Thursday, November 7, 2013

11/07/13 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        7, Major-General William T. Sherman explains to Mrs. Valeria Hurlbut his policy of sending certain Memphis families south of Union lines as a consequence of supporting Partisan attacks on ships


Memphis, November 7, 1862


Your letter of October __ [1] was duly received. I did not answer it at that time, as I had already instructed Colonel Anthony, provost-marshal, to suspend the execution of the order expelling certain families from Memphis for fifteen days, to enable them to confer with the Confederate authorities upon the cause of that order, viz.,: the firing from ambush on our boats carrying passengers and merchandise by bands of guerrillas in the service of the enemy.

In war it is impossible to hunt up the actual perpetrators of a crime. Those who are banded together in any cause are held responsible for all the acts of their associates. The Confederate Government, in resisting what we claim to be the rightful prerogative and authority of our Government, by armies in the field and bands of armed men called guerrillas or partisan rangers, claims for these latter all the right of war, which means that the Confederate Government assumes the full responsibility of the acts of these Partisan Rangers. These men have, as you know, fired on steamboats navigating on the Mississippi River, taking the lives and endangering the safety of peaceful citizens who travel in an accustomed way, in no wise engaged in the operations of war. We regard this as inhuman and barbarous, and if the Confederate authorities do not disavow them, it amounts to a sanction and encouragement of the practice. We must stop this, and no measures would be too severe. The absolute destruction of Memphis, New Orleans, and every city, town and hamlet of the South would not be too severe a punishment to people for attempting to interfere with the navigation of the Mississippi. I have commenced mildly by requiring the families of men engaged in this barbarous practice to leave and to their own people. Certainly there can be no hardship for the wife and children going to their own husbands and families. They ought to be glad of the opportunity, and the measure, instead of being severe, is very mild. How would they like it if they were to fire through the houses of their wives and families. If any person will look at this question who feels for our people, he or she will perceive that the measure of retaliation is mild, and I do not promise by any means that in future cases I will be so easy. Misplaced kindness to these guerrillas, their families, and adherents is cruelty to our people. Were you to travel on a boat and have the bullets whistle and hear the demon yells of these Confederate partisans, you would not feel so kindly disposed to those who approve the act.

I have given them time to disavow the attack on the Gladiator; they will have not done it. They therefore approve, and I say not only shall the families go away, but all the Confederate allies and adherents shall feel the power of an indignant Government.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt. II, p. 860.



        7, "Our camp looks like some old deserted town." Frank M. Guernsey's letter home to Fannie

Memphis, Tenn

November 7th 1863

Dear Fannie

I have been quite lonely to day and am now going to just sit me down and have a little chat with you and see if that cheer me up, it always does.

I went to the office this morning for a letter from you but there was none for me, so that I have not heard from you since last week but I guess I shall get a letter to morrow morning. I have not had so much to do to day as I did last Sunday, in fact I have done nothing at all, only kept my fire burning for there is a cold north wind blowing, and have written a long article for the Green Lake Spectator. I presume you were not aware Fannie that I had become a newspaper correspondent were you. Neither was I, but while I was in Berlin on my way back Carruth the editor of the Spectator and a friend of mine, made me promise to write them and keep them posted as to the welfare of the 32nd. Carruth has sent me two papers so that I was in courtesy bound to fulfill my promise. To day [sic] has witnessed my first attempt, and how it will look and read in print is a matter of some speculation with me. If I become as celebrated as Bayard Taylor or Dr. Livingston by my literary productions, I will write and let you know.

Our Regiment is off on a scout. Last Tuesday we received an order from Head Quarters about two oclock [sic] P.M. to be ready to march in half an hour with two days cooked rations, and for a little while our camp presented a lively appearance, I tell you, men were running in every direction, and the officers were as busy trying to hurry them up. It was a sight worth seeing. The men worked with a hearty good will and in less than half an hour were formed in line of battle ready to fight or march. The Col. then marched the Regt to the Charleston Depot where they took the cars for Germantown, about fifteen miles from this City, when they got there they found the battle had been fought and the enemy were in full retreat, leaving one Genl [sic] and part of his Staff and quite a number of men as prisoners in our hands. Our Regmt [sic] was ordered into the fortifications where they still remain expecting an attack. I guess that the Rebs [sic] will not venture again so near our lines, they got used so roughly this time; it was estimated that the enemy were about Two thousand strong but they were soundly whipped by a force not exceeding eight hundred men. My Company was on duty here at M. when the Regiment left, but I was calculating to go with them. Capt. Meade found out that I was going so he went and saw the Col and I was ordered to remain with my Company I did not like it much, but had to obey orders. Glen was left in camp too. He was on Picket at the time so it is no fault of ours if the Regiment should have a fight and we are not there. Our camp looks like some old deserted town. Only a few days ago it was all activity. Now as you look through the deserted streets you will scarcely see a man; those that do show themselves look as if they had lost every friend they had, they are "Left alone to wander alone", but I see this sheet is nearly filled so I guess will close and commence another.

Since the Regiment has been gone I have had pretty easy times. Our company is on camp guard and Capt. Meade is in command of the camp so that I have no regular duties to perform. I have been sent out twice in command of an escort to Government trains to get wood. We go about three miles into the country. There are some Rebs [sic] prowling around there and have on one or two occasions captured the trains, but they have never showed themselves when I was along in command, how soon they will do so remains to be seen. They can calculate on a good lively fight before they gobble us for I have a particular aversion to search prisons and would about as soon be shot as captured by them. About all the difference is in one case you die instantly and in the other by degrees.

I began this letter this afternoon and will now try and finish it. I have been over spending part of the evening with Glen. and had a very pleasant time, we sung and chatted away the hours until about nine oclock [sic] and then I came home to finish this letter. Glen. had just received a letter from Nellie. She wrote that you were there and writing to me, but I have not received it yet. I shall probably get it tomorrow. Nellie spoke of coming down here this winter if we should stay. I suppose it is rather uncertain whether we remain or not. We shall probably know in the course of a couple or three weeks. It would be very pleasant to see her here but still more so if my little Fannie was here with her. I think it would be a very pleasant way to soldier, and I presume you both would enjoy for a while at least. I almost wish we had done as Nellie said in her letter, but that need make no difference.

Fannie I was introduced by Glen to a young fellow from W[isconsin] yesterday, his name was Chambers. Do you know him? He said he left W. [sic] a week ago yesterday. He belongs to the 16th Reg[iment] and was in Maj. Wordens company, I believe. I gave those things to Markham that Miss Slater sent. He did blush some but seemed glad to get them. I also gave Ike [sic] the ring his mother sent him. I done all my errands like a good boy and received abundant pay in the pleasure it gave the boys. Now Fannie dear dont [sic] you think I deserve a good long credit mark for writing so long a letter, I know you will not find fault because it is short, but I must close now and bid you a good night and may the good Father have you in his kind keeping is the prayer of your


P.S. Please give my love to all your people

Guernsey Collection,.



        7, "I have plenty to eat and nothing to do." John C. Seibert, 31st Indiana Infantry, writes home from Camp Pulaski

In Camp Pulaski, Tenn. Nov. 7, 1864

Dear Rachel,

I again write to you to let you know where we have got to by this time. We came to this place on Saturday. It has been raining ever since we left Louisville. We are camping out now in tents. We are doing very well. I have gained 9 lbs. since I left home. If I gain as much in proportion until my time is out I will be quite portly. We get plenty to eat here and have nothing to do. The probability is we will stay here all winter. I hope we will as it is a very good place to camp. There is quite an army here and it is still increasing. They are fortifying all around here. We are in a valley with large hills all around. There is nothing going on here, only army movements. Farming has played out in this part of the country. There is very good land here but it is of no use to anybody. Our Reg[iment]'t. will be here in a few days and then we will be regular organized and equipt. [sic] We have not got our arms yet. I got me a good pr. of boots before we left Nashville, so I am well clothed of for the winter. I have got more cloths than I want if we have to march much. If I have a chance I would send my overcoat home, but if we stay all winter I can use [it] very well for to sleep on. We have a mess of eight all good fellows. There is Hyett, and Milt and Frank Vance, Wm. Smith, James Mayden, John Tucker, Wm. Dennis, and myself. Tell the young many that I am doing first rate. I have plenty to eat and nothing to do. Tell him to take good care of my [word unintelligible] and grain and keep plenty of wood [cut]. Tell Palk that this is easier work than gathering that downed corn besides what a fellow can see. [?] I have seen more since I left home than I ever saw before. Our Col. is a very sociable man. He stays here in camp with us, takes the same fare that we get, and is always in a good humor. Kiss the babies for me. Tell them that I think about you all very often. Direct your letter to me at this place in care of Col. Smith, 31st Reg[iment]'t. IVI, Pulaski, Tenn.



John C. Seibert Correspondence.[2]


[1] Mrs. Valeria Hurlbut's letter to Sherman is not known to be extant.

[2] As cited in: 

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-532-1550  x115

(615)-532-1549  FAX


No comments: