28, Preacher Reform and Politics in Confederate East Tennessee
Preacher's Reform Society
An aged and influential gentleman, who has been an active and useful citizen of Knox county, for the last fifty years, and whose influence, means, and good will, have all that time been on the side of Christianity, proposes to me, in good faith, during the past week, to organize a "Preacher's Reform Society," [sic] with a view to save the Churches of our country from utter extinction, and to restore to society, the usefulness of a large body of men, who have, with here and there an honorable exception, apostatized from the faith and practice of their Fathers, and are now prostituting the pulpits of the country to the most wicked and disgraceful purposes. He said, that but a few years ago, 3,000 pulpits at the North, were arrayed against the South, and the stability of the Union; and that 3,0000 Preacher power [sic], was brought to bear upon President Buchanan, in the form of a wicked and insolent petition. Now the scene had changed, and the pulpits of the South had opened their batteries, and were doing more harm than good.
We fully concur in all that our experienced friend has suggested; and we add, more in sorrow than in anger, that with here and there an exception, as he says, the worst class of men in the country are Preachers. [sic] They are doing more mischief, and setting a worse example to the young and rising generation, then our first class Doggery-keepers [sic], and are more to be dreaded. Thirty-five years ago, when we first joined the Methodist Church, we found her ministers pointing the people to Jesus Christ, and offering them an inheritance, the Kingdom of Heaven. Now, a great portion of them, point the people to Jeff Davis, and offer them the joys of a Southern Confederacy. What a change!
When Paul and Barnabas "had ordained them Elders in every Church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord" – not to any political party. In Paul's address to the elders of the Church at Ephesus, he says: "Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers." The preachers were thus set apart to an important work – not to preach Secession or Union sentiments – not to volunteer to fight with carnal weapons, but to preach Christ and him crucified. Nay, they were commanded to take heed to all [sic] the flock, both those on one and the other side of any political contest that might be going on. Now, it is because the preachers generally are neglecting these things that a Reform Society [sic] is called for. How can a Church prosper whose ministers are secularized? Some ministers abandon their charges, where they get two or three hundred dollars per year, to take positions where the pay is increased from seven to ten hundred per annum. They will have to meet the souls of these deserted charges at the Judgment Bar, and there give an account of their stewardship.
Brownlow's Whig and Independent Journal, September 28, 1861.
28, Conditions inside the Confederate hospital in Chattanooga; an entry from the diary of Kate Cumming
Have been very busy all week, too much so to write in my journal. Three men died in the course of the week. On the 26th, John Wilkinson, a member of the Fifth Mississippi Regiment, from Neshobo [sic] County, on the 27th, D. W. Jarvis, from Coffeeville, Alabama, a member of the Thirty-second Alabama Regiment; same date, John Cotton, member of Sixteenth Louisiana Regiment, of Rappee Parish, La. These men were in a very low state when first brought in from the camps.
Diarrhea [sic] is the prevailing disease among the patients. I have been so busy that I have not taken time to visit Mrs. M's ward. She has many sick men, as has also Mrs. W. They both have a great deal of trouble. The stove smokes as badly ever. I have the use of one that belongs to the surgeons. (They all mess together; their kitchen and dining-room are near my ward.) It answered for what little I have to cook-beef-tea, toast, sago, and arrow-root. I have a nice little distributing room in the ward, which the head nurse, George Bean, has fixed up very neatly.
The great cry of our sick is for milk. We could buy plenty, but have no money. We get a little every day for the worst cases, at our own expense. I intend letting the folks at home know how many are suffering for want of nourishment, for I feel confident that if they knew of it they would lend us means.
Last week, in despair, I went to Dr. Young, the medical purveyor, and begged him to give me some wine; in fact, any little thing, I told him, would be acceptable. I did not come away empty-handed. He gave me arrow-root, sago, wine and several kinds of spices, and many things in the way of clothing.
In every hospital there is invariable a fund, there is not at present in this [one]. The reason, we have been told, is because the hospitals at this point are in debt to the government, by drawing more money from it than their due, and until it is paid we will get no more. The fund consists so money drawn instead of the soldiers['] rations, as the sick men are unable to eat the rations.
Mrs. W. and myself went to the Episcopal Church this morning. There were very few present. The pastor's, Rev. Mr. Denniston, sermon was a political one.
I went to give my sick men their dinners, and found that the food I had cooked for them was spoiled. I asked Huldah, the negro woman who cooks for the surgeons, who had ruined everything. She told me the steward's wife had been over there and put handfuls of salt into the beef-tea and other things. She had done the same before, but I did not know who did it. My poor men had to go that day dinnerless. I do not know when I have felt so badly about any thing [sic]. I am afraid the next thing she does will be to attempt my life. We had made up our minds, if Dr. Hunter did not put an end to these persecutions, it would be impossible for us to remain here. One of the assistant surgeons came to me, and told me that if Dr. Hunter did not put a stop to them, he and the other assistant surgeons would do so. But I have been informed that Dr. H. has told the steward, that if his wife comes over to this side of the hospital he will then her out altogether. It seems we will never get rid of troubles of this sort.
When we first came here Dr. H. told us that there was another lady coming to assist us; we found out who she was, and concluded if she came we would not remain. We told Dr. H. what we knew of her, and he said that was strange, as he had certificates from our first surgeons. I told him there were some of them whose certificates I did not value as much as the paper they were written on. He said on no account would he have her come.
Had a visit a few days ago from Dr. Flewellen, he congratulated us on our admission to the hospitals. He is one of those surgeons who approves of ladies being in hospitals. We went to see him when visiting this place, and he told us the ladies did good in may, ways; the principle good was, that where they were the surgeons and nurses were more apt to attend to the patients than they would otherwise be.
We have a good deal of trouble about servants; the soldiers do the cooking, in fact all the domestic work. We have a few free Negroes, and they give us no little trouble. For this reason the slaves here are not near so respectful as they are with us; although they seem to have great contempt for the free Negroes. The other day I heard the doctor's servant indignantly say that some one had spoken to her as if she was free, and had no master to care for her.
There are quite number of soldiers in the place who can not get on to their commands, as the country is filled with bushwhackers, and it is dangerous for them to go through it unless in very large bodies.
I am a good deal worried about my brother, as I have not heard from him since the army went into Kentucky.
Cumming, A Journal of Hospital Life, pp. 46-47.
28, Conflict between Federal Corps of Topographical Engineers and Corps of Engineers
CHATTANOOGA, TENN. September 28, 1863.
Brig.-Gen. GARFIELD, Chief of Staff, Hdqrs. Department of the Cumberland:
GEN.: I would respectfully request from department headquarters a letter of advice defining the exact relations which exist between Gen. Morton, chief engineer of this department and myself the chief topographical engineer.
Of late on several occasions there has been some clashing in regard to mutual authority and jurisdiction, which can easily be prevented if our relative positions are officially defined. To make matters clear I will begin at the time when the Corps of Topographical Engineers was merged in the Corps of Engineers, and all branches of the engineering service were placed under one head. This occurred officially on the 3d of March of the present year. Previous to that time, and, in fact, subsequent to it, the topographical department of this army was a distinct branch and not under the control of the chief engineer. Capt. Michler, the former chief topographical engineer, was relieved from duty in this department by Special Field Orders, No. 146, May 29, 1863, and I was ordered to take "his books, papers, orders, instructions, and all public property in his possession."
It will be seen this that as Capt. Michler had remained independent of Gen. Morton until he was relieved, and as I had no other orders or instructions than those under which he was acting, that as far as this order was concerned, I was still independent of the chief engineer. In view of the two corps having been united and of the fact that I was and always had been an officer of engineers, and had been acting under Gen. Morton as an engineer officer, I considered the order of the 29th of May as insufficient, and accordingly I wrote and caused to be issued the order of May 31, 1863, known as General Orders, No. 124, in which I was announced "as engineer officer in charge of the topographical department, reporting to Brig. Gen. J. St. C. Morton, chief engineer of the department."
Some little difficulty arose at once in regard to Gen. Morton's jurisdiction over the topographical engineers of the corps, divisions, and brigades of this army from the fact that he had ordered them to report to him. This was settled by Gen. Morton ordering them to report to me. Some conversation arose at headquarters between yourself, the general commanding, and myself, in which it was settled that I was to have sole control and responsibility in regard to all topographical duty, but that Gen. Morton could give me general topographical duty, but that Gen. Morton could give me general orders and instructions. I alone was to have control of the corps, division, and brigade topographical engineers, and no interference was to be permitted between me and any subordinate of mine. All orders to them were to come through me. With this distinct understanding, which I regret to say was never put in writing, such a precaution having been deemed unnecessary, I took charge of the topographical office. I found the headquarters office almost destitute of assistants or means of doing work, and the engineers of the different commands utterly ignorant of what they were wanted for, and equally unstapled with means of doing anything. With great difficulty I have succeeded in establishing an efficient and energetic office at headquarters, and have instructed and equipped the engineers in the field so that they now render good service to the army and the country. Having done this much--and I can safely point to the record to sustain me--I now request that I be freed from the interference of the chief engineer between me and my subordinates. I have mentioned the matter several times to him, but I cannot see that my doing so has been of any practical avail. I claim that no one has a right to order my subordinates but myself, and that all orders to them shall come through me. I think it hardly worth while to argue so obvious a principle military law, custom, and justice.
In reference to the present emergency, I am ready at any time to give my own services, or those of any man under me, to any work the general commanding may desire, but at the same time I insist on my right to be consulted and to be the one who shall order my subordinates on other duty than that for which they were appointed. I wish the general commanding to understand distinctly that I wish to advance the interests of this army in every way possible, but that I feel bound to protest against any and every attempt of the chief engineer to override me or my subordinates.
I send in this communication at this time as I understood the chief engineer to say to the general commanding that he proposed ordering all the topographical engineers to report to him to-morrow morning for duty in directing the fortifications. No consultation was had with me, nor have I been requested to issue the order. If the general commanding desires the topographical engineers to go on such duty, I will most cheerfully and willingly issue such an order, but I earnestly protest against Gen. Morton doing so of his own authority and without consulting me or having the order issued from my office. I trust the general commanding will cause such instructions to be given in writing to the chief engineer and to myself as will forever set at rest this annoying and most unfortunate conflict.
I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. E. MERRILL, Capt. of Engineers, Chief Topographical Engineer.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 30, pt.; III, pp. 912-913.
28, A Bolivar school girl takes on new duties and despairs for the success of the Confederacy
Since my last date I have entered into an arduous task that of schoolteaching [sic]. Aunt Anne requiring an assistant, I agreed to assist her in the mornings, Ida in the afternoons. Have heard a report of the capture of Athens, Alabama, by General Forrest. Rumor says that he captured 30 pieces of artillery besides 1300 prisoners. Ma has been attacked with Erysipelas again. Has not been well since her first attack and is now very sick. I think that she despairs of her life but the Doctor seems to have no fears. Ma has so much depending on her that she, in her hurry and anxiety to get well, injured herself more materially than she otherwise would do. Oh, what if the Great God should see fit to take her! What a helpless family she would leave! Since the Federal invasion our property has been ruined and stolen. Three brothers in the Army, nothing to live upon. Good God! shall we be reduced from ease and affluence to abject poverty! We can collect no debts that have long since been due, therefore we are so helpless it is truly hard, very hard to say "Thy will be done." O When [sic] will the cruel, cruel war cease. How long shall we be outraged and humiliated by our heavenly Parent through such wicked instrument as the Federal Army [sic].
Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress, September 28, 1864.
James B. Jones, Jr.
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214