Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

3, Militia companies in Palmyra and the fight at Cousin Sally Dillard's.

Last Tuesday [3rd], we made a flying trip to Palmyra, under the care of Capt. John Cain, and in company with Hon. J. M. Quarles, Robt. Johnson, Esq., and other of our acquaintance. When we arrived, the militia were congregated in large numbers, and the volunteers were being sworn into service under the supervision of Lieut.-Col. John Minor, and Major S. A. Caldwell. Several volunteer companies were being formed. Capt. Young has a company nearly full, Capt Peacher is getting on finely with his, and both will soon be complete. Some people are disposed to doubt the courage of the militia, but that doubt would have been removed could they have seen the fight we saw -- a real fisty-cuff -- between a small militiaman and one nearly double his size. Big militiamen cried -- Hold! enough! " and little militiaman was pulled off, and so ended the fight "at Cousin Sally Dillard's."

Clarksville Chronicle, December 6, 1861

3, "Volunteering;" complaints about Governor Harris' draft in Giles County

The last call of the Governor for volunteers has been nobly responded to in this county -- more than half the militia stepped forward as volunteers, and are now organizing themselves into companies, ready for marching orders.

This county was entitled to a credit for four companies, viz.: Capt. Winstead's, Capt. Hanna's, Capt. Hundicutt's, and Capt. Worley's which recently went into camp from this county: but it seems the Militia officers were ignorant of this fact, and have therefore required half the remaining militia to go into the field. This does gross injustice to the liberal and patriotic people of Giles, and leaves her women and children almost defenseless. We call upon the proper authorities to have this matter investigated and corrected immediately.

Pulaski Citizen, as cited in the Nashville Daily Gazette, December 3, 1861. 

3, "GOV. HARRIS AND THE MILITIA;" criticism of Governor Harris' draft

In the entire absence of the facts upon which the action of an Executive based, and especially in times of rapidly changing and singular exigencies, like the present, it would be unreasonable to suppose that the popular understanding would clearly comprehend the propriety of all that is done. Much must go before the public in a manner that will invite criticism, a privilege in which but few of us are sparing or considerate and when fairly tested, those criticisms will not unfrequently prove unfounded and absurd, even to our own minds. Great forbearance should, therefore, be exercised by the public towards those whom we have selected to discharge for us the most grave and difficult duties connected with our present struggle for national independence.

Fortunately, in the case of our distinguished Governor, the wisdom of his counsels have been so frequently verified, and his impartial patriotism is fully tested, that we have found comparatively, little disposition with our people to question his motives or criticise his policy. And yet, the confusion and seeming contradiction, attending the call for soldiers within the last few months, warrant a word of explanation, injustice to Gov. Harris as well as to the public.

In doing this we, we will first suggest, what many seem totally to ignore, that the action of the Governor has been and must be secondary and responsive to the representations and demands of our military chieftains in the field. These authorities presumed to understand the necessities that surround them, and may rightfully expect that their opinions will be respected and their requests complied with.

Some six weeks since, an urgent demand was made by Gen. Johnston, for thirty thousand additional troops from Tennessee. Gov. Harris may have thot' it wise to lessen the call in view of the scarcity of army and similar requisitions that were being made for troops from other States; General Johnston, for special reasons, believed it better to put the troops into camp and let them be preparing for efficient service, than to await the anticipated procurement of arms, and then be delayed in the raising of troops and in preparing them for the field. But a small proportion of the force had been placed in camp until the War Department at Richmond -- for reason which it is not our province to enquire into -- issued orders to Gen. Johnston for their disbandment, which orders were suspended at the urgent request of Governor Harris, until, at last report, an effort might be made for the procurement of such domestic arms as would save our gallant volunteers from the mortification of having to abandon the service and return to their homes -- Hence the issue to his proclamation, to that effect, the necessity of which could not by many be misunderstood -- It thus became apparent to the public that the government could not be looked to for the arming of such a body of troops, and the natural effect was to disband the companies is course of formation and discourage volunteering. And yet, surely no one, with his insight into the facts, can see aught to critcise in the action in the action of the Governor; and it would certainly be illiberal even to bestow censure upon any other authority. No one who has even a faint conception of the innumerable obstacles and disappointments under which our Government and State official are compelled to act, should be so unreasonable as to require a satisfactory public explanation of every thing that puzzles the understanding and disappoints our hopes.

More recently and in the face of this discouragement to volunteering, new developments were made to our Generals in command at Columbus and Bowling Green, threatening a speedy invasion of our State by a superior force of the enemy; requiring, in the opinion of those Generals, such a reinforcement of our troops for the immediate exigency as could be hoped for by a call upon the militia of the State, and an impressment of domestic arms to be placed in their hands. An increase of the volunteer force was preferable, but there were strong probabilities that the reinforcements would be needed before the requisite number could be raised. Hence the propriety of such an order as would meet the emergency, and at the same time furnish such of our citizens [as who] preferred enlisting in the volunteer service an opportunity of doing so.
Gov. Harris, as the Chief Executive of the State, has had to act in accordance with the information and requisitions of the military authorities of the [Confederate] Government. The demands of the military authorities have been shaped, modified and controlled by the movements and uncertain information obtained of the common enemy. The circumstance of today may not suit the necessities of tomorrow. More or less uncertainty, difficulty and doubt will necessarily attend and influence our actions. We are far from a condition of having things as we would wish them. It would be the height of folly for the indiscriminate public to expect to understand the propriety of every movement, for the reason that manly of the acts; upon which these movements are based are of such a character that, in view of the enemy, it would be highly improper to place before them. We would have supposed that a reason so palpable in itself would have readily occurred to the mind of everyone.
In an emergency like the present, intelligent patriotism would suggest that we should cultivate an abiding faith in the wisdom and integrity of the men whom we have elected to lead us through the perils of the hour. While it would be unreasonable to suppose that they will not, in many instances, find themselves in error, it would be equally unreasonable to suppose that our common cause can be profited by the indulgence of a spirit of ungenerous fault-finding, distracting our counsels, impairing the general confidence so essential to success, and paralyzing the arms of those brave men, both in the cabinet and the field, who are taxing every energy and making every sacrifice for the success of our cause and the preservation of our rights.

Nashville Daily Gazette, December 3, 1861.

3, James A. McCord's letter to his brother describing the battle at Franklin

Franklin Tenn 

Decr. 3rd 1864 

Dear Brother 

After a long and very hard march, we arrived at this place, the 30th day of Novr. about 4 oclk when we went immediately into a fight and every one says that it was the hardest fought battle that has been fought during the war. There is no telling what our loss is. We lost ten Genls killed & wounded. Genls Cleburne Granburry, Gist, Adams, Strahl, & one more I forgotten were killed and four that were wounded. Granbury's celebrated brigade left this place yesterday morning with 137 Guns all told. Hall & Jno Tom Gillispie was both killed dead on the field, and nearly every one of the company fared the same fate. The larger portion of Genl Bates Div acted very cowardly in the first of the fight. Tyler's & Finley's and Jackson's left would not charge the works. 
I was skirmishing in front of Tyler & Finley and they run three times and left me on the hill begging them to come back when one of old Abes boys plugged me in the right foot, making it a severe wound, tho not a serious one I hope. I am well cared for. I do not know any place where I could fare as I do here. The people are the kindest in the world especially the Ladies. The world does not know their superior and I doubt that their equal can be found. 

Lt McKibbin wounded in left fore arm. Troy Saunders slightly in arm (gone back to Co.) Mo Mays & Ben Deason were wounded but not dangerous I believe. I do not know how your company suffered (but little I believe). No Country knows a braver man than Genl Bates. I am proud to say that there was no one between me and the Yankees when I was wounded. You will have to excuse this short letter as my foot pains me a great deal & I do not know when I will get a chance to send off though I believe I will put it in the P.O. Give my love to all.

Truly yours 

Jas A McCord 

P.S. This fight lasted eleven hours.

  3, First Action at Bell's Mill -U.S.N. -- capture and recapture of U.S.S. Prairie State & Prima Donna, and dispersal Rebel artillery

Excerpt from the Report of LCDR Le Roy Fitch's report made from the U.S.S. Moose off Nashville o­n December 4, 1864:

* * * *

....about 9 p.m.[December 3], I received intelligence that the enemy's left wing had struck the river and had batteries planted at Bell's Mills, about 4 miles below Nashville by land but 18 by river, and that they had captured two steamers. [I ordered the tin clads and gunboats: Neosho,(1) Carondolet, Moose, Brilliant, Fairplay, Reindeer, and Silver Lake to the bend.]

* * * *

I directed Acting Master Miller [of the Carondolet] to run below the lower batteries, giving them grape and canister, then round to and come back and fight them upstream

* * * *

The boats moved down perfectly quiet, with no lights visible, and were not seen by the enemy until theCarondelet opened fire o­n their lower battery and encampment.

* * * *

As soon as the Carondelet opened fire the enemy poured a heavy volley of musketry into the boats along the entire line, and also opened o­n us with their upper battery of four guns. About this time the Fairplay had stopped to keep from running into the Carondelet, and the smoke from the guns and smokestacks, combined with our steam, settled around us so very thick in this bend that I could see nothing nor could the pilots see where we were running; so, finding myself nearly in contact with the Fairplay, I was also forced to stop, and after the Carondelet and Fairplay had passed below the bend I found myself still in the smoke and in a rather bad position, as the batteries were then firing directly into me and so far o­n my port quarter that we could not bring our guns to bear. I therefore directed the pilots to back up, as it was clear above and below it was intensely thick. I was afraid by this time the Carondelet and Fairplay had passed the lower battery, rounded to, and were again moving up, which would make our chances for colliding very great. I therefore decided to back up again, about the upper battery, as I could not remain where I was long enough for the smoke to lift; and, as the rebels were now giving this boat their entire attention, made it also dangerous to attempt to round to. In backing up above the batteries, I necessarily moved slowly, but the pilots....handled the vessel so magnificently that we were able to keep our guns working o­n them so rapidly that in a great measure they were kept silent.

When I got above the battery; where I could use the port broadside and bow guns, they soon ceased firing,, as the Reindeer had by this time got above their guns, rounded to, and was in a good position to assist this vessel in case she was disabled....I concluded to wait till daylight, knowing that the Carondelet and Fairplay, which were below the lower battery, would keep everything quiet and take care of the captured steamers.

The musketry along the bank and o­n the hillside was for a time very annoying, but we soon drove them off. The firing from their battery for a time was very rapid, but their guns were not well aimed; most of their shell and all their grape passed entirely; over ;us; this, I presume, was owing to our being so close to them. The river at this point is not over 75 or 80 yards wide, and part of the time we were directly under their guns.. Two percussion shells struck this boat in the hull a little above the water line, and o­ne struck in the wheel, but none of them did much damage. o­ne of them came quartering from the battery above us and lodged in the bread room, close to the magazine, but did not explode. Another struck us fair and would have passed o­n through the bottom, but was turned from it course by striking o­ne of the deck beams; it also did not explode, but lodged in the rake. The Silver Lake was not quite close enough to engage the batteries, but kept the musketry silent along the bank above.

In the morning, very early, we again moved down, the Neosho having [by] this time joined us, but saw nothing of the enemy; the batteries were removed the night before we left them. Between 8 and 9 a.m. I met the Carondelet and Fairplay, with the transports just below where the lower battery stood during the night. Learning that all was clear below, I returned to Nashville with the gunboats and transports.

Not withstanding the darkness and haziness of the night, all of the boats were well maneuvered....

* * * *

The numbers of rounds fired were as follows: Carondelet, 26; Fairplay, 37; Moose, 59; Reindeer, 19; Silver Lake, 6.

I am not able to say what execution we did, as darkness covered all, but we drove them from their guns and back from the river, recapturing the steamers they had captured in the early part of the evening before they had time to destroy them, made them abandon most of the forage they were taking from the vessels, and cause them to let may of their prisoners escape.

Navy OR, Ser. I, Vol. 26, pp. 640-643.
 (1) The Neosho was a turreted ship, similar to the Monitor in design.

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