TENNESSEE CIVIL WAR NOTES FOR MAY 10-1861-1865
10, "…this whole region is in a miserable state of unpreparedness, and totally unable to meet an invasion that is imminently threatened by U. S. troops from the North." A fearful assessment and counsel relative to military preparedness in West Tennessee
TRENTON, TENN., May 10, 1861.
Gen. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War, &c., Montgomery, Ala.:
DEAR SIR: I came to this place my former residence, a few days since from my plantation in Noxubee County, Miss., and found this whole region is in a miserable state of unpreparedness, and totally unable to meet an invasion that is imminently threatened by U. S. troops from the North. There are now at Cairo, the southern point of Illinois, 7,000 men, well armed, having field artillery and plenty of heavy guns, and everything indicates that it is being made a strong point-d'appui, or basis of operations, for an extensive invasion of the country below. It is quite probable that in a few days a force of 20,000 or 30,000 men will be concentrated at Cairo, and in all this section there are only a few half-formed companies of volunteers and home guards, mostly without arms of any kind, to meet and repel any attempt at invasion. The defenses being prepared on the Mississippi above Memphis are totally inefficient when the river is down, and it is now rapidly falling. There are at Randolph, the second Chickasaw Bluff, about 1,000 men with two batteries under the bluff, but a force of 1,500 or 2,000 landed a few miles above can easily march around, take possession of the hills that overlook the batteries, and shoot down the men in them like bullocks in a pen. Another fort for the protection of these batteries should be immediately constructed, or they will be of little use. In like manner a respectable force can be landed above Fort Harris and in a few hours be in the city of Memphis, where there are no defenses looking landward. The best defense of Memphis, as well as all points below, on and off the river, may be made at Columbus, Ky. Below the mouth of the Ohio River there is no strategic point of half so much importance, and it should be immediately occupied by a strong force, notwithstanding the neutral position of Kentucky. Self preservation demands it. A strong fort at that place and an auxiliary one at the old Jefferson Barracks at the mouth of Mayfield Creek, eight miles above Columbus, with sufficient garrison in each, would protect the terminus of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and prevent the passage of any but an overwhelming force. If the Government of the Confederate States should not determine to take and fortify Columbus, then a strong force should be immediately sent to Union City, the intersection of the Mobile and Ohio with the Nashville and Northwestern Railroads, and to the point where the former railroad crosses the Obion River, with field artillery and a sufficiency of heavy guns for several strong batteries. The Mississippi and West Tennessee volunteers should be concentrated at these points. Your Excellency would excuse me for making and urging these suggestions did you know the expose situation of this region, and the greater imminence of the danger from the recent action of the State of Tennessee and her alliance with the Confederate States of America.
I have the honor to be, with highest respect, your obedient servant,
WM. W. LEE.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. II, pp. 93-94.
10, 1862 Federal Sunday School in a stockade; an entry from the Diary of Lyman S. Widney
Sunday – May 10 – Attended Sunday School in one of the Stockades conducted by Col. Buckner of [the] 79th Illinois who announced that it would be continued every Sunday while we remained. This Stockade [sic] appeared like a queer place for a Sunday School. It is octagon in shape with heavy timbers laid one upon another in layers and thick enough to be impenetrable to bullets. It is lighted by several circles of port holes wide enough to permit a musket barrel to be thrust through. Platforms around under each of the port holes on the inside where the defenders are to stand to load and fire[;] a ditch surrounds the entire structure and a heavy door is ready to be closed against hostile intruders.
Diary of Lyman S. Widney
10,1863, Observations on Federal forces in Murfreesboro, an excerpt from the diary of John C. Spence
The Federal soldier here are taking matters quite easy, lying about in the shade eating and drinking. There is quite a mania among them in the way of remodeling their camps. They haul large quantities of cedar brush to ornament their tents, make latice [sic] frame and work the branches in. This destroys a great deal of timber. It appears they came to destroy, it matter[s] not which way.
* * * *
But the greatest excitement here among the soldiers is buying ginger cakes, pyes [sic] and lemonade. Many add whiskey, as the effects are seen some times by their being overcome by the article. When this happens, as a punishment, the guilty will have to carry a rail on his shoulder for about two hours each day for two or three days or a headless four barrel, with the head of the man out at the top, for this length of time. This is for getting drunk, a mode of punishment in the camps by the Yankees. They don't appear to mind it much. Some of them would be willing any time to carry rail or barrel, for a good swig of whiskey.
Some of the boys, as they call themselves, are troublesome, slipping round citizens [sic] gardens and stealing vegetables as they get of any size, onions in particular. They will go to any length to obtain a fiew [sic] onions.
Spence, Diary, p. 91.
10, Affair with guerrillas at Winchester
MAY 10, 1864.--Affair with guerrillas at Winchester, Tenn.
Report of Col. Henry K. McConnell, Seventy-first Ohio Infantry.
HDQRS. SEVENTY-FIRST Regt. OHIO VET. VOL. INFTY., Elk River, Tenn., May 11, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report that the guerrillas at Winchester yesterday morning were those of Hays and Davis, and were from thirty to forty in number. Capt. McConnell drove them from ten to fifteen be moving in this direction his probable route will be by Lexington, Pulaski, and Fayetteville, a distance of more than 100 miles. We are keeping a vigilant lookout in that direction. We lack 20,000 rounds of ammunition of the quantity required to be kept on hand. I received intelligence yesterday of 300 bushels of corn being brought from below to be manufactured into whisky. I can secure the corn by going not more than ten miles. There can be nothing permanently in the way of mapping until we can secure instruments for that purpose. Mr. Gilham, who lives near this post, will be of great use to us employed in secret service. Can he be so employed? There is also a colored man at Winchester who is regularly reporting here, and will also be of service.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. K. McCONNELL,
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 39, pt. I, p. 15.
10, Confederate forces under Colonel J. F. Newsom seek to undertake policing mission in West Tennessee after the collpase of the Confederacy
HDQRS., Jackson, Tenn., May 10, 1865.
Brig.-Gen. MEREDITH, Cmdg., & C., Paducah, Ky.:
GEN.: With reference to the surrender of West Tennessee, which was demanded of me, I desire to make this communication in order that, should that event occur, a full and perfect understanding can be had. I am here under orders from Lieut.-Gen. Forrest for the purpose of collecting the men absent from their commands, and to take measure to break up all bands of robbers and guerrillas, and being the officer highest in rank in the country where my fields of labor are I am in command of the same to a limited extent. As to the surrender of the forces in West Tennessee, I am controlled and bound by the orders and acts of Lieut.-Gen. Taylor, commanding department. His surrender, as a matter of course, includes myself and the District of West Tennessee, and myself and command are bound by that act. I am frank to say that whenever the department commander makes a surrender I shall surrender the forces in West Tennessee under my command. My mission here is more for the protection of the citizens and to break up the bands of lawless men and robbers who infest the country.
Knowing the condition of the people here, and that they need all the protection in my power in order to enable them to live and save what little had been left them, I have directed all my energies and time to clearing the country of lawless and bad men. In behalf of the citizens I ask that none of the men belonging to the command of Col.'s Hawkins and Hurst be sent here. The feeling that exists between soldiers of these commands and the citizens is such that private malice and private revenge might be more the result of such a policy than the restoration of order. For the purpose of a full and perfect understanding on these matters, I am ready to meet and confer with you at such time and place as you will designate, and respectfully ask for such a conference.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
J. F. NEWSOM, Col., Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, vVol. 49, pt. II, pp. 711-712
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