Tuesday, January 7, 2014

1/7/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        7, Excerpts from Governor Isham G. Harris' Legislative Message dwelling on slavery as a justification for secession

January 7, 1861


The ninth section of the third article of the Constitution provides that, on extraordinary occasions, the Governor may convene the General Assembly. Believing the emergency contemplated, to exist at this time, I have called you together. In welcoming you to the capitol of the State, I can but regret the gloomy auspices under which we meet. Grave and momentous issues have arisen, which, to an unprecedented degree, agitate the public mind and imperil the perpetuity of the Government.

The systematic, wanton, and long continued agitation of the slavery question, with the actual and threatened aggressions of the Northern States and a portion of their people, upon the well-defined constitutions rights of the Southern citizen; the rapid growth and increase, in all elements of power, of a purely sectional party, whose bond of union is uncompromising hostility to the rights and institutions of the fifteen Southern states, have produced a crisis…resulting already in the withdrawal from the Confederacy of the sovereignties which compose it, while others are rapidly preparing to move in the same direction….

* * * *

A brief review of the history of the past is necessary to a proper understanding of the issues presented for your consideration.

* * * *

The Constitution distinctly recognizes property in slaves – makes it the duty of the States to deliver the fugitive to his owner, but contains no grant of power to the Federal Government to interfere with this species of property, except 'the power couples with the duty,' common to all civil Government, to protect the rights of property, as well as those of life and liberty….

* * * *

….there is no power on earth which can rightfully determine whether slavery shall or shall not exist within the limits of any State, except the people thereof acting in their highest sovereign capacity.

* * * *

The attempt of the Northern people, through the instrumentality of the Federal Government….to appropriate the whole of the Territories, which are the common property of all the people of all the States, to themselves…by excluding there from every Southern man who is unwilling to liver under a government which may by law recognize the free negro as his equal…is justly regarded by the people of the Southern States as a gross and palpable violation of the spirit and obvious meaning of the compact of Union….

* * * *

As slavery receded from the north, it was followed by the most violent and fanatical opposition. At first the anti-slavery cloud…was no larger than a man's hand….Weak, diminutive and contemptible as was this party….it has now grown to colossal proportions….and elected one of its leaders to the Presidency of the United States; and in the progress of events, the Senate and Supreme Court must also soon pass into the hands of this party – a party upon whose revolutionary banner is inscribed 'No more slave State, no more slave Territory, no return of the fugitive to his master' – an 'irrepressible conflict' between the Free and Slave States; 'and whether it be long or short, peaceful or bloody, the struggle shall go on, until the sun shall not rise upon a master or set upon a slave..'

Nor is this all; it seeks to appropriate to itself, and to exclude the slaveholder from the territory acquired by the common blood and treasure of all the States….

* * * *

[This abolitionist party] has caused the murder of owners in pursuit of their fugitive slaved, and shielded the murders from punishment.

It has, upon many occasions, sent its emissaries into the Southern States to corrupt our slaves; induce them to run off, or excite them to insurrection.

It has run off slave property by means of the 'underground railroad,' amounting in value to millions of dollars….

It has, by the John Brown and Montgomery[1] raids, invaded sovereign States and murdered peaceable citizens.

It has justified and 'exalted to the highest honors of admiration, the horrid murders, arsons, and rapine of the John Brown raid, and has canonized the felons as saints and martyrs.'

It has burned the town, poisoned the cattle, and conspired with the slaves to depopulate Northern Texas.

It has, through certain leaders, proclaimed to the slaves the terrible motto, 'Alarm to the sleep, fire to the dwellings, poison to the food and water of slaveholders.'

* * * *

It has, in the person of the President elect, asserted the equality of the black with the white race.

* * * *

….Moreover, they have quietly submitted to a revenue system which indirectly, but certainly, taxes the products of slave labor some fifty or sixty millions of dollars annually, to increase the manufacturing profits of those who have thus persistently and wickedly assailed them.

* * * *

With the earnest hope that your session may be short and agreeable, and devoutly trusting that an All Wise Providence may watch over your deliberations and guide and direct you in the adoption of such measures as will rebound to the general welfare, peace, prosperity, and glory of our State and country, the questions, fraught as they are with weighty responsibilities and fearfully important consequences, are respectfully committed to your hands.

Isham G. Harris.

White, Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, Vol. 5, pp. 255-269.



        7, Clandestine loyalty to the Union in Nashville

The Union Feeling in Nashville. - The following letter was found in Fort Henry after the battle:

Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 7, 1862.

Dear Son: - I received your always welcome letter yesterday, and I am going to answer it speedily. I received your package containing $300 of C. S. scrip, for which I am very grateful. I am glad that you are doing well and that you are well, but I tremble when I think of you being engaged in this torrid war. Henry, my son, I can but feel the South is in the wrong. We may console ourselves with whatever belief we chose, the U. S. is bound to subdue us. General McClellan has and is exercising great generalship. I fear that soon a movement will be made that will crush us out. Henry, I know you must think as I do. I wish you would resign, and we will move North. No one here suspects my Union proclivities. I am obliged, for the sake of your mother and sisters, to talk and be a secessionist; but I say to you, what I said when you were at home, I do not believe that Northern men desire the ruin of the South. A great interest is felt here as regards your position (Fort Henry); if that is taken, the South is surely conquered. You can see this as well as others.

Destroy this letter, as it may get you into trouble.

Your affectionate father.

Hartford Courant, February 28, 1862.[2]



        7, Southern disenchantment with the results of the Battle of Stones River


On Sunday night the Atlanta train brought some glowing accounts from Tennessee. According to these, a second grand battle had taken place on Friday, and the enemy, driven into rapid retreat towards Nashville, made their last stand at Lavergne, where, after a furious onslaught, they were routed so tumultuously that our cavalry fore in their rear had to clear a passage for them, or it would have been run over as by a herd of buffaloes. They were fleeing in terror and disorder to Nashville. So said the report. But when we came to hunt up the documents, they read as will be noticed in the column of telegrams, by which it will be seen that, up to the night of the 3d, the enemy were in three miles of their late position and [illelgible]. It is said, in private circles, that our telegrams are in error, and do not correspond with public dispatches which have gone through; but we are informed the official dispatches now go over the Knoxville route, and do not reach here at all. Meanwhile, as the line is reported "down" between Atlanta and Chattanooga, it is doubtful whether we shall receive any later news for this edition. Have patience and it will work out all right.

The reader will smile to see that the retreat of our skirmishers upon the main body before the battle has been telegraphed to the North as a victory, and they were having a high time over it. So it happened that on New Years' day North and South alike were rejoicing over a victory at Murfreesboro.'!

Macon Daily Telegraph, January 7, 1863.



        7, Report on Carter's Raid in East Tennessee

Glorious News from East Tennessee.

Towards the last of December the brave Col. Carter, of east Tennessee, who was with General Granger's division moving through Kentucky, was sent on a raid in to East Tennessee to destroy railroad bridges and play havoc generally. He took with him his Tennessee refugee regiments and some cavalry forces, and has not been heard from since until now and through rebel sources. Colonel carter appears to have executed his mission of destruction successfully, and that he did it [with] a will may well be supposed, for himself and comrades have a terrible account to settle with their rebel oppressors.

Lynchburg, Va., papers of the 1st contain the particulars of a serious breach in the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, made by a body of Federal troops who penetrated Tennessee 90 miles through Pound Gap, burning important bridges over the Holston and Watauga rivers-one at Zollicoffer near Bristol, and the other at Watauga, nine miles beyond. Two hundred rebel cavalry guarding the former were captured. The Lynchburg Republican says it take several weeks to repair the damages, at a time when the road is taxed to its utmost capacity.

Daily Cleveland (OH) Herald, January 7, 1863.



        7, 1864 -  An excerpt from the journal of Amanda McDowell

....The Yankees are said to be at Sparta yet. I wonder what makes us say Yankees. There are very few Yankees among them.

Diary of Amanda McDowell.



        7, The Gardener's Discovery, or, Civil War Archaeology in Chattanooga

"Discovery at Chattanooga, Opening of an Indian Mound. "

Interesting Discovery at Chattanooga

Opening of an Indian Mound.

[From the Chattanooga Gazette]

In the Sanitary Garden on the bank of the river above town, a curious discovery has just [been] made by the gentleman in charge of the Sanitary Commission's agency at this place. At the entrance of the garden is a large mound, similar to many to be found scattered through parts of Georgia and Alabama. These structures are quite numerous through those sections, as well as in Ohio, and to some extent in Indiana, but arte scarce and uncommon through Tennessee and Kentucky.

There are many different theories as to the builders of these mounds, and the uses for which they were intended. Antiquarians seem unable to decide at what time they were erected, but the generally received opinion is that they are at least three, or perhaps four thousand years old, and were intended for burial places for the chiefs of rulers of the tribes or nations which inhabited the country at that time. Many of the mounds have been opened, and in almost every instance bodies have been found buried in them, thus giving some basis to the supposition that they were used for burial places.

This supposition has received confirmatory proof in the present instance. M. M. C. Reed, the agent of the Sanitary Commission, who is in charge of the gardens, has kindly furnished us with the following facts in regard to it:

During the past summer, the gardener at the grounds erected a little building for quarters for himself, on the top of the mound, which is a regular oval in shave, being eighty four feet by forty six feet, and twenty-five feed high. Wishing to prepare a place in which to secure his roots and seeds for preservation from the frost till next spring, the gardener commenced digging a tunnel into the side of the mound; after proceeding a short distance he found that the mound was composed of successive layers of earth.

Each layer seemed to have been prepared by burning large fires on it for some length of time, thus baking it perfectly hard and solid. Fifteen feet from the entrance of the tunnel and working party came upon what where evidently the remains of a palisade of large timbers, which probably had encircled the whole mound when it was first erected. Just inside of these palisades they found the remains of three full-grown skeletons. A curious circumstance connected with these skeletons is to be bound in the fact that all three of the skulls bear evidence of having been broken before burial. When found the upper jaws were in such a position that no other interference can be adopted. It is well known that among the tribes who built and used these mounds the custom prevailed of killing and burying a number of men of the tribe with each chief on his demise. Proceeding a few feet further the operator dug a tunnel to the right, but after going a few yards, and making no new discoveries, they returned to the main one. He then dug about twenty feet further, and reached the centre of the mound. Here the most interesting and valuable discoveries have been made. The first thing observed was a row of holes, twenty in number, that were probably the cavities in which a row of posts had been placed. These had wholly decayed, but in the holes were found pieces of wood, which crumbled at the touch. From the position of the posts, which were about four inches in diameter and six inches apart, they would have enclosed a square space of about eight feet in diameter. In the centre of this space, what is believed to be the centre of the mound, were found the skeletons of a woman and the remains of the skeletons of three children. The woman had been burried [sic] in a sitting posture, and the body had fallen forward on the knees. Under these remains-two feet below them-were found the remains of a man, evidently those of the chief of the tribe for whose burial place the mound had been erected.

The bones of the skeleton crumbled on being handled upon being handled, but the teeth remained perfect, and all who have seen them pronounce them the most beautiful they have ever seen.

No further discoveries have been made at present, but the search will be prosecuted until the mound is thoroughly explored, and we will lay all the items of interest that may occur during the work before our readers.

On the top and sides of the mound large trees have been growing for hundreds of years. In front and a short distance from the mound, are the marks and remains of what must have been pottery. The ground is strewn with pieces of burned and wrought clay, and many fragments of potters and pieces of the same kind of pottery, are to found scattered though the mound.

It is supposed that the first mound palisade extends around the entire circumference of the mound, and that the bodies of the followers killed on the death of the chief will be found buried all round the base of it. Unless such proves to be the case, the finding of the three bodies at the entrance to the tunnel will be the more remarkable.

New Orleans Times, January 7, 1865.

[1] According to Herbert Aptheker, American Negro Slave Rebellions, 50th Anniversary Edition, p. 357, a plot to start a slave rebellion was discovered in Montgomery, Alabama. 25 slaves and 4 whites were executed. Aptheker cites the Montgomery, Alabama Advertiser, December 13 [1860?]

[2] Thanks for this citation go to Mr. Fred Prouty, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wars Commission, 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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