Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

Weary citizens, overcome with heat, hard work, the last official war report, the weak tea drunk just before going to bed, find their hopes of sleep are vain. Open windows give entrance to the cooling night breeze; closed lace curtain keep from intrusion the musical mosquito bent on wounds and blood - but what shutters, bolts, locks, or designs of ingenious man can shout out the ceaseless bow-wow-wow, the howls the yells, the sleep destroying cries of countless dogs? "Soon as the evening shades prevail" the din begins. Barks no druggist's skill can resolve into healing tinctures or sublimate to strong but silent emences [?] - yells in every key, your shrieking contralto to the growling bars :making it hideous." Crying babies sometimes sleep, and scolding wives in the course of passing hours cease their curtain themes, but the dogs, the baying yelping babel-bawling dogs, never give up. While stars look out and night's dark curtain veils the scene, with voice vociferous and unwearying lungs the canine quadruped's curse drives from the couch life's gentle solace - sleep. In vain are pistols fired, and missiles thrown with curses deep and dire! The skulking herd, with drooping tail and cunning crawl, are off - off where no pebble, stick, or shot can reach, but not off to silence - still the bow-wow-wow goes on unending When comes the calm, no more is heard the angry dash the roaring of unchained winds, not deafening crash of fear - inspiring thunder - the echoing peal of the fading avalanche hurdling down the mountain side - the bellowing fury of the volcanoes' wrath have limit and an end; but the row, the racket, the fierce, sleep-destroying howl and y ell and bark of Memphian dogs, for nights unending, unmarked by stoppage or interval, banish balmy sleep. Not more constant was sweet Philomel, "who all night long her amorous descant sung" than is the canine curse. A flaming sword that every way showed its glittering edge, kept man from paradise, so noisy, deafening dogs keep Memphis citizens from the heaven of speed. Death to the dogs - that is the slogan of the coming war upon the nightly enemy. By shot or poisoning arsenic, quick death must be the fate of our relentless foes. Death to the dogs, death to the brute destroyers of our nightly rest. Death! death! no less will satiate our...revenge or curse the canine crowd we're cursed with.
Memphis Bulletin, August 21, 1862.

21, “With the few left I remained and held the enemy in check long enough to enable the greater portion of my command to ford the river, but finally, being completely surrounded by overwhelming numbers, I was compelled to surrender.”  Action and surrender of U.S. cavalry o­n the Hartsville Road. 
Report of Brig. Gen. Richard W. Johnson, U. S. Army, of action August 21.
HARTSVILLE, TENN., August 22, 1862
I have the honor to report that o­n the 11th instant I left McMinnville, Tenn., in command of three regiments of infantry, o­ne battery of artillery, and 640 cavalry, taken from the Second Indiana, Lieut. Col. Stewart; Fourth Kentucky, Capt. Chilson; Fifth Kentucky, Maj. Winfrey, and Seventh Pennsylvania, Col. Wynkoop. With this force I marched to Smithville, where I was joined by two additional regiments of infantry. With this command I proceeded to Liberty. Here I received an order recalling my infantry and artillery, and I sent them back to McMinnville.
Hearing that the enemy, under Col. Morgan, was encamped in an old field, in the angle formed by the Cumberland and Caney Fork, with my cavalry I marched to the designated, and found that I had been incorrectly informed, but was told that the force had left for Kentucky. I determined to return to Liberty, thence to Cookville, and await their return.
On my arrival at Cookville [sic] I received reliable information to the effect that the enemy was encamped in or near Hartsville, and I took up the march for that place; but o­n reaching it found that he had left the evening before, going in the direction of Gallatin. I took possession of his old camp, captured several prisoners, a number of wagons, mules, horses, &c., which had been taken from Col. Boone's command.
At this place I heard of the approach of Forrest in my rear, and decided upon uniting my force to the o­ne in Gallatin, for the purpose of resisting an attack from the combined forces of Forrest and Morgan; but o­n my approach to Gallatin I found that it was in the possession of Morgan's forces, which I was satisfied did not exceed 800 men. I immediately ordered an attack. Lieut.-Col. Stewart and Maj. Winfrey, gallantly leading the charge of their respective regiments, threw their whole strength against the enemy with terrible effect. Col. Wynkoop and Capt. Chilson also brought their commands handsomely into action, and for some time the conflict seemed to progress finely for us. Soon some horses were wounded, riders killed, and confusion began to appear. Regimental and company organizations were lost, and without any apparent cause at least half of my command precipitately fled, throwing away their arms, &c. Many of the men, after getting a thousand yards from the enemy, wildly discharged their revolvers in the air. I sent back a staff officer to rally them, but they could not be induced to reappear o­n the field. Seeing my advance wavering, I ordered a retreat and tried to rally them behind a hedge and fence, but as soon as the firing became general the whole line gave way. I tried to get them to stand at several different points with the same result. Finally, seeing that I could get them to fight no longer, I ordered a retreat, and marched to the rear about 3 miles, and undertook to reform them.
While reforming, seeing that I was not pursued, I sent in a flag of truce and asked that I might be allowed to bury the dead, but was informed that the dead were being buried, and I was requested to surrender, men and officers being promised their paroles. This request I declined.
Being well satisfied that my men would stand no longer I took up the line of march for Cairo, o­n the Cumberland, hoping to be able to take a strong position o­n the river and hold it; but my rear being hotly pressed I formed line of battle with the Second Indiana and Fifth Kentucky and made my arrangements to fight o­n foot. Soon the firing became brisk, and my line of battle broke and the men fled in every direction, leaving o­nly about 75 o­n the ground.
Seeing Lieut.-Col. Stewart and Maj. Winfrey I asked them if they thought it possible for them to rally their men, and they replied that they could not, and that a surrender of the few left was all that could be done. Lieut.-Col. Stewart made his escape.
With the few left I remained and held the enemy in check long enough to enable the greater portion of my command to ford the river, but finally, being completely surrounded by overwhelming numbers, I was compelled to surrender.
I regret to report that the conduct of the officers and men as a general thing was shameful in the lowest degree, and the greater portion of those who escaped will remember that they did so shamefully abandoning their general o­n the battle-field, while if they had remained like true and brave men the result of this conflict would have been quite different.
I turn form the mortifying recollection of their action to mention the names of those whose conduct was meritorious in the highest degree. My assistant adjutant-general, Capt. W. C. Turner, exhibited the same cool courage which characterized his conduct o­n the field of Shiloh. Lieut. Hill, Second Indiana Cavalry, and acting aide-de-camp, was of great service to me, and proved himself a man of courage. Adjutant Wynkoop, when his regiment became disorganized, joined me, and his gallantry and courage were conspicuous. He was killed at my side assisting me to rally the troops. Lieut.-Col. Stewart, commanding the Second Indiana, was foremost in the charge, and exhibited great coolness and courage. Capt. Leabo, Second Indiana, had command of four companies of his regiment and handled them well, but was taken prisoner early in the action. Capt. Starr, with his company (C), did good execution. Maj. Winfrey, Capt. Duncan and his company, Lieut.'s Cambell and Cheek, and Capt. Carter and his company, all of the Fifth Kentucky, behaved well, and managed their troops with skill and proved themselves gallant men.
My loss was 30 killed, 50 wounded, and 75 taken prisoners. About 200 horses were killed or disabled in this action.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. W. JOHNSON, Brig.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. I, pp. 871-873

Reflections on reading the proclamation of President Davis, for August 21, 1863, relative to setting that day apart for fasting, humiliation and prayer.

Ora et labora! The Lord commanded “that all men, everywhere should pray lifting up holy hands.”

Let us Pray

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be they name,
Grant all our sins may be forgiven,
While we thy love proclaim,
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done,
In heaven, earth and air
While all they people, everyone,
Bow down in humble prayer.

Here Lord, we fast, and pray to thee
Obedient to thy will: -- 
Fall prostrate on the bended knee,
and plead for mercy still;
We all acknowledge, we have stayed,
And wandered far from God;
That Thou hast on this nation laid,
They mighty chast’ning rod.

Great God on high; to Thee we call,
Thou giver of all good;
Lord pardon and forgive us all,
And stop the flow of blood,
That’s flowing from the nations [sic] heart,
Through every bleeding pore;
And drenching earth in every part,
On mountain, sea, and shore.

Have mercy Lord, and heal the wounds,
Or soon we’ll faint and fall;
Deprived of strength with fetters bound,
All driven to the wall;
No more to rise the light to see,
Of freedom’s better days;
When all our fathers once were free
And sung thy glorious praise.

Destructive war is all the theme,
Of those that pant for fame
Napoleon like they never dreamed
That Thou art God, the same
That ruled the nations of the world,
In ages past as now;
Dethroning tyrants - downward hurled,
That ne’er to Thee would bow.

Remember Lord the Orphan’s cry,
And hear the widow’s prayer;
Have pity on the sick that lie,
Left wounded everywhere.
Lord Thou knowest what they need.
Have mercy on them all;
And answer prayers, while millions plead,
And save us great and small.

Lord God with humble hearts we bow,
To pray and plead with thee;
O! Lord have mercy; on us now,
And set the nation free,
And give us peace with all mankind,
And cause the world to know
That thou art God, with mercy kind,
That governs all below
WPA Civil War Records, Vol. 2, pp. 70-71.
*Ed. note - the identity of the poet is otherwise unknown.

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