10, Correspondence from Robert B. Blackwell to Military Governor Andrew Johnson in relation to illegal salt sales in Bedford County
Shelbyville, Ten Aug. 10th, 1862
D Sir [sic]
I understan [sic] that it has been reported at Nashville that I was running salt through the lines or was aiding in doing so [.] I State [sic] that the charge is untrue, it is true, that I have brought salt at Nashville at three (3) different times, and taken it to Richmond Bedford County, wher [sic] I have a grocery store. I there sold it to citizens and I have also bought salt at Shelbyville, and taken it out to my house & sold it in the same way. I have not except in one instance (and then there was no provo [sic] Marshall [sic] here) taken any salt to Richmond with the permission of Military authorities at Shelbyville and the last time I took salt to Richmond I would have obtained the permission of the authorities if there had been a post here; my house is at Richmond 10 or 11 miles from Shelbyville where I am doing business openly & publicly. I have never sold salt to any one that I had any reason to suspect that was purchasing it to re-sell; nor have I sent any salt off from Richmond to be sold, or carried beyond the lines, but my sales were confined to citizens and not in large quantities, in fact when I commenced selling salt in that neighbourhood there was not salt in it and the farmers the very first oportunity [sic] they had supplied themselves, for the year which they were in the habit of done [sic] in peaceful times[.] I am ready to make a showing at any time you or any officer may want to see it as I have done nothing that I believed I was not authorized to do and if it is not right for me to sell to Citizens I want to know it, as I do not intend to violate any rule knowingly. I have written a much longer letter than I intended, but don't like such charges to be made against me[.]
R. B. Blackwell
N.b [sic] if it necessary; [sic] I will come down & make a showing.
R B B
Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 5, pp. 603-604
10, Co. H, 21st O.V.I. camp life in Murfreesboro
June 10, 1863
Dear friends at home,
As I have nothing else to do, I will just write a few lines by way of keeping up conversation. I pass the time the best and easiest way possible, sometimes I read a while, then stroll about a while, then take a lazy sleep of a couple of hours. Probably by that time I may suddenly be brought to my senses by the cook yelling dinner or the drums beating drills or dress parade as the case may be. The monotany was broken a few days ago by breaking a fellows neck on the scaffold. Such things are getting common, a couple have to rid the earth of themselves today and two more on Friday go through the same performance. Part are soldiers and part citizens. I don't care anything about the citizens, but I hate to see a soldier stretch hemp or be shot. The more citizens are killed, the less sneaks and gorillos [sic] we will be bothered with later.
Today is rainy and sunshine by spells. We drilled this forenoon on skirmishing a while. An Irishman named Joe Todd was brought here handcuffed a few days ago. He was one of the men taken prisioner the same time George was, and when exchanged and started for the Regiment, he sliped out and came back to Tontogany. He says passed by our house several times and saw Pa and Elliott to work in the field. Probly Elliott remembers the fellow that treated Henderson and myself to the bar one night when we were beating those drums in Tontogany. His appearance is about as proposing at present as it was then, one eye black, his back covered with an old ragged citizens coat. The only thing I begrudge him is the sight.
We have the orders to keep 3 days rations in our haversacks ready to march at any time. That time is very uncertain. It has been an standing order some time. If Bragg sends part of his force toward Vicksburg, he may look out for a few of us, as we may visit him. If you could see me laying on my bunk with this paper on an old novel, you would say, lazy fellow. Soldier life is hard and lazy both. Duty is duty and lay on the bunk is just the opposite thing. Well, I will have to go to work and get the dirt and rust of my gun. These take lots of cleaning.
~ ~ ~
10, Excerpt from Col. George M. Brent's report relative to desertions in Forrest's command and its effect upon enforcing the Confederate conscription law
RICHMOND, June 10, 1864.
Gen. S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector Gen.,
* * * *
….Desertions from infantry commands to the cavalry had become a crime of a serious nature. My instructions directed me to ascertain and return all such. An inspection of the muster-rolls, camped with a list of deserters from the Army of Tennessee, showed that 654 deserters were borne on the rolls of Gen. Forrest's command. About 200 of this number were reported as deserters, also, from Forrest's command. An order was at once given to Gen. Forrest for their arrest, who issued orders immediately to this end, and over 300 were arrested and sent back under proper guard to their command. All officers who had received them knowingly were arrested and charges preferred against them. Gen. Forrest gave every facility in his power to accomplish the object of my mission. The liberal manner in which authority has been conferred to raise cavalry commands has contributed very largely to increase desertions from the infantry, and to impede the efficient execution of the conscript law.
* * * *
GEORGE WM. BRENT, Col. and Assistant Adjutant-Gen. [C. S. A.]
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 39, pt. II, p. 642.
 Blackwell was the constable at Richmond, Bedford County, in 1860. In this letter he seems to take the position of a Federal patriot, but by 1864, for reasons uknown
James B. Jones, Jr.
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214