30, U .S. S. Lexington destroys storehouse used as a base by Confederates on Cumberland River and and intelligence report on strength of Confederates near Harpeth Shoals
OFFICE MISSISSIPPI SQUADRON, Cairo, Ill., January 30, 1863.
SIR: In obedience to your order, I proceeded up the Cumberland River with the gunboat Lexington to Nashville, Tenn., and returned to this place last night [January 29]. Meeting with a transport that had been fired upon by artillery 20 miles above Clarksville, I at once went to that point and, landing, burned a storehouse used by the rebels as a resort and cover. On leaving there to descend to Clarksville, where I had passed a fleet of thirty-one steamers with numerous barges in tow, convoyed by three light-draft gunboats under Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, the Lexington was fired upon by the enemy, who had two Parrott guns, and struck three times, but the rebels were quickly dislodged and dispersed.
I then returned to Clarksville and, agreeable to the arrangement already made by Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, left that place at midnight with the whole fleet of boats, and reached Nashville the following night without so much as a musket shot having been fired upon a single vessel of the fleet. Doubtless the lesson of the previous day had effected this result.
From the best information to be had, it appears that the rebels have a number of guns with a considerable covering force extending along Harpeth Shoals, a distance of some 8 or 10 miles. This force can readily operate upon both the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. Besides these guns the enemy also has several pieces about Savannah on the Tennessee. No steamer should be permitted to run on either river above Forts Henry and Donelson without the convoy of a gunboat.
Lieutenant-Commander Fitch has not at present an adequate force to protect Government transports upon the two streams, and I would suggest the propriety of sending him the Lexington. Her heavy guns have great effect with the rebels, and while they will fire upon vessels immediately under the howitzers of the light-draft gunboats, they will not show themselves where the heavier gunboats are. I have no doubt, with the aid of the Lexington, Captain Fitch will be able effectually to protect all the Government vessels in those rivers. I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. L. PHELPS, Lieutenant-Commander.
Captain A.M. PENNOCK, U. S. Navy, Fleet Captain and Commandant of Station, Cairo, Ill.
NOR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pp. 21-22.
30, Report of Maj.-Gen. Rousseau regarding conditions in Middle Tennessee
[Ed. note: The Report of Major-General Lovell H. Rousseau regarding conditions in Middle Tennessee at the end of January 1864 is remarkable inasmuch as it speaks to the effects of military rule in the area. The report provides a rare and striking glimpse into the social circumstances and change rendered by two years of war and military occupation.]
LOVELL H. ROUSSEAU, Maj.-Gen
HDQRS. DISTRICT OF NASHVILLE, Nashville, Tenn., January 30, 1864.
Brig. Gen. W. D. WHIPPLE, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Dept. of the Cumberland:
GEN.: I think it proper I should report to you touching affairs in this district generally, and I do so.
The troops are generally under good discipline and very well drilled; far better than I expected to find.
They are well equipped and in good condition, excepting of course the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, Col. Stokes, and a few others who are neither well drilled, disciplined, [n]or equipped.
It is proper for me to remark here that two battalions of that regiment will never be of service together, and I shall press upon Governor Johnson the suggestion of the general commanding the department to separate them.
Generally matters go on pretty well between the military and the people in the district, but with some exceptions. They have not gone so well at and about Gallatin. At other posts in the district there has been no real cause for compliant, the post commanders having been vigilant in suppressing the rebellion and just in their treatment of the people.
I call especial attention to the admirable administration of affairs in his command by Col. Henry R. Mizner, Fourteenth Michigan Volunteers, at Columbia. His troops, generally led by Maj. Thomas C. Fitz Gibbon, a very efficient and gallant officer, have captured, I believe, more armed rebels than he has men in this regiment.
The disposition of the people to return to their allegiance is general and apparent. I think that eight-tenths of the people of this district desire the restoration of civil authority and the old Government, and will say so when the proper occasion is offered. I have conversed with most of the leading and influential men of the district, and think I am not deceived.
The change is very marked and decided, and the general commanding himself would be surprised to see it.
The disorders and confusion incident to the war have caused great suffering, of which they are heartily tired, and are desirous of peace on almost any terms.
The negro population is giving much trouble to the military, as well as to the people. Slavery is virtually dead in Tennessee, although the State is excepted from the emancipation proclamation. Negroes leave their homes and stroll over the country uncontrolled. Hundreds of them are supported by the Government who neither work nor are able to work. Many straggling negroes have arms obtained from soldiers, and by their insolence and threats greatly alarm and intimidate white families, who are not allowed to keep arms, or who would generally be afraid to use if they had them. The military cannot look after these things through the country, and there are no civil authorities to do it.
In many cases negroes leave their homes to work for themselves, boarding and lodging with their masters, defiantly asserting their right to do it. It is now and has been for some time the practice of soldiers to go to the country and bring in wagon-loads of negro women and children to this City, and I suppose to other posts. Protectionists are granted to some slaves to remain with their owners, exempt from labor, as in case of Mrs. Buchanan, relative to Secretary E. H. East, whose letter on that subject is forwarded with Thos. Gen. Paine has adopted the policy of hiring slaves to their owners by printed contracts, made in blank and filled up for the occasion, which, though a flagrant usurpation, I have not interfered with his action on that and many other subjects, preferring to submit such matters to the consideration of the general commanding the department, which I shall do in a separate communication forwarded at the same time this goes. Inclosed I send you blank contract used by Brig.-Gen. Paine.
Officers in command of colored troops are in constant habit of pressing all able-bodied slaves into the military service of the United States.
One communication from citizens near McMinnville on that subject I have already forwarded you. Many similar complaints have been made.
This State being excepted from the emancipation proclamation, I supposed all [these] things are against good faith and the policy of the Government. Forced enlistments I have endeavored to stop, but find it difficult if not impracticable to do so. In fact, as district commander, I am satisfied I am unable to correct the evils complained of connected with the black population, and, besides, I am not without orders or advice from department headquarters. At best, the remedy would be difficult to find, and I suppose can only be furnished by the restoration of civil authority. By proclamation Governor Johnson has ordered elections in March of civil officers.
I desire to call attention to another matter. From impressments, legal and illegal, and from thefts, there are very few horses, mules, or oxen left on the farms, and the few that are left are almost worthless. At present there are many large farms without one serviceable work beast on the place. The farmers are afraid to purchase because of repeated impressments. Every mounted regiment that goes through the country takes what it pleases of stock, &c., and pays what price, or none at all, it likes. Between the loyal and disloyal no discrimination is made. Unless an order be made preventing future impressments and protecting the farmers, little or no crops will be produced.
When the civil authority shall be restored, assurances of protection from department headquarters to all persons who would take the oath of amnesty prescribed in the President's proclamation, in my opinion, would induce the community almost in a body to voluntarily take that oath and seek the protection of Government. At present that proclamation is of little practical utility amongst the people, as there is no person appointed by whom the oath should be administered, no place or time fixed for that purpose. It would seem that some importance should be attached to the administration of that oath to produce the effect designed, and should not be (as oaths heretofore) lightly administered.
The policy of seizing houses in Nashville in which to place commissary and quartermaster stores is bad for the Government and unjust to the people; it is done at an enormous expense, as rents average high here and the Government cannot afford to take a loyal man's store-house without paying him a fair compensation. A very small portion of the rents thus paid would be sufficient to erect temporary buildings, which would furnish ample room for all such stores. Several quite extensive buildings of the character indicated have been erected and others are nearly completed, but it would certainly be better if all Government stores were kept in Government buildings, as it would save expense of labor in handling the stores and placing them in and taking them out of upper sorties of houses, as well as of money in rents.
The building of the Northwestern Railroad is progressing pretty well. The following is a report of the present condition of the road:
From Nashville: Road in running order, 34 miles; ready for grading and iron, 20 miles.
From Tennessee River in this direction: Ready for iron, 18 miles; grading yet to be done, 6 miles.
Col. Innes, First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, reports that he requires two more negro regiments, [with] which, in addition to some 300 of McCallum's men (he understands is ordered to report to him, and that if the quartermaster will send forward the iron he can get one or two more engines to send to the Tennessee River), he can finish the road ready for business in sixty days. Fifteen hundred tons of iron for that road left Pittsburg for this place three days ago. I shall endeavor to supply Col. Innes with the forces he desires as soon as it may be done.
The Fourteenth Michigan (Col. Mizner) is re-enlisting, and will soon probably go on furlough as veterans. Other troops will have to fill their place.
The road to Columbia, including bridges built, was repaired by men principally under my command. Some time since, as you were informed at the time, I sent a regiment of colored troops to guard at small bridges and to erect stockades. This I thought necessary, as squads of the enemy were going through the country and might interrupt transportation by the destruction of those bridges. When Gen. Ward's brigade, now ordered to the front, shall leave here, there will not be enough troops to guard the railroad between this and Murfreesborough and the supplies at this point. There will then be but four regiments left here-the Thirteenth Wisconsin, Seventy-third Ohio; one of them must be sent on the railroad toward Murfreesborough.
The Thirteenth Wisconsin has re-enlisted and will soon go home, thus leaving two regiments of infantry and Col. Galbraith's battalion of cavalry to guard this place. It seems to me that now one of the two regiments at McMinnville could be spared from that point-Twenty-third Missouri Volunteers-to this place, thus leaving Col. Gilbert, the more efficient of the two, in command of the post. It is hoped that the bridge now being built by him will be finished by the time the Twenty-third Missouri starts for this place, if you think it should be so ordered; but even the addition of that regiment will not afford a sufficient guard for the supplies here. I have telegraphed on this subject to-day. The Eighth Iowa Cavalry is on the line of Northwestern Railroad, and Gen. Gillem thinks it is needed there.
LOVELL H. ROUSSEAU, Maj.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. II, 267-270.