Friday, March 14, 2014

3/14/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

14, "A little more whiskey and a few more blunders, and Tennessee is lost." Confederate difficulties in East Tennessee: failure of the draft law, arming troops and possible crop failure

From the Atlanta Confederacy.


Chattanooga, Tenn., March 14, 1862.

~ ~ ~

The news from the border counties of East Tennessee is rather depressing. In Powell's Valley, one of the most fertile portions of Tennessee, The Lincolnites are all crossing over to Kentucky, through fear of being "drafted" in the Confederate service, while the loyal citizens are removing further South, for fear of the marauding tories from Kentucky and East Tennessee. So that neither party is preparing to raise any crops, and one of the finest portions of Tennessee to be desolated entirely. Let Georgia and other Gulf States understand that they must raise their own supplies this year. Nothing can be expected from Tennessee, as the time for planting is nearly at hand, and with the enemy in our midst we will do well to supply our home market.

The militia law of this State is a signal failure, and is administered with perhaps very little less signal stupidity. The Executive, in his first proclamation, called for all men over the age of sixteen and under sixty, to rally to the standard of their country, while those incapable of bearing arms were exhorted to "stand as pickets to our struggling armies.'-The proclamation concluded by appointing places of rendezvous for the men, and thus ended the first effort to "rally." The militia officers are next appealed to and directed to assemble their commands at their "muster grounds" in order that one fourth of the militia, or as many as could be armed, might be drafted, unless the requisite number should volunteer. This has been followed up by one or two indefinite orders from perhaps two militia Brigadiers in the Eastern Division of the State. And here the matter stands. No one seems to know who the militia are, and I have entirely unable to find a single man who belonged to the "melish."[militia] Now, Tennessee has sixty-three regiments in the field already, and no one who is acquainted with the spirit of our people, doubts the sixty more could be raised if we had arms to place in their hands. The number called for is, I believe, thirty-three. A little more whiskey and a few more blunders, and Tennessee is lost.


Macon Daily Telegraph, March 19, 1862.



14-15, Expedition, Memphis & Charleston Railroad

Report of Maj. Elbridge G. Ricker, Fifth Ohio Cavalry, of expedition against Memphis and Charleston Railroad.

STEAMER DIAMOND, March 15, 1862.

SIR: At 11.30 o'clock p. m., March 14, 1862, with some 400 cavalry, I started to execute your command to destroy the Memphis and Charleston Railroad at a point between Corinth and Iuka. The incessant rains had so swollen the creeks on our line of march that we were compelled to make a circuit of some miles to evade the high water, swimming one, at which we came very near losing 3 men and 2 horses by drowning. At this point we lost all our picks and axes. We pushed forward, the rain falling in torrents. At 4 o'clock a.m., March 15, we reached a creek (name unknown) over which the bridge was afloat. After consultation with the officers it was decided that farther progress would endanger the command, without any possibility of executing your orders. We reached the boat at 11.30 a.m. From all the information I could obtain I am of the opinion there was no force in the vicinity of any importance.

Respectfully, yours,

E. G. RICKER, Maj., Second Battalion Fifth Regt. [sic] Ohio Cavalry.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. I, pp. 28-29.



14, "If we can't have our families protected, what have we to fight for?" Correspondence from a Soldier in Co. A, 32nd Tennessee Regiment in the Tullahoma environs


In camp near Tullahoma, March 14, 1863.

N. O. Wallace, Esq:

Dear Sir – It has been some time since I have had any correspondence with you, and even now, I fear that I shall not be able to interest you or your readers, knowing as I do that you are familiar with what is going on at this point and portion of the army. We have quite a number of men on the sick list at this time, more than I have ever seen at one time since I have been in the service. It is a general thing throughout the entire army here, and I attribute the most of it to living on bread and meat alone, which seems to be all that can be procured, only as our friends send to us from home. We get occasionally a box of luxuries from the friends of soldiers which all highly appreciate, but no one has yet sent us a mess of turnip greens, which is nearly as much prayed for as the recognition of our independence. Yes, if the good ladies would spend one-half the time in preparing vegetables to send the soldiers that they do in preparing nicknacks [sic] we would appreciate them still more highly, though I know what they will say to these remarks. They will say at once that there is no vegetables [sic] in the country. So I will reply to that and say to them that we mean turnip greens when we speak of vegetables. Knowing as we do that there are no potatoes, cabbage, &c. we only ask for roughness. We would not refuse eggs, but be thankful of them. – The soldiers would be glad to get the above mentioned articles at any price. We are aware that there is a set of trifling loafers ranging through almost every neighborhood who consume a great portion of the citizens['] supplies, and that, too, without paying for it, and I will here give my opinion as to what I conceive to be the duty of citizens in regard to the punishment of such thieves as are scouting through the county absent from their commands, and a great portion of them without leave or knowledge of their officers.

In the first place it is the duty of the citizen to find out whether the scamps have authority to be absent from their commands or not; it is your duty to report him to the commander of the nearest post. If he has permission to visit your house to buy any thing and you have the article to spare, sell it to him; if he refuses to pay for it report him. In the very outset get his name, his rank, the command he belongs to, and where the command is stationed. Then if he conducts himself ungentlemanly you can have recourse upon him. Always present your complaints to the commander, in writing with date and place. Some will ask why the writer is meddling with these matters, and as this may be the last time I may write on the subject, I will answer previous to the question being asked. Well what [sic] Because I am interested both directly and indirectly in horse thieving being stopped. Horse stealing is not all; not a week passed over but we hear of some villian [sic] calling at some house and demanding white ladies to prepare a meal of victuals then insulting them if they asked any pay for it. – Such treatment is too intolerable to be suffered, and I again say that it is the duty of all citizens to arrest such soldiers, or rather such thieves. But says one, we have no power; all the power is vested in the military department – but that is not so. The citizens' rights are as much shielded by the law as they ever was [sic], and his evidence in a courtmartial [sic] has to be the same weight as it ever did in a civil court of justice; and I argue that if the citizens do not punish or have such men punished they should be regarded not only as an enemy to our cause but an enemy to humanity. Military law is very strict to punish any soldier for molesting citizens or taking private property. So you citizens have no excuse for suffering such conduct; all you have to do is to prefer the charges and adduce the evidence. If the officer refuses to take action in the case, report him. If we can't have our families protected, what have we to fight for? Space demands me to bring my remarks to a close. Mr. Wallace, please send us a few copies of the Observer, and oblige your friend from Lincoln Co, [sic] Tenn.

A Soldier in Co. A, 32nd Tenn. Regt. [sic]

Fayetteville Observer, March 19, 1863.



14-ca. 21, U. S. C. T. recruiting expedition[1], Sequatchie Valley to Pikeville, Caney Fork to Calfkiller Rivers


Chattanooga, March 10, 1864.

Col. T. J. MORGAN, Cmdg. Fourteenth U. S. Colored Troops:

You will march with your regiment on Monday morning next [14th] on a recruiting expedition. You will march up the Sequatchie Valley to Pikeville, thence to Caney Fork and the Calfkiller Rivers, varying your line of march as you may think best for the accomplishment of the business upon which you set out. You will impress no negroes [sic], but take such as volunteer, and bring them to this place, and add them to the two regiments now being organized at this place. You will take such supplies of provisions as you may think advisable, but encumber yourself with as little transportation as you can make answer. Having finished this duty you will return to your camp at this place.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. D. WHIPPLE, Brig.-Gen. and Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. III, p. 48.



14, 1865 - "Ah I shall remember this evening." A homeward bound discharged Federal soldier's impressions while traveling on a U. S. M. R. R. troop train, Cleveland to Knoxville; an entry from the Arthur Calvin Mellette diary, Co. C, Ninth Indiana Volunteers

Woke up at Cleveland, just before day & got on top of the car to see the country & got on top of car to see the country. Very fertile – poorly cultivated. Plow with one horse for corn. Think I never saw better soil. People seem to be poor. Here is the first part of the South were I have found villages. We pushed through many pretty little places. First place – country where I have seen Union people in the South. They are all out at the doors waving handkerchiefs & cheering. Sometimes we'd see a dozen at one house. Crossed the Tenn [sic] on a bridge at Loudon. The people seem to have the spirit of old Brownlow. Came into Knoxville about 4 o'clock [P.M.] A beautiful place. Larger than I expected. I never saw a more strongly fortified place. Marched us out about two miles at night and ordered us to camp. Ah I shall remember this evening. It commenced raining as we started. I thought I should drop down before we got there. Wasn't long till we had a shelter & were in bed soundly sleeping after a good supper, having had nothing since leaving O[hio] – but hardtack. ByBy M&M [sic]Diary of Arthur Calvin Mellette.[2]


[1] The nomenclature "recruiting expedition" instead of "conscript sweep" is used inasmuch as the orders direct that no Negroes were to be impressed, i.e., conscripted, but taken on a volunteer basis. It would seem that most of the enslaved would find it in their best interests to volunteer.

[2] Gerald W. Wolff and Joanita Kent, eds., The Civil War Diary of Arthur Calvin Mellette, rev. ed. (Watertown, SD: Codington County Society, Inc., Kampeska Heritage Museum, 1983). [Hereinafter cited as: Diary of Arthur Calvin Mellette.]

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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