Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

December 17, 1862 , A night at the Nashville theater; an excerpt from the diary of John Hill Ferguson, 10th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

….the morning very cold and windy N. Fancher and My Self went up town about 9 o'clock with some coffee to traid   for a coffee pot we got 35 cts….we went to the theater in the evening it was 25 cts  each, the pirfurmince   acted was king Henry the 2nd it was very interesting but the wind up play was better then   the first it was [about] a gentleman how  was aposed  to wemen   and brought his son up to the age of 18 in perfect ignorance of wemen   he had never saw o­ne nor even [knew] that such a thing ever existed he made a contract with a gentleman in the ciup for him and his son to live with him whare  he could have an opertunity   of giving  his son a good education   this gent in the city ad a lovely dater  she was to be  she was to be locked up in his room when he was at liberty in the house no woman was to be seen by him o­nly the old lady and she was as crass as 2 sticks [?] there was no danger of him falling in love with hir    the girl happened to be out side and was lamenting what a pitty it was that Such a lively young man should be kept in ignorance of a woman the young man happened to rais   the window and look out and for the first time in his life beheld a lovely girl in all the splendure   that could adorn the human frame! He opened the door and run   out but the girl got out of sight before he came out the 2 old men and old woman run after him and catched   him the expected    what he saw and wanted to know of his father what it was he seen    he said he never seen anything in his life that looked so pritty    his father told him it was a burd   a kind of buzzard and take care of them they ware a queer kind of burd  , they would betray him and leed   him astray they took him into the house when they thought the girls   door was locked up and all was safe they let the young man run around out side again he was not satisfied he wanted to hunt up the pretty burd he seen   the young Lady was as anxiouis to see him as he was to see hir   she had a way of opening   her door from the in side so she slipped out and watched the young man running around keeping condealed behind the cornors   at last he got his  eye o­n hir   again and rant to catch the burd   but she run all around when he found he was not likely to catch hir he get some corn and scattered it down for hir   and said hear pritty   bird    eat some corn she stoped   running    then waited some she stood and looked at him for a short time thentold him she was no burd then he wanted to know what she was that looked so pritty    he said the first time he saw her he felt all over he did not know how she went o­n to explain what she was and that wemen   ware    for men to love by this time the 2 old men and old woman  came runningn out in an aful   fix and no sooner a past[?] then the ware   in each others arms as tight as again there grips and fall back o­n there sick buts   that concludes to gave it.   

John Hill Fergusson Diary, Book 2.



17, Hood's army's retreat after the battle of Nashville, the view of one Maury County resident

Hood's army is leaving Nashville and falling back, the Federals in pursuit after a great defeat, many of his men killed, many taken prisoner. The wagons of the Southern army have been passing all night going south. They are camping all around hunting everything[,] some are wounded. There is not much left for them or his neighbor in the country. They are the worse looking and most broken down looking set [of soldiers] I ever laid eyes on.

Diary of Nimrod Porter, December 17, 1864.



17, Action at West Harpeth River

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from the Report of Lieut. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, C. S. Army, commanding Army Corps, of operations November 2--December 17, 1864, relative to the action at the West Harpeth River, December 17, 1864.

COLUMBUS, MISS., January 30, 1865.

* * * *

Early on the morning of the 17th our cavalry was driven in in confusion by the enemy, who at once commenced a most vigorous pursuit, his cavalry charging at every opportunity and in the most daring manner. It was apparent that they were determined to make the retreat a rout if possible. Their boldness was soon checked by many of them being killed and captured by Pettus' (Alabama) and Stovall's (Georgia) brigades and Bledsoe's battery, under Gen. Clayton. Several guidons were captured in one of their charges. I was soon compelled to withdraw rapidly toward Franklin, as the enemy was throwing a force in my rear from both the right and left of the pike on roads coming into the pike near Franklin and five miles in my rear. This force was checked by Brig.-Gen. Gibson with his brigade and a regiment of Buford's cavalry under Col. Shacklett. The resistance which the enemy had met with early in the morning, and which materially checked his movement, enabled us to reach Franklin with but little difficulty. Here the enemy appeared in considerable force and exhibited great boldness, but he was repulsed, and the crossing of the Harpeth River effected. I found that there was in the town of Franklin a large number of our own and of the enemy's wounded, and not wishing to subject them and the town to the fire of the enemy's artillery, the place was yielded with but little resistance. Some four or five hours were gained by checking the enemy one mile and a half south of Franklin and by the destruction of the trestle bridge over the Harpeth, which was effected by Capt. Coleman, the engineer officer on my staff, and a party of pioneers, under a heavy fire of the enemy's sharpshooters. About 4 p. m. the enemy, having crossed a considerable force, commenced a bold and vigorous attack, charging with his cavalry on our flanks and pushing forward his lines in our front. A more persistent effort was never made to rout the rear guard of a retiring column. This desperate attack was kept up till long after dark, but gallantly did the rear guard--consisting of Pettus' (Alabama) and Cumming's (Georgia) brigades, the latter commanded by Col. Watkins, of Stevenson's division, and under that gallant and meritorious officer Maj. Gen. C. L. Stevenson--repulse every attack. Brig.-Gen. Chalmers with his division of cavalry covered our flanks. The cavalry of the enemy succeeded in getting in Stevenson's rear, and attacked Maj.-Gen. Clayton's division about dark, but they were handsomely repulsed, Gibson's and Stovall's brigades being principally engaged. Some four or five guidons were captured from the enemy during the evening. About 1 p. m. I was wounded while with the rear guard, but did not relinquish command of my corps till dark. Most of the details in conducting the retreat from that time were arranged and executed by Maj.-Gen. Stevenson, to whom the army is much indebted for his skill and gallantry during the day.

I cannot close this report without alluding particularly to the conduct of the artillery of my corps on the 16th. Sixteen guns were lost on the lines. The greater portion of them were without horses, they having been disabled during the day. Many of the Carriages were disabled also. The noble gunners, reluctant to leave their guns, fought the enemy in many instances till they were almost within reach of the guns. 

Maj. Gen. Ed. Johnson was captured on the 16th. Being on foot he was unable to make his escape from the enemy in consequence of an old wound. He held his line as long as it was practicable to do so. The Army of Tennessee has sustained no greater loss than that of this gallant and accomplished soldier.

* * * *

Yours, respectfully,

S. D. LEE, Lieut.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 45, pt. I, pp. 689-690

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