Monday, March 11, 2013

3/11/13 Tennessee Civil War Notes = TCWN

11, An Account of Nashville's Surrender to Federal Forces

The Surrender of Nashville.

A gentleman who left Nashville shortly after the battle at Fort Donelson, communicates to the Mobile Tribune an interesting account of the evacuation and surrender of the city, a portion of which we append:

The fight at Fort Donelson on the 13th, 14th and the 15th of February, was of intense concern to us, and each day's work down there wound up with the statement that the fight would be renewed to-morrow. The fears that the fall of Fort  Henry were calculated to inspire had been well nigh dispelled by the way Fort Donelson was holding out. It was better located, and stronger in men and guns. Pillow, Floyd and Buckner were there. Pillow had said-let come what might, he never would surrender the place, and Nashville felt that we could not afford to lose that battle-Saturday's work was glorious. Our citizens shouted over it. Many were saying, "I never liked Pillow, but forgive him now-he is the man for the occasion." A sober, modest citizen, ad old line Whig and ex-Governor, was heard to say Saturday afternoon, on being asked how the fight went on [said]: "First rate-Pillow is giving them h_ll, and rubbing it in."

The dispatches closed on Saturday as they had for three successive days before-"the enemy are expecting large reinforcements." But we slept soundly and expected to have great news on the morrow. About 9 o'clock Sunday morning I rode out into the country seven or eight miles, and leaving the turnpike, dined with a friend in one of the quiet and luxurious farmer homes of Middle Tennessee. Returning leisurely, I struck the pike about 4 P. M., and everybody I had met in the morning had asked me "the latest news from the city." I asked the first man I met. Any news? Prepared to hear only of victory.

"News! What's' the last you've heard?"

"Last night's dispatch."

"None since? The last out and plenty of it. Fort Donelson has fallen and Nashville is surrendered. They say the white flag is waving now on our Capitol, ad the gunboats will be up before sundown."

I thought he was hoaxing me, but quickened my pace. The next man confirmed it all and more. I saw there were literally a cloud of witnesses, pouring along the turnpike heading to Franklin. Convalescent soldiers, quitting the hospitals, were waddling along with their scanty baggage. Travelers, in groups and squads had left the hotels, carrying carpetbags and satchels, and saddle-bags in hand. The family of the owner of the omnibus line were rolling out in those vehicles. Double and one-horse and four-horse wagons. On reaching the tollgate, on the top of the hill overlooking Nashville, I strained my eyes to see the white flag over the capitol. The tall flag staff was naked. There was no flag of any sort on it.

Passing down Broad street by the Nashville and Decatur road, the first man I saw was Governor Harris, about to leave on a special train, with the Legislature and archives of the State. The town was in commotion. Over the wire bridge that spans the Cumberland General Johnston's army were passing, taking the direction of the Murfreesboro turnpike. The train of wagons and soldiers reached out of sight, and, had not got over that night. The sight of a withdrawing or retreating army is very disheartening.

My residence is in Edgefield a little village separated from Nashville by the Cumberland river. For several days General Johnston's headquarters had been established on that side of the river, and near me - The lady with whom he and his staff took their meals is my neighbor and friend, and tells me that the General opened the news to her at [the] table in these words:

"Madam, I take you to be a person of firmness, and trust your neighbors are. Don't be alarmed. Last night my last dispatch, up to 12 o'clock, was favorable, and I lay down expecting a great victory to day; but this morning, at 4 o'clock, I was waked by a courier, with the news that our forces at Fort Donelson were surrounded and must surrender - They are not made of steel. Our soldiers have fought bravely as ever soldiers did; but they cannot hold out day after day against fresh forces and such odds. I cannot make men [do that]. Stay at home. Tell your friends from me to stay at home. I cannot make a fresh fight before Nashville, and for the good of the city shall retire. I know General Buell well. He is a gentleman, and will not suffer any violence on peaceable citizens, or disturb private property."

It might have been well if the General had issued a proclamation. He and staff crossed the bridge that night at 11 o'clock. General Breckinridge followed, and your correspondent followed soon after.

The question has often been asked, "Why didn't the people of Nashville made a stand? Why give up the city without striking a blow?"

The people were astonished and indignant at the way they were handed over to the enemy's mercy and occupation. But what could they do? When Generals and armed and drilled soldiers give up and retire, what can unarmed and undisciplined citizens do before a foe advancing by land and water?

"Throw brickbats at them," said one. Indeed! That would be well enough if the enemy would deal in the same missiles.

The bones of General Jackson, the defender of New Orleans, must have turned in his grave, at the Hermitage, a few miles away, at such surrender.

A few months before, on urgent call, every man who had a rifle or double barrel gun had brought it forward and given it up for army service. Not fifty serviceable guns could our citizens have mustered. No, not even pikes, though they had just enrolled themselves and received to have them made; and if Gen. Johnston made a stand before the city were resolved to stand with him. Such of them that were not willing to be surrendered to the unconventional mercies of Lincolndom, with the prospect of having the oath tendered them or the bastile, followed the retiring army.

After taking my family as far as Decatur, I returned to Nashville on Wednesday. The stores were closed and bolted. The streets deserted; save by a guard here and there, and a press gang taking up every man they could find and sending him to load government pork into barges, upon which it was being taken up the river and put out of the enemy's way. Had a stand been made before the city, or even a feint of a stand been made, no doubt all the government stores could have been removed safely. As it is, vast amounts have been thrown away, wasted, given out, both by the Quartermaster and Commissary departments. At one time the doors were thrown open to whoever would under the impression that they had better let the poor have these provisions than the enemy who was expected instantly. A friend said he saw quantities of meat lying on the roadside, where persons having overloaded their carts, had thrown it out. Barrels of flour, sacks of coffee, [illegible] of lard and meat were rolled into private houses and back yards, with hundreds of boxes of candles, bolts of cloth, &c. Afterwards this order was countermanded, as the enemy was not exactly at the door, and a guard placed over the stores and an effort made to get them off by railroad and boats & private carriages, hacks and carts were stopped in the street and pressed into service; and some of my friends had to get their baggage to the station in wheelbarrows. Advantage was taken of the confusion and dismay of the hour for private injustice had irresponsible operation.-The selfishness developed in such ordeals is humiliating.

The opinion prevailed there that Nashville will be burnt, first and last!-if not, when we have it then we drive the enemy out of it. For Tennesseans are resolved that the enemy shall not rest on their soil. Gen. Floyd and staff left Thursday morning and it was understood that Gen. John. H. Morgan, with his company, would retire slowly as the enemy is force entered. The Louisiana Cavalry of Col. Scott were near Franklin, on their way to the vicinity where they will act as scouts and hold the enemy close in bounds.

As far out as Brentwood, Franklin, and Columbia, some people are leaving their homes and sending off their slaves. Others, deeply committed Southerners, stand at risk to consequences. They look for inconvenience and heavy loses, staying or going. In reply to the question often asked whether any Union elements had been developed by those events, there was always some of this element in Nashville, but in very inconsiderable proportion to the population. Let Unionists show their heads and hands; now it is hoped they will. We have friends enough left to watch them; and when the tide of war rolls back, the country will finally be purged of them, for they have to leave with the Lincoln army.

The great mass of Tennesseans specially Middle and West, are [illegible] to the core, and thoroughly aroused for the first time. They chafe under the humiliation and disgrace of the surrender of their capital. Those that can will move their families out of the reach of immediate harm, and return to face the foe on a hundred fields. The great battles of this war are to be fought in the West. This is but the beginning. The people realize now what is at stake, and they will measure out wealth and blood without stint.

Daily Dispatch, March 11, 1862. [1]



       11, "In Canvass Bower." A sophisticated and satirical look at the Confederate soldier's life during winter camp at Tullahoma.

I am candid-war is not my forte. I prefer a Christmas ball to a leaden one. The tented line is not half as inviting as a field of wheat, or the flowery field of literature; a peal of laughter is more fascinating than a peal of artillery; a storm of grape and canister retires before a storm of applause. I am partial to the grape, but prefer the vegetable to the mineral [variety]. I do not want blood upon my hands....

To be in line of promotion [in the Army of Tennessee], an individual must take a position in line of battle, to be shot at by sharpshooters, with globe rifles and other harmless missiles; how delightful-to a man of nerve, but nothing could nerve us to such folly. We prefer a fishing line, a tender loin (rare cooked) to a battle line, lines to peace would be far preferable; to be shot wouldn't pay-there is more solid reality and enjoyment in eating a dozen oysters raw, stewed or fried, than to be decapitated by a six ponder, and heralded as a hero in, and a martyr to the cause of liberty. Some men may bite at those gorgeous, golden glories. I'm not in that book. The strings of my lyre never can be tuned to warlike notes; they will only sound for notes of affection, or Confederate notes, no other circulation can get a note out of them; no shower of minnies [sic] can move them like a shower of Minnie's kisses; no mountain howitzer can fight a fire like mountain maid

* * * *

We have a great many loafers here [in Tullahoma camp]-in fact the army would not be complete without them; they are the ornamental part of our campfires, and when a Conscriptor [sic] comes along the decamp without paying their mess bills. Our mortality also is very great; every Friday you can see men hanging around. Some few have been shot in the neck with rifle whiskey, made out of wheat, or something as good as wheat.

Strange hallucination our people have fallen into; they come two to ten miles to see a rebel, here where they are so numerous, and even pay ten cents for a sight of the Chattanooga Rebel. What is the difference between a Chattanooga rebel and one down here? The thought is enough to appaul[2] [sic] me! It is singular that we look to the rear for news from the front. Wait for the Rebel up there to hear what is doing down here.

Chattanooga Daily Rebel, March 11, 1863.



11, "Those men in the interests of the rebellion, who have done so much evil, can never more be trusted." Confederate Refugees in East Tennessee


Still Going South.


Since our last issue the following persons and families have been ordered South, and as we learn, have departed via Chattanooga. It is thought by some to be an act of great cruelty on the part of our Government, to send women and children out of our lines at this season of the year. We will be excused if we fail to sympathize with those who behold an act of cruelty in sending persistent rebels South. Two years ago the wife of the editor of this paper, with two sick children, and the wife and children of Horace Maynard, the former herself sick, were forced out of this town to the North, and that upon the shortest notice. Most of the families now going out exulted over this removal, and said the Rebels were doing them right.


These secessionists have filled the land with suffering and sorrow. The homes of the humble poor Union families, all over Eastern Tennessee, have been plundered, darkened and desolated.


Mothers are going to their graves broken hearted. Bereaved widows, with their bare-footed orphan children, are shivering in the winter's cold, and poorly clad, are making their way North, because their husbands and fathers dared to be Union men. All this, and a hundred times more and worse, has been the fate of Union families here, inflicted upon them by the getters up of the rebellion, and the advocates of it, not the least prominent of whom were rebel females.


It is useless to discuss the well agreed upon resolution, that these two parties can't live in this country, even after the war is over. Those men in the interests of the rebellion, who have done so much evil, can never more be trusted.


Miss Nancy Scott, Dr. John Jackson, Rev. A. A. Doak, Mrs. Claiborne Kain, A. B. Maxwell, T. C. Champ and family.—Knoxville Whig.


[Little Rock] Unconditional Union, March 11, 1864.[3]



[1] As cited in PQCW.

[2] A pun on the Chattanooga Daily Rebel's owner and editor's name, Franc M. Paul

[3] As cited in:


James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-532-1550  x115

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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