Monday, June 17, 2013

6/17/13 Tennessee Civil War Notes

17, Nan Floyd, Sevier County Unionist, taunts Secessionist women at Strawberry Plains

Letter from a Lady.

One of the fair daughters of Sevier county, writes the following, which will explain itself:

Dr. Brownlow: - We learn that the Secession Ladies of Strawberry Plains (that secession locality of which the Professor[1] speaks) are collecting secession papers and intend distributing them in the benighted county of Sevier to enlighten us on the affairs of the nation. We are not so ignorant in the county that we refuse to be instructed. Send them on! As your sole intention is to do good, I would suggest that you get Professor L. of the College, to be your missionary.

If you can prevail on him to enlighten us [sic] we will board him free of charge [sic]. We would be glad if he would go to the Post Office, at the Plains, before starting on his missionary tour, and ascertain why the Whig comes to our county so irregularly.

We are loyal, good meaning people, and wish our husbands and brothers to vote right if we know it. Come on with your papers; be sure and bring the Knoxville Register but no brick-bats [sic] Sisters, if you conclude to send Professor L., do give him a liberal salary, he will then take some pains to enlighten us, and will have more money to pay sister Gregory[2] for board. Sisters, if you conclude not to send a missionary, don't mail the precious documents at the Plains, as we understand papers are sometimes changed when put in that office. Hoping to be enlightened before the next election, I remain

Nan Floyd

Brownlow's Whig and Independent Journal, July 17, 1861.





17, Smoky Mountain Epsom Salts

Epsom Salts.—Messrs. Sensabaugh, Mingus and Long sent us a specimen of Epsom Salts manufactured by them from a cave in Smokey Mountain, between N. Carolina and Tennessee. They are now making 300 lbs of Epsom Salts, and 400 lbs. of Alum daily. The salts are said to be superior to any heretofore sold in the South, and the Alum is equal. The manufacturers say they will be able to supply the whole Southern Confederacy with these necessary articles. Any one interested can take the Salts sent us, and try their effects.—Augusta Chronicle.

Weekly Columbus [Georgia] Enquirer, June 17, 1862.[3]






17, Orders to sweep western Shelby County and capture guerrillas in Raleigh environs

MEMPHIS, June 17, 1863.

Lieut. [HENRY] SACHS, Comdg. Detachment 3d U. S. Cavalry:

You will proceed, with 50 men, detailed by Col. Morgan, on the Raleigh road to the house of Fletcher Taylor, about 2 miles this side of Raleigh. The negro guide will point out the road and the house of Taylor. You will, if possible, surprise and capture a squad of guerrillas, who, it is reported, will be at Taylor's to-night. From that point you will sweep the country to the west of Raleigh, and capture, if possible, citizens named Hurd and Dr. Forrest, who will be pointed out by Mr. Tripp. You will attack and break up any gang of rebels or guerrillas that you may hear of within convenient range of your route, and return and report to these headquarters.



OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. III, p. 417.





17, "Execution;" guerrillas pay the ultimate price for murder

Yesterday [17th], in the yard at the Penitentiary, five criminals expiated their crimes by yielding their lives to the stern decrees of the law. In March last these men charged with murder of Union citizens, were tried by court martial at Tullahoma, and sentenced to death by hanging. Maj. Gen. Thomas approved the decision of the court, and the records were forwarded to President Lincoln for his approval. The papers were returned approved, and the sentence of the court ordered to be carried out. The names of the condemned were William Lemond, Cyrus Lee Cathrey, Jesse B. Neven, Thomas R. West, and Benjamin West. The first three were citizens, and were charged with, 1st murder; 2d assault with intent to kill; 3d; with robbery; the two last mentioned were charged with murder and robbery; and after an impartial trial were found guilty on each charge.

During the last two weeks the prisoners have apparently desired to prepare themselves for their exit into the hereafter, and their religious exercises have been attended by the Rev. J. J. Thompson, of Hamilton, Ohio, and the Rev. J. W. Mason, of Lebanon, Ohio. Of the number, Cathrey and Neven were particularly devout, and a few days since Lemmond and West were baptized. The wife and child of Cathrey remained with him in his cell during the night before his execution.

Upon arrival at the scene of the tragic termination of so many lives, we found that due preparation had been made for the final dissolution of the culprits.

In the center of the yard of the Penitentiary was the scaffold, from the beam of which five ropes, each with a noose at the end, hung pendant, swaying to and fro in the morning breeze. Around the yard were drawn up several companies of the 31st Wisconsin, and squads of the same regiment surrounded the Penitentiary, to prevent any demonstration. The scaffold was guarded by a detachment of the 31st, under command of Col. West. Major Sherman and Captain Treat were the officers selected by Col. Horner to carry out the dread details in the lives of the unhappy men. The arrangements for the execution were excellent throughout, owing to the efficiency of Col. Horner, Provost Marshal.

We found very few spectators upon the ground-not more than fifty perhaps. The opinion that a late hour had been designated for the execution, prevented the appearance of the multitude, as is too often the case, we are sorry to say, at similar scenes. At twenty minutes past ten o'clock the culprits emerged from a side door of the prison, attended by their spiritual advisers, a few soldiers, and the two officers above named. All approached and ascended the scaffold with firmness, and stood side by side, betraying little or no emotion. Fervent appeals to the Throne of Grace were made by the chaplains in attendance, and the opportunity was then given the doomed men to make their last dying speech. Each one of the men said a few words, the burden of which was a protestation of innocence of the crimes charged against them, but a belief in the justice of the cause in which they have engaged, and an earnest asseveration that they died true Rebels.

After their hands and limbs were tied, the ropes were adjusted about their necks. This ceremony was met with composure by all but Cathrey, who, when he felt the rope touch his neck, swooned away, losing entirely the power of standing erect, and falling the length of the rope, swaying back and forth, until he was a gain assisted to his feet and held erect by the officers in attendance. This painful incident caused a profound sensation among those who were compelled to witness the scene.

At precisely 11 o'clock-the white caps have been drawn over their faces, shutting out from their gaze, forever, the glorious light of day-the rope was severed, the drop fell, and the bodies hung suspended in the air; while their spirits, let us hope, ascended to the presence of their Creator, before whose tribunal all our deeds are impartially weighed and determined.

Nashville Dispatch, June 18, 1864.


The Execution of Five Rebels.

Interesting Details.

Five men were hung yesterday at the State prison. They were tried and sentenced by a Military Commission at Tullahoma last March, Col. E. A. Cannon of the 13th New Jersey acting as President of the Commission. They were charged and found guilty as follows:

William P. Lemmond, citizen, charged first, with murder; second assault with intent to kill; third robbery.

Cyrus Lee Cathey, citizen, charges the same as the foregoing.

Jesse B. Nerron, citizen, same charges.

Thomas R. West, citizen, same charge and also with bushwhacking.

Benjamin F. West, citizen, murder and robbery.

After a fair hearing, the prisoners were convicted and sentenced to death. The findings and sentence were approved by the General commanding and by the President, who directed that the prisoner be executed on the 17th of June, 1864.

Lemmond was a native of Lincoln County, Tenn., and has a mother, one sister, and two brothers living there. He was a tall, handsome built man, with a powerful frame, light blue eyes, and rather a pleasant countenance. He was at one time a member of the 17th Mississippi rebel regiment, and was captured a year ago.

Cathey was a native of North Carolina, but was raised in this State. His mother, and the remainder of the family reside in Lincoln county. He leaves a widow and one child. Before the war he bore an unblemished reputation. He had served in the rebel army, as a private in the 44th Tennessee, and was wounded at Chickamauga. He was a fine looking man.

Nerron was a native of Marshall county, Ala. His father and sister reside in Lincoln county. He was formerly a member of the 32nd (rebel) Tenn. Regt. [sic] He was captured last summer. He was by no means a wicked looking man; on the contrary had rather an amiable face.

Thos. R. West was a native of Lincoln county, and only eighteen years of age. He was a slender built boy, with blue eyes and light hair, and formerly a member of the 32nd (rebel) Tennessee Regiment. His mother, brother, and two sisters live in Lincoln county.

Benjamin F. West, was a cousin of Thomas R., and also a native of Lincoln county. He has a mother, two brothers and two sisters residing in Marshall county, Tenn. He was a member of Forrest's cavalry at the time he participated in the inhuman deed which cost him his life. He was a man of prepossessing appearance, had fine dark eyes, and a round symmetrical form, a model of manly physical development.

For upwards of a fortnight previous to their execution the prisoners exhibited much concern touching the preparation for their future state. They were attended in their religious exercises by the Rev. J. W. Mason, of Lebanon, Ohio, and Rev. J. J. Thompson, of Hamilton, Ohio. Cathey and Nerron, in particular, were sincere and devout; whilst Lemmond and Benjamin West were baptized several days ago. Cathey's wife and child remained with him the night before the execution.

Preparations were made for the execution previous to 9 o'clock A. M., yesterday. Major Sherman and Captain Trent were the officers detailed by Col. Horner to carry into effect the sentence of the Commission. In front of the penitentiary were drawn up several companies of the 31st Wisconsin, while squads of the same regiment surrounded the institution to repress any undue excitement. The scaffold was erected in a little yard to the left of the main entrance, and was surrounded by about a hundred men of the 31st Wisconsin in command of Col. West.

The arrangements for the execution were excellent, throughout, thanks to the wisdom and human promptings of our efficient Provost Marshal, and but a small number of spectators were present; But very few were there, who went simply to gratify a prurient curiosity.

A few minutes after 10½ o'clock , the culprits ascended the terrible platform, accompanied by their spiritual advisers, a squad of soldiers, and the officers who had charge of the execution. They all walked up to the scaffold with firmness and stood side by side, evidently with slight emotion, and immediately gave themselves up to religious exercises.

After the usual ceremonies, on such occasions, the process of binding their bodies and limbs commenced, in a short time all was arranged, and the fatal ropes were adjusted around their necks. The moment Cathey felt the rope about his neck, he betrayed uneasiness, soon became unconscious, and sunk down as far as the rope permitted. This painful episode, coupled with increasing solecism on the part of his companions – excepting perhaps, Nerron, who, though firm, gave every exhibition of penitence – produced a sensation not soon to be forgotten.

Each of the men made a few remarks, the tenor of which was an asseveration of their innocence. Cathey and Nerron earnestly declared they were not guilty of the crimes imputed to them, but added that they were willing to die, and felt assured of immortal happiness. Lemmond could merely assert assert [sic] his innocence in broken accents, but was otherwise calm and resigned. The two Wests, as the scene was prolonged, grew more bold, and less penitent, and after asserting their freedom from guilt stated that they were but honest rebel soldiers, affirmed their belief in the justness of the rebel cause, and said they would die true rebel soldiers.

At precisely 11 o'clock, the white caps were drawn over their heads, the scaffolding was sprung, and the souls of the condemned launched into eternity.

And here let us add a few words of comment:

These unfortunate men, previous to the war, bore the reputation of honest, law-abiding citizens. Their conduct had been such that no one would have believed for a moment that their lives would ever pay the forfeit of the worst of crimes. What was it that demoralized and led them to the perpetration of robbery and murder? There must be some cause, other than that of treason to the government to which they owed their allegiance. The life of an honorable soldier has nothing in it to degrade and debase; but rather to develope [sic] the chivalry of his nature, and to elevate his views of duty. We regard their demoralization, and their ignominious death as the result of the system of guerrilla warfare inaugurated and licensed by the rebel authorities. When men are licensed to rove at will, freed from the restraints of necessary military discipline and unmindful of the laws of honorable warfare, it would be giving too much credit to err in human nature, not to expect to see them degenerate into robbers and assassins. These men forfeited their lives, and paid the penalty. But who shall say they were more guilty than the arch traitors who – secure from the messengers of justice – authorized the system of warfare which imbruted and carried them on from one excess to another until they were engulphed [sic] in the foulest crimes? The leaders at Richmond – the so-called Confederate authorities – are equally guilty, and should share the disgrace which attaches to the executed felons and be similarly punished.

We trust that the fate of these men will be a lesson to others, and thereby decrease the number of robberies and murders that are constantly occurring under the pretence of war.

Nashville Union, June 18, 1864.


~ ~ ~

Five citizens of Tennessee were hung at Nashville on the 17th of June. They were executed in the State prison, all convicted of murder and robbery, by a military commission. They had borne the reputation of good citizens before the rebellion, when they became murderous bushwhackers.

~ ~ ~

The Daily Cleveland Herald, June 30, 1864. [4]





17, Newspaper report on news from Memphis


Rebel Guerrilla Chiefs in the City-They Have a Nice Time of it with Their Friends-The "Sultana" Disaster.

Special correspondence of the Inquirer.

Memphis, Tenn., June 17, 1865.

Club-footed Forte, the guerrilla leader, who killed six of the Twelfth New York Cavalry after they surrendered in April last, near Germantown, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, is not at this house (the Gayoso), having a good time of with his friends, who are numerous. The notorious Jeff. Thompson is also here.

Of the solders lost on the Sultana, five were found yesterday on the Arkansas shore, above this place. Over one thousand of the entire number have been picked up and buried. The hull of the vessel is now above the water.

Nineteen hundred negro children are now in school here, and learning well. Some of the negro regiments have from two to five hundred men that can read.

The negroes generally work pretty well when they are certain of being paid.[5]

The late heavy rains have improved the growing cotton very much, but vast quantities of river bottom have been overflowed. Cotton is coming out pretty freely under the new regulations. Several regiments of cavalry left last night for Red River

Philadelphia Inquirer, June 23, 1865.


[1] Unidentified but probably Brownlow himself.

[2] Unidentified.

[3] As cited in:

[4] Cleveland, OH; TSL&A, 19th CN.

[5] Doh!

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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