Friday, May 31, 2013

5/31/2013 Tennessee Civil War Notes

31, Report on Secessionist Committee of Vigilance Activity in the Brownsville environs

The Tennessee Reign of Terror.-Last spring we passed a day in Brownsville, Tennessee. During the day we had the pleasure of visiting a Female Seminary taught by the Rev. Mr. Cooper. His school, consisting of nearly a hundred most interesting young girls, was in all respects one of the finest that we ever saw; and everybody in Brownsville bore the strongest testimony to the eminent talent and worth of Mr. Cooper both as a teacher and a clergyman. He was evidently the favorite of the whole town, winning the admiration and the friendship of all who knew him.

Yesterday Mr. Cooper called upon us at our office, and we were delighted to see him. He told us that he left Brownsville the preceding evening. We asked him when he would return, and he said he should return no more. He could not return with safety. A few weeks ago a secession crowd visited his dwelling house, called him out, and gave him his choice of three things-to make a secession speech, to enlist in a secession corps, or to leave the town. He firmly refused to do either of the three, and the mob finally concluded to disperse without doing any violence to his person. On the 24th instant, however, he, like others in his town and neighborhood, was served with this notice:


["]All citizens or residents among us of Northern or foreign birth will be allowed ten days to leave our community if they so desire, but after that time no such citizens or residents shall be permitted to leave, but we shall expect all such to stand by and aid us in defending ourselves against invasion, and to all such we pledge the protection of the community, by order of the Committee of Vigilance.

May 24, 1861. JAS. WHITELAW,[1] Sec'y.

Citizens of Northern or foreign birth, it appears, were allowed ten days from the 24th of this month to leave the Brownsville community, but after that time, that is after the 3d of June, they would be forbidden to leave, their persons would be embargoed, and they would be compelled by the Vigilance Committee and its myrmidons to take active service in the disunion cause to suffer the perilous consequences. There was of course no possibility of their disposing of their property at such time as this without sacrificing it, and they could only flee, if they should flee at all, almost utterly destitute. The Rev. Mr. Cooper calmly dismissed his school with his blessing and took his departure, thought not without opposition, a portion of the secessionists being very reluctant to let him go quietly. He was told by some of his friends, that although ten days were nominally allowed him, he would not be permitted to leave even on the next day-that is, yesterday: and he is now satisfied, that, if he had waited till yesterday, he could not have got away.

A worthy Irish gentleman, who visited us yesterday, came away at the same time Mr. Cooper did and in obedience to the same notification. Several others came also, and Mr. Cooper informs us that he saw on the cars quite a number of men and women fleeing from other Tennessee towns. He alleges that a similar condition of things exists almost everywhere through that State, the secessionists having the arms and the organization in their hands, and the Union men being made to understand, that, unless they take refuge in exile, they must, as they value their lives, vote for the disunion ordinance and devote themselves to the disunion cause.

The disunion citizens of Tennessee, however, whilst oppressing the Union men, are themselves subjected to a tyranny in common with those over whom they tyrannize. Gen Pillow has, on his own responsibility, levied a heavy tax on the counties in anticipation of the five millions ordered by the Legislature. He sent on of his military officers the other day to Haywood county for instance with orders to collect $50,000, as that county's share, the amount paid by each man to be set down to his credit on the State tax. The officer assumed authority to apportion the $50,000 among the citizens according to his own discretion. Upon some he was particularly hard. Gentlemen, said he, if you do not meet the demand, I will, with three clicks of the telegraph, summon a regiment here, and it shall be quartered upon you till you pay. They paid. Of course the people were afraid to talk of the matter, but what we have said is true.[sic]

The Brownsville secessionists, it seems, are under no necessity of driving that dangerous Union worker, the Louisville Journal, out of their community, for the Memphis Vigilance Committee take the business off their hands. About forty copies of our paper were ordered for Brownsville a short time since, but they are not permitted t get there through Memphis. The Memphis Committee overhaul and examine all newspaper packages carried by the Express Company, no matter to what part of Tennessee they may be destined, and throw out the Louisville Journal. They institute a careful scrutiny and confiscate every copy of our paper on its way through their city. They undertake to dictate the reading not only of their own community but of all Tennessee communities, and no doubt of all other communities, so far as their power extends.

Wretched indeed, unutterably wretched and deplorable, is the present condition of affairs through Tennessee. It is a spectacle from which every human soul, not debased below the level of beasthood, revolts. It is a spectacle of thousands flying from atrocious persecution and of other thousands bending humbly before the black and bloody spirit of despotism or else hearing their very lives in their hands in all their outgoings and incomings. And now there is to be in that State what they expect to pass off upon the world as an election-an election to decide whether Tennessee shall join the Southern Confederacy to which all her military and pecuniary resources are already, without the shadow of authority, committed by her late despicable Legislature; and, in that election, all other organized mobs throughout the State have ordained that every voter must vote an open ballot and vote for the disunion or expect to be made the victim of mob vengeance. None but fools or knaves will say that an election, thus conducted, can deserve anything better than scorn.

As yet, there is freedom, high and glorious freedom, in Kentucky. Let us keep it, or let us perish from the earth.

Louisville Journal, May 31, 1861. [2]



31, Women Manufacturing Saltpetre and Gun Powder in East Tennessee

How the Women Make Powder.

We copy a portion of a letter addressed to Lieut. McClung, at Knoxville, by a lady in Sullivan county, East Tennessee.

"I saw some weeks ago in the [Knoxville] Register, an article on the making of saltpetre, and that the earth under the old houses contained more or less nitre. I also learned that the Government was in great need of saltpetre, in order to make powder for our brave boys now in the field. Well, sir, I felt, though I am a woman, that it was my duty to do what I could for my country; so, having an old house with dry dirt under it, I determined to make a trial. I threw out the ashes in my ash hopper, and had two others built.—I then had the dirt under the house dug up and put into the hoppers.—I then run water through one of the hoppers, and then passed the water through the other two. After which I added lye to the water until the curdling ceased. I then boiled it until it was thick, when the pot was set off the fire. In a few hours, the saltpetre had formed into beautiful christals [sic]. I poured water three times through each hopper and then boiled it down. The result is just one hundred pounds of beautiful saltpetre, according to my husband's weighing. It was very little trouble to me.

Now, sir, I see you are the agent of the Government. I want to hand it over to you to be made into powder and sent to our army to be used in defending our country.

The Knoxville Register adds that a citizen of Jefferson county, Tenn., made from the dirt beneath a single old house two hundred and eight pounds of saltpetre which, with the nitre and sulphur added, was converted into two hundred and fifty pounds of powder.

Dallas Herald, May 31, 1862.[3]




31, GENERAL ORDERS, No. 124, relative to topographical engineers in the Army of the Cumberland

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 124. HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE CUMBERLAND, Murfreesborough, Tenn., May 31, 1863.

I. Capt. W. E. Merill, having relieved Capt. N. Michler, chief topographical engineer at these headquarters, is announced as engineer officer in charge of the topographical department, reporting to Brig. Gen. J. St. C. Morton, chief engineer of the department. All corps, division, and brigade topographers will be under the professional direction of Capt. Merrill.

II. The following instructions will be obeyed by all concerned:

1st. Each brigade topographical engineer will report every Monday morning to the division topographic engineer his operations for the past week, with copies of all special maps and reconnaissances (complete or not) made by him or under his direction, including all verbal or written topographical information. Each division topographical engineer will consolidate the reports from the brigade topographers, and forward therewith his individual report to the corps topographical engineer every Tuesday morning. Each corps topographical engineer will forward the consolidated topographical report of his corps to the topographical office at these headquarters every Wednesday morning.

2d. In the first weekly report each corps topographical engineer will send in to Capt. Merrill's office an accurate list of all topographical officers and assistants in his corps, together with a return of all instruments and drawing materials now in their possession, and an estimate of whatever is necessary to complete the equipment of the topographical parties in each corps. These lists will be obtained from the division topographers, who will in turn obtain them from the brigade topographers.

3d. The special field for the labor of the topographical parties of each corps will be indicated by Capt. Merrill to the chief topographical officer of each corps, who will be responsible that the work is properly subdivided and carried out by division and brigade topographers. Such special instructions as may be found necessary will be communicated from time to time by a circular from the topographical office at these headquarters.

4th. The interests of the whole army being superior to that of any portion of it, and perfect harmony and concert of action being necessary in the topographical department, in order of secure efficiency and prevent a waste of labor, all commanders of brigades, divisions, and corps are enjoined to give every assistance to the topographical officers of their staffs in carrying out their professional instructions, and not to give them any other duty to perform while there is any topographical work laid out, but unfinished.

5th. They will give precedence in work to that ordered through the proper channels from these headquarters, and then, in succession, to work ordered from their corps or division headquarters. Afterward, and worthless, commanding officers will employ their topographical officers on any local topographical duty which may suggest itself, such as mapping their camps or picket line, &c.

6th. The scale on which maps will be drawn will be regulated as follows: For an area of 2 miles square of less, 6 inches to the mile; for an area of over 2 and under 4 miles, 4 inches to the mile; for an area of over 4 and under 8 miles, 2 inches to the mile; for an area of over 8 miles square, 1 inch to the mile. The magnetic meridian and scale must always be carefully noted upon all maps.

7th. When any command is on detached service for a week or more, its topographical officer will send his reports direct to these headquarters.

By command of Maj.-Gen. Rosecrans

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. II, pp. 376-377.




31, "The Health of the City,"

The approaching season promises to be unusually sickly, therefore, it behooves every person in the community to read and understand health orders, published in our columns by Dr. Burk, and act accordingly. This officer seems determined that no effort shall be spared on his part, to keep Memphis in a fine sanitary condition, and all infringements within the corporation limits, will meet with prompt and severe punishment. Policemen and other city officers, as has already been published, are required to cause the immediate arrest of all parties refusing or neglecting to comply with the sanitary regulation prescribed, and no loop holes is left by which an offender may escape. Their own interest and the welfare of the city generally should, however, and doubtless will prove sufficient to induce very good claim to carry out the law without harsh measures being resorted to, and this save our community from much sickness that might issue in case of noncompliance. Much...has already been done. By a general action on the part of the city [even more can be done?]

Memphis Bulletin, May 31, 1864.



31, 1865 - Excerpt from the journal of Amanda McDowell

It seems like a new world to have peace. Everything is so quiet and calm, the civil law will be established in this country.

Diary of Amanda McDowell.


[1] James Whitelaw would later lead a guerrilla band in West Tennessee. See: OR, Ser. II, Vol. 5, pp. 821-822.

[2] As cited in PQCW.

[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


No comments: