Sunday, March 31, 2013

3/31/13 Tennessee Civil War Notes = TCWN

31, Capture of Union City[1]

UNION CITY, TENN., April 1, 1862.


GENTLEMEN: Perhaps it may not be amiss for me to give you some of the particulars of the Lincolnitish [sic] advent into this City. On yesterday morning at early breakfast time, and before our cavalry had time to finish their morning repast, Mr. Charley Gibbs came in haste from his house and gave information that the enemy were in force making their way to our camps. They enemy were so close upon his heels that neither cavalry nor infantry had time to make any preparation for battle and a general flight took place, and many of the cavalry did not have time to saddle their horses and ran and left them tied. The infantry took to their heels. The flight became general. The enemy fired many volleys of musketry. They had but four pieces of light artillery and discharged them several times. None of our men killed or wounded. Two horses were killed on the field. Lieut.-Col. Tillman deserves a good deal of praise for his endeavors to rally and form his fleeing soldiers. He three times formed two companies of American-born soldiers in line of battle away from the field. The Irish element of his command would not and did not form in line of battle, but fled precipitately in such directions as offered the greatest safety to themselves. What went with the cavalry I cannot tell. One wagon and team was taken by the enemy, that I know of. I think about thirty horses and mules fell into their hands. From the best that I could see I think between thirty and forty of our men fell into their hands. The whole affray did not last over one hour or one hour and a half before they all left. The last that I saw of Col. Pickett he was making speed to the field of battle. What became of him and Maj. Woolfolk after they passed me toward the field I cannot tell. The enemy, I think, could not have been over 1,500 or 2,000 all told. The enemy first formed near the railroad in the woods and along the open field on the left of our entire encampment. They moved their cavalry and artillery into the field and began their fire on our men. They advanced and formed in the valley below, between the (our) cavalry and infantry, and would not (did not) ascend the hill or elevation on which our infantry were quartered. They moved north in the valley and field so as to get beyond to the north of our entire encampment. There they formed in line of battle. Their artillery, as soon as they found that our soldiers had not formed in line east of our encampment, moved up to the top of the elevation of which our cavalry were quartered and opened fire again with their cannon, the balls and shells whistling overhead.

Soon the entire encampment was enveloped in one sheet of smoke and flame, the soldier's houses being set on fire by the enemy. The tents of the cavalry were also nearly all burnt to the ground. The railroad cars, say some half-dozen, were at the depot here, and two locomotives, one of which had steam up, the other not. The one that had steam up backed up to the one near the depot and hitched to her and put steam [on] and off they went south. The enemy seeing this turned loose one of their cannon after fugitive train, but they had to elevate their gun so high that the balls did no harm to the train, I think. This brought the enemy down to the depot. They found two cars there still, one a passenger car, and the other perhaps not but was reported to contain clothing for the army. This car was set on fire by the enemy, and after it was well on fire the enemy left. This burning car was loosened from the passenger car and run down on the track to the end of the switch and burnt up the all its contents. After the tents and camps were well on fire the enemy formed in a large body in the valley near where the cavalry had been quartered, and, as I think, held a consultation of some fifteen minutes. Then they all moved off and went back the road they came to Hickman. The position that I occupied at the south side of the field gave me a full view of all that was passing. As Soon as the enemy started to leave the field I immediately went in amongst the burning camps and tried to save as much as possible of the soldier's effects from the flames. I succeeded in saving six boxes of cartridges that had not been opened, and have them, I hope, safe and subject to your order. A great variety of things were saved from the flames by the citizens. I think the enemy took a good many of our arms, but how many I don't know. Tents, soldiers' clothing, arms, and ammunition were destroyed. One case of surgical instruments was rescued in good order by a citizen. A gold watch, I think, was taken by some person. I think I can find out who, if I had orders to do so. If ordered to do so, I will take charge of such effects as the authorities may order. The order must be positive for any one that has any articles to deliver them up. I think that many guns were thrown away by the soldier that may be recovered. There was a great destruction of property by the enemy. All our soldiers must have been left destitute of everything except what they had on. I directed several tents to be taken down before the fire reached them; some were saved. The enemy must have been piloted through to our camps by persons who knew the country well. The telegraph instruments were broken, but not taken away; can soon be repaired, I suppose. Excuse this hasty sketch.

Respectfully, yours.


P. S.-No private property interfered with.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. II, pp. 294-295.




31, Skirmish near Franklin

MARCH 31, 1863.-Skirmish near Franklin, Tenn.

Report of Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, U. S. Army.

FRANKLIN, TENN., March 31, 1863.

GEN.: Our cavalry moved out on the Lewisburg and Columbia pike to-day, encountering the rebels some 7 miles out, and, skirmishing for several hours, took 5 prisoners from them. I learn that Van Dorn is still in our front, and that a part of his force is somewhere on a scout. Can learn nothing of rebel movements in any quarter. Orders were given last night for cooking four days' rations for a scout. Jackson, Armstrong, and Cosby were in front to-day.

G. GRANGER, Maj.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. I, p. 199.




31, Detailed Account of Life in a Federal Army Encampment; William Betnley's letter home to his sister in Ohio from Mossy Creek

March 31st 1864

My dear sister….

Maybe thee will be interested in an account of the manner that we spend our time in camp. I will try to give you some idea of my doings. Today is a pretty good sample- I was waked out of a sound nap at 5 ½ o'ck by "drummer call," pulled on my boots & got my traps on, said traps consisting of cartridge box, haversack and rifle. Fell into line for roll call and after the roll is called by the Orderly Sergt. open ranks and the Lt. Inspects every gun and cartridge box, then drill for a few minutes in the Manual of Arms, then break ranks and get breakfast. Which means in this case, a dish of fried crackers with gravy made with flour and water with a cup of strong coffee, not a bad meal when you get used to it. After breakfast comes policing (cleaning up). Then Guard Mounting at 8 ½ o'ck that takes 3 men from a Co. each day and I wasn't one of them this morning. Then we are off duty till 10 o'ck when we have Co. drill for ¼ hour, after this we have nothing to do till 12 p.m. when we have roll call again, then eat dinner. By the way, I had a rare dish for dinner viz. Oyster Soup. I bought a can of dove oysters for only $2.00 which made me an excellent dinner and I have some left for breakfast. This is pretty expensive you will think, but it don't happen more than once a year, for we can't get them often. At 2 o'ck we went on Battalion Drill, lasting till 4 o'ck when we came in and brushed up for Dress Parade which came off at 3 ½ o'ck. I can't tell you how it appears but is a pretty sight to anyone who has never seen a Parade.

After it is over, we get supper, fried crackers. I have just finished a plateful of them with sugar and I feel exactly as if I'd had my supper. We got plenty of rations now. We drew clothing today, I drew a pair of shirts, shoes & blouse and I am well provided for in the way of clothing…

I want thee to write to me often, even if I don't answer them every time in thy name. Be a good girl and help mother all thee can. I know thee will without asking.

Believe me ever, Thy Bro – W.

Bentley Letters.




31, Chief of Army Police William Truesdail's investigation relative to the guerrilla raid on Wartrace, February 20, 1865

I…proceeded on Friday March 31st with Mrs Kate Gannoway of Tullahoma to the above mentioned place. After arriving there I was introduced by Mrs Gannoway to a Mrs Thomas Tarpley being introduced as Mrs Kate Gannoway as an active rebel who also has a husband in the Rebel Army as a good Rebel myself I was at once made a confidant as to the secret operations of Rebel sympathizers in that locality. Upon my alluding to Captain Van Houten's being killed by the Yankees at Wartrace Mrs Tarpley at once dropped into a chair & remarked that it was one of the unfortunate moves of the Confederates at the present time and Doctor Simms was really the instigator of the raid into Wartrace, an explanation to my surprise. Mrs Tarpley said that Genl Forrest had some two moths ago sent word to Simms & other past scouts of his between Nashville & Chattanooga to aid in capturing telegraphic instruments for the use of his department. She (Mrs Tarpley) said that Doc Simms thought the proper time had come and had arranged with one of the Tell operators at Wartrace to have everything in readiness on a give[n] day so as to enable the raiders to accomplish their own object without suspicion or danger to any of the parties engaged. Unfortunately however Van Houten the Rebel officer in command of the squad drank a little to [sic] much rot gut and in consequence disregarded the instructions given him Doc Simms which resulted in the death of Van Houten and complete failure of the scheme.

Mrs Tarpley also stated that the same night that Van Houten was killed three of his (Van Houten's) men came to her house to ascertain the road to Mr. Ransoms, a noted secessionist as perhaps (according to their own expression) Head Quarters for all good Rebs [sic].

On Monday April 2d I made business to the Telegraph for the purpose of learning which operator at that post was cognizant of and connected with the above-mentioned raid. I met Mr. Ware in the office and introduce myself and business (pretended) sending a dispatch to some one in Tullahoma and while waiting for an answer the news of Richmond came over the wires he told me of the news whereupon I seemed gloomy and sad over the misfortune which had just befallen the Confederacy. He seemed to sympathize with me and denounced in the most abusive language Maj Genl Milroy Major Billings Provost Marshal & all Officers Commanding in the Sub Dist. He alluded to the arrest of one Mr Elkins in particular & citizens generally threatening what he would do in case he was a citizen and said if Elkins was punished for killing Negroes he would be avenged. I spoke of obtaining a pass to Tullahoma for Mrs Tarpley & Mrs Gannoway when he said he could have them brought on a freight train without any pass and said he was doing a good underground business shipping from eighteen to nineteen persons every day to Nashville & other points on the line of the N&CRR. Just at this moment some one came in and we dropped the subject of passes.

After this I introduced the subject of the raid and asked him is he one of the number captured to which he replied he was and gave a full account of the whole affair, laughed at the good joke on the parties captured and made a good deal of fun about the expression of Mr. Thomas face as he woke up in the night of the raid and found a face as he woke up in the night of the raid and found a rebel standing over him with a revolver drawn at his head demanding his watch & money. While we were conversing Mrs Kate Gannoway and Mrs Tarpley went to the Post Office. Learning the above after they had gone I spoke in a confidential manner to him (the operator) asking if he could [tell?] how it was the Captain (meaning Van Houten) happened to be so foolish as to make such a bold attempt at robbery in Wartrace at that time and he told me that the plan adopted was well arranged and would have a perfect success had they stopped when they had accomplished what they intended to do. Said he had pleasure of removing the instruments from the table and handing them over to Van Houten and also said that even Thomas thought he seemed satisfied in being so fortunate as to get off with his live [sic] was willing to regard the thing as a joke rather severe on them. But when they went elsewhere they made the things so public that he found it necessary to give the alarm to save himself. Said if he had not given the alarm he would have been suspect himself but if they had gone back improper time with the instruments alone to Doctor Simms the scheme would have been a perfect success. The Ladies about this time returned and the subject was dropped. After the Ladies again came in I asked him in case I was unable to get a pass from Gen Milroy for Mrs. Gannoway and Mrs. Tarpley if he would be so kind as to pass them over the road to Tullahoma. He replied that he would secure the passage at either eight o'clock in the morning or at four in the evening. He proposed to Mr. Thomas to send them in the Express car as it would be more comfortable than riding in the freight cars or flats, explaining that Mrs Gannoway was a relative to express Agent in Tullahoma and Mr. Thomas declined saying it was unsafe and he thought it was not proper to do so.

The next day we went to his office between three and four o'clock P.M. for the purpose of securing passage through his agency on a freight train. This took place April 4th. A few minutes before the train from Nashville came alone which he said he would send us on Mrs Elkins and daughter arrived on a freight train from Tullahoma. He (operator) told us that he had sent Mrs Elkins and daughter up to Tullahoma in the morning & then back. We were put on the second train from Nashville by him and came to Tullahoma. No passes were called for by the conductor, before leaving however for Tullahoma the operator spoke of having set traps by which he was going to catch the miserable wharf rats in the shape of Dutch soldiers belonging to the 188th O. V. I. stationed at Wartrace and stated a mode by which he had caught three.

Blood and Fire, pp. 151-153.

[1] Union City changed hands three times during the Civil War, yet it was not occupied for long periods of time by either side. This account was made by a Confederate citizen of Union City.

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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