Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 26 Tennessee Civil War Notes

            26, "Palmyra True to the South;" demagoguery and enlistment in Clarksville

The citizens of Palmyra and its vicinity met here to-day, in obedience to a call made for the purpose of raising a volunteer company, to enlist in defense of Southern Rights.

S. F. Allen was called to the Chair, and Rbt. Eldridge appointed Sec'y.

Col. W. A. Quarles, of Clarksville, then took the stand, and addressed them, with great earnestness and ability, exposing the duplicity practiced upon the South by Lincoln and his Cabinet, condemning the vile and flagrant acts of usurpation by which they seek to carry out their unholy purpose of subjugating the Southern States. He proved conclusively that the "armed neutrality" position advocated by some, for Kentucky and Tennessee to assume tended only to assist the North. His speech was marked by sincerity and patriotic zeal, was every appropriate, effective, and well received. At the conclusion of which, it was moved by A. Outlaw, Esq., and seconded, that the resolutions presented by Col. W. A. Quarles, to the Southern Rights Association, held at Clarksville, on the 13th inst., as published, be adopted by this meeting, which was agreed to unanimously. Col. M. G. Gholson, having been solicited, gallantly accepted the invitation and announced that he would take command of a company of volunteers, if a sufficient number would enlist. Faster than the Secretary could record their names, 36 of the honest and patriotic young men offered themselves, and were well received.

Liberal contributions were made to supply them with provision while on drill.

The call then for a Home Guard was responded to by every man present, in the district. Col. Quarles proceeded to organize them, by having officer elected. W. B. Russell, Esq., was elected Captain; Mr. R. M. [?] Williamson, 1st Lieutenant; H. T. Oliphant, 2nd; M. C. Powers, Ensign; and S. A. Caldwell, O.S.

On motion of Col. Gholson, it was ordered, that the Clarksville papers be furnished with a report and requested to publish the proceedings of this meeting, which then adjourned, having been conducted with the most exemplary order, particularly characterized by unanimous feelings of indignation and defiance towards the North, and unflinching devoted [sic] to Southern Rights.

Clarksville Chronicle, April 26, 1861.

26, Observations on Confederate Fortifications from Fort Wright to Memphis

Down the Mississippi, from Fort Wright to Memphis.

The old story is to be re-enacted; barriers and hindrances, new Gibraltars and impregnable positions, new obstructions, new boastings; to be succeeded by new quests b the Government troops, as they steadily press onward to clear the Mississippi, and open its waters, without hindrance or danger, from Lake Itaska to the Gulf, once more uniting the North and South by the remover of Mr. Bright's geographical objection against disunion.

Fort Wright, called, we believe, Fort Pillow, until that famous General became infamous even in Rebel eyes, lies on the east bank of the Mississippi, upon an eminence, giving it an extensive command. Connected with it, artificial obstructions are placed across Tie River, and swept by the batteries. Just back of the fort is the town of Fulton, and just below it, in the river, Island No. 34. The fort is about eighty miles from Memphis. It has already been attacked, but the exact character of the defence is not yet known. To judge from the names of runs and bens between Fort Wright and Memphis, the river here must bear a particularly diabolical character. Just below Island No. 35 is the "Devil's Race," a sort of crevasse which cuts off the inner projection a bend; and below Island no 37 is the "Devil's Elbow," an ugly and tortuous bend, about twenty miles above Memphis.

Fort Randolph, the second serious obstruction below Fort Wright, and not more than ten miles distant from it by land-the Hatchie river flowing in between-is situated upon high sand bluffs on the east bank, directly parallel to the river. Its guns also sweep artificial obstructions in the cannel of the river. The next impediment will be found at Fort Harris, on the same bank. It is just below the Devil's Elbow, and the river obstructions are natural ones, in the shape of Island No. 40, and an extensive sand-bar, between which the channel of the river is unusually narrow. The true Fort Pillow, the real "Richmond" of the six or more, lies just north of Memphis and commands the river.

To move directly down a stream thus formidably defended and obstructed, would be difficult indeed; but when we reflect that every point referred to, even Memphis itself, is really already taken in flank and rear, and the vast numbers of splendid troops assist and combine with the gunboats in the movements, there can only be a small delay-the issue cannot be doubtful.

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 26, 1862.

            26, Engagement, U. S. N. and Brigadier-General Alfred W. Ellet's Mississippi Marine Brigade at Duck River Island.[1]

Report of Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, U. S. Navy, transmitting report of commanding officer of U. S. S. Emma Duncan regarding engagement at [Duck River Shoals] Green Bottom Bar, Tennessee River.


Hamburg Landing, April 28, 1863


* * * *

[On the morning of the 26th]....I cruised on up leisurely, keeping a good look out for the enemy along the right bank, but saw no signs of them till I arrived at Duck River Shoals, when I heard musketry and artillery a short distance (not a mile) ahead. I pushed on over the bar and met General Ellet's fleet just at the head of the shoals engaging the rebel battery. I was then in good range and at once opened fire on the enemy. There was not room for his boats to round to or to back out of the channel. He was compelled to push on over the bank before he could effect a landing.

I took the battery side and moved on up to cover his boats as much as possible, at the same time raking the bank without heavy guns. The ram Monarch by this time came in range and opened fire also.

As soon as I rounded the point the enemy fired a farewell shot at one of the brigade goats, limbered up and were off. Some few sharpshooters remaining behind fired a few shots at a transport having on board sick and wounded.

Several of the enemy were found dead on the bank, and many more were dragged off in the woods. I should suppose that their loss in killed and wounded is about 25 or 30.

I believe General Ellet lost 2 killed and 1 wounded on his boats, also some horses killed.

About 11 p. m. I left General Ellet at the foot of the bar and proceeded on up the river with his boat and the Emma Duncan to communicate with the fleet above. I arrived at Eastport (Mississippi) in the afternoon of the 27th....

[On the 28th] I...returned to Hamburg....

LeRoy Fitch, Lieutenant Commander

Navy OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pp. 85-86.



No. 1.-Brig. Gen. Alfred W. Ellet, U. S. Army, commanding Mississippi Marine Brigade with itinerary of the command for April, 1863.

No. 2.-Lieut. William F. Warren, Acting Signal Officer.

No. 1.

Report of Brig. Gen. Alfred W. Ellet, U. S. Army, commanding Mississippi Marine Brigade, with itinerary of the command for April, 1863.

CAIRO, ILL., April 30, 1863.

I have the honor to report that, in compliance with instructions received from Admiral Porter, I proceeded with my command up Tennessee River to Eastport, Miss., without interruption from the enemy. Returning in consequence of low water, I made several raids into the country, and destroyed a number of important mills and considerable amount of subsistence and supplies belonging to the enemy. At the mouth of Duck River my boats were attacked by 700 cavalry, with two pieces of artillery, commanded by Maj. [R. M.] White, of Sixth Texas Rangers. The fight was spirited for a few moments only. The enemy were driven back and pursued some 12 miles in the interior, with the loss of Maj. White, mortally wounded and left near the field, and 1 lieutenant and 8 men killed. They carried off a large number of wounded in wagons and on horses. We buried their dead. Our loss was 2 men killed and 1 wounded. The west bank of the Tennessee River was lined with refugees, who have been driven from their homes for love to the old Union. I exhausted my supplies in providing for their necessities.

The Tennessee River is too low for my boats to operate in with safety. My orders from Admiral Porter do not provide for this emergency. I shall hope to receive instructions from the Department.

ALFRED W. ELLET, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg. Mississippi Marine Brigade.

Excerpt from the Itinerary of the Mississippi Marine Brigade for April, 1863.

* * * *

On the morning of the 26th, was attacked below the mouth of Duck River by the enemy, 700 strong, commanded by Maj. [R. M.] White, of the Sixth Texas Rangers, with three pieces of artillery. Landed and pursued the enemy 12 miles, killing 10 men, including Maj. White, and wounding many more. The enemy escaped, in consequence of the utter impracticability of effecting a landing at the point of attack. Our loss was 2 men killed and several wounded, only 1 seriously.

* * * *

No. 2.

Report of Lieut. William F. Warren, Acting Signal Officer.

HDQRS. SIGNAL DETACHMENT, MISS. MARINE BRIGADE, Flag-ship Autocrat, April 26, 1863.

CAPT.: I have the honor to report that the signal detachment of the Mississippi Marine Brigade has had an opportunity to test its efficiency and make itself useful, to some extent, in the following manner:

At a few minutes past 8 o'clock this morning, while passing a point on the Tennessee River, a few miles below Duck River, where the direction of the current compelled us to run within 50 yards of the land, our fleet was opened upon by a field battery of four guns and a regiment of cavalry. The Autocrat, being in advance, was the first to receive the fire. The Diana came next, followed by the Adams, each receiving a raking fire at close range, but with very slight casualties. The Autocrat replied instantly with musketry, the Diana and Adams with musketry and field artillery. Our fire becoming too hot for the rebels, they immediately limbered up and fell back in great haste, out of musket range. The general discovering this, ordered me to signal the other boats to land their forces at once. The order was instantly understood, both by J. Q. Adams, on the Diana, and Lieut. Wilson, on the Adams. This order was immediately followed by instructions about the position in which they should land. As a result of this signaling, the troops were ready to march out almost at the instant the landing was made. We have officers on each of the five large boats who are able to read signals quite readily, and I have the honor to say that I am reliably informed that they were all upon the hurricane deck during the engagement, with glasses and equipments, on close lookout for signals. The Diana and Adams were both hotly engaging the enemy at the time their signals were given, and the Adams was receiving the fire of his battery.

Officers and men deserve commendation for their coolness and close attention to duty.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. F. WARREN, Lieut. and Acting Signal Officer, Mississippi Marine Brigade.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. I, pp. 278-280.



CORINTH, April 29 [Wed.], 1863--5.30 p. m.[2]

Maj.-Gen. HURLBUT:

Scouts in from Hamburg report that all the gunboats (five) and all transport (nine) left Hamburg at 11 o'clock to-day to descend river, to return no more. The Marine Brigade left last Friday [24th]. Had severe fight at mouth of Duck River. Three gunboats, that came up with the order for Stanley and gunboats to go out, had also encountered light battery, and had fight at same place. [24th]. Dodge took rations of bread and meat; balance of stores were taken back on transports. This leaves river open again. I shall have to communicate with Dodge through country, 50 miles. No other information to-day.


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 224, pt. III, p. 247.

            26, Education of the freedman; an entry in Alice Williamson's Diary, Sumner County

Weather beautiful. Yanks behaving like human beings [sic] with a few exceptions. Today a Yankee officer made his appearance in the school room accompanied by a Northern being whom I supposed to be a man, as he was not a gentleman; he came to look at the church saying that he was president of a school and six of his assistants had just arrived and was going to teach the "freedmen" [sic] He says he will have 3 or 400 scholars and will need the largest house in town. What a learned city-or rather yankee nest-this will be. I suppose some of us citizens will get a situation as assistant teacher in the "Freedmens [sic] University."

Williamson Diary.

            26, Capitulation of the Army of Tennessee near Durham, N. C.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 47, pt. III, pp. 312-315.

            26, Anti-guerrilla mopping up initiative on East Bank of Holston River

HDQRS. DISTRICT OF EAST TENNESSEE, Knoxville, Tenn., April 26, 1865.

Col. J. H. PARSONS, Cmdg. Ninth Tennessee Cavalry:

SIR: If the Rogersville Branch Railroad is in such condition as to enable you to procure supplies at its terminus, I wish you to move with your whole regiment to the east bank of the Holston River. Arrived there, you will leave all your impediments on the east side, and with the mounted portion of your regiment you will cross the river and thoroughly scour and clear of guerrilla and other bands of outlaws all that portion of East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia lying between the Holston River on the east and the Cumberland Mountains on the west. In the performance of this duty you are authorized and instructed to use the utmost vigorous and severe measures. The persons with whom you have to deal are outlaws so long as they are at liberty, and as such should be treated. When taken prisoners they must be treated as prisoners, and are entitled to trial, which takes time and entails trouble and expense. Give them to understand that no false mercy will be shown them and no prisoners taken, and that every man found in arms under whatever pretense, and acting without authority from Federal officers or the legally constituted authorities of the State of Tennessee, will be treated as a public enemy and an outlaw and killed like a mad dog by any one who meets him. See that your command does not interfere in any way, either in their persons or their property, with the peaceably disposed, and with those who stay at home and mind their own business. In case the railroad is not in running order to the Holston River you will make your depot camp at or near the Rogersville Junction, from which point you will draw your supplies. You will give all the aid and assistance in your power to all civil officers in the execution of their functions, and urge upon the people the necessity of re-establishing civil authority and the supremacy of State laws as soon as possible, and before the U. S. forces are disbanded or withdrawn from this section of the country. Make me, either by courier or telegraph, a daily report of your operations.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, &c.,


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. II, pp. 475-476.


[1] Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee refers to this incident as an action. This engagement was between the 6th Texas Rangers (cavalry), at Duck River Island, [a.k.a. Little Rock Landing], west of the mouth of the Duck River, on the Tennessee River. After the Texans fired a few cannon bursts and rifle volleys at the Navy boats, the Marine Brigade landed and scattered the Texans into the surrounding marshland. The use of such amphibious tactics was both relatively new as well as rare and was repeated on the Tennessee River during the war

[2] As the following correspondence indicates, there is some inconsistency concerning the actual date of the fight at the mouth of the Duck River, although since the naval forces were closer to the action than Major-General Hurlbut it seems safest to conclude the fight took place on the 26th, not the 24th.

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