Saturday, January 11, 2014

1/11/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        11, Blackface entertainment for sick Confederate soldiers

Tennessee Minstrels.—On Monday night [11th], banjo and bones, breakdown and melody, black faces and fun, will, after a long interval, make their appearance at Odd-Fellows' Hall. The proceeds will be devoted to the wounded soldiers at the Overton Hospital. There must be a big crowd on hand—the occasion demands it. For once the people must go and laugh for charity. The band intend having a season, giving three or four concerts a week.

Memphis Daily Appeal, November 17, 1861.




        11, On Bridge Burning

Lincoln's Emissaries at Work in Tennessee

Our Lynchburg correspondent furnishes us with information direct from the locality of the burn bridge in East Tennessee, to which allusion is made in the telegraphic column. The one known to be burnt is called "Union bridge," and crosses the Holston river, eleven miles beyond Bristol. Its length is nearly 150 yards, and it will require at least fifteen days to repair it so that the trains can pass over. In the meantime, passengers and baggage will be transferred across the stream, in order to keep up the connection this way. It is also reported that another bridge has been burnt on the East Tennessee road, near Carter's depot; but of this we have no authentic information. The villainous emissaries of Lincoln continued their work by cutting the telegraphy wires, and the whole transaction may be regarded as preliminary to an advance upon our forces in East Tennessee.- The fact that bridges between Atlanta and Chattanooga were burnt on the same night, proves it to have been a preconcerted [sic] movement, and the object is to cut off the communication so as to prevent our sending reinforcements into East Tennessee and Kentucky.

Daily Dispatch, November 11, 1861. [1]



11, A jurisdictional quandary between Confederate civil and military authority in East Tennessee

HDQRS., Knoxville, January 11, 1862.

Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.

SIR: On the 9th instant I telegraphed[2] the Department that a writ of habeas corpus had been issued by the circuit court of the State of Tennessee and served on me in the case of Daniel Smith, charged as an accessory to the crime of bridge-burning.

To the writ I made answer that the prisoner had been seized in obedience to instructions of the War Department at Richmond and held as a prisoner of war; that he had been duly transferred as such to my custody and is now held by me commanding Confederate forces in East Tennessee. But the court claims that the validity of the answer must be tried and decided by the court. Judge [George] Brown who issued the writ is a Southern man and desires only to do his official duty. Some other judges of the State exercising the same authority may be less worthy of confidence and this question of jurisdiction between the military and civil authorities assumes much gravity whether it be decided by loyal or disloyal judges.

In the condition of the country immediately subsequent to the bridge-burning I should have paid no respect to a writ of habeas corpus. The military law of self-preservation prevailed at that time. But the circumstances are now less urgent and I infer that the Government does not wish to suspend the writ. Martial law might be proclaimed locally and the lawyers here think that the writ would thus be suspended. I do not see how so long as Congress has not suspended the writ.

The judges generally and perhaps without exception would decide that a man taken literally in arms against the Government is a prisoner of war. But there must occur many cases of serious guilt wherein the prisoner will be turned over to the civil courts to be bailed out and tried by his peers. If the military have any function or mission to perform in this disturbed country their efforts in that behalf will be frustrated by the interference of the civil courts for the military will be brought into contempt.

To-day I am served with another writ by Judge Brown including the cases of six or eight prisoners to be brought before Judge Humphreys' C. S. court, on the 16th.

I hope to receive from the Department full instructions for my guidance in all such cases.

Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,

D. LEADBETTER, Col., Provisional Army, C. S.

OR, Ser. II, Vol. 1, p. 870.



        11, John M. Routt, Company B, 44th Tennessee Infantry, C. S. A., describes the Confederate withdrawal and combat at the Battle of Stones River in his letter to his wife, Lou J., in Kelso, Tennessee

Camp near Tullahoma, Tenn., Jan. 11, 1863

Mrs. Lou. J. Routt-My dear wife, received your letter last night by George Martin. I knew well the unpleasant anxiety you experience while the dreadful battle near Murfreesboro was progressing, and afterwards till you heard from your husband and brother were safe. [sic] Josh left the battle field Tuesday morning. The heavy infantry fighting on our wing (The Left) [sic] was done on Wednesday. We told Josh what took place that day, but we couldn't tell what would occur afterwards. I wrote to you by Bud Smith, from Manchester and hope you have received my letter, before now. I hope I shall be able to be at home some time this week. I spoke to Col. Fulton this morning to know how long it would probably be before I could start and he said he thought by Tuesday. Adding it might be sooner than later. I am coming to collect the absentees from our Company. Keep this a secret for they might escape.[3] We remained at Estil [sic] Spring only one day. We came from there here. I do not know how long we will remain here. I cannot learn anything reliable about the movements of the Yankees. I am satisfied they will not advance soon against us, for I hear evadince [sic] of the fact that they were dreadfully cut up. I had after heard that in battle our troops killed two or three and some times five to one but had always disbelieved it. I was over the battle field on the left wing, and I declare there were ten Yankees killed to one of our men, and all the other boys say the same. Fully three fourth [sic] of the dead Yankees were shot through the head. This circumstance arises from the fact that they all get behind trees or rocks and in shooting they have to put their heads from behind the trees or raise them above the rocks and in the act or [sic] often shot. They wound many of our men in the feet and legs....

* * * *

My dear, I depend on the intercessions I knew you were making for me. The fact made me easy. I did not expect to be hurt. I felt that I was safe. You must continue to pray for me my sweet wife and for the cause and everyone in it. General [sic] and I have talked about our escape and both of us attribute it to prays [sic] sent up for us by our dear friends at home. Oh! if you could of [sic] seen men engaged in deadly conflict and heard the sharp cracking of small arms and the dreadful booming of cannon and the loud bursting of shells and the rattling of the fragments as they went tearing and whizing [sic] the whizzing through the air and timber. What an awful scene you would have witnessed. I will not continue the sketch. Oh! pray for the whole world for peace. General is Lieut. [sic] of the guard today, and may not get to write. This will go by Dr. Jenkins. Kiss Willie & Johnnie for me.

Yours affectionate [sic] husband,

John M. Routt.

W. P. A. Civil War Records, Vol. 3, pp. 97-99.[4]




        11, 1863 - Bragg Bashing in McMinnville; excerpts from the War Journal of Lucy Virginia French

….Our army has fallen back to the hills – they are at Normandy, Winchester, and all the R. Road is guarded. There among the hills it is said, they intend to make a stand, and Bragg says he will fight Rosencrantz [sic] again – whether he will or not, there is no telling. Bragg seems to be very unpopular with both soldiers and people. Old Mr. Spurlock gave free utterance to his feelings in regard to him as a general. He says that many others have said, that our position at Murfreesboro was badly chosen and blames Bragg in that he did not renew the fight on Thursday [January 1] before the enemy was reorganized. He says he doubts if Bragg knew what was going on in his front that day, as he always saw him a half mile back of his rear line. While the battle was going on, and men were beginning to see how it was managed – Mr. S.[purlock] said that Col. Savage remarked to him – "This may be good Generalship, but if it is, I can't see it." Bragg has asked, it is rumored, to be transferred to some other regiment – and I am sure that the people would be glad for a change. Some say that he would have been to Chattanooga ere this had it not been for the Tennessee troops who have sworn to his face that they will not leave the homes to the invaders. Bragg is then controlled [by] the army instead of controlling his soldiers. We had a Northern telegram from the Memphis Bulletin in the [ChattanoogaDaily] Rebel of yesterday to the effect that Vicksburg had "surrendered." We do not credit it, because we have intelligence from Jackson that the Yankees were 7 times repulsed from Vicksburg and had all taken to their boats in great haste and left there on the 5th. I do not think the little city would "surrender" – yet it may have been taken, there is no knowing. The terrible cannonading which we heard here on Friday evening a week ago (the 3rd) while poor Cap. Spurlock was being buried was a contest between Breckenridge's corps, and the enemy in front of Murfreesboro. Our men drove the Yankees before them for some time – but the latter being heavily reinforced, our army retreated. I have prayed earnestly that we might be directed in judging what is best for us to did in case the Yankees come in here again. For myself I am of the opinion that they will come in, and that ere very long too, for I have no idea that Bragg intends to hold Tennessee – though in a speech at Winchester a few days ago he declared that such was his intention….

War Journal of Lucy Virginia French.



        11, A Texas Ranger's Account of Longstreet's Offensive on Knoxville

The Rangers in East Tennessee

Farmville, Va. Jan 11th, 1864

Editor Telegraph: During the East Tennessee campaign, which was conducted by Gen. Longstreet in November and December of 1863, there was much of interest transpiring daily, but constant duty and want of mail facilities prevented your correspondent from writing. Now that this arduous work is over and the many perils are numbered among the things that were-now that so little was accomplished, when so great a field was open before us-now that the enemy hold the strongly fortified city of Knoxville, and our army has quietly gone into winter Quarters at Morristown, it may not be uninteresting to follow the Texas Rangers during their meandering through the valley and across the hills and rivers of East Tennessee. One thing, at least, was accomplished, if many others of vital importance were left undone, and that was the dissipation of impressions and the corrections of the opinion deviously formed about the worth of this local tory country. We were all agreeably disappointed in regard to its general appearance, its fertility, cultivation and people. The truth is, we cannot afford to lose East Tennessee. It is a rich granary for supplying our Confederacy with bread, and abounds in stock. It teems with an industrious population. Although in many sections strongly Union, yet in others the people are devoutly Southern. A few leading politicians have deceived the people, and now lead them blindly to do homage to King Abraham. They have no idea beyond "the Union"-that once restored, will prove a panacea for all their ills, and give them peace and prosperity. The never seem to think for a moment of the debasing subjugation which will follow-of the galling yoke which will be bound upon them land their children for years to come. They need instruction in reference to the cause of our war-that that it is for freedom from a dreadful despotism. But, alas! For her deluded people, they have felt in all this horror, the desolation which follows in the track of armies, and, for many years to come, they must toil and sweat, in repairing the legacy which their homes have sustained. Still the end, to them, is not yet. When the cavalry left North Alabama, they crossed mountains, and passing through Northern Georgia, they entered East Tennessee, and were halted in the neighborhood of Cleveland for a few days. Moving from that point, they crossed a large stream at Charleston, on the pontoon bridge, and camped several days at Athens. It was evident from the activity of the E. T& Va. R R. that some important movement was on hand. Cheatham's division was returning from Loudon, while Gen. Longstreet corps was coming up from Bragg's army. We had passed through a very wet period, and now the piercing blast of old Boreas remind us, that winter is not far off with its frost and snow. On the 11th of November we are ordered to move in the direction of Sweet Water. In two days march of some 12 miles, we are in the beautiful regions of Madisonville. In the meantime active preparations are making for the campaign before rations are madding for the campaign, before us. Here the people are wealthy, intelligent and strongly "secesh."

During the last few days the cavalry of the army of Tennessee has been undergoing a new organization preparatory to the winter campaign. C. L. Harrison's Brigade has shared in the [illegible] [illegible] breaking up of old combinations. The First Kentucky, commanded by Col. Butler, and the Fourth Tennessee commanded by L. T. Paul Anderson, who have both been residents of Texas. But had been associated with us so long that we regretted to lose them. They are both gallant regimens, and have done such noble fighting by our side. We know them well-for their many have proven them men of courage, and we would much have preferred them to remain in the brigade. But the idea now seems popular that States shall be brigaded together as far as possible. In their place we have the third Arkansas. It come with a splendid reputation for its fighting qualities, and we all and we all with joy "the Josh"[5] to take part with us hereafter in the struggle against the enemy.

Whilst bivouacking in this torn region, we learn that Hood's old Texas Brigade has borne up and is near Sweet Water. Never yet having had the pleasure of visiting those heroic men whose deeds in many a hard fought battle have made their names precious to their countrymen, I embraced this opportunity. Although the leaden hail which beat upon them with such injury at Chickamauga had still further thinned their ranks already so sadly decimated [?], yet there remained a few familiar faces in "the 4th" whose cordial greetings reminded one of other days. We improved the passing hours in chatting over the chequered past since we have bid adieu to Texans gone to war.

The few brief hours of the night which left us in close companionship with Morpheus, in the hospitable quarters of Major Moses George, Q. M. of the Division. Next morning early the Rev. S. A. Davison the efficient and devoted Chaplain of "the 4th" bid us good-bye, and started for North Alabama and Texas. After a long and laborious experience on the field and hospitals and with great success, it is to be regretted that domestic duties required his resignation, which would remove him from such a wide field of usefulness. But a few mounts we had hope to bring him back. But in a few months we had hope to find him back after [being?] invigorated for his glorious work. Early the sound of martial music indicated that the corps was about to move. Soon they marched towards Philadelphia. It was with much interest the few Rangers present gazed upon the old brigade as it march along under those banners which were riddle by balls, when following the illustrious Stonewall Jackson to many a brilliant victory. We could not drop the tear of regret for the departed hero, when the stirring scenes enacted upon the sod of the Old Dominion has their few living [illegible] passing before us. And there was another guiding spirit, clear and loud, and shouted in the dreadful charge above the cannon's roar, who was no longer leading their columns. Yet a kind Providence has spared his life and he was again able to travel. In token of their confidence in and their love for Gen. Hood, the old Brigade raised over five thousand dollars to purchase an artificial leg, with all the modern improvements, so that he can again be their leader. May he and they be spared to win glory on many a future battle field and yet to rejoice in the many blessings of peace. Texas owes a debt of gratitude to all her sons for the noble heroism which they have displayed through this war, but none have a prouder record that which history will give to General John B. Hood and his immortal Texas brigade.

On the morning of the 13th, we are moving early and passing through Madisonville. Ten miles brings to an Indian creek, where Martin's cavalry crosses over before us. We reached the Little Tennessee river before dark and fed, then forded it at night and pursued our march with but little interruption until day-light, when we were in the vicinity of Maryville, where a regiment of Federal cavalry was encamped. Dibrell's and Harrison's brigades, now commanded by Gen. Frank Armstrong, were ordered to pass around upon the left and gain the rear of the enemy by taking a position on the main road to Knoxville, whilst Martin was to attack them in front. Soon skirmishing is heard briskly in front and we hasten toward to our position and form a line of battle. Just now a heavy rain interrupts our plans. The Federals taking advantage of it, and finding themselves surprised, make a flank movement and sweeping around our left, mostly escape from Maryville. In a few moments firing is heard, and it is a regiment from Woolford's camp, which has come down to find out what is going on but a charge from the 11thTexas drives them back in great confusion, and with some loss in prisoners. The day being intensely disagreeable, after bringing our batteries up and from a good position shelling Woolford's camp which is across a small river and near Rockford, we camp for the night. To-day we had no loss and captured some 70 cavalrymen. Next morning we are again on the move and fording the river, pass through the deserted Yankee camp and on through the little town of Rockford and about one and half mile farther, when we hear firing ahead and are formed into a line of battle. By-and-bye we move forward to our position on a hill seven miles from Knoxville where both our own and the Yankee batteries are in full view.

The advance Division is partly dismounted and thrown forward to skirmish and the cavalry follow closely after, and after for an hour or more we watch with intense interest their movement, until finally the Yankee battery is withdrawn and his cavalry follows. At once our forces take advantage of the movement and press him closely. Thus he skirmishes and retires for several miles. Reaching the top of a hill, the enemy gains a very important position, and it seems very difficult to dislodge him. Our dismounted men advance and he again falls back. Col. Harrison is ordered to bring the Rangers and the 11thTexas to the front. Our regiment is ordered to lead. It is evident a charge is meditated. We move about a mile and a half briskly increasing our speed as we advance, then a few guns are heard and the enemy is near. This fires the whole regiment, and in a few moments the advance guard-the gallant company H –is engaged briskly with the Yankee skirmishers. They are posted in a wood on the left of the road. Our advance dashes among the trees and they are soon dispersed or captured. In the meanwhile the regiment is charging down the road in glorious style after the fleeing Yankees, and forward they go spreading across a field on the left, breaking through the lines of the enemy and driving him in until our course is checked by a body of infantry which is posted behind a fence. From this position they pour a destructive fire upon the Rangers, they returning it until their loads are exhausted. The 11th Texas, being some distance in the rear, came up on the right of the road, but gave us no support on that account, and the remainder of our cavalry being far in the rear, there is no alternative but for the regiment to bring off its wounded and retire slowly with its prisoners, about 75 in all. Meanwhile some of the rangers had charged forward and got within a few yards of their batteries which were now opening upon us with shot and shell. Our advance going up almost to their reserve lines, and within one mile of the city of Knoxville. But this being a strongly fortified position, it defied our little band, and from necessity we fell back and formed in line of battle in the timber, under their artillery, until all the cavalry came up and took a position with us. Capt. W. E. Jarmon commanded the regiment and led the charge, assisted by Capt. Geo. W. Littlefield, the next in command. Both these officers acted with great coolness and gallantry. They have the honor of leading one of the most brilliant and successful charges which the Rangers have ever made. The distance over which we charged-about three miles-and the speed combined to prevent others from participating with us in either the work or the honor. But our loss was serious, and this robbed us of the gratification which follows success. Dan Browning, company K, was instantly killed by a ball piercing his brain. He was a polite and courteous gentleman and a splendid soldier, and when death claimed him as his victim, he was charging boldly up upon the enemy. His body was brought off the field interred by his mess-mates. Among the wounded was Capt. Jeo. C. Lowe, company A, severely in shoulder; Lieut. W. R. Black, company D, severely in thigh; Sergt. W. W. Well, company E, severely, arm; James Pryor, shot badly though toe, and W. Q. E. McAndrew, company G., seriously in the knew; James Gallaher, company H, severely in the shoulder. The wounded were all carried to the rear, several wounds being dressed on the field, and all receiving such attention as their cases demanded – were provided for during the night. We had a number of horses killed and wounded. Holding our position until dark, the entire force, save the pickets was withdrawn several miles and finding forage we camped for the night.

Next morning we return early to the main road, and retrograde movement seems before us. Quietly and sullenly we retraced our steps until reaching Rockford, when heavy cannonading was heard across the river in the direction of Concord. We knew Longstreet had attacked them, and from the range it was evident the Federals were hurriedly falling back towards Knoxville. The whole command is electrified, and our journey is now a continuous jubilee. But again we are made sad because the hand of death has fallen upon one of the Rangers. Scarcely had we passed through Rockford when Sam Grover was killed and J. W. Robb, both of company F, was dangerously shot (twice) through the body. It seems that morning they had started out to press horses, and in an altercation with some citizens of the place, who were also soldiers, the unfortunate occurrence took place. Robb was supposed mortally wounded, at last accounts was improving rapidly. Passing through Maryville, a flourishing and strongly "secesh" town, we headed toward the Holston river. Next morning, passing through Louisville, Armstrong's division went to an upper ford and crossed, whilst Martin's proceeded to one several miles below. To this point we carried the wounded. The river being wide and quite deep, it was found necessary to remove the limber chests from the artillery and carry them over in a skiff and an old rickety canoe. We feared to trust our wounded in the ambulances lest they should be washed down in the current, and spent the day in getting them across on the canoe as opportunity presented. But before dark-not however, without numerous adventures and duckings-the command was safely over. The enemy had not followed in any force, and we were not harried.

Reaching Concord, we learn that Longstreet on yesterday game them a severer chastisement, and drove them back in great confusion toward Knoxville. We are not 14 miles from that city, it is the 18th, and we follow the main Loudon road and within some four miles  of Knoxville, and turning to the left, we follow around in the rear of our infantry, until reaching the Cumberland Gap road at a point two miles from the city, when we form in lime of battle under a hill-Dibrell's brigade, passing still further to the left. We could hear constant firing along the lines, as the infantry was closing up upon the e enemy. Withdrawing after dark, we camp some two miles in the rear. Early next morning, Martin's division goes to the front. When we arrive at 10 o'clock, his cavalry are dismounted and thrown forward in two lines and advance slowly, his right forming a junction with the left of the infantry. The line then united, all advance together towards the enemy. We now are under a hill from whose top Knoxville can be seen. We have also in open view of College Hill and the strong fortifications upon it. At times the cannonading is very heavy. Lt. Poe is ordered to advance with our dismounted men, and feel the enemy with his battery. But his fire revealing his position, the Yankee battery gave him a furious shelling, but without any damage. Being in the rear, however, the two Texas regiments were not in a position by any means pleasant, for the shells came thundering over our heads far too frequently. One falling in the rear rank of the 11th Texas killed one of them instantly. The infantry was now resting upon the river to our right, whilst the cavalry was fast closing up the gap on the left, and we all felt confident that a very few days would compel the surrender of the enemy.

On the 20th, our brigade is ordered to pass around still further to our left. Crossing the E.T.and V. R. R., we reach the Morristown pike, and forming in line of battle, we throw pickets to the front and also across the hills to the river, which now completely invests the city on this side of the river. We can continually hear the firing around the entire lines, with now and then a heavy report from some battery. Going up to the front your are in full view of the fair grounds, and the Yankee cavalrymen along the fortifications. At times the firing here is very brisk. The 11th Texas are on picket, and going up within hailing distance of the Yanks, the compliments which pass between them are neither friendly or elegant in diction. Each salute is answered with the whistling bullet. Ranson's Virginia cavalry arriving this afternoon about dark, our brigade is withdrawn, and we retrace our steps. Nearing the point from which we started, a tremendous fire is visible in Knoxville, which proves to be a number of dwellings on College Hill and the large depot buildings close by. It is rumored that we were to attack the enemy to-night, but it was not done; doubtless this fire, which would have revealed any movement on our part was the hindering cause. The night was cloudy and very dark; withdrawing across the mountains, with great difficulty, we procured forage. To add to our discomfort, a heavy rain began which continued all night. But all this does not prevent [illegible] movement back again to within a half mile of our old position, where we were halted on either side of the road, until the entire cavalry passed by us and proceeded to the front. Wet, cold and hungry-for our bread and meat details had not been regularly sent out:-our daily allowance being gathered up from the country-we were not in the most amiable mood. Just then, General Armstrong, with is escort, accompanied by Col. Harrison, rode up and passing along he was greeted with expressions he did not relish-such as "Here's your bread detail!" &c. Col. H. was much chagrined at this conduct of his Texans, and turning his horse he rode up and down the lines, and in his own peculiar and forcible style, gave a lecture.-Soon an order came for us to dismount and build fires, and for the companies to send out "bread details." But the rain pours down, and there is yet no bread, some having none for two days. We are expected to be on duty from daylight till dark, and then retiring three or four hours for forage, and to secure meat from the country for rations. When there is any delay in sending out bread details-for the wheat has first to be obtained, and then ground, and then baked-it is no unusual thing for rations to fall at the proper time. But the insult of the morning is not forgotten. That night the 11th Texas is sent out on picket, whilst we are dispatched some six or eight miles up the Holston river, in company with the 4th Georgia, which had been late getting to the front in the morning, and must therefore going "on roots" also for the purpose building a raft which should float down had bread the Yankee pontoon at Knoxville. A number of axes were pressed, and briskly did the work of chopping go forward until about 2 A. M., when the logs were all ready for being put in the river; but lo! The patent truth just then flashed upon the minds of the Staff officials, who had the work in charge, that green oak logs would not float. Their hopes were all dashed and their expedition was a failure. Disgusted, worn out, cold and hungry, not even allowed strategical movement, they slept upon the rocks and went ground till morning That day was spent in returning to our starting point, gathering forage and [to] camp. The 23d finds us again moving towards Knoxville. Whilst on the day we are rejoiced to see Major S. P. Christian ride up in fine health and his usual jovial spirits Having recovered from his wound which he received at Farmington, he is ready to take command of the regiment again. He is accompanied by Capt. Ferg Eyle, who has been prevented by sickness from commanding his company. Since our return from the Tennessee raid, we hear rumors of a new movement in some direction, and we patiently await the orders to march. Passing around towards our right, the cavalry takes the Knoxville and Loudon road; traveling until 4 P. M., we stop and feed till 7, when we are off again. The night is clear and frosty: now and a floating cloud throws a shadow upon us. Passing over the late battle-field, the impregnated air give evidences of the bloody strife which had been witnessed, whilst the newly made graves spoke eloquently that our brave number of, perhaps three score. Here within eight miles of that place, and found Martin's command had been in camp during the time; then the whole force moved briskly. Daylight brought us within full view of the enemy, who was strongly fortified on a hill which commands his position, his battery opened upon us, and for several hours shelled our lines-Having the advantage in location, we could do but very little to his injury. Although a portion of our force was dismounted and advanced on foot and skirmished, and our batteries returned the fire, yet we could not carry his position without heavy loss. Gen. Wheeler there fore deemed it advisable to withdraw his entire force after several hours, with the loss of a number killed and wounded Although the Rangers were under heavy shelling a portion of the time, yet all escaped unhurt. It was humiliating that our expedition should thus ingloriously fail, after our long march-especially when the enemy had a force for inferior to our own. But our commanding General-whom all believe incompetent for his important trust, must be responsible, and we can but [doubt?] it. Retracing our steps a few miles, we camp with short rations of forage and bread. Unfortunately, the most of the whet which was bought for or regiment was "[sic]," and the bread being unfit for food has made plenty very sick. It is not dangerous sickness, but very disagreeable, especially does it try the patience of a soldier, who has had no bread for two or three days, to find that all his present rations are of this character. But what is lacking in bread, must be made up in meat, and the hogs are killed promiscuously. Getting a very late start, we travel till four and feed. Seven o'clock finds us saddled up again, and riding till 2 A. M., we are in the vicinity of Knoxville. The night is bitter cold and requires large fires. Thus we have traveled over 60 miles and are back at the starting point, and the enemy left at Kingston, where he may threaten our communications and annoy us greatly. Next day we camp near the Cumberland Gap road, and sending one half the regiment 8 miles for forage the [food?] is consumed.

In the meanwhile, Longstreet is closing in upon the lines of the enemy, until now his troops are under his very guns, so that his gunners cannot show their heads for fear of being picked off. He has thrown a portion across the river, and Hood's Texas Brigade and another of Law's, have crossed and gained important advantage on that side. Buckner will camp tonight with a division, while Gen Ransom-60 miles above-is ordered down with another. The enemy is now entirely surrounded, except along the French Broad. If we can hold our position a few days longer, he must surrender. "The situation" remains unchanged during the next day. Both armies waiting for something to "turn up." In the evening several of our wagons come up for the first time for long days. At 10 a t night, we get orders to draw rations and bake. There is preparatory to hard work. Before day we are off for the old position under the hill, where we stand in line of battle for several hours, meanwhile raining very hard. Being withdrawn from that position, past the camp of last night and moving around the rear of our infantry lines, we direct our course for Armstrong's ferry below Knoxville. Several hours bring us to the banks of the Holston, and a deep ford is before us. "The Josh's" are soon testing the depth, but getting too low down, they are in swimming water, and there is a scramble for [the shore?]. With numerous adventures, however, all are safely over, and the remainder of the brigade follows, and learning from their experience, find a shallow ford. Passing around several miles and resting upon the extreme right of our infantry lines, we are ordered to camp.

We are now with a short distance of our fight two weeks ago. Learning that two regiments had passed down the Maryville road for forage, Col. Harrison requested that he might ambuscade and capture them. This could have been accomplished with a skilful maneuver; but he was not permitted to make the experiment. Pickets were however, thrown out to watch the return of this party. The night was very dark, and we had but fairly got campfires going and our forage, when a report of guns was heard on the road. We saddled at once and retiring behind the fires, we await events. The pickets were also reinforced. Soon all is quiet, only again to be startled by a heavier volley among our pickets. We are at length ordered to return to camp, but not unsaddle. It was very cold and blankets were greatly missed. During the night the foraging party return to Knoxville within hearing our men.-After midnight we hear heavy cannonading and a severe conflict with small arms. Longstreet has attacked the enemy and gained a very important position, with about 103 prisoners, and assault is to open at daylight. Gen Robertson, with the Texas Brigade, on this side, is to open the attack early and furiously, in order to draw the attention of the enemy, whilst Gen. Longstreet is to storm "Fort Saunders," which commands the city. This once in our possession, and the victory is certain. We are confident of success. The infantry on our side of the river is at work by day, and is driving the enemy from his works. We take our position on the right, which brings the cavalry upon our old battle-field. Stealthily did the gallant Texans drive back the enemy in the direction of his main fort, which was in full view before us' and Gen Robertson was making his arrangements to carry it when the proper time should come. Meanwhile Longstreet had a attacked "Fort Sanders;" already had the Gallant Georgians planted their colors upon it, but those who were to support them faltered; the enemy was reinforced and pouring a terrible fire into their ranks from his guns, they were compelled to fall back with heavy slaughter. It was a dreadful struggle for a few moments, but the tide had turned; we had lost our opportunity. We were defeated; and with that defeat perished the ardently cherished hopes of capturing the enemy and his stronghold. Failing here, soon Gen. R. was ordered to withdraw his men and occupy the starting point. Soon, we too did the same. All is not quiet again, and we fear there is something wrong. It is Sunday, the 29th. May this not account for our failure? We [endorse?] the Lord's Day for our assault and are defeated. For it is a universal fact that the party which opens a battle on that sacred day, is universally defeated. The very silence which reigns around us forebodes bad news. We feel it, and the impression is whispered from one to another. Soon we are ordered to advance to the ferry and feed. Here we learn the result of the failure. The Texas Brigade has marching orders at dark. The "11th Texas" is dismounted to relieve their pickets, whist we are ordered to repair to our camp of last night and throw out our pickets to watch the movements of the enemy. During the night the infantry is to cross the river, and before morning our army is to be on the retreat. Bitter disappointment as it is; yet such sees our only alternative.

It is necessitated from our failure on Fort Saunders. News have [sic] been received, too, of Bragg's defeat at Chattanooga. The enemy's cavalry are already on the lines of Rail Road between Knoxville and Chickamauga. Communication with Gen. Bragg has been severed, and Loudon is threatened. A large amount of stores accumulated at Loudon, consisting of flour, beef, provisions, hoots, shoes, clothing, etc., were distributed to the cavalry at that point, until all were bountifully supplied. The remainders are consumed by fire, together with a very heavy mail of two weeks accumulation. Four valuable locomotives and a great number of boxcars, loaded with stores were run into the river; several pieces of artillery which could not be removed, met the same fate, and in a work, everything was destroyed, which could afford "aid and comfort," either to the enemy, or to ourselves. With such a state of affairs in our rear, there seemed no other alternative, although Knoxville is closely invested on nearly every side, and the Federals are greatly restricted in their rations. Five days more, it is said, would have starved them into surrender; but we cannot wait for the event. We expect an order to move during the night, but the morning finds us still in camp, and furthermore brings the glad tiding that our army has not yet changed its base. We remain quietly in camps until 1 P. M., when Lt. Col. Harrison starts with his brigade in the direction of French Broad. Receiving a dispatch on the way, he rights [sic] about, and we take the road leading to the fort. The weather is very cold, and we shrink from the thought of crossing the river again. But dark brings us to the bank and there is no alternative. Especially is it a serious matter, since we cross angling and with the current. To add to our distrust, within a few hours some four or five Georgians have been drowned, but there is no time for soldiers to stand on ceremony. Slowly we move down into the water, and after considerable delay all passed over safely, except a few whose horses had fallen, and they were allowed the privilege of a free bath. Many of the horses were compelled to swim. Once over, we moved in the direction of Knoxville in rear of our lines. At about 9 P.M. find our wagon train and camp nearby in a wood where there was but little fuel, we having no axes. Scarcely were we located, almost frozen and very hungry, when an order came to move again at 12. This seemed too much for endurance-many with frozen clothes upon them, were tired and cold and much complaint was the result. For some cause, soon the order was countermanded, and our brigade was permitted to remain until daylight. Capt. A. S. M. Shannon being left on the other side of the river, with about a dozen of men, within a day or so makes a very successful scout-for which service he is famous-capturing fifteen Yankees, ten horses, six wagons and thirty six mules and harnesses bringing all safely in except the wagons, which he burnt. The cavalry is now commanded by Gen. Martin. Gen. Wheeler having returned to Chattanooga some days ago. Leaving camp, we take our old track around the infantry and advance upon the Cumberland Gap road. The second morning found us near Maynardville. Starting about 3 A. M., before sun up our advance came suddenly upon Yankee pickets, which were driven in. Co. H. was again in the advance. The reserve Yankee stand rallied and charged, when Co. H purposely in great haste to draw the enemy into our lines. Co. F was drawn up across the [illegible] reserve and checked their advance. The shooting in front brought those on the fleetest horses forward and when the Yankees turned they followed in gallant style down the Maynardsville road until they reached a fork leading to the Cumberland Gap, which they followed until it was not safe to venture further. Having already charged them three or four miles, they captured fourteen and were then recalled. The fleetness of the horses of the enemy only saved the whole party from capture. On our return Dibbrell's Brigade passed on in advance, which brought them in conflict with the enemy during the afternoon, but they were not so successful as were the Rangers, for on charging a barn to dislodge some Yankees, their adjutant was killed, their colonel commanding the brigade was severely wounded, together with a dozen others. Our combined force then drove the enemy slowly across Clinch River skirmishing with him all the way. Planting his battery on the opposite bank, he shelled us for some time with no casualty on our part, except a slight wound which ensign Jones of the Rangers received on the head from the fragments of a shell. Slowly riding back to the forks of the road leading to the Cumberland Gap we camped about 10 P. M. much fatigued, hungry and cold. A good deal of "sick bread" unfortunately on hand again, and this adds to our misery. Next morning we're off early stopping at 12 to forage, then return in the direction of Knoxville, but having information that Longstreet had evacuated the place we changed our course for the Mooresville road and camp. The next morning upon reaching that point all doubt is disappeared for we found the infantry was marching along. Our tip had even success. We had information the enemy was [sending?] his cavalry down from Cumberland Gap and threatening us from that point. Making a reconnaissance in that direction, we had driven him back across Clinch River. In reference to affairs below during our absence-"Personne" of the Charleston Courier, writes, "On the [illegible] 21 of Dec. The advance on the Federal cavalry arrived at Loudon. A few hundred Tennesseans under Gen. Vaughn and Col. Rucker, made a brilliant stand, but being overcome by superior numbers we are compelled to retreat and the town once ore fells into federal hands. Our long wagons trains were now [illegible] in motion and on the night of the 21st of Dec. moved around Knoxville, and traveled several miles on the Morristown pike, at which [illegible] and awaited orders. [illegible] or that he would hold on until their arrival. Under these circumstances nothing remained for Gen. Longstreet but to quietly remove his army and transfer his base to a point where he could threaten Knoxville-from the opposite side of town and establish a community soon with Bristol, Lynchburg, and Richmond. Our intention to retreat was not unknown to the enemy at Knoxville and all day Thursday and Friday their pickets would frequently taunt our own with the question: "I say, reb, when do you expect to leave?" There was no attempt to obstruct our movements with the exception of a little more in additional display venom that usual; and the additional fierceness and impudence on the part of the Yankee skirmishers.

Matters remained in this condition until the fight of Friday, the 4thof December. Every thing moveable had preceded the army in the retreat, save the most desperately wounded and sick. These were of necessity left behind, owing to the lack of means for their removal. At a quarter to ten in the evening, the army left its encampment in the following order: Bushrod Johnson in front, nest McLaw's, and in rear Jenkins. Our skirmishers, under Lt. Col. Logan, with the 5th S. C. Regiment, Col. Coward, acting as a reserve, remained until an early hour in the morning, and then quietly filing from the entrenchments, pursued the road taken by the main body. The Federals were so near that we could hear every footfall on the frozen ground; but either the strict silence we had observed or the burning fires deceived them, and no attempt was made to follow. It is now the 4th, and whilst we delay on the road side, the troops pour by us in every possible style. Not a few are barefooted, although the ground is frozen, and to prevent the blood from marking their steps, they wrap their feet with rags, sometimes taken from the coat upon their backs or their blankets. The wagons were drawn by all sorts of teams. Here came a gun to which are yoked two pair of oxen, with a horse and mule in front.-the harness, too, patched up for the occasion. They were cheerful, and passed many a joke with their fellow-soldiers whose good luck it was to belong to the "critter [?] companies" during a retreat. Securing our forage about 4 P. M., we stem the moving mass, and head towards Knoxville. Often times our way is blocked up by the humping wagons. As we pass along and see the desolated country-fences burnt, large barns emptied, and vacant houses-the thought rises that our enemy will surely gain a barren victory. Long after night, we reached once more the old stomping ground, and after long delays in the chilly air-whilst as usual, other brigades are in camp enjoying their good fire-we are moved in the direction of the Morristown pike by the old route. It is very cold, and our march is correspondingly slow. All seems quite along what was once our lines, the last teamsters are making the air resound with their horrible oaths, and soon all that was exultant and hopeful a few days ago, will have bid good-bye to Knoxville. Reaching our position, the pickets are posted for the night, and the remainder go a mile or so to the rear and camp. Wood being scarce, and the keen wind much more violent and frost-laden than usual, there is but little sleep. Early next morning, we obey orders, and slowly fall back 8 miles, until we come into the road along which the main body of infantry has passed. It is our duty to guard the right flank.

Thus, day-by-day we quietly and leisurely moved on until the morning of the ninth. The enemy do not press us on any of the roads. Neither, indeed, have they since we have been in East Tennessee, on any occasion. It is a remarkable retreat in that respect. We are in no hurry to get away; nor they to follow. The infantry are in the neighborhood of Bean's Station, which is some 30 miles from Knoxville. It is now understood that Longstreet will return to Virginia, and Jones' Virginia cavalry will be a sufficient protection and our two Divisions will again return to Georgia. Thus passes away all our bright hopes for the redemption of East Tennessee.

Fording the river, the command train move on to Morristown, 40 miles from Knoxville, thence down the railroad some 8 miles, where we camp for 24 hours. It is now very mild-after dark the second night, whilst the Christian Association is holding a meeting, the bugle calls us to saddle up, and in haste we move in the direction of the Chuckey and French Broad rivers. Sleeping about one hour before day, we are again the saddle, and 10 o'clock finds us near Morristown as when we started. The enemy have followed us across the river, had occupied the place yesterday. Now we are heading for Bull's Gap, through which we might pass across into North Carolina. Our trains had already gone through and awaited our movements, Going into camp among the hills, we remained about 15 hours, during which time it rained tremendously. The brigade, being in the advance, when we are mounted and ready to move, we turn our back upon Bull's Gap, and head in the direction of Morristown. Nearing that place we hear heavy firing across the river towards Bean's Station. It proves to be an attack upon the enemy, who had concentrated there. Longstreet had returned and making the attack, had driven them back several miles towards Knoxville, capturing a number of wagons, some prisoners, and killing the wounding a goodly number of the enemy. His own loss was quite heavy-perhaps 200 killed and wounding a goodly number of the enemy. Passing through Morristown we take the Rutledge road, and camp late at night near the river. In the meanwhile, Lt. Pue is sent forward with his battery to shell the enemy out of the camps across the river and around Turley's Mill. Bravely did he accomplish his work. About 11 o'clock the entire force retreated hastily to Rutledge, carrying along several badly wounded. Here private Press Baker, of company A, who had some months ago been promoted to a Lieutenant in the battery, commanded a section, and nobly did his part in clearing up the ford for us. The next day was spent in crossing the cavalry and batteries. That night Harrison's brigade had the pleasure of coming on the ground occupied by the Yankees, and of enjoying their conveniences. For, although there but one day, they had made preparations for winter quarters. Early in the morning our brigade miles 7 miles to Rutledge, and finds the Yankees on the other side of the town in line of battle. Just before reaching the town we pass the advance of the infantry, which is above us on the Bean Station road. Having taken another route, the remainder of the cavalry are in our rear. Passing through the town, the enemy changes his position, and we charge him in hot chase. Reaching a good position in a corn field, on the right of the road, he forms several lines in full view, and plants his battery in a commanding position. When this opens upon our regiment, which is in the advance, there is a temporary check, but it is only, and we charge up with range, and deliver our fire. The ground not permitting a dash upon his lines, we fall back to a good position, and dismounting skirmishers, threw them out in front and upon his flanks, and force him from his chosen position, when we again pursue him, and thus we follow, skirmishing and pressing him closely during the remainder of the day. In the first charge, Captain Wm. R. James, who was acting Lieut. Colonel, received a painful but not serious wound in the left wrist. Afterwards whilst skirmishing, Lieut. J. G. Dilworth was wounded slightly in the leg, and J. N. Houston, both of company I, slightly in the head, whilst Josh H. Wallace, company N, was very seriously wounded in the abdomen. Both the 11th Texas and 31st Arkansas had several wounded, with the Yanks left 5 dead. The remainder of the cavalry coming up, we were relieved and started in the direction of Buffalo creek for forage and camp. Scarcely had we stopped, after a long ramp through the hills, and eaten our suppers, before a rain began which never ceased until after daylight. Next day the Brigade returns and is in line of battle until late in the evening. At times the enemy shelled us severely, and although killing and wounding a large number of horses, we all miraculously escape. Martin's brigade engaged the enemy heavily over nest to the river. We drove him back some distance, but he stubbornly contests the ground. For several days our's and Dibrell's brigade alternate on picket duty in that valley. The valley being one scene of desolation and ruin for miles.

On the 22d, Gen. Martin received orders to withdraw all his cavalry and cross the river that night. Moving up some 10 miles, all ford safely before day. In the meantime Gen Longstreet has withdrawn his infantry form Bean's Station and crossed at Long's Ferry. He has established his headquarters at Russellville, whilst the infantry are ordered to into winter quarters at Morristown. Gen, Jones Va. Cavalry are still to guard the passes about Bean's Station, whilst Gen. Ransom's brigade is to remain higher up on the same side of the river, and there guarding the roads from Cumberland Gap, thus protecting Longstreet's flank from that point. The enemy also seem to have crossed the river and very soon our front is menaced along Mossy Creek, 12 miles below Morristown. In that direction lies the subsistence which must support both armies. Upon or right is Holston river, but that region is exhausted. Upon our left is Chuckey and French Broad, a region rich in provision and stock. From this section the Yankees have been very active in drawing supplies for Knoxville, and they wish to hold it still. Without access to it, Longstreet cannot subsist his army for any length of time. It becomes, therefore, a struggle for life. On the 24th of December, the Yankees appeared on Mossy Creek in heavy force, bother of cavalry and infantry. Our division was hastened to the front, where they skirmished closely and heavily all day. We drove the enemy about four miles, but with considerable loss in the division. Among the number, Jake S. Godsey, company H, was killed whilst skirmishing. He was one our best fighters and [a] most fearless men. But in a moment of his life is cut short. Christmas morning found all quiet along the lines. Indeed, the Rangers were on short allowance and were not in a fighting mood. The most breakfasted on parched corn, when I left there at 10 o'clock. How changed the fare from Christmases of former years! Thus stood the situation along the front when I left for Bristol. The next day I heard heavy cannonading, but knew nothing of the cause. The probabilities are that the cavalry will have constant work. Thus has closed the great campaign of East Tennessee, which promised such rich results. But still we must hope for more success in the future.-Troops are now being sent forward through this place for that army, as they are not needed now, it just being anticipation of an early and active spring campaign. Several things doubtless operated adversity to our success. When Cheatham's Division was withdrawn it revealed to the enemy our forces, which is said not have exceeded 20,000. Thus when Longstreet has crossed the river the enemy was massed at Lenoir, and there he could have met them in equal number, with a vigorous attack he could doubtless have given them a decisive blow, and captured their immense trains, But he failed to bring on an attack until it was too late for a grand victory. Then after the attack at Concord, where they were badly whipped, and fled in great concentration to Knoxville, he did not press them vigorously, but allowed time to get within their fortifications, and greatly strengthened themselves there, before his arrival. It was certainly a mistake policy to sit down before the place, and by a close investment to starve it out-When they reached Knoxville, we learn the troops were greatly emoraize3d-rally panic stricken. The old 9tharmy corps was but a skeleton, and most of the other troops had never been under fire before, and dreaded the Virginia troops with their fighting reputation. Had a vigorous assault been made at once upon the city, there is no doubt of its success, and with the loss of fewer men at the attack upon Fort Sanders, which caused our withdrawal. Then doubtless his operations have been much retarded during the month of December, from the bad condition of his army, and their distance from supplies. There were doubtless 4,000 men entirely barefooted, and others on nearly so that but little service could be performed. But now the railroad will be completed in a few days to Morristown, and with the supplies already sent forward, and those drawn from the country, that corps will soon be itself again. May the Lord of Hosts watch over their encampment during the winter, and prepare them for the stirring work that shall await them next spring. Truly yours,

R. F. D.

Houston Daily Telegraph, February 24, 1864.[6]


[1] As cited in PQCW.

[2] Telegram not found.

[3] Not only were these men absent, that is, a.w.o.l., but if they knew someone was coming to return them to the army they would run and hide. This along with Brigadier-General Gideon J. Pillow's orders regarding conscription of boys in Bedford County seems to indicate the possibility that there was some anti-Confederate opposition among the Southern population to the war.

[4] See also: MSCC/CWRC.

[5] The meaning of this term is unknown, but may refer to new recruits or novices.

[6] As cited in

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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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