Friday, July 19, 2013

7/19/2013 Tennessee Civil War Notes

19, 1861 -  William Howard Russell departs Memphis for Columbus, Kentucky, via Troy and Union City, Tennessee

* * * *

By the time I had arrived at the [train] station my clothes were covered with a fine alluvial deposit in a state of powder; the platform was crowded with volunteers moving off for the wars, and I was obliged to take my place in a carriage full of Confederate officers and soldiers who had a large supply of whiskey, which at that early hour they were consuming as a prophylactic against the influence of the morning dews, which hereabouts are of such a deadly character that, to one quite safe from their influence, it appears to be necessary, judging from the examples of my companions, to get as nearly drunk as possible. Whiskey, by-the-by, is also a sovereign specific against the bites of rattle-snakes. All the dews of the Mississippi and the rattle-snakes of the prairie might have spent their force or venom in vain on my companions before we had got as far as Union City.

* * * *

Whatever may be the normal comforts of American railway cars, they are certainly most unpleasant conveyances when the war spirit is abroad, and the heat of the day, which was excessive, did not contribute to diminish the annoyance of foul air – the order of whiskey, tobacco, and the like, combined with the innumerable flies. At Humbolt [sic], which is eighty-two miles away, there was a change of cars, and an opportunity of obtaining some refreshment, -the station was crowded by great numbers of men and women dressed in their best, who were making holiday in order to visit Union City, forty-six miles distant, where a force of Tennessean and Mississippi regiments are encamped. The ladies boldly advanced into carriages which were quite full, and as they looked quite prepared to sit down on the occupants of the seats if they did not move, and to destroy them with all-absorbing articles of feminine warfare, either defensive or aggressive, and crush them with iron-bound crinolines, they soon drove us out into the broiling sun.

* * * *

The portion of Tennessee through which the rail runs is exceedingly uninteresting, and looks unhealthy, the clearings occur at long intervals in the forest, and the unwholesome population, who came out of their low shanties, situated amidst blackened stumps of trees or fields of Indian corn, did not seem prosperous or comfortable. The twists and curves of the rail, through cane brakes and swamps exceeded in that respect any line I have ever traveled on; but the vertical irregularities of the rail were still greater, and the engine bound as if it were at sea.

* * * *

The city of Troy [Obion County] was still simpler in architecture than the Grecian capitol. The Dardanian towers were represented by a timber-house, in the veranda of which the American Helen was seated, in the shape of an old woman smoking a pipe, and she certainly could have set the Palace of Priam on fire much more readily than her prototype. Four sheds, three log huts, a saw-mill, about twenty negroes [sic] sitting on a wood-pile, and looking at the train constituted the rest of the place, which was certainly too new for one to say, Troja Fuit,[1] whilst the general "fixins" would scarcely authorize us to say with any confidence, "Troja fuerit."[2]

The train from Troy passed through a cypress swamp, over which the engine rattled, and hopped at a perilous rate along high trestle work, till forty-six miles from Humbolt [sic] we came to Union City, which was apparently formed by aggregated meetings of discontented shaving that had traveled out of the forest hard by. But a little beyond it was the Confederate camp, which so many citizens and citizenesses [sic] had come out into the wilderness to see; and a general descent was make upon the place whilst the volunteers came swarming out of their tents to meet their friends. It was interesting to observe the affectionate greetings between the young soldiers, mothers, wives and sweethearts, and as a display of the force and earnestness of the Southern people – the camp itself containing thousands of men, many of whom were members of the first families in the State – was specially significant.

There is no appearance of military order or discipline about the; camps, though they were guarded by sentries and cannon, and implements of war and soldiers' accoutrements were abundant. Some of the sentinels carried their firelocks under their arms like umbrellas, others carried the but [sic] over the shoulder and the muzzle downwards, and one for his greater ease had stuck the bayonet of his firelock into the ground, and was leaning his elbow on the stock with his chin on his hand, whilst sybarites less ingenious, had simply deposited their muskets against the trees, and were lying down reading newspapers. Their arms and uniforms were of different descriptions – sporting rifles, fowling pieces, flint muskets, smooth bores, long and short barrels, new Enfields, and the like; but the men, nevertheless, were undoubtedly material for excellent soldiers. There were some few boys, too young to carry arms, although the zeal and ardor of such lads cannot but have good effect, if they behave well in action.

The great attraction of this train lay in a vast supply of stores, with which several large vans were closely packed, and for fully two hours the train was delayed, whilst hampers of wine, spirits, vegetables, fruit, meat, groceries, and all the various articles acceptable to soldiers living under canvas were disgorged on the platform, and carried away by the expectant military.

I was pleased to observe the perfect confidence that was felt in the honesty of the men. The railway servants simply deposited each article as it came out on the platform – the men came up, read the address, and carried it way, or left it, as the case might be; and only in one instance did I see a scramble, which was certainly quite justifiable, for, in handing out a large basket the bottom gave way, and out tumbled onions. Apples, and potatoes among the soldier, who stuffed their pockets and haversacks with the unexpected bounty. One young fellow, who was handed a large wicker-covered jar from the van, having shaken it, and gratified his ear by the pleasant jungle inside, retired to the roadside, drew the cork, and, Raising it slowly to his mouth, proceeded to take a good pull at the contents, to the envy of his comrades; the pleasant expression upon his face rapidly vanished, and spurting out the fluid with a hideous grimace, he exclaimed, "D___; why, if the old woman has not gone and sent me a gallon of syrup." The matter was evidently considered to serious to joke about, for not a soul in the crowd even smiled; but they walked away from the man, who, putting down the jar, seemed in doubt as to whether he would take it away or not.

* * * *

At last we started from Union City….

Russell, My Diary.




        19, 1862 -  Letter from R. C. Bransford to Miss Josephine H. Hooke, relative to loneliness and news from Middle Tennessee in the wake of Forrest's raid


July 19/62

Miss Josephine:

I received your letter of the 9th Inst. but I had so much to do when I arrived at this place that I hardly knew at what point to begin.

I now realize the difficulty of one person trying to do, or discharge the duties of more than one officer, it was ever my luck to fall heir to the duties of the acting Secty. & Tr., which I regard as an unenviable position.

I learn from persons just from Nashville that Mr. Gleaves had arrived at home, in the City, was walking about, and had not been molested by Andy Johnson.

Mr. Porterfield, I understand, b[r]ought trouble upon himself on [the] 4th [of] July last by getting [in] a joyful way and exhibiting a Session [sic] flag in from of the St. Cloud Hotel.

I feel that the day is not far distant when I shall be allowed to once more visit my home, the dearest place to me on earth, and that the Northern Vandals [sic] will be driven from the soil of our beloved Tennessee. I learned this morning that Genl. Buel [sic] has fallen back from Bridgeport & Battle Creek to Tullahoma, where I think they will make a stand for a short time, to enable his army to make a successful retreat from Tennessee. I think Buel [sic] will attempt to make a final stand at Bowling Green, Ky., if our army makes an advance movement into Middle Tennessee, which they will be sure to do if the enemy will fall back as we advance until they get into Ky.

I presume you have heard of the capture of Murfreesboro by Gen. Forrest, the fight commenced at 4 o'clock A.M. [sic] and lasted until 2 P.M. [sic], he took 1200 prisoners, killed 200, one Battery, one Major, and one Brigadier Genl. was captured.

He destroyed and captured though ½ Million Dollars worth of army stores the N. & C. R. R. Depot was burned. It contained over two hundred thousand dollars worth of Commissary Stores. It is said to be one of the most brilliant feats performed since the war commenced.

Gen. Forrest also hung a man by the name of Ashburn, who acted the part of a traitor to our cause.

It is said that Middle Tennessee is at present all in a blaze, the enthusiasm of our friends is beyond conceptions they hope soon to be set free from the hand of the appresor [sic], "so mote it be." [sic]

I am sorry you are so lonely in your adopted home. I can appreciate and sympathize deeply with you to leave home & go so far away in the midst of strangers is not a pleasant task.

Do you know that I look upon you as being one of the best friends I ever had in my life and that I could entrust you with the most sacred secrets of my heart. [sic] It is true, and I hope you regard me in the same light.

I could tell me [sic] many amusing anecdotes in regard to one person, that I have heard since I saw you last, but will defer telling you until I see you, which I hope will be soon.

I regret that I was deprived of the honor of being one of the party who gave you such a nice serenade. How I envy those fellows. I hope they have repeated their visit. It is most cheering to one so far away from the scenes of early life. I hope you will not give up your Tennessee sweetheart and take a young knight of Georgia.

The young gent who asked after you on my first visit to this place is at present in the City, having just returned from Lynchburg. I do not believe he is any sweetheart of yours. It was J. T. W.: who is he that can claim as your sweetheart, you say he makes Chattanooga his headquarters. You had better not tell me, I might have a spider put in his dumpling. [sic] I know you would then grieve yourself to death.

I am very much pleased with the sweetheart you gave me. She is very pretty, and will make a good wife, but it would be presumption in me to think that she cared a straw for one so unworthy of her as myself. How do you know but what she loves someone else, and you do not know but I may love some one else better than I do her, if that be so, what course will you pursue in that case. [sic]

I have not seen Will Ward, the young man I gave you, since I left Marietta. I understand that he has returned to his home in Carthage.

I have not seen Miss Ellen's paragon I hope the Yankees have caught him.

Chattanooga is as dull as a meat axe. [sic]

Milt Anderson watches me like a hawk would a chicken when I come into his presence he slips close to me to see if he can detect the smell of wh-y [sic].

When do you expect to move up?

Gordon has rented another house. I hope your Paw will move soon.

Mr. Anderson wishes to be remembered to your family.

Please present my regards to Miss Nellie, Miss Ellen, Miss Georgia, yourself, your Ma, and all the children.

Please write soon, and believe me, as ever

Your devoted friend

R. C. Bransford

P.S. Mr. Cole's[3] child died on Friday last.


Since closing this, a gentleman informs me that Gen. Buel [sic] is not falling back as reported and Genl. Forrest did not hang Ashburn, but holds him as a prisoner.


W. P. A. Civil War Records, Vol. 2, pp. 51-53.





19, 1863 - The Cyprians' Progress,

"The Frail Sisters." – The Cincinnati Gazette of the 17th says:" The Idahoe came up yesterday from Nashville, bringing a cargo of one hundred and fifty of the frail sisterhood of Nashville, who had been sent North under military orders. Where does no seem to be much desire on the part of our authorities to welcome such a large addition to the already overflowing numbers engaged  in their peculiar profession, and the remonstrance were so urgent against their being permitted to land that the boat was taken over to the Kentucky shore; but the authorities of New port ad Covington have no greater desire for their company, and the consequence is that the poor girls are still kept on board the boar. It is said (on what authority we were unable to discover) that the military order issued in Nashville has been revoked in Washington, and that they will all be returned to Nashville again.

Nashville Daily Union, July 19, 1863.





19, Municipal justice in occupied Nashville, 1864 -

Recorder's Court. - There was no falling off in the business before the Recorder yesterday morning, and the court was occupied from 9 to 1 o'clock.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan, friends of Marshal Chumbley and the city Attorney, were charged with abusing Mrs. Mayan, an inmate of the house in which the defendants resided. Fined $5 and costs.

John Mayor was arraigned for tippling without a license.

For want of proof he was discharged.

Marcus Combs, a negro [sic] was arrested for stealing whiskey from the firm of E. A. & T. C. Richards, and Church Jackson, another colored individual, was charged with receiving the stolen goods. One of the members of the firm found two bottles of whiskey on the person of Marcus, and defendant admitted that he had previously taken four bottles. According to the testimony, the proprietors had allowed him to sell liquor and had received money therefor. Judge Turner and M. M. Brien, jr., appeared for the defence, and defended their client ably – the Judge occupying the floor for over an hour. They submitted to the court whether the case could be considered larceny or not, as the evidenced did not sustain the charge of feloniously taking away of whisky [sic], but on the other hand, the testimony shows that he had been allowed the privilege of selling, and the prosecutor had received money from the sales effected. The Recorder required Marcus to give bond in the sum of $500 and appear before the next term of the Criminal Court, and no evidence appearing to sustain the charge against the other defendant, he was discharged.

Charles McAlister was required to answer the charge of stealing a hat from W. P. Campbell. Campbell testified that he was asleep in his hack about 12 o'clock on Monday night, and when he awoke, his hat was missing, and the next morning he found it in the possession of McAlister when he had him arrested. McAlister said in self-defence that a man named Daily had given him the hat. Committed to jail in default of $500 bail to appear before the next term of the Criminal Court.

G. H. Stubbs, a countryman, was found feeding his horses on the public square. Being in direct violation of corporation law, he was fined $5 and costs.

Ellen Stowe was arrested on a State warrant, charged with committing an assault and battery on Ada Wyatt, and a corporation warrant was also served on both for disorderly conduct. According to evidence, a fight occurred in the jungles between Ellen Stow and Ada Wyatt, one party being equally a guilty as the other. During the melee, Ada received a cut in the head from a slung shot, and was stabbed four times in the breast. The testimony throughout was disgusting, going to show the immorality and wretchedness of existing affairs in Smoky. On the State warrant, Ellen was fined $50, and $50 on the corporation warrant, and $5 was imposed on Ida Wyatt. Li M. Temple for the latter, and M. M. Brian for the former.

Mr. Burgen was accused of trespassing on the property of Peter Wells, or, in other words, running his hack into one belonging to Peter. The court considered it accidental, and discharged the defendant.

The last case before the court was a charge against the efficient Deputy Marshal, W. H. Wilkinson, and the Sunday policeman, John Frith, who had a little fight about a case presented on Monday morning. The Recorder required them to pony up each $5 and costs.

For drunkenness, Thomas Yates; G. W. Smith, John Williams, W. Grisham, and Wm. Wells, had the usual fine to settle.

Nashville Daily Press, July 20, 1864.





[1] "Troy was."

[2] "Troy will have."

[3] Mr. Cole was president of the NC&StL Railroad and a close associate of Judge Hooke, who owned stock in the company. Apparently either Cole or Hooke was acting superintendent of the railroad at the time.

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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