wish to join.
B. Dumaine & Co.
We have a large room in the upper part of our building, No. 337 Main street, which we tender gratis to any military or civil organization wishing to occupy it.
B. D. & Co.
Memphis Daily Appeal, April 19, 1861.
            19, 1862, Nashville's female teachers forced to take the oath
Some of the female teachers in the city are highly enraged at the Union because it advocates administering the oath of loyalty to them. We can't help it. We are not only in favor of administering the oath to all ladies who are employed in the public schools in training up our children, but to make the business certain we would like to administer the oath ourselves to all the pretty ones. We have a way of clinching it and making it stick. It softens the tempers of the angelic creatures. When they are done taking our version of the oath, they look as placid, as contented and as blissful as if they had been saying their prayers. Come along, girls, and hold up our hands!
Nashville Daily Union, April 19, 1862.
            19, 1862, Nashville High Schools close as a result of war
The High School department of the city schools has been discontinued. This step has been taken because of the want of funds to meet the expenses of that and the other departments. In the present deranged condition of affairs generally, it is found impossible to make collections to meet all the expenses of the city schools, and it has been deemed advisable by the Board of Education to discontinue for the present the exercises in the higher department, which is the most expensive. the other departments will be continued as heretofore.
Nashville Dispatch, April 19, 1862.
            19, 1863, Observations on the Sabbath in Nashville
Nashville Tennessee April 19th
….John Marvin, Tim Marvin, Jos Blackson Harvey…& My Self went to a presbyterian church in the lower end of town heard a very good sermon the text taken from Corinthians first chapter & 21 verce [sic] the preacher prayed for the welfair [sic] of the union & the success of our army there was but very few cittizens [sic] at church about a duzin [sic] Ladies and a number of Children and some twinty five or 30 men the balance were Soldiers the church was not over one third full it is the finest and best finished church I have seen in Nashville….we went to the Presbyterian church this evening and saw a great many young secesh laydes [sic] they try to look sour at the soldiers but pleasant [sic] and smiling countenance will beat out in spite of ther [sic] teath [sic]
John Hill Fergusson Diary, Book 3.
            19, 1864, Confederate spies in Graysville [Rhea County] environs
GRAYSVILLE, April 20, 1864
Brig.-Gen. WHIPPLE, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.:
A scout[1] sent out last night [19th] fell in with some of the faithful[2] in my vicinity. They are ostensibly Union, but gave him in his assumed character of rebel spy all the information they possessed as to my troops, position, &c., as to which they were well informed.
He found where one of Johnston's spies, Taylor, by name, had passed the previous night, who had gone on to Chattanooga, Tenn. This spy told the citizen that Johnston was concentrating all his troops in this front. Taylor is now in the neighborhood of Mission Ridge, where there is a citizen who visits town and brings news and papers to him. The spies have a regular trail between Rossville and this place. Nothing new in front.
R. W. JOHNSON, Brig.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. III, p. 425.
            19, 1865 An appraisal of Nathan Bedford Forrest by the New York Times

Forrest – The Guerrilla Chief.
After the storm of this Revolution has swept over the insurgent States, and the institution that struck so fierce a blow, at the has been itself trampled over by the heel of victory it will remain for some future Hancroft to analyze and portray the features of that old plantation style which is already a thing of the past.
The future historian will, if his research and analysis be successful, find the two salient features of Southern life and the two elements of its military power were, on the one hand, the aristocratic pride of Virginia, and, on the other, the reckless ruffians and cut-throat daring of the Southwest. And, as it were opportunely for his purpose, he find two military chieftains, each masterly in their way, around whom he may group these contrasted systems of society – Robert E. Lee, the Virginia Commander, and Forrest, the guerrilla leader of the Southwest. Lee, the grandson of a bosom friend of Washington – full of revolutionary tradition, full of State pride, a grave taciturn, composed and dignified soldier, is the proper type of whatever is best and most worth of pride in old Virginia. Around him now rally the wrecks of those ancient families who were rich and proud when Gov. Dinwiddie spoke of George Washington as a "young man of promise." Patrick Henry told stories over the counter of his country store. Forrest, of obscure family, and with floating habits of life – a gambler, a duelist, a Negro trader and sharp speculator, yet possessed the brute courage and tireless energy, is a fit successor of Jim Bowie, and ought to carry at his waistband the identical butcher knife to which that great ruffian first gave name.
And yet so precisely have these bloody days of Southern revolution suited the development of his character, that now this well-dressed and well-mounted adventurer has developed into a great cavalry leader, and won for himself a name in military history beside the names of Marion and Murat. How sudden and how imposing are the revolutions developed by a great war. We could have predicted that the plain simple direct and mildest businessman named U. S. Grant, printed on the right upper corner of his broker's card in St. Louis in 1860, would in four years stamp that name in gigantic capitals on the roll of great warriors, beside the names of Hannibal and Turenne, and Gustavo's Adolph us and Cromwell, and Washington and Jackson?
The boys of the next generation will take an unwholesome but absorbing interest in reading such legends as may drift down the rude stream of our border history, telling of Crockett and how he hunted and fought bears and Indians, and how, as civilization crowded upon the rough border, he moved to wilder scenes and fell fighting a swarm of Mexicans with clubbed rifle at the capture of the Alamo.

They may read, too, of Bowie and his bear-fights and the great knife he hammered out of an old trap, and his duels, and his street-fights, and his Indian fights, and how he, too, migrated to the bloody border, and surrounded his life over the bodies of a dozen dead Mexicans, fighting "game to the last" at the Alamo.

The last of this redoubtable line of bowie-knife heroes is Forrest.

For some years before the rebellion, Forrest was well known as a Memphis speculator and Mississippi gambler. His associates were Mississippi steamboat men, Tennessee negro traders, river gamblers, and plantation speculators. He was for some time Captain of a boat that ran between Memphis and Vicksburg, and, if stories are true, made it quite as much to his interest to pass his nights at the card table in the cabin as on the hurricane deck. These winnings were held with a thrift now usual in such cases, and regularly invested in "choice lots of negro slaves" regularly who were carried to the large plantations down this river and sold to his friends, the cotton planters, at a handsome advance on their cost in Tennessee. As his fortune thus increased he engaged in plantation speculation, and, in 1860 was the nominal owner of two plantations not far from Goodrich's Landing, above Vicksburg, where he worked some hundred or more slaves.

This gave him admission to society and grade above his river associates, and he began to cover the hilt of his six-shooter and keep his bowie knife more concealed. Burt when after the election of Mr. Lincoln, in the fall of 1860, Yancey and Gov. Harris and Jeff. Davis took the stump through the southwest for secession, the fighter got the better of the speculator, and Forrest at once developed that taste and talent for bloodshed, which amounts almost to military genius,. The same qualities that made him a cool fighter with the bowie knife, and a winner at the card table, gave him steady nerve in a cavalry charge, and enable him to withdraw his forces in time to assure a retreat when he finds himself outnumbered.

Forrest began at the foot of the ladder. He enlisted as a volunteer private in the first or about the first infantry regiment that was recruited in Memphis at the first firing of the Southern heart. But his qualities as a horseman and a fighter soon attracted notice and he was made Captain of a cavalry company. Promotion came as he was made Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment.
He took his first lessons in the cavalry skirmish on the line of the Green River, when Buell advanced on Bowling Green in the Winter of '62.

When Grant won his first laurels and struck his first great blow at the rebel cause at Donelson, Forrest was senior Colonel, commanding a brigade and after the surrender headed his first charge, cut his way through the Union lines, and withdrew his brigade in safety to the mountains of East Tennessee. South after he made a swift and stealthy march on Murreesboro caught the good easy [?] commander on the post a napping, and carried the town by a sweeping charge. Then he was been ranging from the Ohio River on the north to the banks of the Tombigbee and from the mountains of North Carolina to the Valley of the Mississippi, now making a raid two hundred miles into our lines, now hanging a citizen, defiant and dangerous I on the rear of a retreat; now driving back Smith in disorder; and now falling back himself but fighting every mile before Grierson, now charging with five hundred picked men through the streets of Memphis, and escaping with trivial losses, and as the darkest and most damning of his rebel exploits, charging into Fort Pillow, and after the outnumbered garrison had ceased firing were wholly at his mercy, permitting his flushed and demonized crew to shoot, stab, roll down the bank and tow into the river six hundred victims [sic].

So far war has proved the most regularly successful and the most dangerous of all the rebel cavalry leaders. He is more collected, deliberate and defiant than was that romantic their and good-natured freebooter, Jack Morgan.
He commands a much larger force, and wields it with more power and skill than Mosby. He fights harder, and is more sullen and defiant in retreat than Stuart. He is more brilliant and effective than Wheeler. When this war subsides from regular filed land post strategy into irregular, predatory and guerrilla warfare, the probability is that Forrest may act independently of Law, and draw around him all those fierce, disappointed and reckless spirits who may escape from the withering volleys and crushing charges of Grant and Sherman.

Lee is too calm a man, and too orderly and well grounded in military first principles, to fight after systematic strategy becomes quite hopeless; and Beauregard, though a good engineer, is not a leader of men. But Forrest lives to shed blood, and is quite likely to keep on killing on out of pure revenge, after the Southern Confederacy has been swept into the limbo where are congregated all the dreams of fools.

"Gone glimmering 'mid the dreams of things that were.
A schoolboy's tale, the pageant of an hour"

In person Forrest is formidable, not to say impressive. He is a little over six feet in height, strongly built, and without looking at all plump, weighs about a hundred and seventy five. He appears to be thirty-eight years of age, in the perfection of vigorous manhood, insensible to fatigue, incapable alike of sympathy, or weakness, or fear.

He is a consummate horseman and a deadly pistol shot. Yet his control over men is absolute for he takes no airs, will talk familiarly with any of his men, and never, by his actions reminds them of the military interval [?] that separates a lieutenant-general of cavalry from a private in the ranks. The outlines of his face are handsome and the expression generally pleasant. But now and then, when roused a little, or issuing a positive command the devil in him lights up his eye with a fearful gleam, and you can see the terrible legend that the Almighty stamped upon the brow of the first murderer, "A Man of Blood."

While genial with his men he is often exacting and savage with his officers. Disobedience of a gleam of insubordination in an officer, he visits not by the tedious machinery of even a drum-head court-martial. He knows a more summary method.

On one occasion he reprimands a young lieutenant: in language of great severity, and the officer, stung by the insulting words, was for a moment overcome by the passion and drew his pistol. Instantly the bloody chieftain walked, deliberately up to the offender, drew his bowie-knife, and using his immense physical superiority to the uttermost, literally cut the poor fellow to the ground and after his death stab had been given, plunged the reeking dagger again and again to the hilt in the quivering flesh, and when his hellish revenge was sated, coolly wiped the dripping blade, returned it to the wasteband of his pantaloons and rode away quietly as though he had shot a yelping cur.

Such [sic] is the essential cut-throat fierceness of his nature!

Forrest is indifferent to the pleasure of the senses, a spare eater and abstentious in his habits. But he loves strong, nervous and muscular excitements. When he hears the sharp vollies of the closing fight, and sees now and then a horses, with empty but blood stained saddle coming galloping to the rear, his impatience sometimes gets the better of his discretion; his hand, before he knows it, is on the hilt of his revolver, and he will wheel away and dash in where the fight is thickest. Yet like every successful gambler he keeps a good eye on the main chance, and is hardly the man to throw away his life at the head of a forlorn hope. The likelihood is rather than like other hard fighting knights of the Bowie knife, he will drift away with some of his followers into the far Southwest, and become a Mexican adventurer or a Nicaraguan filibuster.

Very effective for the quiet and order of the Southwest will be the Minnie ball so fortunately aimed as to pierce the heart of N. B. Forrest.
New York Times, March 19, 1865.

[1] In this case the scout was a solitary individual, not a detachment of cavalry. Many references to "scouts" in the OR have similar if not identical meanings.
[2] Confederate sympathizers

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