Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

21, "Firing of a Cannon."

About 7 o'clock last night, fifteen guns were fired from Capitol Hill in honor of the secession of Georgia....
Nashville Daily Gazette January 21, 1861.



21, 25, Reports on construction of Confederate forts on the Cumberland, Tennessee and Red rivers
CLARKSVILLE, January 21, 1862.

Maj. Gen. W. J. HARDEE, Bowling Green:

MY DEAR SIR: Our forts are still in an unfinished condition, and will remain so, unless the 2,000 men who are now here are ordered to work on them immediately; if necessary, night and day. As yet no work has been done by the soldiers, and if half we hear is true we have no time to lose. There is a great deal of work done on the forts, but they are unfinished, and in the present condition do no earthly good, and are no more effective for defense than if they were in their original condition before a spade of dirt was removed. More energy must be infused into the work of preparation here for defense, or we will be unprepared, if the enemy should pass Fort Donelson and march around it. We hear the enemy are in force 6,000 strong at Murray, about 25 miles north of Paris. We don't know the truth of this report, but the people of Paris are in a great state of excitement about it. They believe the report to be true.
I understand the authorities here have again sent out over the country to collect in the negroes to finish these forts. This will necessarily produce delay, though none could be finished before the negro force can be assembled if the soldiers were detailed for the work. Last night twelve companies arrived here from Nashville, and we have now here two regiments, one under Col. Quarles, and the other under the command of Col. Voorhies.
I need not apologize for my urgency, for I cannot and ought not, in the position I occupy, to stand still in such a moment as this.

Ever your friend and obedient servant,





January 25, 1862.

I have just received a telegraphic report from Mr. Edward B. Sayer, assistant engineer at Clarksville, in which he says "work progressing very well now; 200 slaves and 50 soldiers at work; 24-pounders mounted; one 12-pounder also mounted."

I have directed him to mount the 32s in the water battery at 
mouth of Red River.


Maj., and Chief Engineer Western Department.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 7, pp. 841-842.



21-22, Naval action on the Cumberland River at Betsy Town Landing

No circumstantial reports filed. 

Excerpt from the Report of Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, U.S. Navy, regarding naval operations in the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, August 23, 1862-October 21, 1863

* * * *

On the 21st day of January, 1863, I got back from Madison and started up for Nashville with a fleet of 31 steamers and 8 or 10 barges. Just below Palmyra I met the St. Clair and Brilliant coming down with a fleet from the foot of the shoals.

I at once sent the transports bound down out of the river, as they were then below all danger, and took the two gunboats back with me to help with the convoy. At Clarksville we anchored for the night, in consequence of the large convoy, and to get it more perfectly arranged. During the night Lieutenant-Commander S. L. Phelps came up with the Lexington and moved on up to Beatstown [Betsy Town] Landing, where he burned a large warehouse used as a shelter by the guerrillas.

On his return down he was attacked by two pieces of artillery, but soon drove them off.

As soon as the fleet reached Nashville the Lexington returned to Cairo. Coming down we were greatly annoyed by rebel sharpshooters from behind the trees, but soon dispersed them and got through safely.

* * * * 

NOR, Ser. I, Vol., 23, p. 312.



21, Correspondence between Major-General Charles A. Dana and U.S. Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, relative to illegal cotton trade involving "Yankees and Jews"

MEMPHIS, January 21, 1863.


DEAR SIR: You will remember our conversations on the subject of excluding cotton speculators from the regions occupied by our armies in the South. I now write to urge the matter upon your attention as a measure of military necessity. The mania for sudden fortunes made in cotton, raging in a vast population of Jews and Yankees scattered throughout this whole country, and in this town almost exceeding the numbers of the regular residents, has to an alarming extent corrupted and demoralized the army. Every colonel, captain, or quartermaster is in secret partnership with some operator in cotton; every soldier dreams of adding a bale of cotton to his monthly pay. I had no conception of the extent of this evil until I came and saw for myself. Besides, the resources of the rebels are inordinately increased from this source. Plenty of cotton is brought in from beyond our lines, especially by the agency of Jewish traders, who pay for it ostensibly in Treasury notes, but treaty in gold. What I propose is that no private purchaser of cotton shall be allowed in any part of the occupied region. Let quartermasters buy the article at a fixed price, say 20 or 25 cents per pound, and forward it by army transportation to proper centers, say to Helena, Memphis, or Cincinnati, to be sold at public auction on Government account. Let the sales take place on regular, fixed days, so that all parties desirous of buying can be sure when to be present. But little capital will be required for such an operation. The sales being frequent and for cash, will constantly replace the amount employed for the purpose. I should say that $200,000 would be sufficient to conduct the movement. I have no doubt that this $200,000 so employed would be more than equal to 30,000 men added to the national armies. My pecuniary interest is in the continuance of the present state of things, for while it lasts there are occasional opportunities of profit to be made by a daring operator; but I should be false to my duty did I, on that account, fail to implore you to put an end to an evil so enormous, so insidious, and so full of peril to the country. My first impulse was to hurry to Washington to represent these things to you in person; return East so speedily. I beg you, however, to act without delay if possible. An excellent man to put at the head of the business would be Gen. Strong. I make this suggestion without any idea whether the employment would be agreeable to him.

Yours, faithfully,


P. S.--Since writing the above I have seen Gen. Grant, who fully agrees with all my statements and suggestions, except that imputing corruption to every officer, which, of course, I did not intend to be taken literally. I have also just attended a public sale by the quartermaster here of 500 bales of cotton confiscated by Gen. Grant at Oxford and Holly Springs. It belonged to Jacob Thompson and other notorious rebels. This cotton brought to-day over $1,500,000 cash. This sum alone would be five times enough to set on foot the system I recommend, without drawing upon the Treasury at all. In fact, there can be no question that by adopting this system the quartermaster's department in this valley would become self-holders would no longer find that the rebellion had quadrupled the price of their great staple, but only doubled it.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, p. 331.



21, Skirmish at Strawberry Plains

HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, NINTH ARMY CORPS, Lyon's Mills, Tenn., January 31, 1864.

CAPT.: On the 21st ultimo the Ninth Corps was at Strawberry Plains. The army was moving toward Knoxville, with heavy trains over bad roads, and the Ninth Corps was left to bring up the rear. The bridge being dismantled and set on fire, our pickets were withdrawn, as directed by the major-general commanding, from the south side of the river in a flat-boat. The enemy soon appeared, lined the banks of the river commanding the plains, and from Seminary Hill opened fire with a field battery. Lieut. Gittings, with Batteries L and M, third U. S. Artillery, was posted near a block-house covering the depot, but placed his four guns in a better position on the ridge next in rear of the block-house, and replied with such effect as to silence the enemy, notwithstanding a cross-fire brought to bear upon him from a point to our left and front.

We remained in position all day at Strawberry Plains annoyed, after the artillery ceased, only by the enemy's sharpshooters. They showed a considerable force of cavalry and mounted infantry, some squadrons, and one long column which we were able to reach with our shells with considerable apparent effect. They seemed to be moving down from the New Market road out upon the Sevierville road, from which there were roads leading to a ford 2 miles below us, and other fords still lower down, crossing at either of which would have enabled them to cut our train stretched between Strawberry Plains and Knoxville. The picket at the ford was strengthened, and a regiment sent to Flat Creek by the general's order. In the evening a train of cars was expected to take off some public property remaining at the depot, consisting mainly of two guns, said to belong to Goodspeed's battery (not of the Ninth Corps), and some caissons. There was no transportation to take this property away, and a telegram was received stating that the cars had run off the track just out of Knoxville. The troops were ordered by Gen. Parke to be at Flat Creek by daylight. The batteries were started at 12, the troops at 3. I was directed to bring off the guns and caissons, before mentioned, if possible; if not, to destroy them. The men of the Ninth Corps volunteered to drag the guns, which they did with much labor, and the caissons were destroyed, as it was impossible to bring them away. The troops reached Flat Creek by daylight, and were ordered to move on toward Knoxville in rear of the Twenty-third Corps.

At about 1 o'clock on the 22d, the enemy's cavalry appeared in our rear, 1 mile above the Armstrong house, just as we came up with Manson's division, Twenty-third Corps, which had been halted. The lines were formed and we marched in company with Gen. Manson, without annoyance from the enemy, to a position a mile above the intersection of the Armstrong's Ferry road with the Knoxville road, where I ordered a halt of all the troops, threw out skirmishers toward the enemy, encountered their skirmish line, drove them back, and carried two wooded knolls which they had seized In our rear and right. The rebel force driven off, we went into bivouac. They made a demonstration on Gen. Manson's pickets early in the evening, which was repulsed. Their whole force returned toward Strawberry Plains about midnight, and we saw no more of them. They were said to be Armstrong's division of cavalry and mounted Infantry. 

* * * * 

O. B. WILLCOX, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 107-108.

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