Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

29, A Wisconsin soldier's assessment of Nashville

November 29, '62

Camp 7 miles below Nashville Nov. 29, '62

Dear father & mother,

Since I last wrote to you, we have moved our camp across the Cumberland River, marched through Nashville, & on for 7 miles into the interior where we have encamped in the woods. But I anticipate, I should have related our doings near Nashville, before telling of our removal. It was thought at first that we should remain some time in camp, on the river so that the brigade was set to work felling trees for firewood, clearing away the brush & sweeping the streets between the tents so that our camp presented quite a neat appearance. Our reg every fourth day was sent out on picket duty, which was very light duty that side of the river, as we were in no imminent danger of being attacked by the rebels. Another day there were twelve detailed from every company for "fatigue duty" which consisted in coming over to the city & spending the day in working on the entrenchments. I was one of the twelve detailed from our company. Our party was divided into two companies, who work every alternate hour & rest the rest of the time. Taking advantage of the time I was off duty, I went up town to "see what I could see." I visited the state house. It is now occupied by the Governor[']s Guard. Soldiers in crowds were to be seen throughout the whole building. There is a flight of stone steps on each side & end of the building. The whole building is strongly fortified. It is placed on a high hill. The outworks were built partly of square blocks of stone & partly of earth; these are defended by 4 brass 6 pounders. Within these outworks were heavy palisades, with small port holes for musketry. Between the building & the palisades were mounted six heavy siege guns, while in the porches between the pillars were piled cotton bales for infantry to screen themselves behind; but to a description of the interior. The first story is divided into a number of rooms, viz., the Governor[']s private room, the Archives, Treasury, Weights & Measures, Clerk of the Court of Appeals, & etc. The banisters of the stair cases leading to the second story are made of Tennessee marble, which has the color & appearance of polished Castile soap. The second story was divided into the Library rooms, Senate Chamber, & Hall of Representatives. I entered the first the Hall of Representatives. The Hall now presents altogether a different aspect, from what it did when Congress made use of it. The aisles and seats are occupied by soldiers, smoking or playing cards. Back of the speakers c hair is a wall of polished marble surmounted by an eagle holding the talons the U. S. Shield. The Senate Chamber is not so much occupied by soldiers. The galleries are supported by pillars of polished marble, but the style of the Senate chamber, was a good deal simpler in construction than the Hall of Representatives. The cupola of the building commands an extensive view of the surrounding country. Nashville must once have been quite a business place, but at present most of the shops & etc. are closed. The handsome suspension bridge that once crossed the river is entirely destroyed by the rebels. Two days after our brigade marched to our present camp. We are now so near the rebel lines, that when we go out on Picket, no matter how cold the night is we are not allowed no [sic] fire. I received the portfolio & gloves & thank you very much for them. The gloves are just what I needed….The soldiers here all voted. The majority of our Co. voted the Republican ticket, but the Reg. principally voted the Democratic. They are tired of this weary long marching and have mostly the idea that by voting democratic, something or other will be brought around to enable them to return home. This induced numbers of Republicans to vote [the] Democratic ticket. Some of the Reg. Like the late emancipation proclamation, but the majority are opposed to it….You ask me how I like soldiering? I would ask for nothing better than to have the war ended an my self on the way home, free to go where I have a mind to, sleep all night, no picketing to do or guard duty & no more marching. I have found soldiering not such a "gay and easy life" as represent to be. I have however learned the drill thoroughly, so that I could easily drill a company. As to understanding the "art of war in it more comprehensive principles," I begin to do so, to some extent. We some times have political discussions amongst us, but our favorite theme is the length of time it will be before we go home…

Your affectionate son,

A. Silsby

Silsby Correspondence, letter of November 29, 1862.



Marriage seems to be one of the few local institutions and everyday practices of ordinary times which the war has not so seriously affected as one might have been led to anticipate in estimating the costs of the conflict when it began. On the contrary, this very healthful and necessary social habit has been prompted visibly by the stirring events and scenes around about us. The ladies, (heaven bless them!) who are proverbially fond of soldiers are doubtless influenced to these connubial proclivities by the substantial consideration that this trade of war is an uncertain and varying business, and may knock so many poor fellows on the head before it is done with, that the pluerality will be left with their own sex for ever after; and the men (jolly blades!) go upon the principle of "living whilst we live," with an attendant natural desired of leaving a widow to mourn an untimely or heroic fate. Thus, the papers are fuller of "hymenial " notices than they were in times of peace.
Love, too, is decidedly cultivated to a greater degree now than under the jog-trot system of quiet and order. Soldiers are as proverbial for their capacity in this direction as the ladies themselves. It is with them a matter of course - as sure it ought to be - and to one and all they are at liberty; to swear allegiance.
"Madam, I do as bound in duty
Honor the shadow of your shoe-tie." [?]
A falling by the way, which include the "foot" itself, and "ankle too," modestly omitted by the poet. We said the other day that the flag and the petticoat are twin sisters; and all the songs on the same subject assure us that "love is the soul of a slashing dragoon," as well as of every other branch of the service, each following that orthodox principle that - 
"When far from the lips we love
We have but to make love the lips that are near."
But, after all, practically carrying out the advice of Old Rowley [?] in the end 
"Go take a wife unto thin[e] arms, and see
Winter and browning hills
Shall have a charm to thee!" -
Chattanooga Daily Rebel, November 29, 1862



29, Engagement at Spring Hill

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from the Abstract from journal of Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox, U. S. Army, commanding Twenty-third Army Corps (temporarily) and Third Division, Twenty-third Army Corps relative to the Engagement at Spring Hill, November 29, 1864.

* * * * 

Tuesday, November 29.--Rebels reported crossing two corps at Huey's Ford [Columbia Ford?], five miles above, having driven away our cavalry and laid a pontoon. Wagner's division, Fourth Corps, move to Spring Hill, where they have a lively engagement with advance of enemy. Kimball's and Wood's division, of Fourth Corps, and Ruger's division, of ours, arranged in echelon, connecting with Wagner's. I hold the ford till night, having a sharp affair, losing about 75 men but holding the enemy from crossing the remaining corps, which, with all their artillery, is in town. March at 7, leaving out pickets till midnight.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 45, I, p. 358.

Excerpt from the Report of Surgeon J. Theodore Heard, Medical Director, Fourth Army Corps, of operations November 29-30 and December 15-26, 1864, relative to the Engagement at Spring Hill, November 29,1864.
* * * * 
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the medical department of the Fourth Army Corps at the battle of Spring Hill and Franklin, November 29 and 30, respectively:

On the morning of the 29th of November the Fourth Corps (three divisions) and the Twenty-third Corps (two divisions) were in position on the north bank of Duck River, opposite Columbia, Tenn. The enemy, or the larger portion of the rebel army, was upon the south bank and confronting our lines. At 9 a. m. the Second Division, Fourth Corps, marched for Spring Hill, accompanied by and guarding all the trains of the army, with the exception of twenty ambulances left with the First and Third Divisions, Fourth Corps, which divisions were ordered to remain with the Twenty-third Corps until dark and then withdraw with the rest of the army. About 2 p. m., the head of column being within one mile of Spring Hill, the general commanding was informed that the cavalry of the enemy was pushing back our cavalry and rapidly approaching the town. The troops were at once pushed forward at double-quick, passed through the town, charged the enemy, checked him, and finally caused him to retire. The division was then placed in position to protect the pike on which the trains were moving. About 4 p. m. the right brigade (Third Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Bradley) was furiously attacked by what afterward proved to be two brigades of rebel infantry. The attack was continued until nearly dark, when our right gave way toward the pike, followed by the enemy. Fortunately, however, all trains had then passed and were parked north of the town, where also division hospitals were temporarily established and the wounded rapidly cared for. A few wounded were unavoidably lost when the right gave way. One hundred and fifteen wounded were brought to hospital. Shortly after dark orders were given to break up hospitals, load ambulances, and be ready to move with the other trains at a moment's notice. The rest of the army reached Spring Hill about 10 p. m., and continued their march through the town toward Franklin. The hospital and ambulance trains moved at the same time, reaching Franklin at 10 a. m. November 30, without loss, although several times attacked by the enemy's cavalry. The wounded and sick were shipped by rail to Nashville early in the afternoon. The two divisions of the Twenty-third Corps, with the First and Second Divisions of the Fourth Corps, remained south of Harpeth River and entrenched themselves; the Third Division, Fourth Corps, crossed to the north side of the river, and was not engaged in the battle of Franklin.
* * * * 
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 45, pt. I, pp. 174-175.


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