8, 1862 One Cumberland Plateau, White County, Cherry Creek woman's view of Confederate conscription
....If I could only hear from Fayette!* He would soon be at home if it were not for the conscript law, compelling all the privates to stay two years longer. I don't like to wish anyone any harm, but I wish that the mean cowardly wretches who made the law had to stand in the places of the poor honest fellow whom they have beguiled into this unhappy war, and kept there by such low-lifed tyranny. I believe that if the boys knew all that we know, they would rise "en masse" and come home at the peril of their lives; as it is there will be some tracks made with the heel toward the camps, and many a soldier who is put on guard will be "found missing" when his time is out.
Amanda McDowell Diary. pp. 128-129.
8, Scout to Mount Pleasant and La Fayette and Rising Sun
MOSCOW, July 8, 1862.
I had dispatched a train for Memphis and escort of a regiment, but upon receiving your dispatch that we could depend for supplies on Columbus I ordered the train from La Fayette. I have just sent a scouting party of 100 cavalry to Mount Pleasant and La Fayette and propose to send a brigade to Rising Sun, where wagon train was attacked, to recover the 6 broken wagons and to take a number of mules from the neighboring planters, according to Grant's orders, to make good the loss. There are small bodies of cavalry all around the country, but I can hear of no large parties or any infantry. If infantry advance from Tallahatchie they will most likely move toward Germantown. Weather is intensely hot and dust very bad. We have abundance of water here in Wolf River.
W. T. SHERMAN, Maj.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt. II, pp. 83-84.
8, Nashville prostitutes loaded on Idahoe [sic]
The steamboat Idahoe [sic] was at Branch Lick Wharf, yesterday afternoon, receiving as passengers a number of cyprians, who were bound for some northern port, under the late orders of the military authorities. At five o'clock there were upwards of a hundred on board and they still continued to come. Amongst them were the most degraded of their class. The boat was to have left last night, and we suppose she got off.
Nashville Daily Union, July 9, 1863
8, 10, 13, 16-20, August 3, Scout from Germantown
A Series of events, enumerated below in this and other entries to follow, give particulars about the nature of the scouts, skirmishes and most interestingly, conscript sweeps in West Tennessee in the summer of 1863.
JULY 8, 1863.--Scout from Germantown, Tenn., etc.
JULY 10, 1863.--Skirmish at Bolivar, Tenn.
JULY 13, 1863.--Skirmishes on Forked Deer River and at Jackson, Tenn.
JULY 16-20, 1863.--Scout from Germantown, Tenn.
AUGUST 3, 1863.--Scout from Fort Pillow and skirmish near Denmark, Tenn.
Report of Col. Robert V. Richardson, C. S. Army.
SELMA, ALA., August 10, 1863.
SIR: About five weeks ago I reached West Tennessee. I found my regiment, the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry (partisan rangers), badly scattered, the effect of my long absence, and the intermeddling [sic] of certain officers who had gone into West Tennessee during my absence and sought to take command of my men. I immediately set about collecting my men and forming new companies. I found a lively feeling of patriotism to prevail among the people, which was greatly stimulated by the knowledge of my appointment as chief for the Bureau of conscription of West Tennessee, and my proclaimed intention to put the laws In force without delay. Very soon there were not less than forty new company organizations on foot throughout West Tennessee ; some of these were soon formed, others dragged. I designated a day for the meeting of the Twelfth Regiment; about one-half met me; but the Yankees getting wind of my arrival and movements came out in force from La Grange, Memphis, and Germantown to break me up. Fortunately I had only designated to my company officers the place of meeting, and we met, but our Yankee friends went to Galloway's Switch, one of our camps, expecting to find us, when our real place of meeting was about ten miles distant. I saw that I could not successfully fight the force of the enemy, and by making a night march passed around his camp to his near, and crossed the Big Hatchie River and went on my way collecting my new recruits. I then designated Jackson as a place of general rendezvous, where I hoped to be able to collect enough new companies to organize two new regiments and the balance of the Twelfth. The enemy again got news of my movements and came out from La Grange in force, 2,000 strong, with one battery of artillery, to break up and disperse, if not capture and destroy, the forces there to be collected. As soon as I learned of their movements I ordered my men to Cotton Grove. Here I met with Col. Jeff. Forrest and Col. Wilson with about 200 men each, both belonging to Col. (now Gen.) Roddey's command, who had just come into West Tennessee for the purpose of recruiting and completing their regiments. Together we had about 800 men. Their men well armed, by men indifferently, about half having none at all.
Col. Forrest's scouts had found the enemy in force, estimated at 2,000 men, near Mount Pinson, east of Jackson, moving in the direction of Swallow Bluff, on the Tennessee River. The enemy seemed to anticipate that we intended to-evacuate West Tennessee by that route, crossing at Swallow Bluff and passing into North Alabama, and their effort first appeared to be to cut us off from this line of egress. I was satisfied from the numbers of the enemy's force that he had brought from La Grang,e all his available mounted men, and that the line of exit from West Tennessee through the enemy's lines near La Grange was feasible. I therefore countermarched from Cotton Grove and gathered up all my men that I could then reach near the route I expected to take all my men that I could then reach near the route I expected to take, and by crossing the Forked Deer at Poplar Corner, passing through Wellwood, and publicly stating that I intended to cross the Big Hatchie at the ford near the block-house, I made a rapid march during the night of the 29th of July, gained the bridge, crossed the Big Hatchie at Bolivar at daybreak on the morning of the 30th of July in the rear of the enemy's forces, threw the planks off the bridge, and stopping in Bolivar only long enough to distribute to my wearied and hungry men a barrel of crackers purchased there, resumed the march toward Middleton, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. At 12 m. on the 30th of July, in one mile of Middelton and one mile of the water-tank, both fortified, and between the two, I passed the road. The movement was so sudden and unexpected that the Yankees did not fire a gun at us, but scampered to their works for protection. I fired a short trestle and tore down the telegraph wire as I passed, as a memento of our transit, and passed at my leisure on toward Ripley, Miss....
* * * *
....I shall return to West Tennessee and not only complete the organization of the two new regiments, but think I will be able to organize about 5,000 men. Indeed, I feel certain that this number can be raised in West Tennessee during the present and next month if I can give assurances that you will arm them. My plan of operations in this: First, to organize a mounted force of sufficient strength to hold West Tennessee and go where it pleases-say from three to five regiments, making from 2,000 to 3,000 men; then to recruit the old regiments of the Provisional Army by the strict enforcement of the conscript laws in West Tennessee. As we may expect our occupancy of West Tennessee be contested the force for operations there must have the element of rapid motion-therefore mounted-but at the same time must have the reliability of infantry; therefore it must be composed of cavalry proper, mounted infantry, rifles, and horse artillery.
It will be impossible to establish camps of instruction In West Tennessee, but a suitable place can be chosen on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, in Mississippi. There are in West Tennessee many stragglers, absentees, and deserters from the Provisional Army. The Government has no transportation there. It Is difficult to send them to their commands when they are arrested. Many of them are poor and have no horses. The country Is pretty well exhausted of horses by the Yankees and my mounted men. It will not be safe to sent them through the enemy's line afoot. The only alternative left me is to impress horses or mules from the small stock of animals left to mount them. Many of these men are good soldiers. They do not want to return to their old commands, because they have not lost all pride of character, and do not want to be pointed at by their comrades as deserters. They are anxious to join me, and would mount themselves if they were assured that they would be permitted to remain in my command. If you will allow all such who will mount themselves to remain with me, I will more than repay their old commands by conscripted recruits. It must be borne in mind that these men are wholly within the enemy's lines and cannot be withdrawn except by my command or other similar ones. To allow them to join me is to restore that much lost strength to the Armies of the Confederacy. Any order or communication you may see proper to make on this subject, or any other, if addressed to me, to the care of Gen. Ruggles at Columbus, Miss., will reach me.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
R. V. RICHARDSON, Col. Cmdg. and Agt. of Bureau of Conscription in W. Tennessee.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 72-74.