Friday, November 18, 2011

November 15 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

15, Death and dying in Hardee's Corps hospital in Chattanooga; an entry from Kate Cumming's hospital journal
Mr. Rally, husband of the lady who had charge of the kitchen, died this morning. He had been all through the Kentucky campaign, and had been a good and brave soldier.
His poor wife is almost heart-broken. I tried to get her to stay with me, but as every thing here was connected with her sorrows, I could-not prevail upon her to remain. She had the consolation of being with him in his last moments -- one that many; a woman would give worlds to have.

Lost another patient -- J. P. Allen of Hilliard's Legion, from Coosa County, Ala. He was a long and patient sufferer. His death was one of those we can thin on with pleasure; it was that of a soldier of he cross. He met our great enemy with his armor on, and ready for the conflict. When I told him his moments were numbered, he said he was perfectly happy, and desired me to write to his wife, and tell her he hoped to meet her and his child in heaven. He made me a present of his Bible, which I shall treasure as long as I live.

All our men seem to die resigned; but it is difficult to judge of their frame of mind, as they are too far gone with disease when they come here to talk to them on the subject of death, which is another proof of the necessity of preparing while in health, for that long journey from which no traveler returns. Nearly all of the men who have died here were in a dying state when brought from the camps.

Yesterday we had a visit from Dr. ______ of Kentucky. He was on General Bragg's staff through the Kentucky campaign. He and some others went to the house of an old acquaintance and asked for food for themselves and horses, but the man was so afraid of the Federal authorities that he refused to give them any thing. This gentleman's daughter raged in defiance of all restraint, and gave them a cordial welcome and entertained them by singing southern songs. Dr. ______blamed the people of Kentucky for the failure of the campaign, and says that General Bragg did not receive the aid he expected from them.

Cumming, A Journal of Hospital Life, pp. 52-53.



  1863, Campbell's Station, Knox County. The Federal General Ambrose Burnside, pursued by General James Longstreet (C.S.A.) from Lenoir's Station via Concord, eschewed an attempt by General Lafayette McLaws (C.S.A.), coming from Loudon via Hotchkiss Valley and Kingston Roads, to head him off at the junction of the Concord and Kingston roads o­n this day. Burnside stood off three Confederate attacks and then retired to Knoxville that evening.

See report below:

  Near Bean's Station, December 17, 1863.
  Maj.-Gen. McLAWS,
  C. S. Army:
  GEN.: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of
  to-day asking for the particular reason for the issue of the order
  relieving you from duty  with this army. In reply, I am directed to say that throughout the
  campaign o­n which we are engaged you have exhibited a want of
  confidence in the efforts and plans which the commanding general has
  thought proper to adopt, and he is apprehensive that this feeling will
  extend more or less to the troops under you command.

  Under these circumstances the commanding general has felt that the
  interest of the public service would be advanced by your separation from
  him, and as he could not himself leave he decided upon the issue of the
  order which you have received.

  I have the honor to be, general, with great respect, your obedient
  Lieut.-Col., and Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

  As I was not informed of any instance wherein I had exhibited any want
  of confidence in the plans and efforts of the commanding general, and
  am still ignorant that I have ever done so, I can but close with the regret
  that my conduct has been misunderstood or misrepresented. If I have
  failed ever in any duty it was because I was ignorant of the plans or
  efforts which the commanding general wished me to carry out or to

  As I left my division o­n the next day after receiving the orders above
  quoted and went across the country to Augusta, Ga., I am not informed
  personally of its movements thereafter.

  o­n reviewing the campaign I cannot but remark--with no spirit of
  fault-finding, however, as I was totally unacquainted with Gen.
  Longstreet's plans and therefore not informed whether or not he desired
  to bring the enemy to an engagement or to force them to retire o­nly
  toward Knoxville--that if the leading division (Hood's), commanded by
  Brig.-Gen. Jenkins, had marched o­n instead of turning to the
  right and forming line of battle toward
Lenoir's Station o­n November
the enemy could have been intercepted in his retreat either at
Campbell's Station or at a point 7 miles from the forks of the road,
  where my division was halted and brought to a decisive engagement,
  which, in the existing demoralized state of the enemy, as shown by his
  hasty retreat from
Lenoir's Station, would have rendered the siege of
  Knoxville unnecessary and its fall a sequence of the battle. Our army
  could then have either returned to Chattanooga or have threatened the
  enemy's rear in the direction of Kingston, and the battle of Missionary
  Ridge would never have occurred, or the final result would have been
  more favorable to our cause.

  I was informed o­n the evening of the 15th, after dark, by o­ne of my
  couriers, who was acquainted with the country, and by citizens of
  standing who lived in the vicinity, that there was a road which, turning
  off from the
Campbell's Station road 4 miles from the forks where I
  was, led into the road upon which the enemy were 6 or 7 miles from
  my position, and that if we could gain the junction a small force could
  hold the place against great odds, as the position was a very strong o­ne.
  I wrote to Gen. Longstreet informing him of this road after dark o­n
  the 15th, but whether or not he received my note I am not aware, as no
  answer was returned. The leading division could, however, have easily
  marched to
Campbell's Station the evening previous, and a
  demonstration of my division upon
Lenoir's Station would have covered
  the movement until after dark, when I could have joined the leading
  division, or have remained in position to act as the movements of the
  enemy demanded.

  Again, I believe that if Knoxville had been assaulted o­n the evening of
  our arrival there, or the evening after (the 18th), when Kershaw's
  brigade assaulted and carried the outworks of the enemy,
  that we could have either forced an evacuation o­n the night of the 17th
  or have gained a position which would have rendered the town
  untenable; but our troops were never assembled for an assault until the
  29th, but, o­n the contrary, they were deployed in enveloping the town.

  When the assault was made o­n the 29th, if Hood's division, o­n my left,
  had assaulted the enemy's works to the left (my left) of Fort Loudon,
  and at the same time my assault was made, both points would probably
  have been carried, and without the loss of as many men as I suffered in
  attempting the fort alone, as my loss was inflicted chiefly by a deliberate
  fire from the left of the fort, which was not kept down by the
  sharpshooters there, but which would have been diverted and rendered
  less accurate if the point had been assaulted. But if the assault had not
  been made at all we could have changed our base upon the receipt of the
  news of Gen. Bragg having been compelled to fall back from
  Missionary Ridge, selected a position in the rear of Knoxville toward
  Virginia, and retired at our leisure, for I do not believe that the enemy
  would have ventured to have followed us to an engagement, even if he
  had been re-enforced, for the country, by reason of its narrow valleys
  between inaccessible mountains, offered strong defensible positions to
  enable a small force to successfully resist o­ne much superior, and we
  thus could have made use of a vast amount of grain and hay and
  subsistence which was afterward wasted by the enemy. As it was, the
  enemy made no pursuit of us, but following at a distance retreated as we
  turned o­n them.

  o­n the night of the 8th, after my arrival at Mooresburg, I sent for my
  chief quartermaster and commissary, who had been there in advance of
  the command, and they informed me that in the section of country which
  could be foraged from that place subsistence stores and forage were
  more abundant than in any section north of it, and the commissary
  (Maj. Edwards) gave me a list of mills around the country which could
  be used in making flour and corn-meal for the troops. I informed
  Gen. Longstreet by letter to his adjutant-general (Lieut.-Col.
  Sorrel) of these facts, but no reply was given. The troops were marched
  o­n, however, and the enemy came up in the rear, destroying and
  wasting everything not absolutely needed for themselves, and then our
  army returned o­n the 14th and had to fight to get back the country
  which they could have had unmolested by remaining there.

  After the assault (the day after, I believe, or it may have been two or
  three days after), at a council of war called by Gen. Longstreet,
  consisting of Lieut.-Gen. Longstreet, Maj. Gen. L. McLaws,
  Brig. Gen. B. R. Johnson, Brig.-Gen. Jenkins,
  Brig.-Gen. Kershaw, and Col. E. P. Alexander, the question
  was submitted as to the best course to be pursued-whether to join
  Gen. Bragg or to change our base looking toward Virginia. The
  council was informed by Gen. Longstreet that he had received a
  telegram from President Davis directing him to join Gen. Bragg, if
  possible, with his forces. Several telegrams, or o­ne at least, from
  Gen. B., was shown, wherein it stated that Gen. Bragg's army had
  retired toward Dalton, Ga., the exact point I do not recollect, and
  intimating that if he (Gen. L.) could join him in would be desirable,
  but the could not except any assistance from Gen. B. in making the
  effort. Such is my recollection. Telegrams from
  the officers in command at Loudon and below, showing that the enemy
  were advancing toward Loudon, were also submitted.

  To the question, then, whether we should attempt to join Gen. Bragg,
  or change our base toward Virginia, I was called o­n for my opinion,
  being next in rank to Gen. L. I submitted that our first duty was to
  endeavor to join Gen. Bragg, as the President directed, and Gen.
  Bragg intimated as being his desire, and in discussing that question I
  argued against making the attempt, for the reason that we could not go
  by the route we came, but would have to choose o­ne farther to the east,
  and there was none in that direction that did not lead through a rough,
  mountainous, and desolate country, where neither forage nor subsistence
  could be obtained for the men and animals. That snow, as we could
  perceive, had fallen over that country, which would add to the
  difficulties of the march, as many of our men were without shoes, and
  our sick would be unable to be divided in order to obtain subsistence,
  in which event it would be a long time before we could be united again,
  so as to be of efficient service, and that the mere fact of retiring in that
  direction would thus abandon East Tennessee to the enemy, and the
  fainthearted would despond and perhaps leave us, especially those of
  that class in the regiments from Tennessee, and at the same time the
  enemy, having nothing to oppose them in East Tennessee, could
  re-enforce Gen. Grant at Chattanooga with nearly their entire force
  from Knoxville, and thus enable him to push o­n before our forces could
  possibly join Gen. Bragg, even in the unserviceable condition they
  would be in after the long and tedious march over the desolate country
  we would be compelled to travel.

  o­n the other hand, if we remained in East Tennessee, with our base
  changed toward Virginia, our force would act as a constant menace upon
  Gen. Grant's flank and rear, and compel him to keep o­ne equally as
  large in and about Knoxville to watch our movements. That we owed it
  to the people of East Tennessee, who had been loyal to us, to afford
  them some protection and not abandon them suddenly to the enemy.
  That the effect upon our troops would be beneficial, and that we would
  by remaining relieve Georgia and the whole South, excepting East
  Tennessee, from the burden of subsisting our forces, at a time, too,
  when the relief would be very sensibly felt; and that if we did have to
  draw heavily upon the resources of East Tennessee we would be
  drawing from a population the large majority of which we inimical to
  our cause, and which would be much better than necessitating us to
  oppress those farther south who were entirely loyal.

  There was no dissent from these views and the army was withdrawn
  toward Virginia. I do not claim that my views were the cause of that
  course being adopted, but I merely place my opinion upon record. I
  have no doubt but any other member of the council would have given
  the same opinion and have more forcibly expressed it.*

  L. McLAWS,

  * Casualties in McLaws' division at Bean's Station: Kershaw's
  brigade-killed, 5; wounded, 52; missing, 5; total, 62. Bryan's
  brigade-killed, 1; wounded, 1; total, 2.

OR, Series I. Vol. 31. pt. I,  pp.  497-500


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