The gas-works, having exhausted the supply of coal in the city, Nashville last night was without a solitary gas jet. The gas-works have suspended operations and our city will be in a state of darkness until a supply of coal reaches us. In the meantime our denizens will have to go back to first principles and use candles and lamp-oil.
Nashville Daily Press, December 10, 1863
10, Predicament of black and white refugees in the Murfreesboro environs, excerpt from a letter by Major-General R. H. Milroy to his wife in Rensselaer, Indiana
January 1, 1865
My Dear Mary,
* * * *
It rained snowed sleeted [sic] till on the 10th when the whole country was a glare of ice....There were thousands of poor negroes [sic] and their families who had been living and working on the R.R. cutting wood-taking care of horses-cattle etc [sic] and there were about 2000 refugees-mostly white men who had run away from the Reb [sic] conscription in the surrounding counties. All these were deprived of the means of substance [sic]. Several hundred of these refugees had come in on good horses for which they would obtain no feed. I got Rousseau to issue an order authorizing my Qr Master to purchase all these horses for Cavalry and artillary [sic] horses that were fit, which helped them along very much. But the poor darkies [sic] suffered very much for both fire wood and food. The Rebs [sic] were so near our own pickets that it was unsafe to go out for wood and all the stumps, logs, fences, and shade trees inside the pickets were mostly used up-and everything in the way of provisions became very scarce and could hardly be had for any price. I frequently seen [sic] the poor darkies greedily grabbing the entrails of hogs and beef cattle that our butchers had killed for food-There is a fine steam mill in the town that kept us from starving. We sent out our forage trains to the country for corn. All our cavalry with a brigade of Inf. and a section of Artillery accompanied each train and though they had skirmishing with the Reb [sic] Cav [sic] they always succeeded in bringing in a train loaded with corn. Part of this corn was taken to the Mill, shelled and ground, and the meal issued to all of us for bread, which was all the kind we had for ten days....
Papers of General Milroy, pp. 477-478.
10, The Plight of Refugees in Nashville
There are large numbers of indigent refugees remaining in our city, and many destitute citizens, who have before them the gloomy prospect of intense suffering, if they remain here this winter. The prices of clothing, provisions, fuel, and everything else necessary for the support of human life, have attained an altitude which renders it impossible for those, in what might have heretofore been esteemed easy circumstances, to maintain their families, without the most pinching economy. With every disposition to extend the hand of assistance to the needy, they find themselves unable to render material aid. It is upon this great middle class that the expense of all our public and private charities have principally fallen heretofore. The wealthy, wrapped up in their conceit and self importance, and regarding the poor as not fit to breathe the air they do, have never done much, and never will, unless from the vainglorious motive of having their alms published to the world. [Emphasis added.] During the present winter, therefore, it will be as much as the really benevolent can do to take care of themselves. It would, then be better for all those who have not the means of subsistence to avail themselves of the notification of the Mayor of Nashville, published this morning, and go north where there is peace and plenty. Our city is too full; and we fear if the number of non-producers is not greatly lessened, they will pay dearly before the blossoms of another Spring gladden our vision.
Nashville Daily Union, December 10, 1864