27, Confederate Political and Social Analysis of Circumstances in East Tennessee
THE CONDITION OF AFFAIRS IN EAST TENNESSEE-THE LEADERS AND THE PEOPLE.
[From an Occasional Correspondent.]
Knoxville, Tenn., March 27
East Tennessee, as a great focal centre of interest, no longer presents attractions to our foes. The vast supplies for our armies that were concentrated here, have been removed to localities in which railroad bridges may not be burned by a hostile, ignorant, and deluded population. Were it not that this railway which connects Virginia with the Southwest penetrates East Tennessee, there would be no inducement for our enemies to invade a district of country whose wealth, with its sources, have been destroyed or removed, and whose people for years past have been systematically misled by the most dangerous men ever born upon the Continent.
The South has never produced three such men so widely different in their tastes, habits of thought, and political opinions as T. A. R. Nelson, Andrew Johnson, and William G. Brownlow. Yet, thus differing each from the other as light from darkness, the three have ever concurred blind devotion to the old Federal Government. Of these three, Andrew Johnson, never deemed the superior of Nelson in point of native intellect, is infinitely the most dangerous man ever born in America. With a strong native intellect rude and uncultured, he is yet a deep schemer; his vault ambition is never baulked by considerations of honest and good faith; he is a merciless murderer and enslaver of his race so long as his own political fortunes may be promoted by the invasion and subjugation of the South. He saw all the leading statesmen of Tennessee slowly and unwillingly forced to abandon their adhesion to the old Government, and then the way was open for the prosecution of his selfish schemes. There was no rival of Andrew Johnson before the ignorant, the debased and deluded-a class that ever held the balance of power between the old Whig and Democratic parties in this State, which for a quarter of a century, voted first and one and then with the other political organization. Andrew Johnson never failed at any time to control this element of the population of Tennessee.
Then, Brownlow, the irrepressible, the violent and energetic parson, the haranguer of mobs in churches and at the hustings, the man who spared not the living nor the dead in his denunciations of all who opposed him this man who, perhaps, by his hatred of Andrew Johnson, became an ultra–pro-slavery oracle of the Methodist Church-he, too, found Unionism so strong an element of popular partisan strength in East Tennessee, that he was forced, in his devotion to Henry Clay, and by his antagonism to the Yancey school of politicians, to co-operate with Andrew Johnson. In accounting for the present abnormal condition of East Tennessee, he reckons without his host, who, in making up the balance sheet, does not enter a heavy debit to the once ubiquitous Brownlow's Whig.
In his secluded home, withdrawn from the popular gaze, in his quiet, unpretending isolation, in a little village of East Tennessee, dwells the accomplished orator, scholar and profound thinker, Thos. A. R. Nelson-an East Tennessean in nothing but his apparel. He, too, was borne along by the irresistible current of Unionism which swept over a district of country secluded from the word-whose people were never conscious, in the midst of their simple pursuits of the numberless wrongs heaped upon the South by those who love nothing in the South, except Southern gold. Nelson is a poet and a dreamer, as well as a statesman and orator. There is not a more indefatigable student in the South than Mr. Nelson, and there is not one who, in all the relations of life, is more faultless and more beloved. His weaknesses "all incline to virtue's side" and his chivalrous spirit has never been questioned. In the by-gone history of partizan contests in East Tennessee, Nelson is the only opponent of Andrew Johnson who never cowered before that coarse bully and blackguard. With the omnipotence of virtue, truth, genius and eloquence, as these are embodied in Thos. A. R. Nelson, Unionism found an adherent who could neither be bought nor driven. He has fixed a point beyond which he will not support the domination of Federal authority. Whenever Abraham Lincoln pronounces the doom of African slavery, Nelson will proclaim himself the supporter of the Confederate Government. From this course nothing can deter him; and having fixed his determination, however absurd we may deem it, he will never change it. He declares himself a loyal Tennesseean, and consequently will not raise his hand against his State, in the war now pending.-Such I am told, are the sayings and opinions of the greatest man in East Tennessee.
I am conscious that, in the midst of a fierce struggle, in which our brethren and kindred have involved their lives and fortunes, it is impossible to regard, with any degree of kindness or even justice, the conduct of those who oppose or stand aloof from us. From such prejudices I have sought to divest myself; and in speaking of East Tennesseeans and of their influence upon the fortunes of the country, I would speak truly of men representing and leading the great body of this people. Such, in my estimations, are the three great exponents of popular sentiment in East Tennessee; and such are the leaders of the "hoi polloi."
We need not be surprised that, with such representative men, the people are "unsound" and it is not astounding that such a people and such influence should have begotten such politicians.
For many years past the Yankees have systematically sent into East Tennessee hordes of New Englanders, of whom an infamous Aminibab Stock, Horace Maynard, is the fit representative. They have sent us, too, thousands of Dutch and Swiss who dwell amid the vine clad hills and in secluded valleys. All these are original Abolitionists. The French element in this imported population alone adheres to the fortunes of the Southern Confederacy. Every iron, copper and coal mine in East Tennessee was a den of Abolitionism.
Are you surprised that railroad bridges were burned? Are you amazed when you learn that excesses are committed even upon peaceable people by organized marauding bands of Secessionist, who nominally belong in the army of the South? It is unnatural that a man should hate most that enemy, who, by all laws of nature and community of interest, should be his staunchest friend? Might we not naturally expect that the breach should be thus daily widened, and that the gulf of hate dug by Johnson and Maynard and Brownlow, would soon become unfathomable?
Such are the causes which have produced, even here, a condition of society which has been changed by no persistent scheme of governmental policy. Neither that degree of severity, which annihilates opposition, nor that mildness which begets friendship, has been adhered to. Gross injustice and violence have been done in some instances, and again a degree of clemency has been exercised, which a hostile population ascribe to the disasters, which of late have befallen our arms. Long before the battle of Fishing Creek, I proposed to have Brownlow's paper resuscitated, and if he be as bad a man as represented, he could have been bought; if not, the anti-slavery pronunciamentos of the Northern President, and of his generals, would have made the Whig redivious, the most potent agency which the Confederate authorities could have employed to promote unanimity of sentiment and fidelity to the Confederacy. It seems, however, that the power of the press, which has created our armies, which keeps alive the spirit of resistance to our deadly enemies, is only acknowledged when the genius and skill of some tyro in military excellence is criticized. Without newspapers we might have a very respectable army of generals and commissioned officers; but they would have no men to lead to victory of death. This fact is not generally recognized among titled gentlemen; and, unfortunately, the influence of the same agency upon a misguided people was not acknowledged by the representatives of our government in East Tennessee. The Register at Knoxville has been admirably and ably conducted, but no follower of Brownlow, of Maynard, not of Andrew Johnson, by reason of old prejudices, believes one work that it contains. I would enquire whether it be now too late to redeem the errors of the past? Major General E. Kirby Smith, commanding in East Tennessee, has adopted the policy which I have ever advocated.
The ignorant, deluded victims of designing men are no longer incarcerated while Johnson and Trigg, and General Carter and Etheridge are revealing in the strongholds of Northern armies, amid the golden glories of treason. Violence suppresses, but does not extinguish treason and the entire population of East Tennessee could easily be made, at least, quiescent spectators of a struggle in which violent men would force them to participate. In this connection, I may state that the recent Proclamation of Governor Harris, which caused this people to believe that every citizen needs must join the army, has induced many an East Tennesseean to retire into Kentucky, and the southern borders of that State a wild, raving ignorant, besotted mob, led by renegade East Tennesseeans, seeks an advent to their homes, from which they deem themselves ruthlessly expelled.
I have thus furnished you with a statement of the condition of things in this military district, as nearly correct as I can give it, within the limits of a single letter. There is nothing stated which at one time or another, has not already been given to the public.
The country may rest assured of one fact; that whatever may be the capacity or ability of Gen. Smith of which I know but little he surely possesses a degree of energy and devotion to duty only equaled by that of Capt. Monsurrat, the present commander of this post. If East Tennessee cannot be redeemed by the agencies which these two men will employ, we may even now surrender it to the domination of that foul-hearted Catiline, whose mobocratric eloquence now echoes from our State Capitol through the mountains and valleys of Tennessee.
Charleston Mercury, April l2, 1862.
27, 1864 – "Sad degeneracy" caused by the war, the opinion from a young woman in Cleveland
A lovely day. The sun arose in resplendent glory this morn, auguring a beautiful Sabbath, but how marred is the terrestrial world, we heard not the clear chimes of the [church] bell peel forth, but in its place we are greeted by the oaths &curses of our fellow men. Sad degeneracy of human nature, caused by war! Two East Tennessee renegades here this morn. If this war was only over. Why are we scourged so bitterly? My conscience answers for our sins. Bitter indeed is the chalice. What will be another year hence? I am in hopes the wheel of time will in its revolution bring peace, but my hopes are very shallow. It seems hardly possible....
Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman, p. 241.
27, "General Orders, No. 17." appointment of Nashville Public Health Officer
Headquarters, U. S. Forces
Nashville, Tenn., March 27, 1864.
I. Pursuant to orders from the Assistant Surgeon General U. S. A., Surgeon L. A. James, 4th O. V. C., is announced as Health Officer for the Post of Nashville. He will be obeyed and respected accordingly,
By order of Brig. Gen. R. S. Granger
Nashville Dispatch, March 30, 1864.
27, Beginning of the restoration of civil rule in West Tennessee, strict limits on Federal army's role
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 40. HDQRS. DIST. OF WEST TENNESSEE, Memphis, Tenn., March 27, 1865.
For the purpose of encouraging the restoration of civil government within this district, and the people to return to their allegiance to the Government of the United States, and to engage in their former avocations of life, it is declared that no aids shall be sent into the country to interfere in any way with the people who are peaceably inclined, except to repel organized forces of the enemy, should any again come within the district. The people of each county are invited to organize civil government in their respective counties, and to establish courts for the dispensing of justice among citizens and the punishment of crimes, and in aid of the civil government so organized it is recommended that a civil posse be organized by the citizens of said counties. On application made and security given by five responsible citizens of any county that no improper use will be made of such privilege, arms and ammunition to a reasonable amount will be permitted to be purchased for the arming of said posses. No horses, mules, or other property will be pressed from any citizens without express authority from these headquarters, and in all cases where it shall become necessary to take private property for public use proper vouchers will be given for the same. All unauthorized foraging is strictly forbidden, and all officers will be held strictly responsible for any infection of this order, and any violation of it will receive the most prompt and severe punishment that military law can inflict. Persons who are engaged in cultivating their plantations and are wanting labor can obtain it by applying to the superintendent of freedmen at Memphis, upon presenting proper vouchers in regard to their character for humanity, and entering into a satisfactory contract with the superintendent to pay and kindly treat laborers so obtained. Refugees whose residence was formerly within this district are encouraged to return to their homes, and any unkind or unjust treatment which they may receive from their neighbors will be promptly atoned for.
By order of Maj. Gen. C. C. Washburn:
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. II, p. 107.
James B. Jones, Jr.
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214