Thursday, May 23, 2013

5/23/2013 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        23, "Insane fury appears to posses their souls." The Louisville Journal Decries the Memphis Vigilance Committee and the Tennessee Ordinance of Secession.

In 1854 we for the first time visited Memphis. We were received with such honors as we were not vain enough to think we deserved. A public dinner was tendered to us and accepted. The best and most distinguished citizens of Memphis and of the surrounding country attended it. We were overwhelmed with complimentary speeches and toasts from men of all parties. In the little speech that was of course expected of us, we alluded to the great changes which had taken place in our relations with old political friends and old political opponents during the twenty-four or twenty-five we had been in editorial life, and we ventured to suggest, improbable as such a thing then seemed to us, that perhaps similar changes would occur to us in what then the future.

Since that time we have repeatedly visited Memphis, and always been received with a hearty cordiality most gratifying and most flattering to us. We have thought that there was no city in the United States, where in proportion to population, we had a greater number of ardent friends. One of the changes, however, which, seven years ago we allude to as possible, has at last taken place. We are a Union man [sic], but Memphis has become a secession city. We have held steadily on, following the guidance of the spirit that controlled us in 1854, but Memphis has surrendered herself up to the fierce and bitter spirit of disunion. Her men seem to have changed their whole natures. They have given way to madness. Insane fury appears to posses their souls. They tolerate a tyranny, a despotism in their midst, and they glory in upholding it. They are under the remorseless government of an irresponsible little mob, calling itself a Vigilance Committee. All their affairs are controlled by that Committee. It is for the Committee to say who may live in the city and who man not, what newspapers the people may be permitted to receive and what ones must be banned and barred from the city limits, what steamboat cargoes bust be confiscated and what ones may be allowed to pass, who must be imprisoned, who whipped, who have his head shaved, who be tarred and feathered, and who hung.

This Memphis Committee of Vigilance or Committee of Safety has issued an edict against the circulation of the Louisville Journal in that place, ordering that all copies of it, arriving their by mail, shall, instead of being delivered in obedience to the post office laws to the persons they are directed to, be returned to us. Now we call upon the Post office-Department, if the people of Memphis slavishly permit this thing to be done, to cut them off from all mail facilities utterly and at once. As a free citizen of the United States, we have a right to demand that an outraged perpetrated upon our rights shall be redressed so far as the punishment of its perpetrators and those who countenance or tolerate them can constitute redress. No person can be fool enough to charge that the Louisville Journal is in any just sense an incendiary sheet. The worst enemy it has on earth cannot allege that it ever contains anything tending to excite servile insurrections or to undermine the foundations of morality and civil society. No man in Memphis can deny that is speaks in as lofty a tone and is conducted upon as exalted principles as any paper in that city. No one will say that it has not deserved and won as large and extended a share of a nation's regard and admirations as any paper in our Western land. If it ever inflames man's minds, it inflames them legitimacy and properly-inflames them against those men, and those only, who, with sacrilegious hands, would demolish the sacred ark of American freedom.

Deeply as we scorn the miserable elicit directed against us by the little Memphis mob, we have the consolation of being able to regard it as the highest compliment ever paid to us in a city where we have been so often and so handsomely complimented. It shows that the power and influence of the Louisville Journal are so deeply felt that the advocates of disunion, when struggling for the popular vote in favor of their dark and destructive policy, feel the necessity of shutting our paper out from the eyes of their people by violence. The Memphis Appeal, a most bitter disunion organ, whilst announcing with exultation the exclusion of the Journal from Memphis, proclaims that "papers of more flagitious character are allowed to be exhibited for sale with perfect impunity;" and surely this is an unequivocal admission that the political power of the Journal, and, that alone, has caused the paper to be proscribed by the miserable little self-constituted committee of eighteen or twenty traitors. Grateful as we have ever been to the people of Memphis, deeply as we have appreciated all their kindness, we must say that, if they are poor spirited enough to submit to this thing, mean spirited enough to leave the control of their reading to the censorship of a committee, and especially such a committee, we shall blush to remember that we were ever the recipient of their hospitality.

Throughout the whole State of Tennessee, the mockery of submitting the ordinance of secession to the popular vote is perfectly atrocious. It is an insult to human nature. The Legislature, in secret session, without waiting for the people to vote upon the ordinance of secession or even to read it, proceeded at once, without even the pretense of popular or any other authority, to place the whole power and military resources of the State at the disposal of the Southern Confederacy and invited the armies of that Confederacy upon Tennessee soil, thus putting it out of the power of the Tennessee people to exercise, through the ballot-box or in any other way, the slightest secretion of liberty-box or in any other way, the slighted secretion of liberty of choice in deciding whether their State should or should not come under the Southern Government. And ever since the passage of the secession ordinance by the Legislature, the disunion leaders have been raising troops by thousands and tens of thousands, marshalling them under the Southern Confederacy's service, and levying for their support monstrous raises of taxation upon the people without the authority or even the form or pretext of law. Of course it is obvious that, under such circumstances the popular vote, so-called, upon the ordinance, can have no meaning or significance in the world; yet the leaders, for the poor sake of appearance, are determined to have a vote, or what they propose to call a vote, in their favor. Hence by the machinery of scores of hundreds of miniature mobs or vigilance committees, they are industriously expelling, night and day, thousands of true and bold Union men from all parts of the State. Hence they are muzzling the mouths of their editors, are compelling them to trample upon their own convictions and their own self-respect and to become the shameless advocates of disunion. Hence they are holding public meetings and giving notice to those noble champions of the country who have hitherto swayed and molded the public mind, that, if they dare to make a speech for the Union, their lives shall instantly pay the penalty. Hence they are suppressing the circulation of a faithful and fearless newspaper organ of Unionism, in their dread of the effect of its arguments and appeals upon the minds of their wronged and insulted fellow citizens. And hence they are everywhere proclaiming and publishing their resolution that every voter, on going to the polls, shall expose to the bystanders what is written upon the ballot, the plan being to beat or maim or kill all who shall have the audacity to vote for the Union. We have seen scores of the best men of Tennessee within the last few days, and they all bear witness, that, in their belief, the reign of terror now raging and maddening in that State has no parallel in modern history. There is less of personal freedom; there is more of atrocious and horrible tyranny, in Tennessee, at this time than could be found under the worst and most wretched Government of Asia or of the savage islands of the sea.

Unquestionably in the condition of things that now exists, such of the people of Tennessee as are loyal, enjoying no protections and experiencing only oppression from the hands of their State government, have just claims to be protected in their right by the Federal Government. Yielding a willing allegiance to that Government, they have a right to expect to be sustained by it, for they are not more citizens of Tennessee than they are citizens of the United States. How far the Government at Washington is prepared to accord the protection, which under the Constitution, it owes to them, we cannot say, for the circumstance of the whole country are at the present time extraordinary. Buy certainly no well-informed and just man can hesitate to say, the virtue and force of an ordinance of secession fairly and legitimately adopted by the majority of the free voters of a State, the vote about to be given upon the Tennessee ordinance should be treated as a nullity, a nothing, by the Federal Government and by all mankind-treated as not affecting in any way or in the slightest degree the right and the duties either of the Government at Washington or of the Tennessee people.

Fellow citizens of Kentucky! The disunion leaders in the midst of us are using all their guilty and desperate energies to make Kentucky what Tennessee is. Say to every fiend of them-"Get thee behind me, Satan!"

Louisville Journal, May 23, 1861.[1]




23, Special Orders No. 357, Price Controls in Confederate Memphis

Special Orders No. 357

Headquarters, Memphis, May 23, 1862

Having been clothed will full authority to take all necessary measures for the radical suspension of ALL speculative operations in provisions and the necessities of life, the Commandant of this post much regrets that he is called on by many who to rebuke extortion among those who interests should be closely allied with the fate of the Government, or to those [illegible] disposition too clearly [illegible] in this city; to fatten on the misfortunes and necessities of all obedient citizens of such great MUTUAL public and private interest.

Notice is hereby given to all extortionists of any shape or kind, that they will be held in strict accountability, both in person and property, for creating as craven and cowardly an advantage over those, whose natural protectors are on the tented field, striking nobly for their liberties and the rights of their country, while such are living INGLORIOUSLY, on the hard earned pittance of the solders, wrung by extortion in the necessities of life from those dependent on that pittance.

All persons are herby notified that all remunerative prices will be allowed for all necessities, and when such injustice is refused, upon proper examination, if the refused result from an attempt to extortion, the property will be taken possession of at a fair price, and the individual, as before said, held to account.

Having called a Board of five citizens, whose acquaintance with provisions and the cost of necessities is very extensive, and whose patriotism is beyond doub, the following tariff of prices will govern the specified articles until further orders. And any persons exceeding the tariff will be fined not exceeding twice the value of the article confiscated to the benefit of the "Free Market." The prices allowed are fair, remunerative, and in the judgment of the Commander, even high; and those who are unwilling to sell at these prices should be held up the public gaze as vampires on the absolute [opinion?] of the many for public excoriation.

All persons who attempt to hide provisions are to keep them from the market, are warned as to the consequences of such actions.

The [attention?] of all dealers is called to Special Orders relating to Confederate money herewith [are?] to [be applied?].

All persons dealing in articles specified below will keep the Tariff of Prices posted conspicuously at their place of business. The Civil Governor and Provost Marshal will carry into effect this order:


Beef on Foot

First quality not to exceed 12 c. per pound

Second do                 do      10c      do

Third    do                 do       8c       do


Beef at Retail

First class, comprising [illegible] and ribs not to exceed 20[?] c

Second do round and rump 12 ½ c.

Third do neck shoulder and [illegible]



On foot, gross, not to exceed 10c

By retail 18c



Hog round, as per quality, 23 to 25c

Hams and sides, at retail, 39c

Shoulders, 28 to 31 c



In barrels and [illegible], 22 to

In kegs, 26 to 28 c



Double extra, wholesale, $15 per barrel

Single do         do            $14 d0

Super fine         do          $13 do

Double extra, at retail     $16 do

Single     do          do       $15 do

Super fine do        do      $14 do



At wholesale not to exceed $1.25 per bushel

At retail            do                $1.30    do


Corn Meal

At wholesale, not to exceed $1.25 per barrel

At retail              do              $1.30



As per quality, $1.75 to $2.l05 per bushel

Oats, $1.25.



Liverpool coarse, $15.00 per sack

      do         fine       $16.00    do

Packing                   $12.00

At retail, per pound 121/2c



Brown and [illegible] 10 to 121/2

At retail, 10 to 13 c



At wholesale, 30c

At retail, 33 to 40 c



At wholesale, 30c

At retail, 33 to 40 c

Small retailers to [illegible] are allowed as an advantage add to

[Illegible] 23 per cent, and small retailers in [illegible] 15 per


By command of Thos. H. Rosser, Colonel Commanding Post

 Official: Thomas M. Chomer [?]

Memphis Daily Appeal, May 29, 1862. [2]




23, "My Brigade has done a great deal of work since it has been here-among other things built a fort called Fort Rains in honor of Brigadier General Rains who was killed at Murfreesboro." H. D. Clayton in Tullahoma to his wife

Tullahoma, Tennessee

23 May 1863

My Dear Wife,

I received orders to go to the front. I start with my command for Wartrace to which place you will here after send your letters. I enjoyed the things you sent me by Ned very much-they were all so nice. I did not need the shirts but since you have sent them they are so nice I will wear them for your sake. I will send the trunk home the first opportunity and in it such clothes as I think I can spare. I want to keep as few on hand as I can make out with, preferring to get them from home as I need them.

My Brigade has done a great deal of work since it has been here-among other things built a fort called Fort Rains in honor of Brig Gen Rains who was killed at Murfreesboro. Is it 125 yards across. The ditch is twelve feet wide and eight deep and the dirt makes a wall eight feet high, and has twelve cannon in it. We have cut down the trees on one thousand acres of thick wood land.

Being quietly situated during the past week and hoping to come across "The Strange Story," Bulwer's last novel, I read it and was rather pleased with it. If you ever get it please read it and write to me what you think of it. If you can keep from becoming too much interested in the war story to enjoy the beginning I think you will like it. I expect Mr. Tompkins has it as you can buy it in Eufaula. Do not read it however if you have any objection to doing so, though I do not think there is anything in it objectionable.

I hope you have received my last letter and answers that hint about coming to see me. If we live we will make arrangements for you to spend July or August one or both with me. Don't you think you can do so without home interests suffering too much? I want to see you again-- enjoyed very much the few days I was with you recently as I hope you did also.

Write to me often.

Dear Wife, I am your devoted Husband.

H.D. Clayton



[1] As cited in PQCW.

[2] As cited in PQCW. Documents relating to the activities of the offices of the Confederate Provost Marshal are rare in Tennessee's Civil War history. Price inflation was apparently a grave problem for civilians in Memphis, just days before the city would fall to the Federal Mississippi River fleet. Additionally, price fixing was not uncommon – in 1865 three Tennessee price control commissioners met in Aberdeen, Mississippi, to produce a price fixing schedule for the Volunteer State. It was a pathetic attempt to revive a flaccid system of such controls inasmuch as Confederate authority was virtually unknown in Tennessee by this time. See: February 1, 1865, "Confederate Board of Commissioners for Impressment for Tennessee issues price schedule no. 10" below.

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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