Tuesday, December 3, 2013

12/03/2103 Tennessee Civil War Notes

3, 1861 - "GOV. HARRIS AND THE MILITIA;" criticism of Governor Harris' draft

In the entire absence of the facts upon which the action of an Executive based, and especially in times of rapidly changing and singular exigencies, like the present, it would be unreasonable to suppose that the popular understanding would clearly comprehend the propriety of all that is done. Much must go before the public in a manner that will invite criticism, a privilege in which but few of us are sparing or considerate and when fairly tested, those criticisms will not unfrequently prove unfounded and absurd, even to our own minds. Great forbearance should, therefore, be exercised by the public towards those whom we have selected to discharge for us the most grave and difficult duties connected with our present struggle for national independence.

Fortunately, in the case of our distinguished Governor, the wisdom of his counsels have been so frequently verified, and his impartial patriotism is fully tested, that we have found comparatively, little disposition with our people to question his motives or criticise his policy. And yet, the confusion and seeming contradiction, attending the call for soldiers within the last few months, warrant a word of explanation, injustice to Gov. Harris as well as to the public.

In doing this we, we will first suggest, what many seem totally to ignore, that the action of the Governor has been and must be secondary and responsive to the representations and demands of our military chieftains in the field. These authorities presumed to understand the necessities that surround them, and may rightfully expect that their opinions will be respected and their requests complied with.

Some six weeks since, an urgent demand was made by Gen. Johnston, for thirty thousand additional troops from Tennessee. Gov. Harris may have thot' [sic] it wise to lessen the call in view of the scarcity of army and similar requisitions that were being made for troops from other States; General Johnston, for special reasons, believed it better to put the troops into camp and let them be preparing for efficient service, than to await the anticipated procurement of arms, and then be delayed in the raising of troops and in preparing them for the field. But a small proportion of the force had been placed in camp until the War Department at Richmond-for reason which it is not our province to enquire into-issued orders to Gen. Johnston for their disbandment, which orders were suspended at the urgent request of Governor Harris, until, at last report, an effort might be made for the procurement of such domestic arms as would save our gallant volunteers from the mortification of having to abandon the service and return to their homes-Hence the issue to his proclamation, to that effect, the necessity of which could not by many be misunderstood-It thus became apparent to the public that the government could not be looked to for the arming of such a body of troops, and the natural effect was to disband the companies is course of formation and discourage volunteering. And yet, surely no one, with his insight into the facts, can see aught to critcise in the action in the action of the Governor; and it would certainly be illiberal even to bestow censure upon any other authority. No one who has even a faint conception of the innumerable obstacles and disappointments under which our Government and State official are compelled to act, should be so unreasonable as to require a satisfactory public explanation of everything that puzzles the understanding and disappoints our hopes.

More recently and in the face of this discouragement to volunteering, new developments were made to our Generals in command at Columbus and Bowling Green, threatening a speedy invasion of our State by a superior force of the enemy; requiring, in the opinion of those Generals, such a reinforcement of our troops for the immediate exigency as could be hoped for by a call upon the militia of the State, and an impressment of domestic arms to be placed in their hands. An increase of the volunteer force was preferable, but there were strong probabilities that the reinforcements would be needed before the requisite number could be raised. Hence the propriety of such an order as would meet the emergency, and at the same time furnish such of our citizens [as who] preferred enlisting in the volunteer service an opportunity of doing so.

Gov. Harris, as the Chief Executive of the State, has had to act in accordance with the information and requisitions of the military authorities of the [Confederate] Government. The demands of the military authorities have been shaped, modified and controlled by the movements and uncertain information obtained of the common enemy. The circumstance of today may not suit the necessities of tomorrow. More or less uncertainty, difficulty and doubt will necessarily attend and influence our actions. We are far from a condition of having things as we would wish them. It would be the height of folly for the indiscriminate public to expect to understand the propriety of every movement, for the reason that many of the acts upon which these movements are based are of such a character that, in view of the enemy, it would be highly improper to place before them. We would have supposed that a reason so palpable in itself would have readily occurred to the mind of everyone.

In an emergency like the present, intelligent patriotism would suggest that we should cultivate an abiding faith in the wisdom and integrity of the men whom we have elected to lead us through the perils of the hour. While it would be unreasonable to suppose that they will not, in many instances, find themselves in error, it would be equally unreasonable to suppose that our common cause can be profited by the indulgence of a spirit of ungenerous fault-finding, distracting our counsels, impairing the general confidence so essential to success, and paralyzing the arms of those brave men, both in the cabinet and the field, who are taxing every energy and making every sacrifice for the success of our cause and the preservation of our rights.

Nashville Daily Gazette, December 31, 1861. [1]



3, 1862 - "Volunteering;" complaints about Governor Harris' draft in Giles County

The last call of the Governor for volunteers has been nobly responded to in this county-more than half the militia stepped forward as volunteers, and are now organizing themselves into companies, ready for marching orders.

This county was entitled to a credit for four companies, viz.,: Capt. Winstead's, Capt. Hanna's, Capt. Hundicutt's, and Capt. Worley's which recently went into camp from this county: but it seems the Militia officers were ignorant of this fact, and have therefore required half the remaining militia to go into the field. This does gross injustice to the liberal and patriotic people of Giles, and leaves her women and children almost defenseless. We call upon the proper authorities to have this matter investigated and corrected immediately.

Pulaski Citizen, as cited in the Nashville Daily Gazette, December 3, 1861.



3, 1862 - Editorial squabbling over the Governor's draft

Fortunately, in the case of our distinguished Governor, the wisdom of his counsels has been so frequently verified, and his impartial patriotism so fully tested, that we have found comparatively, little disposition with our people to question his motives or criticise his policy, Union and American.

Do you find then, neighbor, a very immense disposition upon the part of the people to applaud the Governor's draft. If you can make such discovery the world has been giving Christopher Columbus too much credit in his line of business.

Our neighbor of the Gazette is mistaken in supposing that there has never been a draft from the militia in Tennessee. We are informed by old citizens that they have been two drafts in Tennessee, within their remembrance.-

Union and American

The Harris draft is the only thing of the sort within our recollection. If old citizens are favored with better memories than ours, they have that much advantage of us, and this far, probably, that much more to deplore.

Nashville Daily Gazette, December 3, 1861.



3, A West Tennessee Confederate Ghost

A Ghost Story.

We heard one of Gen. McCown's officers tell a hard story on yesterday. It seems that when McCown was in West Tennessee this officer was sent into a neighborhood where he was well known. He was riding in a buggy and overtook an old acquaintance and friend, named Robert Bond. Bond was on foot. The officer, after the usual salutations and inquiry after the news, asked Bond to take the buggy and drive on to the next house and await his coming, that he was tired of riding, and wished to walk the intervening half mile. When the officer came up to the house the buggy was standing there and the horse tied to the gate.

The officer asked the ladies at the house what had become of Mr. Bond. They, amazed, answered that Bond had been killed in a skirmish near Corinth, and that his body had been brought home and buried on the day before the officer arrived.

He asked the ladies who had brought the buggy to the gate. They answered that there was no driver, that the horse came quietly to the gate and that one of their number had got out and tied him.

It is needless to state that the officer who made this statement discredits his own senses, but he is confident that he could not have mistaken Bond for another man, that his personal peculiarities were well known to him, but how he could have disappeared, and how a dead man could have driven off a horse and buggy, and then vanished, or why his disembodied spirit should have appeared to him when he did not even know that Bond was dead, are questions often asked by the officer referred to. He is, evidently, surely puzzled by the occurrence as were his auditors by its narration.—Knoxville Register.

Montgomery Weekly Advertiser, December 3, 1862.[2]



3, 1862 - Collection of saltpetre and Confederate conscription in East Tennessee

Notice to Saltpetre Manufactures and Enrolling Officers

Nitre and Mining Bureau

Knoxville, Dec. 3, 1862.

The manufacturers of Nitre, whose convenience it will suit, may henceforth deliver their Nitre and receive their pay at Jonesboro' on the LAST FRIDAY in each month, and at Zollicoffer on the LAST SATURDAY in each month. If the parties sending Nitre to this office, or to the above places, can have good half barrels made in their neighborhoods, and send their Nitre in them, they shall receive the regular price for such half barrels, thus saving them the expense of boxes. These half barrels must be the regular size and well made, and the price must not exceed sixty cents.


Will oblige me by reporting to me any neglect of duty on their part of the men who hold my certificates of exemption from military service, but no one is authorized on the contrary, all are forbidden to interfere with or take any of them from their work, without first apprising me of their neglect of duty and obtaining my consent to such proceeding. But when I find the men holding my certificates failing to discharge their duty faithfully, or to bring in their two pounds of Nitre per day for each hand, I will give every man so failing over to Colonel Blake to be put in the army, unless good and sufficient excuses are rendered to me for such failure.

T. J. Finnie, Captain, and Sup't. N. & M. District No. 7

Knoxville Daily Register, December 14, 1862.



3, 1863 - Skirmish near Sweetwater

No circumstantial reports filed.

After marching around twenty miles we found ourselves in the pretty little railroad village known as Sweetwater where we encamped for the night. Just as we were going into camp we heard a sharp skirmish a short distance beyond a skirt of woods than lined a field. We soon learned that it was the result of a collision between a party of our independent foragers and a company of rebel cavalry. But our boys proved to be as good at fighting as foraging and the rebels soon skedaddled.

Boy in Blue, p. 244.



3, Miss Maxwell's gun permit

State of Tennessee

Executive Department

Nashville, Decr., 3rd 1863

Miss Maxwell of Davidson County is authorized to keep a shot-gun and pistols for protection of herself and property[.]

Andrew Johnson, Mil: [sic] Gov. Tenn

Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 6, p. 503.



        3, 1863 - Skirmish at Saulsbury

No circumstantial reports filed.

LA GRANGE, December 3, 1863.

Maj.-Gen. HURLBUT:

Maj. Whitsit, in command of detachment of Ninth and Sixth Illinois, just arrived from Saulsbury. The enemy did not capture any trains, but tore up the road for some distance, burned ties, and bent rails; but no very serious damage. Hatch skirmished with them two or three hours this morning, and they have retreated south. Will send you more definite information as soon as possible. Force reported about 2,000. Nothing heard from Tuttle or Mizner.

B. H. GRIERSON, Brig.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. III, p. 324.



3, 1864 General and Special Orders, No. 1, establishing the Civic Guard of Chattanooga

GEN. AND SPECIAL ORDERS, No. 1. HDQRS DISTRICT OF THE ETOWAH, Chattanooga, December 3, 1864.

I. The general commanding the district, considering it highly advisable to have this post and its several defenses as strongly held as possible, hereby orders that all civilians within the lines of the post be enrolled and organized into a military force.

II. With the view of having the force enrolled and effectually organized, the general orders and authorizes Col. Edwin S. McCook to take the business in hand at once, and orders him to the command of the force he shall so enroll and organize.

III. All civilians, therefore, within the lines of this post, who are not in the actual employment and pay of the United States Government at this post, will proceed instantly, on the publication of these orders, to the rear office of the post guard, there report to Col. McCook, register their names and residences, have themselves properly enrolled and assigned for military duty, and having been enrolled, hold themselves subject to his orders.

IV. The military duty indicated in these orders will not take the civilians enrolled and organized by Col. McCook beyond the exterior lines of defense.

V. Col. McCook has full power to organize the force contemplated in these orders as his experience and judgment best dictate, and he will appoint and order such officers and other assistants to act under him as he thinks best gaslight for command, or any other work or duties in connection with the force contemplated.

VI. The force commanded by Col. McCook will be known as the Civic Guard of Chattanooga.

VII. This order of enrollment and organization comprehends not only all the civilians who may be permanently resident at this post, but all civilians who may be temporarily detained here, whether on business or pleasure, or owing to obstructions on the road.

VIII. Col. McCook will have every facility afforded him for the proper arming and equipment of the Civic Guard, and will determine, subject to the approval of the general commanding, the signal for the assembling of his command on any sudden emergency.

IX. Every civilian enrolled in the Civic Guard of Chattanooga will be furnished by Col. McCook with a printed certificate of enrollment. The post provost guards on and after Tuesday, the 6th day of December, will demand, in addition to the usual City pass, the said certificate of enrollment.

X. Any civilian hereby ordered to register and enroll himself in the Civic guard failing to procure, or to produce on proper demand, the said certificate of enrollment, will be arrested on the spot and handed over to the provost-marshal.

XI. Should the party or parties so arrest fail satisfactorily to explain the circumstances of their not having, or their not producing, the said certificate of enrollment, said party or parties will immediately be sent by the post provost-marshal to work for thirty days on the streets or fortifications.

By order of Brig.-Gen. Meagher:

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 45, pt. II, pp. 39-40.



3, 1864 - First Action at Bell's Mill, Cumberland River, Nashville -U. S. N. – the capture and recapture of U. S. S. Prairie State & Prima Donna, and dispersal Rebel forces

* * * *

....about 9 p. m. [December 3], I received intelligence that the enemy's left wing had struck the river and had batteries planted at Bell's Mills, about 4 miles below Nashville by land but 18 by river, and that they had captured two steamers. [I ordered the tin clads and gunboats: Neosho, Carondolet, Moose, Brilliant, Fairplay, Reindeer, and Silver Lake to the bend.]

* * * *

I directed Acting Master Miller [of the Carondolet] to run below the lower batteries, giving them grape and canister, then round to and come back and fight them upstream

* * * *

The boats moved down perfectly quiet, with no lights visible, and were not seen by the enemy until the Carondelet opened fire on their lower battery and encampment.

* * * *

As soon as the Carondelet opened fire the enemy poured a heavy volley of musketry into the boats along the entire line, and also opened on us with their upper battery of four guns. About this time the Fairplay had stopped to keep from running into the Carondelet, and the smoke from the guns and smokestacks, combined with our steam, settled around us so very thick in this bend that I could see nothing nor could the pilots see where we were running; so, finding myself nearly in contact with the Fairplay, I was also forced to stop, and after the Carondelet and Fairplay had passed below the bend I found myself still in the smoke and in a rather bad position, as the batteries were then firing directly into me and so far on my port quarter that we could not bring our guns to bear. I therefore directed the pilots to back up, as it was clear above and below it was intensely thick. I was afraid by this time the Carondelet and Fairplay had passed the lower battery, rounded to, and were again moving up, which would make our chances for colliding very great. I therefore decided to back up again, about the upper battery, as I could not remain where I was long enough for the smoke to lift; and, as the rebels were now giving this boat their entire attention, made it also dangerous to attempt to round to. In backing up above the batteries, I necessarily moved slowly, but the pilots....handled the vessel so magnificently that we were able to keep our guns working on them so rapidly that in a great measure they were kept silent.

When I got above the battery where I could use the port broadside and bow guns, they soon ceased firing, as the Reindeer had by this time got above their guns, rounded to, and was in a good position to assist this vessel in case she was disabled....I concluded to wait till daylight, knowing that the Carondelet and Fairplay, which were below the lower battery, would keep everything quiet and take care of the captured steamers.

The musketry along the bank and on the hillside was for a time very annoying, but we soon drove them off. The firing from their battery for a time was very rapid, but their guns were not well aimed; most of their shell and all their grape passed entirely over us; this, I presume, was owing to our being so close to them. The river at this point is not over 75 or 80 yards wide, and part of the time we were directly under their guns. Two percussion shells struck this boat in the hull a little above the water line, and one struck in the wheel, but none of them did much damage. One of them came quartering from the battery above us and lodged in the bread room, close to the magazine, but did not explode. Another struck us fair and would have passed on through the bottom, but was turned from it course by striking one of the deck beams; it also did not explode, but lodged in the rake. The Silver Lake was not quite close enough to engage the batteries, but kept the musketry silent along the bank above.

In the morning, very early, we again moved down, the Neosho having [by] this time joined us, but saw nothing of the enemy; the batteries were removed the night before we left them. Between 8 and 9 a. m. I met the Carondelet and Fairplay, with the transports just below where the lower battery stood during the night. Learning that all was clear below, I returned to Nashville with the gunboats and transports.

Notwithstanding the darkness and haziness of the night, all of the boats were well maneuvered....

* * * *

The numbers of rounds fired were as follows: Carondelet, 26; Fairplay, 37; Moose, 59; Reindeer, 19; Silver Lake, 6.

I am not able to say what execution we did, as darkness covered all, but we drove them from their guns and back from the river, recapturing the steamers they had captured in the early part of the evening before they had time to destroy them, made them abandon most of the forage they were taking from the vessels, and cause them to let may of their prisoners escape.

Navy OR, Ser. I, Vol. 26, pp. 640-643.



[1] As cited from the Nashville Union and American, no date given.

[2] As cited in: http://www.uttyl.edu/vbetts.

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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