Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

15-25, Reconnaissance from Paducah, KY to Fort Henry 

JANUARY 15-25, 1862.--Reconnaissance from Paducah, Ky., to Fort Henry, Tennessee.


No. 1.--Brig. Gen. Charles F. Smith, U. S. Army.

No. 2.--Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, C. S. Army.

No. 1.

Reports of Brig. Gen. Charles F. Smith, U. S. Army.
HDQRS. UNITED STATES FORCES, Paducah, Ky., January 27, 1862.

SIR: On the 25th instant I briefly reported my return on that day. The distance from Callaway to Aurora is by water about 3 miles, by land 6. From the latter place to this it is 40 miles; a good road even at this period of the year, but destitute of water, except in the rainy season. We accomplished the march (46 miles) in three days, an average of 15 miles per day. This is the State road, but is not marked on any map I have seen. It is generally on a ridge of clay and gravel, and is called the Ridge road. Its course is nearly straight from Aurora to Paducah, at no point farther than 10 miles from the river.

My reports...will give all the necessary information about the march, except on one point, outrages committed by the men in killing hogs and poultry; this, despite every precaution taken by myself and brigade and regimental commanders. Horses even were attempted to be carried off. Some men are in arrest for such offenses, whom I shall bring before a proper tribunal for trial. The reason for this is, in my belief, that the company officers have not done their duty. They will not see, if they do not in fact encourage, this misconduct.

The general will pardon me if I venture to make a suggestion in reference to the future. I know nothing about the course of operations to be pursued, but if Union City (which I have always thought to be a strong strategic point) is to be occupied, the most feasible means of supplying our troops there at this period of the year is from here by rail to the State line. Place good engines and wood cars on our road, repair the road as we go, and guard the whole line with a strong force. The distance from the end of the railway to the Columbus road is but 8 miles to be marched, or we can march the 35 miles to Union City from the terminus of the road. I speak of this on account of the extreme difficulty of sending wagon trains for a large force at this period of the year.

I send herewith a rather meager infantry of the march.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. F. SMITH, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

Paducah, Ky., January 28, 1862.

SIR: I transmit herewith an itinerary of the recent march of this command, which ought to have accompanied my report of yesterday. I spoke of the march from Fulton-the terminus of the railway from this place to the State line-to Union City as 35 miles. It is only 11 miles. From Fulton to the Mobile and Ohio railway by the State line is 8 miles. It is the same distance from Fulton to the Nashville and Northwestern Railway.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. F. SMITH, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

Journal of the march of the First and Second Brigades of the United States forces from Paducah, Ky., to Callaway, on the Tennessee River, and back.

* * * * 

January 21.--Road towards Callaway bad; Callaway-a small place of three or four houses and one mill, not running now-has got a poor landing place. We found here the gunboat Lexington and the steamer Wilson, with forage and provision. The gunboat Lexington went up river towards Fort Henry; chased a small rebel gunboat with two 12-pounder rifled guns, but the rebel escaped; then threw twelve shells into Fort Henry. During the night, frost. Four miles north is Aurora, a small place, with a landing and ferry on the Tennessee River.

January 22.--Brig.-general commanding, C. F. Smith, Brigade Surgeon Dr. Hewitt, and Capt. John Rziha went up the river on the gunboat Lexington to reconnoiter Fort Henry. When our gunboat reached the south point of the island, next to Fort Henry, we could see two rebel steamers depart in great haste. We shelled Fort Henry, and the fort returned our fire with one shot, which must have been a 32-pounder rifled gun. The north side of the fort is a cremaillere line, mounting four 32-pounders. The three other sides are rectangular, mounting two 64 and two 24 pounders. In front cremaillere line is, I should judge, a redan commenced. South of the fort is a large camp. East of the fort is one regiment encamped. From Fort Henry to Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River, 12 miles; connected by a good road. On the west side of the Tennessee River, opposite the fort, two hills, about 90 feet above river. Fort Henry is strongly built, and I believe well garrisoned. All around the fort abatis, from head of island to the fort, two miles and a half.

* * * * 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Capt., Nineteenth Infantry, U. S. Army.

No. 2.

Reports of Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, C. S. Army.
FORT DONELSON, January 18, 1862--8 a.m.
All quiet this morning; 2,000 infantry and 200 cavalry have landed at Eggner's Ferry and encamped 6 miles out on road to Murray. Have 15 wagons. Their object, I think, is our railroad at Paris.
Gunboats below us have retired again, with transports. All quiet at Dover.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 7, pp. 73-74




ca. 15, Skirmish in Scott County near the New River settlement - the battle for the bacon


From the Richmond Enquirer, Jan. 20 [1863]

Capt. Thomas Butler has been the hero of quite a gallant little achievement, o­n the edge of Scott County, Tenn. It appeared that at the New River settlement there had recently been stationed by two companies of Federal soldiers, under command of Capt. Noah Doherty, a Tennessee renegade from Anderson County. Capt. Butler, o­n learning of their presence, at the head of thirty men, started in search of them. o­n reaching the spot where they varmints [sic] were encamped, Capt. B. demanded the surrender of the whole party, which was responded to by a volley from ten or fifteen muskets. o­ne ball grazed the Captain's lip, and trimmed his moustache in the most approved style of the tonsorial art. A brisk skirmish ensued, in which six of the Abolitionists were killed, a number wounded and several captured. The remainder took to the woods.

The fruits of this little skirmish were the capture of some fifteen or twenty horses, a like number of Belgian rifles, two or three thousand pounds of bacon, and a like amount of flour, besides the capture of a Captain and eight or ten men.

New York Times, January 25, 1863.



15-19, A Journey from Knoxville to Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA, Jan. 21, 1864 


Friday, Jan. 15th, was a fair day. But waiting for the train to leave Knoxville for London* from 3 to 7 P.M. was not exhilarating. It started overloaded. Soldiers in box cars or platform cars, covering the tops of all the cars; one "coach," as they call it here, filled to a jam; broken windows, no light, no fire, mud several inches deep on the floor-this was the load one poor wheezy locomotive, the only one in order, jerked along at a snail's pace, accomplishing the thirty miles in from four to five hours. The moon shone kindly, and enabled the crowd to seek camping grounds or other places wherein to pass the residue of the night. We-myself and the genial Doctor of the 29th Massachusetts-providentially found a log hut temporarily occupied by old friends, (friends of week's standing are old friends in such a region as this,) and obtained the luxuries of a fire and a blanket on the floor. The 16th was spring-like indeed. But the sun rose on a strange scene. The bridge was gone, and desolated London [sic] was a deserted village on the other side of the river.

On this side were groups of soldiers-weary with waiting-and the sad sight of eight or nine women, with several little children and their household furniture, beds, bread troughs, kettles, spinning-wheels, &c., who had spent the night in the open air, near the railroad track. Those were but a single lot of the many like refugees, stript [sic] of nearly everything and on the edge of starvation, striving to get north or elsewhere to better their wretched condition. There was no boat. Nobody knew when there would be a boat, and the Tennessee was falling rapidly! The prospect of getting on was gloomy enough, and how to kill time, get food and lodging, became the difficult problem. But we managed to solve it after a fashion in our mess. We had two knives and a spoon, but no plates, and the rest of our table furniture was equally meagre. Still we contrived to live better than our neighbors, and became quite the aristocracy of the four or five huts and surrounding bivouacs.

Sunday, the 17th, in temperature was a New England May Day. Gladly would we have exchanged it for a driving snow storm in New England. Rations were growing sensibly smaller, and the prospect of moving on was no brighter. We were as isolated as we should have been on a desert island in mid-ocean. Nothing to do, nothing to read, stuck in the mud, without change of clothing, we still continued to be jolly and hope for the best. Convalescents, officers on leave, reenlisted soldiers, refugees and others, in numbers sufficient to fill several boats, were waiting for the chance of a passage.

There was nothing of Sunday about our position; yet there were hours for thought and reflection. Some of these suggested by recent experiences and observations were bright and encouraging; others of an entirely different character. The devotion, generally speaking, of the rank and file to the cause constantly excited admiration. The gentlemanly bearing, intelligence and fidelity of numerous officers of all ranks were indications that our armies were in a fair degree well led. But hope and confidence were sadly weakened, only too frequently, by evidences of grossest mismanagement and incompetency. Many are the appointments not fit to be made.

Political management, bargain and corruption are doing their vile work to a lamentable degree. Boys fill places of immense responsibility; and where organization and wise integrity are most needed, there is too often confusion and culpable negligence.

Thus are the treasures of the country wasted and the lives of the people sacrificed. In many quarters an unflinching weeding process and a radical reform are demanded. There are men wearing the eagle or the star who are a daily curse to the service.

Notwithstanding these nuisances, and notwithstanding other evils patent at every step, the general impression of the state of affairs is favorable. The military crisis, if supplies can be kept up, is passed in this region. A few more blow-another short and sharp campaign-ought to annihilate the rebel forces, and drive them to their "last ditch." War is almost an unmitigated evil, and if the extent to which it is such, were half comprehended, in those parts of the land its ravages have not reached there would be no rest among the people in their eagerness to end this peculiarly cruel war by the final victories.

At 9 P.M. the sweet sound-sweeter than the music of AEotian harps-of the steam whistle broke upon the stillness of the night. Early Monday morning a wade through a mile or less of mud put us on board the "Lookout." What mattered it that she was to go sixty miles down the river after freight, left by another boat, to return again to London? What mattered it that Chattanooga was not to be reached for three or four days? We were out of prison. We were in motion. Going backwards and forwards was "homeward bound." Not only we, but convalescent and furloughed soldiers, who had earned by far the better right to be rejoining kindred and friends, and to retire awhile from the front!

To an unselfish disposition it was pleasant to learn on board the boat, that those coming after us over this disjointed and rough route are to fare better than was practicable in our case. The railroad to Chattanooga is in running order. This releases the steamers for up-river work, until the bridge at London is rebuilt. If therefore, the army can worry through a few weeks more, the question of adequate, even abundant supplies will be favorably settled. In our party was a noble specimen of a man, a Captain in the 8th Michigan. He was a study for days. Plain and homely in manner, no father was ever more careful of his children than he of his squad of convalescents. All with him was principle and duty. His rule was to do nothing in the army he would not do at home; so he neither drank nor swore nor gambled. We heard from others that he did not know what fear was, and had always chosen the post of danger. If justice were done to merit, his shoulders should wear the star that is given so often to far more pretension and infinitely less worth. Such instances of conscientiousness, integrity and self-respect are not rare; and when met with are a compensation for abuses which make one at times almost despondent for the country.

Among the incidents of the round-about voyage, thus far, were seeing "the boys," too eager to enjoy their furloughs to wait for the uncertain steamers, going down stream in canoes, "dug outs," pontoon and flat-boat; trading with the natives, buying chickens, hogs and other articles, for salt, coffee or greenbacks; exchanging morsels of meat with a refugee woman for candles, of which we stand in need; confiscating rails for fuel; listening to stories of fights, captures, and various adventures; having a false report, as it turned out, of a case of small pox on board, and other experiences that could belong only to this strange time of war.

Tuesday the 19th was clear and not cold. With the freight a disabled boat had left at White Creek Shoals, we started at daylight again, bound for London. A brisk trade was driven at one of the landings for chickens, and half a hundred were soon waiting execution in boxes and barrels. The motley collection of passengers were orderly, and variously employed, seeking lounging places and exercising ingenuity for chances to cook, being the chief occupations. In the afternoon the sensation was that orders had come from post to post, to stop all able bodied troops in transit and look out for Morgan, who was threatening a raid. This caused some commotion, as it was supposed his object would be to get the steamers, cut communications and obtain supplies. He did not make his appearance, however, to trouble us; and we were not called upon either to fight, or surrender, or run. The general belief was that the "scare" was without reason.

Reaching London about 9 P. M., we unloaded freight, and took on quite a small army of officers of all ranks, and started on the downward trip again at midnight. Wednesday, 20th, was serene and fair as anybody could desire, and specially agreeable to our crowded company. The number of passengers, the difficulty of getting food, sleep and sitting places, made the trip tedious. But such evils come to an end after patient endurance, and we arrived at Chattanooga without new adventures, at 10 o'clock, P. M.

Boston Evening Transcript, February 1, 1864


*Ed. note - Loudon.

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