28, Excerpts from a letter by Surgeon William M. Eames (U.S.) to his wife in Ohio, relative to conditions in Nashville after a week of occupation
Camp 4 miles beyond Nashville, Tenn. Feb. 28
Friday 11 A .M.
You see by the above date that we have got through the rebel city of Nashville & are now we are encamped on a pleasant hill on the road to Murfreesborough where the rebel army is supposed to be fortifying -- about 40 miles from here. It is a very fine spring-like day & the last day of the winter months tho, we have had no weather like winter for a long time. The weather seems like what we get in May & the grass is springing up green & the buds begin to swell. The birds sing gaily among the trees & our camp begins to look cheerful once more. For the past few days we have had very hard times & the men have been sick & discouraged & everything has had a gloomy aspect, owing to rainy weather -- want of good ratios & tents to sleep under. It has rained at least half the time & the men have been drenched & soaked, & have had to wade thro, deep water & then lie down on the damp ground with no covering but the cloudy or cold regions above with nothing to cook their scanty food in & I have often been pained to see them toasting their slice of stinking ham on a stick as their only supper or breakfast with sometimes a little parched corn -- roasted on the cob. The bridges have all been destroyed by the rascals: our teams of course hindered with all the cooking utensils, provisions -- tents, bedding, etc. The Cumberland River is high above the banks & now fills many cellars & covers the houses even to the eaves. The river runs past the city with a deep angry current but our men are now all carried over & nearly all their teams which have kept along with the Reg [sic] since we left Bowling Green. Our team with 4 others was sent back from B. to Munfordville for provisions & we have not seen them since consequently we are without means of transportation save what we can carry in the room of two men in one of our ambulances. Our boxed of medicines were left & nearly all our necessary articles but we still keep along. I have not been in Nashville much except to pass through it on our way out here -- But I saw enough of it to conclude that it was at least half union in sentiment & that very many were heartily glad to see us come to relieve them from the southern tyranny which has so long ruled over them. I saw the public square in which Amos Dresser received his whipping & the very beautiful State House & many buildings with a yellow flag flying -- revealing the fact that they were occupied as Hospitals. I suppose there are many hundreds of poor secession soldiers -- sick & wounded now in the city besides 200 of our own soldiers who were wounded at the fight at Fort Donaldson [sic] & then captured & brought here where they were recaptured by our men. We took vast quantities of rebel stores with the city -- estimated at more then 2 million dollars worth. -- including all kinds of provisions & camp equipage -- tents, etc., four steam engines (Locomotives) & several passenger cars & freight cars. Large quantities of rebel arms -- some finished & some in their workshops partly done -- Cannon in their foundries ______, [sic] Tinker Dave Beatty's secret hideout, near Montgomery [a.k.a. Morgan Court House] in Morgan County & tons of shot & shell & other ammunition -- medical stores -- etc. etc. besides three steamboats - one of which the rebels burned after we had got possession of it. Our army here is now very large & every day increasing. Nelsons [sic] division came down on the Ohio & up the Cumberland on boats the day we came into the place. He first raised the Stars & Stripes over the capital building. After it had waved a short time a citizen of Nashville came to him & requested that the flag he owned should be raised in its stead. He said he had used his flag to sleep on all the time since the reign of terror commenced & now he wanted the same flag to wave over the State-house -- & it does. Long may it wave.
....Two of [General U. S Grant's] gunboats are here & they are ugly looking customers. Not less than a dozen large size Steam boats are lying at the wharves or engaged in carrying over troops & wagons. Several Regts of Cavalry & Batteries of Artillery are here, but our Division is still ahead of all & we can look out on the enemies [sic] country just beyond us. Their pickets came up close to our lines & two nights ago they commenced firing on our pickets & lost three of their men. We have taken several prisoners & more are being found every day in the city. I am quite well today & have but little diarrhea [sic]. Appetite first rate. Rob is also well & all the rest of my crowd.
* * * *
Yours as ever,
Wm. M. Eames
William M. Eames Papers
28, Fire on the mountain
A cloudy day with a little rain, but not cold – the atmosphere, thick with smoke for the mountains have been on fire all around us. The weather has been windy and dry, the valley full of smoke – the sun and moon looking at their rising and setting like globes of blood. Last night the fires were in lines clear across one or two mountains – these running up to the summit – looking like the lines of the army….
War Journal of Lucy Virginia French, February 28, 1864.