Tuesday, March 18, 2014

3/18/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

18, The New York Times prognosticates on the course of the war in Tennessee

Operations in Tennessee.

When Nashville had fallen, and thereby the rebel centre in Tennessee was pierced, there were but two or three other points of strategic valued in that State for the rebels to defend. Of the first importance were Knoxville, in the eastern part of theState, and Memphis, in the extreme southwestern. The more immediately menaced of these points was Memphis, and to the defence of that place every rebel energy was turned, and every rebel soldier who could be spared was sent. There were but three approaches to Memphis immediately available for our advancing forces. One of these was by the Mississippi River from Cairo; another via the Memphis and Ohio Railroad, for the vicinity of Fort Henry; and the third, but our forces ascending the Tennessee river to the southern line of the State, from thence marching to Corinth, Miss., and there taking the railroad and approaching Memphis in the rear. The first of these routes, that by the Mississippi, the rebels, after being driven from Columbus, proceeded to defend by erecting earthworks at New Madrid, which they mounted with a very large number of guns, and manned by a force eight thousand strong; they also fortified Island No. Ten, a short distance above the former point, stationed a strong body of troops there, and moreover, brought to its defence all the available rebel gunboats on the river, and an iron-clad floating battery; beside these, fortifications were erected at Randolph and other defensible points. To prevent our approach to Memphis from Fort Henry by the Memphis and Ohio Railroad, the rebels held possession of Humboldt on the line of that road, and of the town of Jackson, Madison County, twenty miles north of Humboldt, but on the line of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. The latter position is naturally a good one, and, if properly strengthened, would prevent all approaches to Memphis from the Northeast. Beauregard himself assumed the task of fortifying Jackson and, to make the work still more perfect, he took the counsel of Bragg, who came up from Pensacola to give it, and for other purposes. The other line of approach to Memphis, that by the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, running into the city from the southeast, the rebels guarded by fortifying Corinth, (Miss.,) and by stationing Gen. Sidney Johnston's force at Decatur, (Ala.) – the latter body to enhance the rear of any National force which might ascend the Tennessee River, and from thence attempt to march upon Memphis. These various positions – New Madrid, Number Ten, Humboldt, Jackson and Corinth - formed a grand defensive semi-circle guarding Memphis, and, according to the rebels, blocked our approach in every direction, except by a long march through Arkansas. After having this fortified every route to the menaced town, the rebel newspapers announced its impregnability, and the citizens of Memphis proceeded to work themselves up to a frenzy of terror and apprehension.

The first route to the city we have begun to open is that by the Mississippi. New Madrid, which was the most formidably strengthened position on the river, was assailed in the rear of Gen. Pope last Thursday, and after a day's fighting the rebels fled from it late in the night of that day, leaving an immense amount of ordnance and war material behind them. On Sunday morning last the other of their strongholds in that vicinity, Island No. 10, was opened upon the gunboats of Com. Foote, and though, at the hour of our present writing, we have not yet received news of its fall, it looks as though it could not hold out against the force operating against it. If it should fall (and the announcement of that event may be telegraphed before we go to press,) the Mississippi route will be opened as far down as Randolph, about forty miles above Memphis. That again is a strong position, but from there to that city the defensive works are few and feeble, and we believe that every one of them is at the mercy of our mortar fleet. It is unlikely, however, that we will advance for a few days, any further than No. 10, until forces in another direction are all ready to cooperate.

In regard to the rebel positions on the railroads to the northeast of the city, at Humboldt and Jackson, it looks at present as if Beauregard, Bragg & Co., were not to be directly assailed, but are to be outflanked, as they have lately been at so many other strongholds.

The other route to the city, that by the Tennessee River and the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, is the one, apparently, over which our operations are to be conducted. The telegraph yesterday informed us that a formidable expedition had ascended the Tennessee River as far as Savanna [sic], Hardin County, and had already commenced work in the direction of Memphis. The land forces were commanded by Gen. C. F. Smith, who played such a distinguished part in the siege of Donelson, while under him were such Generals [sic] as McClernand, Wallace, Sherman and Hurlbut, who led to action the veterans of the brief but glorious campaign in Kentucky and Tennessee. On arriving at Savanna [sic], a detachment was at once dispatched to destroy the railroad bridge at Purdy, and to tear up the track of the road which connects Humboldt with Corinth. The gunboats, it was said, then proceeded up the river, probably to clear the way for the advance of our troops to the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. When there, by destroying the railroad behind them, they can prevent pursuit of Sidney Johnston's demoralized mob, while by destroying the railroad which connects Jackson with the Grand Junction, they will isolate Beauregard and Bragg, and leave their forces in a position where they can be captured at our leisure. Memphis itself is probably as well defended as the position of the city all allow; and the railroads converging at it from the Gulf States have been undoubtedly brought up every rebel soldier who could possibly be coerced into service. What force may amount to, it is impossible to say; but taking all things into consideration, we judge that it cannot be over twenty-five or thirty thousand men. If, before we advance, Sidney Johnston and Beauregard, should effect a junction of their commands with the rebels at Memphis, there would undoubtedly be formidable army to defend the city. And it is very likely that, now, seeing our line of approach, they will so concentrate their troops, and at Memphis make a grand final battle for the control of the Mississippi River and the southwest. When we meet this force, if at this point meet it we do, it will doubtless be in conjunction with the mortar-floats operating upon the city from the river; and, if these floats now achieve a victory at No. 10, the day of decisive action in the Mississippi Valley cannot be for many days delayed.

New York Times, March 18, 1862.


18, Arrest of juvenile thieves in Memphis

Juvenile Thieves.—Four girls, the eldest not more than twelve or thirteen years of age, were yesterday afternoon arrested on the landing, each having a sack partially filled with rice, which they had stolen from a tierce, the head of which they had contrived partially to remove. One of them said her mother had sent her out with orders that she must get something. If such things are done from poverty, means should be adopted for relief; if from vice, it must be repressed.

Memphis Daily Appeal, March 18, 1862.



        18, "By Grape-Vine and Otherwise"

Gov. Harris is at present a denizen of Tullahoma. He occupies a little white cottage on the out skirts of town, where he received his friends in the truest simplicity of style. His apartment will compare favorably with the 'poet's chamber; described by Goldsmith-albeit an occupant of a different figures. It is a well known fact that he is as generally popular in the army, as he is respected by the Generals. Only a day or two ago, I heard of a distinguished officer in command of a department, having expressed the opinion that the dispatches, letter, &c., transmitted by Gov. Harris to Richmond, evince a clearer military sagacity than those of any one connected with the army of the West. Concerning the lodgings of the Governor, let us hope to see him in his older and more appropriate ones in the Nashville State Capitol before a great while.

Chattanooga Daily Rebel, March 18, 1863.



18, Confederate cavalry hunts Scott County bushwhackers [see also February 7, 1863.]

We proceeded toward Elk Fork. We came to the place where bushwhackers fired on Col. McKenzie, myself and others on Feb. 7th, and our company left the column and ascended the mountain in two detachments, thinking that we would surround the "whackers" and capture them. We saw some of them on the mountain top before we left the road, but evidently they suspected the maneuver we were on, although we tried hard to keep our movements concealed from them. We reached the top of the mountain some distance on each side of the point where they were seen, and closed in on the spot, but the game was not there. These whackers are hard to catch, as the mountain are rough, and they are well acquainted with every foot of ground.

We burnt the house, which proved to be a bushwhacker's lodge, and moved on after the regiment, but have not overtaken it to night.

Diary of William A. Sloan, March 18, 1863.



18, Dog tents; an excerpt from the diary of Colonel John Beatty

My brigade is till at work on the fortifications [at Murfreesboro]. They are, however, nearly completed.

Shelter tents were issued to our division to-day. We are still using the larger tent; but it is evidently the intention to leave these behind when we move. Last fall the shelter tents were used for a time by the Pioneer Brigade. They are so small that a man can not stand up in them. The boys were then very bitter in condemnation of them, and called them dog tents and dog pens. Almost every one of these tents was marked in a way to indicate the unfavorable opinion which they boys entertained of them, and in riding through the company quarters of the Pioneer Brigade, the eye would fall on inscriptions of this sort:


General Rosecrans and staff, while riding by one day, were greeted with a tremendous bow-wow. The boys were on their hands and knees, stretching their heads out of the ends of the tents, barking furiously at the passing cavalcade. The general laughed heartily, and promised them better accommodations.

* * * *

Beatty, Citizen Soldier, pp. 231-232.



18, "Relief Meeting;" assisting war refugees in Nashville

In pursuance to a previous call, a number of prominent citizens of Tennessee assembled at the office of the Secretary of State at ten o'clock yesterday morning, and organized by the election of Hon. David T. Patterson, President, and John M. Gant, Secretary.

The President announced the object of the meeting to be, to devise some means for the relief of those families who have been driven from their homes by the devastations of the war, and are temporarily residing in this division of the State. After a short time spent in mutual consultation, the Hon. Horace Maynard Offered the following resolution which was unanimously adopted:

Resolved [sic] That the President, Secretary Jos. S. Fowler, Gen. Alvin C. Gillem, H. Maynard, J.R. Dullin, S.C. Mercer, and J. M. Hinton, be a committee to receive clothing, provisions, money, and other means for the benefit of the many refugees now in this vicinity and constantly arriving; and see that the same are properly disbursed; also to provide temporary shelter and employment for such as are destitute in respect to either.

After the adoption of a resolution requesting the city papers to publish these proceedings, the meeting adjourned.

David T. Patterson, Pres't.

John M. Gaut, Sec'y.

Nashville Dispatch, March 18, 1864.


18, "Our City Fathers Brought Up at Last;" General S. A. Hurlbut censures Memphis municipal government for failure to take action on crime and sanitation

A called meeting of our very worthy Board of Mayor and Aldermen was held at their usual place of gathering, under the persuasive request of General Hurlbut, who appeared among them and stirred up their stagnant intellects in a quiet, genteel manner. The first subject he touched upon was one which has become so common that people who have business in the streets at night expect to get robbed any how, and make up their minds for it. The General said that garroting and robbery were growing up as recognized institutions, and he would request the refulgent Fathers to throw the scathing glances of their beaming countenances upon such practices and scorch them like dried chaff. The sly look which he cast around the room convinced him that there was more than one warming-pan phiz[1] [sic], and the suggestion of the scorching process was, we think, peculiarly happy. The next point he alluded to was one upon which the press has rung the changes so often that it began to despair of anything being done until pestilence had made its appearance in the city. So little did Hurlbut think of the removal of dead animals-a task which has hitherto been considered herculean [sic]-that he intimated pretty plainly that if our rulers could not accomplish this duty, he thought he could find those who were capable of performing the work. Some of the Alderman attempted to get up the usual fuss of regulations and ordinances, but that hard headed old worthy, [Alderman] Mulholland, told them that there was a great [illegible] many ordinances which are dead letters, and they should put in force what they had already on the minute-book. The [remarks?] of the General were so far repeated as to have a committee appointed drawn from each ward to device a plan for the proper carrying out of this work, and [most likely?] some [means for providing for the levy of] taxation [?] [to enhance the] sanitation and salutary medical [?] [conditions for?] Memphis' people can present their plan on Saturday night [?], at three o'clock.[2]

Memphis Bulletin, March 18, 1864.


General Hurlbut made a speech to the Common Council of Memphis on the 17th, in which he threatened that if they did not clean the city he would stoop the collection of taxes and do the work himself….

Pittsfield Sun, March 24, 1864.



18, Skirmish at Livingston[3]

No circumstantial reports filed.

[1] Probably slang for "physic," or laxative.

[2] Parts of this article are illegible.

[3] It is said that the Overton County Courthouse was burned to the ground on this date, possibly as a result of this skirmish, but the OR has no report or correspondence to verify the claim. The most highly regarded work on Tennessee Courthouses, Tennessee Taproots: Courthouses in Tennessee (Old Hickory, TN: Earle-Shields Publishers, 1976) does not mention the story. Neither does the book's bibliography give a hint as to where such information comes from. Albert W. Schroeder, Jr., ed., "Writings of a Tennessee Unionist," THQ, Vol. IX, September 1950, No. 3, pp. 245-272, December 1950, No. 4, pp. 344-361, likewise sheds no light on the topic. Perhaps the burning of the courthouse was not associated with the March 18, 1865 skirmish at Livingston. The National Register file for the Overton County courthouse claims a John Frances, a Rebel guerrilla leader, led a force that burned the courthouse in April 1865, yet no source is given for the claim. 

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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