Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12/17/2013 Tennessee Civil War Notes

17, "Incendiarism in Hawkins County."

A friend at Whitesburg writes us, Dec. 13th [?] that-

Last night Mr. James Headerick's and Mr. Bernard Headerick's barns and cabins were both burned by incendiaries. They both live about one mile south of St. Clair, Hawkins County. They are good Southern men and good citizens, and this destruction of their barns and cabins leaves them without one blade of [illegible] to feed their stock. When will we get rid of these treasonable incendiaries?

Knoxville Register.

Nashville Daily Gazette, December 17, 1861



17, Simultaneous execution of Jacob and Henry Harmon on the gallows in Knoxville, an excerpt from Brownlow's journal

Two more carts drove up with coffins in them and a heavy military guard around them. This produced in our circle of prisoners great consternation, for we did not know certainly who were to hang. They, however, came into the jail and marched out Jacob Harmon and his son Henry, and hung them up on the same gallows! The old man was a man of property, quite old and infirm, and they compelled him to sit on the scaffold and see his son, a young man, hang first; then he was ordered up and hung by his side. They were charged with bridge-burning, but protested to the last that they were not guilty. I know not how this was; but the laws of Tennessee only send a man to the penitentiary for such offences.

Brownlow, Sketches, pp. 318-319.



17, "GENERAL ORDER, [sic] NO. 1;" Forced Expulsion from Memphis as Punishment for Refusal to Take the Oath of Allegiance

Headquarters United States Forces,

District Western Tennessee

Memphis, July 17th, 1862

I. Traitors and rebels who refuse to comply with the laws and support the Constitution of the United States should not be permitted to remain within the camp lines of the Federal army. At this time the corporate limits of the city of Memphis are within the line of the United States forces; and all male residents, or sojoners [sic] within the limits of said city, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, who are capable of bearing arms, are hereby required to take the oath of allegiance to the United State, or leave the limits of said city within six days after the publication of this order.

II. If any person within the limits of said city shall hereafter publish, speak or utter seditious or treasonable language toward the Government of the United State, the Provost Marshall shall upon proof of the act, banish every person so offending to the State of Arkansas.

III. Any person[s] who shall violate the provisions of the 1st section of this order shall be deemed spies, and, after conviction, treated accordingly.

IV. Persons leaving the city, under the provisions of this order, will not be required to take any oath, or give a parole, but will receive a pass from the Provost Marshal. The oath of allegiance hereby required must be substantially in the following form:


I solemnly swear that I shall bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and support the Continuation and the laws thereof; that I denounce the so-called Confederate States, and pledge my honor, property and life to the sacred fulfillment of this oath, hereby freely taken, admitting that its violation be held as illegal and infamous.

The oath must be subscribed and sworn to before the Provost Marshal.

By order of

ALVIN P. HOVEY, Brigadier General Commanding

Jno. E. Phillps, A. A. Gen.

Memphis Bulletin, July 19, 1862.



17, Travelogue of Middle Tennessee Cities by a Philadelphia War Correspondent

From Chattanooga to Nashville.

Nashville, Tenn., December 17, 1863.

Army life, at best, at least in Dixie, is by no means attractive. The railroad between Chattanooga and this city, in its "palmy days," was not the ranking road in the country, as regards comfort and facility. What then must be a trip between the two above mention cities. I'll tell you, and give you a history of the towns and scenery upon the road and contingent to it. "Traveling on rickety roads, in box cars, in war times." That's the take. It's a two days' trip. You embark at Chattanooga at daylight, upon a boat bound for Bridgeport. The railroad between the latter named place and Chattanooga will be in running order in a couple of weeks. The distance will then be just twenty-seven miles; but, owing to the monstrous curves in the river, the distance by water is about sixty miles. Well this is about a day's sail, or "float," not sail, that's mythical. There are now three steamers now plying between Bridgeport and Chattanooga, the Dunbar, the Chattanooga and the Paint Rock. I came down upon the Paint Rock, the most commodious arrangement of the arrangement of the three. I won't attempt a description of the superb cabins of the Paint Rock, its magnificent tables. The gallant captain, his gay clerk and jovial crew.

Ah, nor would it be mean, after acting as ballast for twenty four hours, and presiding at the festive board, to complain, especially when I am reminded of the [brevity?] of the captain, who often responds, "Gentlemen, you can get something to eat when you arrive at Bridgeport." But that captain was a good fellow because he took us safely to Bridgeport, which is quite a town….

~ ~ ~.

Nineteen miles from Stevenson [Alabama] is Tantallon. A place of no merit in itself. It is located at eh foot of the Cumberland mountain grade, and from which upon the ascent ranges at one hundred and sixty feet per mile to the center of the of the tunnel. This latter point is five hundred and thirty feet above Tantallon. The tunnel is two thousand two hundred and twenty three feet in llentgh, twenty feet high and about fourteen feet wide it penetrates through solid rock and required three years' time in its construction.

Cowan. The next town towards Nashville is Cowan, twenty-three miles from Stevenson and eighty-three from the capital. It was named after Mr. Cowan, a planter, residing in the vicinity, and is located at the foot of the western slope of the Cumberland mountain. Beautiful mountain scenery delights the eye of the tourist looking toward the North, East and South.

Decherd. Two miles further on is Decherd. This was the nearest that General Buell's headquarters ever got to Chattanooga, although a large portion of the army encamped for several weeks over Battle Creel. About twenty miles from Chattanooga, Decherd. Decherd is a little struggling village, and was named after one Peter Decherd, and laid out in 1858. It is but a short distance from the State line at which point the plateau rises some eight hundred feet above the plain below, and is about fifteen miles wide. From its brow a magnificent project stretches far away in the distance.

Allisonia, is the next town, thirty-five from Stevenson. Its location is a fine one, and had not misfortune not overtaken it, Allisonia would have been one of the most flourishing post villages in the middle section of the State. It is situated on Elk River, a point at which the waterpower is very superior, and said to be unsurpassed by any in Middle Tennessee. The place was laid out in 1850 It was an important station on the railroad before the Rebellion and at one time had an immense cotton factory, which cost, including the machinery, towards a quarter of a million of dollars, but which was destroyed by fire some eight years ago.

Estelle Springs, is the next place, and although nothing is to be seen but three houses, a bevy of junk men and hungry-looking women and a score of young ones, Estell Springs used to be considered quite a town, and was the favorite resort, on account of the springs of sulphur, chalybeate and freestone waters, of the citizens for many miles around.

Tullahoma, Tullahoma, before the war, was one of the most flourishing towns east of Nashville. It was important as a railroad station, on account of its being on the intersecting point of the McMinnville and Manchester Railroad, which extends to the former point, a distance of thirty five miles. Tullahoma is just forty-three miles from Stevenson, and seventy from Nashville. It is situated in Coffee county, of the bank of Rock Creek and was laid out in 1852. The location is on the first bench of the Cumberland from which the railroad has a descending for five miles to Duck River. This place has long been noted for its purity and excellence of its chalybeate freestone waters. Tullahoma will always be remembered in connection with General Rosecrans campaign. Here it was that Bragg had determined to forever close the gates to a further Federal advance into Middle and East Tennessee. But the Army of the Cumberland hurried the Rebel force hurled the Rebel force from its vaunted impregnability, and, scattering Bragg's army like lost sheep, matched triumphantly on, surmounting all the obstacles which nature had interposed, while the artificial structures of the hero of defeats were passed along unheeded by the indomitable soldiers of the Union.

Normandy, Wartrace, Bell Buckle, Osterville and Christiana are all small and, at the present time, unimportant towns situated between Tullahoma and Murfreesboro'. The surrounding country is agreeable diversified in surface, highly productive, liberally watered and extensively cultivated. All of the ground partly between the two above-mentioned ground nearly between the two above-mentioned towns was fought over by Rosecran's Army, and at Bell Buckle and Liberty Gaps especially quite lively encounters took place. Although Bragg has been eternally damned and tortured by the upstarts of the entire Confederacy, the Army of the Cumberland can attest that he obstinately contested every foot of Federal advance, until he and his army came near surrendering in the Tennessee River. It is questionable whether a superior to Bragg can be found in the Rebel service.

Murfreesboro. I need not say much about Murfreesboro, as the nettle of Stone River celebrated the town. IT is the capital of Rutherford county, and distant from Nashville thirty-two miles. It is a handsome town, situated upon a beautiful plain, and situated upon a beautiful plain, and surrounded by a healthy and fertile country. From the year 1817 to 1827 it was the capital of the State, when the State House was consumed by fire and the seat of government subsequently removed to Nashville. Prior to the Rebellion it contained a population of three thousand. The first public speech in favor of Secession of Tennessee was made in Murfreesboro, but the town has been slightly paid for that. Bragg and his army encamped here and hereabouts for two months, when, after a great battle upon its outskirts. Rosecrans and his army took possession, and  [equated?] in and around the town six months, Hundreds of buildings were torn down for fire-wood, with such things as fences [illegible] ornamental trees, etc., perished without consideration.

The churches, public edifices and large warehouses were turned into hospitals and commissary storehouses, while the elegant residences of runaway traitors were quickly converted into quarters for general officers and their staffs. It is now a garrison, the town being overlooked by the finest and most complete earth fortification in the country, at present under the command of General Van Cleve. Sam Reads, the father-in-law of John Morgan, resides here, and is a quiet, law-abiding citizen. His house for a long time served as headquarters for a number of Rosecrans staff officers. Murfreesboro is notorious for the lack of loyalty. The epidemic of treason first raged here, and is by no means eradicated, although many of this most boisterous and influential Secessionists are in favor of peace.

Passing Smyrna, a post village ten miles from Murfreesboro' the traveler soon arrives at Lavergne.

At one time a beautiful village, fifteen miles from Nashville. It was here that General Negley whipped General Anderson,[1] and took two regiments prisoners, all the enemy's artillery and several hundred casks of flour and corn. During the battle of Stone river the citizens of this place aided Generals Wheeler and Wharton in their attacks upon the supply and ammunition trains being near to the front, and otherwise made themselves odious to our soldiers. For their pains an indignant Ohio regiment burned the town. There is the last town on the road until Nashville is reached, and the reader can consider himself will posted in regard to the towns and scenery between Chattanooga and Nashville.

Philadelphia Inquirer, December 17, 1863.



17, Action at Holly [a.k.a. "Hollow"] Tree Gap[2]

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from the Report of Major-General Henry D. Clayton, C. S. Army, commanding division, of operations November 20-December 27, 1864, relative to Hollow (a.k.a. Holly) Tree Gap, December 17, 1864.

* * * *

....About 2 o'clock at night it [i.e., Holtzclaw's brigade] was halted seven miles from Franklin and bivouacked until 5 o'clock. Daylight on the morning of the 17th found us in position at Hollow Tree Gap, five miles from Franklin, Stovall's brigade and a section of Bledsoe's battery being upon the right and Pettus' brigade upon the left of the road, and the other two brigades in rear. About 8 a. m. the enemy's cavalry made their appearance, driving in our own cavalry in a most shameful manner, a few pursuing them even through the line of infantry and cutting with their sabers right and left. A few shots from the infantry, however, drove them back, with the loss of a stand of colors. About 9 a. m. they again advanced upon this position, when we succeeded in capturing about 100 men, with their horses, and another stand of colors. At about 10 a. m. we were withdrawn from this position and crossed Harpeth River a few miles from this place. After some slight skirmishing we were relieved by Maj.-Gen. Stevenson's division. For the particulars of the capture of seventy-five officers and men of Holtzclaw's brigade, and a like number from Gibson's brigade, I refer to the reports of their respective brigade commanders. For this occurrence I think no one to blame but our cavalry, who, all the day long, behaved in a most cowardly manner. It is proper, however, that I should make one bright exception to this general remark: I refer to the case of Col. Falconnet, commanding a brigade, who, when about to cross the Harpeth River, seeing the enemy charging upon Gibson's brigade, drew his revolver, and gathering less than 100 brave followers, dashed upon the enemy, more than twenty times his number. After having been relieved, as above stated, by Gen. Stevenson, the division was moved on slowly, halting occasionally so as to keep within a short distance of his command. Six miles south of Franklin, the division being at a halt in the road, I learned that the enemy were moving around Gen. Stevenson. I immediately placed my command across the road, Stovall's brigade, Col. R. J. Henderson commanding, on the right, Gibson's in the center, and Holtzclaw's, Col. Bushrod Jones commanding, upon the left. Hearing considerable firing in the rear I ordered Col. Jones to move Holtzclaw's brigade forward in line of battle, keeping his right resting on the pike, so as to render any assistance that might be necessary to Gen. Stevenson. Having given some general instructions to Gen. Gibson as to keeping out skirmishers and scouts, I directed him to take command of the two brigades, and with my staff rode up the pike to communicate with Gen. Stevenson. Upon coming up with Col. Jones I learned that the enemy in large force was forming upon his left as if for the purpose of charging. I then rode forward and informed Gen. Pettus, whose brigade was near by, of the disposition I had made for his support, and started back to where I had left Gen. Gibson with the two brigades; when in about 100 yards of the left of Gen. Gibson's command, which rested upon the pike, I saw a column of cavalry moving obliquely and just entering the road a few paces in my front. An infantry soldier of my command, recognizing me (it being then quite dark), ran up to me and whispered, "They are Yankees." Turning my horse to the left, so as to avoid them, I moved rapidly to the right of Gen. Gibson's line, and after narrowly escaping being killed by several shots fired at me through mistake, I communicated the information to Gen. Gibson, who promptly wheeled his brigade to the left and delivered a volley which scattered the enemy, killing many of them. I then, at the suggestion of Gen. Gibson, moved back these two brigades behind a fence, in order to better resist a charge and also for greater security against firing into our own men. This position was scarcely taken when the enemy again began to move from the left upon the pike in our immediate front. Demanding to know who they were, I was promptly answered, "Federal troops," which was replied to by a volley, killing several and again driving them off, leaving a stand of colors, which was secured. The enemy having finally retired and the firing having ceased, I communicated my intentions to Gen. Stevenson and moved off my command.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 45, pt. I, pp. 699-700.


[1] OCTOBER 7, 1862.-Skirmish near La Vergne, Tenn.

[2] This was probably the first rear-guard action during the Army of Tennessee's retreat from the Battle of Nashville.

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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