Friday, February 7, 2014

2/6/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

February 6-10, 1862 -  Pursuit of Confederate steamers by U. S. N.

U. S. N. Lt. S. Ledyard Phelps, pursued Confederate steamers destroying Confederate stores on the Tennessee River subsequent to the fall of Fort Henry. U. S. S. Lexington,Tyler, and Conastoga.

Report of Lieutenant S.L. Phelps, to Flag-Officer A.H. Foote, U. S. N., relative to naval operations on the Tennessee River, February 6-10, 1862:

Soon after the surrender of Fort Henry, on the 6th, I proceeded...up the Tennessee River with the Tyler, Lieutenant Commanding Gwin; Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, and this vessel (Conestoga), forming a division of the flotilla, and arrived after dark at the railroad crossing, 25 miles above the fort, having on the way destroyed a small amount of camp equipage, abandoned by the fleeing rebels. The draw of the bridge was found closed and the machinery for turning it disabled. About 1 ½ miles above, were several rebel transport streamers escaping upstream. A party was landed in one hour I had the satisfaction to see the draw open. The Tyler being the slowest of the gunboats, Lieutenant Commanding Gwin landed a force to destroy a portion of the railroad track and to secure such military stores as might be found, while I directed Lieutenant Commanding Shirk to follow me with all speed in chase of the fleeing boats. In five hours this boat succeeded in forcing three rebels to abandon and burn three of their boats, loaded with military stores. The first one fired (Samuel Orr) had on board a quantity of submarine batteries, which very soon exploded; the second one was freighted with power, cannon shot, grape, balls, etc. Fearing an explosion from the fired boats (there were two together), I had stopped at a distance of 1,000 yards; but even there our skylights were broken by the concussion; the light upper deck was raised bodily, doors were forced open, and locks fastenings everywhere broken.

The whole river for half a mile around about was completely beaten up by the falling fragments and the shower of shot, grape, balls, etc. The house of a reported Union man was blown to pieces, and it is suspected there was design in landing the boats in front of the doomed home. The Lexingtonhaving fallen astern, and without a pilot on board, I concluded to wait for both of the boats to come up. Joined by them we proceeded up the river...Gwin had destroyed some of the trestlework at the end of the bridge, burning with them a lot of camp equipage. I.N. Brown, formerly a lieutenant in the Navy, now signing himself "Lieutenant, C. S.N.," had fled with such precipitation as to leave his papers behind. These Lieutenant Commanding Gwin brought away and I send them to you, as they give an Official history of the rebel floating preparations on the Mississippi, Cumberland, and Tennessee. "Lieutenant" Brown had charge of the construction of gunboats. At night on the 7th we arrived at a landing in Harding County, Tenn., known as Cerro Gordo, where we found the steamer Eastport being converted to a gunboat. Armed boats' crews were immediately sent on board and search made for means of destruction that might have been devised. She had been scuttled and the suction pipes broken. These leaks were soon stopped. A number of rifle shots were fired at our vessels, but a couple of shells dispersed the rebels. On examination I found that there were large quantities of timber and lumber prepared for fitting up the Eastport; that the vessel itself, some 280 feet long, was in excellent condition and already half finished; considerable of the plating designed for her was lying on the bank and everything at hand to complete here. I therefore directed Lieutenant Commanding Gwin to remain with the Tyler to guard the prize, and to load the lumber...while the Lexington and Conestoga should proceed still higher up.

Soon after daylight on the 8th we passed Eastport, Miss, and at Chickasaw, farther up, near the State line, seized two steamers, the Sallie Wood and Muscle....We then proceeded...entering...Alabama and ascending to...the foot of the Mussel Shoals....Some shots were fired from the opposite side of river below....

* * * *

We returned on the night of the 8th to where the Easport lay [Cerro Gordo]. The crew of the Tyler had already gotten on board of the prizes an immense amount of lumber....The crews of the three boats set to work to finish the undertaking, and we have brought away probably 250,000 feet of the best quantity of ship and building lumber, all the iron, machinery, spikes, plating, nails...belong to the rebel gunboat, and I caused the mill to be destroyed where the lumber had been sawed.

Lieutenant Commanding Gwin in our absence had enlisted some 25 Tennesseans, who gave information of the encampment of Colonel Crews' rebel regiment, at Savannah, Tenn. A portion of the 600 or 700 men were known to be "pressed" men, and all were badly armed....I determined to make a land attack upon the encampment. Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, with 30 riflemen, came on board the Conestoga, leaving his vessel to guard the Easport....Gwin took command of this force when landed, but had the mortification to find the camp deserted. The rebels had fled at 1 o'clock in the night....The gunboats were then dropped down to a point where arms gathered under the rebel "press law" had been stored, and an armed party under Second Master Goudy, of the Tyler, succeeded in seizing about 70 rifles and fowling pieces. Returning to Cerro Gordo, we took the Eastport, Sallie Wood, andMuscle in tow, and came down the river to the railroad crossing. TheMuscle sprung a lead, and all efforts failed to prevent her sinking, and we were forced to abandon her, and with her a considerable quantity of fine lumber. We are having trouble in getting through the draw of the bridges here.

I now come to the, to me, the most interesting portion of this report....We have met with the most gratifying proofs of loyalty everywhere across Tennessee....Men, women, and children several times gathered in crowds of hundreds, shouted their welcome and hailed their national flag with enthusiasm there was no mistaking. It was genuine and heartfelt. Those people braved everything to go to the river bank, where a sight of their flag might once more be enjoyed, and they had experienced, as they related, every possible form of persecution. Tears flowed freely down the cheeks of men as well as of women, and there were those who had fought under the stars and stripes at Moultrie, who, in this matter testified to their joy. This display of feeling and sense of gladness at our success...I would not have failed to witness....In Tennessee the people generally in their enthusiasm braved secessionists and spoke their views freely...We were told, too, "Bring us a small organized force with arms and ammunition for us, and we can maintain our position and put down rebellion in our midst." There were, it is true, whole communities who, on our approach, fled to the woods, but these were where there was less of the loyal element and where the fleeing steamers in advance had spread tales of our coming with firebrand, burning destroying, ravishing, and plundering.

S.L. Phelps, Lieutenant Commanding, U. S. Navy

Navy OR, Ser. I, Vol. 22, pp. 571-574.[1]



        6, Newspaper column opinion concerning chances for the success of the Confederacy, written from winter camp in Tullahoma[2]:

"Does the strength of the South consist alone in bone, flesh, thews, sinews and muscle? If so, our cause then is surely hopeless, for beyond question the North out measures us in point of weight and bulk. Our superiority consists in the morale, [sic] the animus. Is this not the creation of intelligence? The Northern people submit tamely to usurpation, but at its first noiseless, stealthy approach the Southern spirit starts like a panther. The difference intelligence and training accounts for this. Why cripple them the medium of supply for this peculiar strength of the South? Could the redoubted warriors, breathing fire along the corridors of the capitol see the throng of ragged soldiers pressing eagerly around the news office at this place daily, for a paper, perhaps a change would come over the spirit of their dreams. These poorly clad soldiers, 'foot sore and weary,' are perhaps [sic] as sincerely devoted to the cause as these sweet-smelling 'Conscript Fathers.' Are the people to be blindfolded in the midst of a revolution when all is at stake? Baron Munchausen tells us of a blind sow he saw...that grasped her pig's tale [sic] with her teeth and was in this manner led from place to place. Do our friends at Richmond require this of us?"[3]

Chattanooga Daily Rebel, February 10, 1863.



6, Confederate Conscription Circular in East Tennessee

Headquarters Department E. Tennessee

Knoxville, February 6th, 1863


The following Circular is published for the benefit of all concerned:


Adjutant and Inspector General's Office

Richmond, Jan. 8, 1863.

Sir: - Your attention is called to the great necessity that now exists for strengthening exertions in securing men to fill up the various commands of the army in a reasonable time. You are, therefore, desired to detail from you command such suitable officers and men as can be spared, to proceed at once to those sections of country in which their regiments were raised, for the purpose of gathering conscripts and conducting them to their commands, without passing them through camps of instruction in the ordinary manner. Every encouragement will be offered by the officers thus detailed consistent with the law and regulations of the service; and by kind treatment and argument, addressed to the patriotism and sense of duty of citizens to induce them to enter the service of their country. Such persons as are liable to conscription will be allowed to join any particular company and regiment requiring recruits within the command in which the officer may be serving. In like manner, such persons as are within conscript ages, and who may come forward and offer themselves for service will be allowed to volunteer, and will receive all benefits which are secured by law to volunteers. Recruits thus obtained, however, must, in all cases, enter companies already in service, and not be organized into new companies or regiments. The officers and men, detailed by this authority, will be governed generally by the acts of conscription and exemption and the regulations in connexion therewith, published in General Orders No. 82 of 1862 from this office. Copies of this order will be furnished to parties interested in this circular, on application to this office.

Officers sent for the purpose of gathering conscripts are instructed to apprehend all stragglers from the army in their reach.

Very respectfully,

Your ob't. servant

S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General

By order of the Secretary of War

Lt. Col. E. D. Blake, commandant of Conscripts

In order to carry out the spirit of the above Circular and to avoid any action on the part of the recruiting officers in East Tennessee, which many interfere with a rigid enforcement of the Conscript law, all officers now recruiting in East Tennessee will report immediately to Lt. Col. E. D. Blake, Commandant of Conscripts at Knoxville, and receive from him such instruction, not inconsistent with General Orders No. 82, Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, Richmond, November 3, 1862, as may be calculated to promote the interests of the recruiting service.

By command of

Brig. Gen. H. Heth.

James Benagh, Capt. and A. A. G.

Chattanooga Daily Rebel, February 12, 1863.



6,"Small Pox"

We regret to say that this dreaded disease is still on the increase, and that the main cause of its spreading, which we pointed out a month ago, is still unattended to, except that an order has been published requiring that cases be reported, which might as well never have been issued, except so far as it relates to the military. A week or more ago we called the attention of the authorities to the fact that houses of ill-fame on College street and Criddle street contained cases of small-pox, and that soldiers frequented these houses in large numbers, day and night; and we told them also that hospital employes or inmates of hospitals frequented these places. It is to be wondered at, then that one hundred and thirty-seven soldiers[sic] were attacked with this disease during the past month, in this city alone. So far as the contrabands are concerned, what has been done to prevent its spread among them? Anything? If there has, we are not aware of it. And what is the consequence? A rapid increase, from 76 in November to 219 in January, besides large numbers are not in [the] hospital.

That the public may judge for themselves concerning the spread of this disease during the past three months, we give below the official report of the Surgeon in charge as to the number of patients admitted in Hospital No. 11, during that time:

Admitted                        Nov.                       Dec.            Jan


Soldiers         .........……....47....... ……..86... …..  137

Contraband                ........173……..…..                .219


                                          146............ 325.....…….... 443

This report presents an alarming appearance, and ought to attract the attention of all in authority. In the early part of December [1863], Mr. Spencer Chandler presented a report to the City Council, making some sensible suggestions, and urging immediate action. The report was referred to the Pest House Committee, but nothing whatever has been done. Almost every street in the city in infected, almost every negro [sic] den has its patient, and yet we hear of no measures for its amelioration-no active, vigorous measures, such as should be put forth for the prevention of its further spreading.

The following is the Pest House report for the month of January:

No. in hospital as per last report                                      349

Since admitted-citizens........………………...........           87

 " "  soldiers...........……………………….….….............137

 "  "  contrabands.................…………………………. …443


Total number treated...................................………. ……792

Discharged...............................................….………   ….107

Died............................................…..............………   ….114

Escaped........................................................……    ….2-223

Remaining in hospital................................………  …   559 [4]


The following buildings are now used as small-pox hospitals and surgeons' quarters: Dr. Watson's house, Langdon's, Beech's, Ed. Smith's, two houses belonging to Whiteman, the old Pest House on the river, and the Bostick house on the Charlotte Pike, as headquarters. J. B. McFerrin's house, in Edgefield, is also used as a pest-house.

Nashville Dispatch, February 6, 1864.



6, Affair at Corn's Farm, Franklin County

FEBRUARY 6, 1865.-Affair at Corn's Farm, Franklin County, Tenn.

Report of Capt. William H. Lewis, Forty-second Missouri Infantry.

HDQRS. IN THE FIELD, Hillsborough, Tenn., February 6, 1865.

SIR: I have the honor to report the capture of 3 horses and bridles, 3 gum blankets, 2 pairs of saddle-bags filled with clothes, 1 revolver, 1 Mississippi rifle, besides the killing of John Raigan at Jack Corn's farm in Franklin County 12 miles from Hillsborough, by Lieut. Haines, of Company K, Forty-second Missouri Infantry Volunteers. At 12 p. m. last night I received information of Perdham and two of his men at Corn's. The lieutenant with three of my men and three of the Hillsborough Home Guards went in pursuit. At Strickland's he dismounted and proceeded to Corn's house. On account of the family stubbornly opposing his sleeping in the house, Perdham went to the barn and all three went to sleep. The lieutenant, in approaching the barn, frightened Perdham's hoses, which aroused Perdham and Stearns, who dashed off barefooted and without coats or hats, and made their escape, but Raigan was shot before he got out of his nest.

WILLIAM H. LEWIS, Capt., Cmdg. Scout in Field.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. I, p. 34.

[1] See also: OR, Ser. I, Vol. 7, pp. 153-156.

[2] Writing his column for the Chattanooga Daily Rebel (which would be printed on February 10), correspondent "MINT JULEP" described winter camp as "dull as a Sunday evening at a country crossroads." Soldiers spent their time mostly in playing cards, while enterprising local boys sold pies for fifty cents each. "Many an aching void is filled by the simple process of investing fifty cents and the snub-nosed cherub without a tear or farewell, rings his 'Here's your pies!' in other beats. The treadmill routine grinds slowly on." "Mint Julep" was not so happy with the current direction of the war.

[3] "MINT JULEP" might have continued, but as he had noted, it was against Confederate Army regulations for soldiers to speak negatively about Confederate Congressmen.

[4] The apparent accounting errors are inexplicable.

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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