1863, Columbia. The following strange letter was sent to Major-General Rosecrans from what appears to have been a busybody.
COLUMBIA, TENN. October 14, 1863.
Maj. Gen. W. S. ROSECRANS:
DEAR SIR: You perhaps remember me when I last saw you in Cincinnati.
I reside 14 miles from the city. Since I saw you last I have been traveling in rebeldom some, and have made some discoveries worth your notice.
I crossed the Tennessee River at Clifton, Wayne County, Tenn., and went from thence to Waynesborough, and from there to Lawrenceburg. In passing between those places until I got to within 8 miles of the latter place I found two-thirds of the people for the Union and no mistake and willing to take up arms for the old flag, and many of them have already done so. When I got within 8 miles of Lawrenceburg, and all the way and in the place, I found all rebels. I staid with one Union man near there, who I found a good and true Union man, who gave me the following: That there was five cotton [factories?] concealed about, and that some of these factory owners had taken an oath to the U. S. Government last year, and ever since that time nearly have furnished G. W. Jones, rebel quartermaster at Huntsville, Ala., with thousand upon thousands of yards of cloth and hanks of thread to sew with, and received in payment therefor captured cotton from the U. S. Government, which was left at the tunnel between Pulaski and Huntsville on the railroad, and besides a large amount of the cotton was loaned by the rebel States to Jeff. Davis' rebel Government, and the bats of cotton was branded, so abundant proof can be obtained to prove this by persons about the tunnel and negroes that wagoned the cotton to Lawrenceburg, and the mark on the bags of cotton, and there is some men at Huntsville that would substantiate all this, and all along the road from the tunnel to this place enough testimony can be obtained to confiscate those factories and cotton, that would be enough to pay, 50,000 soldiers for six months' service.
I found no Union sentiment, hardly, at Lawrenceburg; it was nearly deserted, and in a dilapidated condition. The most of the houses, the man told me, belonged to one L. M. Bently, who was a good and true Union man; was in the Nashville Union convention in 1862, in June. Bently was opposed to secession, but a while after the war broke out voted with the secesh; but the man told me he heard Bently say that he had rather lose all he had than the Union should be dissolved, but that he was afraid to say it publicly. I understand that Bently had to go inside your lines for protection. There is a lawyer, C. B. Davis, there; was a secessionist, but now is for reconstruction. There is a man there who pretended to be a Union man and has taken the oath, named Birney Chafin, but is undoubtedly a Southern spy; he has always a number of bushwhackers with him in his house, and I am well satisfied-beyond a doubt; he is the worst man and most dangerous spy the rebels have there. A detective in the shape of a Confederate soldier would reveal he is a rebel spy; his brother is a lieutenant in a bushwhack company. There is one Capt. L. M. Kirk that has a company there, and belongs to Col. Biffle's rebel regiment. Kirk has killed several Union men in cold blood, and is a terror to all Union sentiment. He, as well as Chafin, ought not to live one day. From what I could learn, one-half of that county is for the Union. I went from there to Mount Pleasant. At that place I found nearly all secesh, and much wealth around the place; fine lands, &c.
From there I went to Hampshire; I found nearly all Union at that place; the land is rich and the people well informed. I staid with one Mr. Beard, near Hampshire. I found him a good and true Union man, but I did not tell him my true name. From there I went to Williamsport, on Duck River, and while there I made a discovery that is worth your notice; there were four wagons passed here loaded with cloth and spun thread, under the charge of a rebel soldier and officer named Hampton, but the goods all belonged to one W. J. Porter of the Crescent factory, who was sending these goods to Clarksville to smuggle them in and get family supplies and oil to run his factory, and salt, so one of the wagoners told me, and sure enough on the return of the wagons a friend told me that they had a barrel lard-oil, a barrel salt, and sack coffee, and a quantity of goods. Is it not strange that the commander of the post at Clarksville would allow this for a rebel factory, upholding the rebels with cloth and means, as I have before stated? The wagoners stated they got the goods from a man named Parker in Clarksville; these wagons returned to Lawrence County. While there I learned some other things important; there is a rebel colonel named Dunc. Cooper, who has made up two companies bushwhackers, Capt. F. P. Scot County [sic] told me, and he told me that Capt. Scot and his lieutenants, W. Jobe Boswell and Mr. Flatt and one J. C. Chafin, were the worst men on earth in secretly killing Union men, robbing Union men, stealing horses; and he told me that only thirty days ago they got after a Union man named Bently at Centreville, tried to kill him, and stole twenty bales cotton from him. I understand the same men robbed an old Union man named J. N. Puckett, and he had to run away to Nashville to save his life. They robbed a man named George Evins, in Dickson County, by Bell's Furnace, of 5 head horses and mules; they are a terror to the whole country, and those men ought not to be permitted to live and should be killed by all means. Union men nor Union sentiment cannot exist where they are allowed to stay, and strange to say they are to be prisoners and return here.
There is a Capt. J. Nix, with 13 bushwhackers, near Centreville, on Duck River, and at Centreville I understand the men of property there indorse and uphold this bushwhacking and stealing crowd of bushwhackers, and feed them and keep them there. If you could see this old man Puckett at Nashville, he could tell the names of those rebels that deserve punishment at Centreville. They have a great many fine mules and horses there in county, &c. I saw a man from Charlotte, in Dickson County. He told me that there was some bushwhackers at or near Weems' Springs; that there was about 20 at Pine Wood Factory; that there was one Capt. Andrew Ray, with 30 men, at Mrs. Adams', on Yellow Creek, nearly always there staying and went back and forth to Kentucky to break open stores, and steal horses and mules, and that they had killed 8 Union men on Yellow Creek in cold blood. Capt. Ray had married a wife near Mrs. Adams', a Mrs. Harriet Nichols, and there was a Capt. Thompson, with 35 bushwhackers, below Andrew Brown's, on Yellow Creek, and that a few staid at the head of Yellow Creek, at Williamsville, and all these men are, or nearly so, rogues, bushwhackers, and committing all manner of mischief, and will not allow any farmer to speak out for Union; if so, this is a pretext to seize and steal all his property--a terror to the people, waylaying roads, &c.
This Col. Cooper is now staying, and is likely to stay, on Duck River, between Williamsport and Centreville, and from there to Harpeth, at the iron bridge, back and forth, stealing, killing, &c. By a well-managed affair all these rogues could be caught, these factories and cotton captured.
I request specially and particularly that this letter of mine be strictly confidential, as I have obtained information from Union men and friends, and if I was identified as giving information, or if these men who told me should be found out and identified, they could not live one week in rebeldom unprotected.
JOHN C. SMITH.
P. S.--I will write you again soon from Nashville.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 30, pt. IV, pp. 363-367.
14, "Conscripting in West Tennessee. Terror Among the People. Meditated Attack on Fort Pillow."
We learn that one company of Confederates have again made their appearance in the neighborhood of Union depot, where they are said to be conscripting, much to the terror of the inhabitants. At last accounts, they had gone toward Brownsville, where, it was feared, they would make another raid.
It is said that there is another company of rebels near Macon, Fayette county, about ten miles from Union depot. Another party on Saturday [10th] went into Somerville, and amongst others conscripted there was Hon. J. R. Mosby, well known as the late candidate for the Confederate Congress.
There was great consternation among the few remaining people in that country. The conscriptors manifest great delight when they can pick up a loyal [Union] man and force him into their ranks. All such they take beyond our lines, send to [Brigadier-General Gideon J.] Pillow at Columbus, who in turn places them under guard and sends them to some point whence escape will be impossible. It is believed that this effort of the rebels is their last desperate attempt to recruit their ranks, and that they will leave no man in the country capable of bearing arms. For some time past, the Bulletin has endeavored to urge upon the people of West Tennessee the duty and necessity of organizing home guards and adopting means for their own defense, but they remained supine and indifferent, and the result may be that many of them will have to pay their neglect by fighting in the ranks of JEFFERSON I [sic], and without any of the comforts belonging to those who keep step to the music of the Union. There is said to be honor among thieves but there seems to be none among the conscriptors, else why do they not take men of secession proclivities and sympathies and leave those known to abhor their despotic sway. If only the rebels at heart [sic] could be conscripted, we should favor even this mode of getting them into the fight of their own creating, until the last one had been made to take up arms. It is easier to get rid of them in that way than by fostering them under protection of the flag they secretly hate. It would be a great blessing to Tennessee, if such rebels were in the rebel army to-day.
Information has been received by a gentleman who was at Poplar corner, Madison county, on Friday [9th] night, that all the rebel leaders were to assemble early this week at that place for the purpose of making a descent upon and capture of Fort Pillow. They estimated that they could muster upward of three thousand men and one battery, and with these they regarded the project as certain of accomplishment. The attack on Collierville on Sunday [11th] was doubtless a part of the plan, but as that signally failed, we apprehend the programme may be materially interfered with and probably abandoned. All necessary preparations have been made for their reception, and it is hoped they will let to trivial matter deprive them of the entertainment.
The greatest terrors seems to prevail among the people of West Tennessee in reference to the conscription, and we may expect every man -- old and young -- to be taken who cannot hid in the woods and hollows, till the ordeal is over. Our advice to our friends everywhere is, organize for defense.
Memphis Bulletin, October 14, 1863.
14, Attacks upon U.S. courier near Chattanooga
HDQRS., Chattanooga and Bridgeport Courier-Line, October 14, 1863.
Lieut. M. J. KELLY, Chief of Couriers, Chattanooga, Tenn.:
LIEUT.: I sent a sergeant this morning to see about the telegraph; the wire is cut about 8 miles from Chattanooga. The sergeant was shot at four times, but fortunately escaped unhurt. Dispatches are coming through from Bridgeport, but I have not received Lieut. Lawless' report yet. Did you receive my report last night, and can you furnish the men I asked for?
JOHN W. FORRESTER, Capt., Fifth Kentucky Cav. Vols., Comdg. Courier-Line.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 30, pt. IV, p. 363.