18, Surrender of Clarksville to Confederates
Report of Col. Rodney Mason, Seventy-first Ohio Infantry, with War Department General Orders, No. 115, of 1862
CAMP CHASE, Columbus, Ohio, August 27, 1862.
GEN.: Pursuant to your orders I reported with paroled prisoners at Benton Barracks, and then, by order of Maj.-Gen. Halleck, proceeded with them to this camp.
Before receiving your command, through Col. Lowe, to leave Clarksville I had repeatedly asked re-enforcements from Gen. Buell, whose stores were accumulating at that point to a considerable amount. After receiving that order I went to Nashville, and explained fully to Maj. Sidell, Fifteenth U. S. Infantry, acting assistant adjutant-general to Gen. Buell, the situation of affairs. I told him that forces had been collected; that Lieut.-Col. Bristow, of the Kentucky cavalry, had sent me notice they were going to attack me; that I should be attacked in overwhelming numbers, and would not hold myself responsible for the stores, but would hold my camp against infantry. He still insisted on my remaining until you were heard from, and I consented. I received your orders to remain on the day I had fixed for departure.
On Monday, August 18, I had, according to the morning reports, for duty: Commissioned officers, 18; enlisted men, 225; on extra duty, 36; sick, 34; in arrest, 7; total, 320. The extra-duty men were at the stables and post commissary and quartermaster's offices in the City.
A little before 9 a. m. I was informed that the enemy were in force near town. I immediately started for camp (I was at my headquarters in the City), and arrived there just as the enemy came into the City, a party of about 150 dashing at a gallop for my headquarters, where they had hoped to capture me. The men in camp had been formed (according to instructions previously given by me) by their officers, the immediate command of the camp having been devolved upon Lieut.-Col. Andrews.
The enemy halted, deployed a considerable portion of their forces, and held the remainder in mass out of range and under cover of houses, placing a battery in position in a corn field southeast of the college, about which we were encamped. They then sent in a flag of truce, demanding a surrender. I laid the matter before the commissioned officers. While they were considering the matter I returned to the flag and asked whether I would be permitted to verify the statement of their forces. He went away and returned, saying that Col. Woodward, who commanded the force attacking us, requested a personal interview, to which I saw no objections, and we met midway. I made the same inquiry of him and he assented. I sent Lieut.-Col. Andrews to examine and count their force, which he did, and on his return stated that they were over 800 strong one company armed with volcanic rifles (16-shooters); one with Sharps carbines; the remainder of the cavalry with double-barreled shot-guns, and part of the infantry with muskets. They had a battery of three guns, with caissons, in the corn field, but he did not go to them. They were afterward found to be 6 and 12 pounder field pieces. This report was made to the officers, and their vote was reported to me as about three-fourths for surrender and the remainder against it. I told them to rejoin their companies; that notwithstanding the disparity of force I would fight them.
Before or about the time I reached the flag I was called by Lieut.-Col. Andrews, who informed me that owing to the overpowering force opposed, their display of artillery, to which we had nothing to reply, and only brick walls to oppose, the men were found, in some companies at least, to be discouraged, and that the officers unanimously recommended a surrender.
Of the 225 men reported for duty 22 were on river guard, 7 on telegraph, guard, and 6 out on telegraph line, repairing it-in all 35; leaving of those who ought to have been in camp 190; but of those only 152 were reported to me as in camp, including the camp guard of 42 men. Where the other 38 were I do not know.
I was then to determine whether I would, with this force of 152 men, or may be 175, by arming prisoners and bringing in men who might not be in line, fight over 800 men, armed as well as we were for the sort of a fight that was impending, most of their men being soldiers of the regular army, who had been sent home to recruit under Johnson, Woodward, and Garth, the 800 being increased by several hundred citizens who had appeared already in arms, and who were being constantly increased by men coming inform every direction. Had it been simply a fight of small-arms there would have been a general willingness to attempt to hold the college against any odds; but their artillery gave them complete control of this, and then we had nothing left. We had, as you are aware, no artillery. A little gun (found at the rolling-mill), that would not chamber a grape-shot, had been sent from Fort Donelson, and mounted at a gun Carriage for a 24-pounder, was of no earthly value, and if it had been we had no ammunition for it. All the men the City, nearly one-third of my aggregate, were already in the hands of the enemy. We had no hope of re-enforcements and no possibility, with the Cumberland and Red Rivers on three sides of us and an enemy indefinite in numbers in front, to retreat. To me then was submitted the question whether, against the judgments of all my commissioned officers, and my own most deliberately formed judgment (for I was dealing with a state of facts that for weeks I had contemplated and attempted to provide against), I should sacrifice the lives of my soldiers to the hope of retrieving a reputation for myself and survivors. However strongly personal considerations required my making a desperate resistance my conscience required me to surrender, and now, reviewing all the facts, I think I did my duty.
Anxious to save every possible chance, I stipulated that the surrender should not be made until sundown, at which time I yielded my camp, the entire mass of public property outside having been inevitably in the hands of the enemy from the beginning. I advised against giving parole, and refused to give my own, as did also Lieut.-Col. Andrews, Capt. Houck, of Company I, and Lieut. Hetzler, of Company H, acting commissary of subsistence at the post. Lieut.-Col. Andrews afterward made an arrangement for a parole for thirty days, at the end of which time we agreed to report to the officer commanding the Confederate forces at Hopkinsville, Ky. The other officers and the enlisted men gave their parole not to take up arms against the Confederate States until exchanged. These paroles I suppose to be binding, as Lieut.-Col. Woodward held the commission as lieutenant-colonel of the C. S. Army, and his men were all regularly mustered into service.
I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. MASON, Col. Seventy-first Ohio Volunteers.
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 115. WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJT. GEN.'S OFFICE, Washington, August 22, 1862.
Col. Rodney Mason, Seventy-first Regt. [sic] Ohio Volunteers, is, by order of the President of the United States, cashiered for repeated acts of cowardice in the face of the enemy.
By order of Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
SPECIAL ORDERS, No. 130. WAR DEPT., ADJT. GEN.'S OFFICE.
Washington, March 22, 1866.
* * * *
III. By direction of the President, General Orders, No. 115, August 22, 1862, from this office, relating to Col. Rodney Mason, Seventy-first Ohio Volunteers, is hereby revoked, and he is mustered out of the service of the United States to date August 22, 1862.
* * * *
By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
OR, Ser. I. Vol. 16, pt. I, pp. 863-865.
They came dashing in on their poor old horses, dirty clothes and all sorts of arms, they had no band at all not even a bugle, or a flag to show to whom they belonged but their old dirty of "grey" -- but "fight was in um'", and they "tuck" the place and the "Feds" with all their blue broadcloth and brass buttons.
Diary of Nannie E. Haskins, entry for August 18, 1862.
We learn that the guard stationed at Clarksville, numbering between two and three hundred surrendered ingloriously to a party of guerrillas day before yesterday of about their own numbers, without making any resistance. If this be true, it is most infamous. We certainly need the stern punishment of a Court Martial for some of our officers.
Nashville Daily Union, August 21, 1862.
The Clarksville Surrender.
When we recorded the Murfreesboro' surprise and surrender, we felt that we were deeply humiliated, but it has been reserved for Col. Mason to humiliate us still more deeply, by what seems to have been almost cowardly surrender to the guerrillas. We are told that his troops were on a hill very strongly entrenched behind a stockade, guarded by a ditch, with two pieces of artillery and loopholes for musketry. The position was one of a thousand. And yet, with all these advantages, instead of fighting—instead of sweeping his assailants to instant destruction—instead of fighting with the courage of a patriot soldier for the honor of his flag, he basely, ignominiously surrendered, like a poltroon, to a squad of lousy guerrillas, led by a drunken Yankee, and actually numbering less than his own command. Was ever any act more mean and contemptible? Why doesn't he go ahead and hang or drown himself immediately. How can he ever again look a decent man in the face; after proving so false to all his boastful promises, and so infamously treacherous and cruel to the men who reposed confidence in him, and looked to him for direction in the hour of danger? We are told that the guerrillas sent him word that they would give him two hours to consider their demand for a surrender, but he very politely told them that he didn't want two hours to make up his mind, for he had already ordered his troops to stack their arms! And so were surrendered to a miserable rabble, armed with shot-guns, a strong garrison, two cannons, guns, ammunition, army wagons, and a large amount of stores. Shame on such unmitigated, unparalleled cowardice. It is no pleasure for us to dwell on these things, but stern duty requires that we should hold up to universal scorn and abhorrence such disgraceful actions on the part of our officers. It is high time that such crimes were punished with the severest penalty known to a Court Martial. A few cases of hanging or shooting would put a stop to these immediate surrenders.
In contrast with this shameful affair we take pride in mentioning the gallant and brilliant resistance of Capt. Atkinson and his twenty men, in the stockade at Edgefield Junction, to an immensely superior force. Desperately and heroically did they withstand the rebels thrice repulsing them, and scattering them to confusion and dismay, until finally they drove them to a precipitate retreat. The deeds of this gallant little band of heroes will live forever in the hearts of their countrymen. They showed true courage and the real pluck of soldiers. We know of nothing more brilliant in American history. Let our troops all profit by this example.
Nashville Daily Union, August 22, 1862.
18, Chattanooga Rebel's report on Forrest's defeat near Woodbury
From General Forrest's Command.
General Forrest, with a detachment of the 2d Georgia cavalry and Texas rangers, attacked a strongly fortified force of Federals at Morrison's depot, eight miles below McMinnville, on the 9th, killing seventeen of the enemy who were outside their works, but doing no further damage. Finding it impossible to dislodge the Yankees, our forces withdrew, after suffering a loss of twenty killed and wounded. The Yankees decamped the next day.
On Saturday last General Forrest, with his whole command, was on the Cumberland river, twelve miles below Lebanon. Recently seventy odd Kentucky and Indiana soldiers deserted and gave themselves up to Forrest.
Chattanooga Rebel, 18th
Memphis Daily Appeal, September 4, 1862.
18, "United States Military Commission."
Lieut.-Col. James J. Davidson, President
Lieut. H. C. Blackman, Judge Advocate
The case of the United States vs. Mrs. Mary V. Reynolds, of near Columbia, Tenn., is now being investigated by the Military Commission, W. C. Bunts and J. W. Phramore, Esqs., counsel for the defendant, who stands charged with-
1. Being a spy,
3. Violating the 56th and 57th Articles of War;
4. Being a war traitor;
5. Violating her oath of allegiance.
Mrs. Reynolds is the daughter of Mr. Thomas Leftwick, of near Columbia.
THE UNITED STATES vs. THOMAS W. ELLIOT.
This case was commenced before the Military Commission on the 14th of July, and was concluded on the 15th of August. The prisoner was charged with-
1. Violation of the laws and usages of war.
2. Being a guerrilla.
The case was one of considerable importance, and is especially interesting to the public as establishing a precedent in admitting negro testimony against a white man.-Judge John S. Brien, counsel for the defence, objecting, and the Judge Advocate maintaining the competency of the witness. Below we give the argument of the Judge Advocate:
Alfred March, colored, was called for the prosecution, when the defendant counsel objected to his testimony being received, for the reason -- 1st. That a negro [sic], slave or free, is an incompetent witness in this State in any case involving the interest of a free white man; and secondly, That [sic] as such negro [sic], he is incompetent to testify in the Courts of the United States against a free white man. To these objections the Judge Advocate made the following reply:
It is objected that this person is not a competent witness; first, because he is a negro [sic], and secondly, because he is a slave; and the laws of Tennessee, where the Court sits, exclude such persons from testifying where a white man is a party, and that the Federal Courts adopt the rule of the Courts of the State in which they now sit.
Now there is no law of Congress rendering this class of people incompetent as witnesses, and it is not seen why a Military Court should be held to the laws of the State in which the court in convened. In the army, all rules should be uniformly the same all over the country. But sustain this objection, and you have one rule for a court sitting in Cincinnati, Ohio, and another for Covington, Kentucky, while in all probability the two places are garrisoned by the same troops and commanded by the same General.
Is a Military Commission to be bound by rules? The rule for these tribunals, in my opinion, should be just the rule that would be adopted by the commanding General himself in investigating the case. Suppose the prisoner were brought directly before the General Commanding, would not he investigate the case in the light of all the fact that could be brought before him?-judging of the value of the statements of witnesses by their intelligence, their manners, and their apparent honesty?
The General has power to try this case himself, and to inflict punishment, if he sees proper to do so; but he refers it to a commission of officers selected by himself, to ascertain and report the facts, and award sentence, but it is by his authority and will the whole thing is done at last.
In the same way the General refers cases of assessments for damages done by guerrillas. It is by virtue of his order that an assessment is made and collected, and not in accordance with any law of the State. These investigations were identical with Military Commissions, both are the offspring of military necessity, and each is but the carrying out of the will of the General Commanding.
Again, it would not do to adopt this rule. The Government has made soldiers of this class of persons. It is said that this negro [sic] is a slave by the laws of Tennessee. Thousands of our colored soldiers are no less so. Would it do to say that these soldiers could not testify in military courts? Would it do to say that a negro [sic] soldier could not testify in courts martial against his white officers? Would it do to say that negroes [sic] could not testify against white citizens for encouraging and procuring negro soldiers to desert? If this very negro [sic], now offered as a witness, had been sent into one of our negro [sic] regiments by his master to entice negro [sic] soldiers away, would anybody say he could not testify against his master on a trial for that offence?
If, then he is a competent witness at all, he is competent for all purposes. If he would be competent against one white man, why is he not competent against any [sic] white man?
It must be borne in mind that circumstances have changed in regard to these people since the breaking out of this rebellion, and we are all familiar with the legal axiom, that when the reason for a rule ceases, the rule itself ceases. If there ever was such a rule in military courts, and if there ever was any reason for such a rule, manifestly that reason has ceased to exist. I refer to court to Deliart, pages 402-3.
The Court decided that the negro [sic] was a competent witness.
Nashville Dispatch, August 18, 1864.
18, "Schools Opening."
By an oversight, we neglected to call attention to the fact that the school of Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright would soon open for the coming session, at their former place, on the first Monday in September. Those of Mrs. Sturdevant and Mddle. Toupet will also open on the same day. These teachers are all well known and appreciated. St. Cecilia's Academy commences its third years on the 5th of September. Particulars will be found in our advertising columns.
Nashville Dispatch, August 18, 1864.
18, "Recorders' Court;" drunks, nuisances, and an amateur clairvoyant
Half a dozen drunken cases added $30 to the city treasury, besides the costs.
Moses York, a negro [sic] paid $7 for the privilege of a brief snooze in the market-house.
Eliza Mann, a black woman with a white child, was fined $5 for disorderly conduct.
A hard-working woman, of good character, was fined $50 for telling, or pretending to tell, fortunes. According to the testimony of the prosecutor, Mr. Simpson, his wife had paid defendant a quarter to tell her fortune, and the things related by defendant to Simpson's wife had so preyed upon her mind as to "turn her plum crazy," so that two doctors were necessary to prevent her getting worse and quiet her mind. In reply to a question from Mr. South, counsel for the defence, witness said he was not a Christian. There can be no doubt but defendant has told fortunes among her neighbors, as half the girls and women in town do, and it may be that she has occasionally received money, being a widow, with four children, and poor; but we cannot believe she is a professional fortune teller, Marshal Churnbly having known her several years, and never heard of it, and a respectable woman who has known her fifteen years, and lived in the room adjoining for ten years, testifies positively that she was not a fortune teller, and that she never pretended to be one; that she had known her to sit up till 2 o'clock at night many a time sewing for the support of herself and family. The Recorder will probably remit the fine, in consideration of the good character of the defendant.
Nashville Dispatch, August 18, 1864.
 Betsy Swint Underwood, "War Seen through a Teen-ager's Eyes," Tennessee Historical Quarterly, No. 2 (June 1961) p.179.
 There were no circumstantial reports filed concerning this incident. The fight took place on August 20, 1862. See below.
 As cited in PQCW.
James B. Jones, Jr.
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214