Sunday, March 9, 2014

3/9/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        9, Nashville Correspondence relative to Confederate climate of opinion prior to and during the fall of Nashville

Letter from Nashville, Tennessee. We are permitted to publish the following extracts from a letter to Mrs. Joshua Abbot, of this city, from her daughter, Mrs. William Kelsey, who has lived several years in Nashville, Tennessee:

Edgefield (near Nashville) March 9, 1862.

My dear M-----: How shall I ever be able to express the various emotions that fill my heart, now that I am again permitted to write to you. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and praise him for his deliverance. He has carried us thus far through many sore trials. – Our lives have been spared, though enemies have surrounded us – those who have openly declared they would burn our houses, and some even have said they would be glad to see W---- hung. W-----has been reported to a vigilance committee several times, and if they could have turned us out of door, they would have gladly done so, but here we are yet, and surrounded by soldiers of the Federal Army. But let me go back. Three weeks ago last Sabbath, Johnston's rebel army passed here, in retreat from Bowling Green – thousands of poor, broken-down, scared creatures. Many of them were in rags and half starved. Some of them with whom I talked said their pursuers were right at their heels. For twelve hours the streamed by our door, some stopping to beg victuals, then hurrying on in their flight, expecting to find Nashville fortified so that it might be a place of refuge for them. But there were no forts or reinforcements there, so through the city they went, as fast as legs could carry them, and off to the South.

The next morning those very men that have been at the head of the rebellion in Nashville were missing; among them were four Methodist ministers, agents of the great publishing house. They were of the hottest sort of Secesh, and have left their fine houses and go to parts unknown. [emphasis added] All the week after the surrender of Fort Donelson, the authorities were pressing men to work, taking them from their homes. They got W-----one day, and he had to carry bacon all day through a drenching rain. The next day an order was issued from the rebel government that every man who could bear arms should come out and fight for the South. W----- went to the woods and stayed all one day; the next day word came that houses would be searched. That night was one of much anxiety to us, for they would not spare us; the Union men would be hunted down, and we had been among the first who dared proclaim their true sentiments. A friend proposed to W----- to take a trip down the river, and I almost compelled him to go, as I knew he would then be safe for a short time. The next morning we heard horsemen riding by very early, and L----- dressed herself as quickly as she could, took her little Union flag, and ran down to the gate. Some men were riding past, and she said to them, "Are you Yankees?" "Yes, right from Yankeedom." She waved her flag, at which the seemed greatly delighted. They were pickets in advance of Buell's army. We soon had them in to breakfast, and were relieved of all our troubles, for they were friends such as we had not seen for a long time. W----- came home the day after, and found a house full of soldiers. He was just beside himself with joy.

I should have that before our Union friends came, General Floyd ordered the two bridges between Nashville and us to be destroyed. This has nearly ruined this place. It was a fiendish act, and has already made many Union men here. It is a great loss to the citizens. The army gets along well enough, for they have many boats for crossing.

There is no business going on here; very few stores are open, and hardly anything doing. The manufacture of soldiers' clothes kept many families from starving during the winter, but that has stopped, and now what will become of them? You will hardly believe what high prices we have had to pay for everything. Calico, 50 cents per yard; cotton thread, 20 cents per spool; unbleached shirting, 25 cents per yard; four, $10 per barrel; lard, 25 cents per pound; pork, 18 cents per pound; potatoes and apples, $4 each per barrel; salt, $18 per barrel; coffee, $1 per pound; tea, $4 per pound; butter, 48 cents per pound; but I can never tell one half of the miseries brought upon Tennessee by those who have ruled us. The heel of the oppressor is now moved, and I hope we may never be crushed beneath it again.

New Hampshire Statesman, April 5, 1862.[1]



        9, Skirmish between bushwhackers and Confederate cavalry at Smokey Creek in Scott County

We left Brimstone last night and crossed the mountain toward New River. Arrived at New River this morning.

A party under Capt. Rheagan was sent out to day to make an excursion up Smokey [sic] Creek. They did not advance far up the creek until they were fired on by a party of bushwhackers, of which Rheagan claimed to have counted 24. Several rounds were exchanged before the enemy was repulsed, which was unusual stubbornness for bushwhackers, as they usually fire one round and then run. Rheagan's party numbered 23 men. I will say here that all of Scot [sic] County and a great deal of contiguous territory, both in Tennessee and Kentucky, is a solid bed of rugged and precipitous mountains, cut and gashed in all directions with deep ravines, and all having rushing streams of water in them. Most of the inhabitants live along these streams, though some live high up on the mountains. The roads along these streams are often more trails, and the mountain bordering the streams are often so steep and craggy that bushwhackers can conceal themselves in good rifle range of a road and fire into a column of cavalry with perfect impunity, as it would often require one hour of hard climbing on foot to reach them, and by that time they are as fleet-footed as a deer. If they had the courage and discipline of soldiers they would be hard to conquer, but that is where they are lacking. The crack of a gun seems to inspire them with an irresistible inclination to run.

Diary of William A. Sloan, March 9, 1863.



        9, Apprehension of Northern Interlopers Dominating Post-War Tennessee


The Nashville (Tenn.) Union, a paper which advocates the most "radical" doctrines in the matter of slavery, and zealously co-operates with the President's plan of "re-construction" in Tennessee, expresses the opinion that there is nothing to discourage the friends of the Government in the spirit manifested by the people of that State. On the contrary, there is much that is encouraging. In taking the oath of amnesty required by the President as a condition of their pardon for participation in the rebellion, they manifest both sincerity and alacrity. They are endeavoring, in good faith, our contemporary says, to accomplish their part of a proffered contract and, if the President makes good his promise of restoration to rights of property, the best result maybe anticipated. It is sincerely trusted by the friends of the Government in Tennessee that there will be no disappointment in the matter, and they will deeply deplore any which may be construed into a want of good faith in the premises.

Among the causes of solicitude the "Union" recognized the presence in Tennessee of a intrusive and meddlesome population who have recently entered the State in the train of our armies, and have while doing a thriving business as sutlers, commercial agents, army contractors &c., are also apt to claim a monopoly of all the "loyalty" that is found or to be found in Tennessee. As those disinterested and self-sacrificing patriots have their congeners in other parts of the country, we give this description of that class which has its habitat in Tennessee, as described your Nashville contemporary. It says:

["]There is a rising party-or a party which is endeavoring to rise, and which will rise, if noise and impertinence can work elevation-to which we would fain believe the Government intends to give no encouragement. They have no country of their own, except Bedlam, and are forever canting about the extermination of our people, and the colonization of the country with persons like themselves. They are doubtless sincere in all they say, and would prefer that the Government should pursue such a policy as they may indicate. They would like to do all the voting, as they now endeavor to do all of the talking; for they would like to vote themselves and their tools not yet imported into all the offices. They pretend to huzzah for the President, yet they are unwilling the people of the State should return in good faith to their allegiance under his proclamation of amnesty, because that might break up the monopoly of loyalty. Loyalty being greatly diffused, by a restoration of the Government, might not be quite so lucrative. To the minds of these zealous persons, the Government has been exceedingly remiss in the matter of confiscation. They would like, no doubt, to see the absolute alienation of real estate and that conducted in a manner so rapid that each of them could buy a farm for little more than a fair per diem to the auctioneer who sells it. When the military authorities have dispensed with the use of such houses as are now found in needful in the city of Nashville, nothing would better please the pluperfect zealots than to have them put up at action to sold only to such bidders as would take an oath of their prescription. They would see to it that the oath had something in it which no honest man could swallow, and thus exclude all bidders but themselves. Our Government has righteously invaded the houses under insurrectionary rule with a conquering army. The conquests of that army have glorified our flag, and even the nation increased reputation with the civilized world. Let us not encourage a disgraceful social invasion of Jacobins and Bedlamites to follow in the rear of our soldiers, and blot the page of their-well-earned fane."

Daily National lntelligencer,(Washington, DC) March 9, 1864. [2]



        9, 1864 - Return of the prodigal house servant in Bolivar

* * * *

....Lettie has returned this morning early. Sister and myself were talking about her and wondering where she was this bitter cold morning. We looked out of the window when who should we see but Lettie walking half frozen with her pappy [sic] behind her. After getting her in the kitchen, he stepped out and got a stick or rather a good sized limb with twigs or something of the sort, all over it, called her out into the yard and gave her the most severe beating I ever [gave] in all my life (nearly eighteen years) [sic] saw. With all that and the sympathizing looks of every body [sic], she doesn't seem at all subdued. What a hardened wretch to be sure....

Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.



[2] TSL&A, 19th CN.

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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