24, Report on the desecration of Federal graves in Franklin
Camp Maynard, Near Nashville, June 24, 1862.
Editor of the Union: The communication of S. P. Hildreth, of Franklin, on the subject of the desecration of the graves of Union soldiers, in the cemetery of that place, published in our issue of the 21st inst., imposes upon me the unpleasant duty of saying something on that subject. It would, perhaps, have been as well to have let the matter pass into oblivion; but, as Mr. H., who was in no wise implicated, has paraded himself, or allowed others to present him before the public as the champion of the offending parties, has revived it in such a manner as to cast reflections upon my veracity, a full disclosure of the facts must be made.
Never having seen the comments of the Louisville Journal, I can give no opinion of their justice.
On the 1st of May, in obedience to an order from General Dumont, I stationed detachments of the 69th Regt., O. V. I., at five different points on the line between Nashville and Columbia, and established my headquarters in a grove near Franklin. On the 9th of that month my Sergeant major, who is a gentleman of unimpeached character for truth, and whose statement is annexed, reported to me that the graves of Union soldiers had been rudely trampled upon and desecrated. I immediately ordered him to detail a sufficient number of men for the purpose, and dress up and sod the graves, which order he reported to me on the next day he had executed. On the same day I learned through another source, which I know is entirely reliable, that females were seen in the cemetery ornamenting the graves of rebel soldiers with beautiful shells and flowers, and at the same time dancing or playing merrily around and over the mortal remains of Union soldiers. This information naturally excited my indignation—my wrath.
On Saturday, the 10th, with a view to the safety of my command and a more efficient discharge of its duties, I marched my men into the town, took possession of the Court-house, unfurled the old flag, and made my headquarters there. In the evening I addressed the citizens in the Court room, briefly informing them what I purposed doing and what I expected them to do. I referred, perhaps with some severity, to the conduct of the females and the desecration of the graves as a damning disgrace to any community upon whom the light of civilization had dawned. I emphatically notified them that a recurrence of such a breach of propriety should not take place, and that we would consider it quite as honorable to shed our blood in defending the sanctity of the grave of the humblest Union soldier as in upholding our flag on the field of battle.
The next morning Mr. McEwen, who pretends to be Mayor of Franklin, called on me and stated that he and others had just been out to see the graves, and they found no evidences that they had been disturbed. Mr. Hildreth says that he and hundreds of others likewise went to see if my statements were true, and found that not a single grave had been trod on, thus presenting me, Mr. Editor, before your readers and the public as the defamer of the reputations of the good women of Franklin. That these gentlemen found the graves in good condition on Sunday morning is quite true, because it was on the day before that Sergeant-Major Halstead and the men detailed, had dressed them up, and it was on the previous Friday that the misconduct of the female was witnessed. The names of the offending parties were furnished me, but as they were "indiscreet misses in their teens," and daughters of respectable parents, I did not disclose them.
Mr. Hildreth never exchanged words with me on the subject, and as he professed to be a loyal Union man, I am unable to shield the guilty parties from the just odium which attaches to their behavior by perverting the facts and falsely representing me as the assailant of female character. He also charges that I promised to visit the graves, "but never went." This I pronounce a palpable lie, whether it emanated from the Mayor or Mr. Hildreth; and I use the epithet with a full understanding of the responsibilities which the "fire-eating chivalry of Dixie" attach to it. I did visit the graves often whilst stationed at Franklin—attended the burials of my unfortunate men who were stricken with disease and death, as the troops stationed there will bear testimony.
It is with no degree of pleasure that I feel constrained to expose the improprieties of women, but as Mr. Hildreth and others whose mouth-piece he had been made, have sought to cover up the grossest improprieties at the expense of my character for truth, the exposure must be made. It is proper, however, to say that it would be most unjust to hold all the secessionists of Franklin responsible for the misconduct. Many of them, I know, would heartily condemn it.
The effort of Mr. Hildreth to create the impression that there was no bitterness of feeling exhibited by the females of Franklin toward the Union soldiers is simply ridiculous. It was notorious that, with few exceptions, they demonstrated the most intense hatred and contempt towards all who were in favor of the Union. Some were exceedingly kind, especially to the sick, but all with perhaps the single exception of Mrs. John Marshall, (whose benevolence will be gratefully remembered,) were outspoken Union ladies.
Lewis D. Campbell, Col. 69th Reg't O. V. I.
On the 9th day of May last, when the 69th Regiment was encamped near Franklin, I was in town and walked out to the graveyard where some Union and some Secesh soldiers have been buried. The graves of the Secesh soldiers were finely decorated, boquettes [sic] were strewn upon them, and young ladies were standing near conversing about "their graves." The graves of the Union soldiers had never been beautified in any way, on the contrary, stakes were pierced in them (one had four stakes stuck in the top and sides) and brickbats and stones were thrown upon them in such manner that their sharp, angular outlines protruded and looked ugly. The stakes were part of old fence rails with but two or three exceptions, and were from two to three feet in length. I there and then pulled them up and threw them in the road. I then cleared up the brickbats and stones, and threw them in the road and smoothed up the desecrated graves. I then repaired to camp and reported the facts to Colo. Campbell. He directed that I should detail men next morning to fix up, and sod the graves. The next morning, May 10th, the graves were rounded up and put in condition for sodding (two men then sodded over) and that same night, Col. Campbell, informed the citizens publicly, that such outrages should not be again committed with impunity.
Benton Halstead, Sertg. Maj. 69th Regiment.
Nashville Daily Union, June 25, 1862.
24, Skirmish near Bradyville
No circumstantial reports filed.
Excerpt from the Report of Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden, U. S. Army, commanding Twenty-first Army Corps during the Middle Tennessee or Tullahoma Campaign, June 23, July 7; relative to the skirmish at Bradyville, June 24, 1863.
HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST ARMY CORPS, ADJT. GEN.'S OFFICE, Manchester, Tenn., July 13, 1863.
SIR: In obedience to orders received at Murfreesborough on Wednesday, June 24, 1863, at 2.15 a. m., I marched on the same morning for Lumley's Stand, by the way of Bradyville, with Maj.-Gen. Palmer's and Brig.-Gen. Wood's divisions. Gen. Van Cleve, with his division, remained at Murfreesborough to garrison the fort. Just beyond Bradyville, in Gillies' Gap, we encountered a small force of the enemy's cavalry, who were driven so easily as to cause no delay. Gen. Palmer, who was in the advance, lost 1 man killed and 1 wounded at this place.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. I, p. 525.
24, Skirmish at Christiana
No circumstantial reports filed.
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, FOURTEENTH ARMY CORPS, DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, In Camp, Manchester, Tenn., June 28, 1863.
COL.: In accordance with orders of this date, I have the honor to submit the following summary of the operations of my division during the past five days:
By direction of Maj. Gen. G. Granger, commanding Reserve Corps, I advanced from Triune, Tenn., at 9 a. m. on Tuesday, June 23, 1863, by the Nolensville pike, to within 1 mile of Harpeth River, and thence striking across to the Manchester pike, by way of Winslow's Camp Ground, I arrived at Salem at 6 p. m., and encamped for the night.
At 7 a. m. Wednesday, June 24, I advanced of the Twentieth Army Corps. I remained at Christiana until relieved, in turn, by Gen. Baird's division of the Reserve Corps, when I advanced 2 miles in the direction of Millersburg, and encamped for the night on Ross' farm, at Henry's Creek. At Christiana my pickets encountered those of the rebels, and kept up a brisk skirmish during my stay at that point, the rebels occasionally bringing a 6-pounder gun to bear upon us, without, however, doing us any injury.
On Thursday, June 25, I was relived from duty with the Reserve Corps, and ordered to report to the corps proper of the division. I, however, remained at the Ross farm, at the request of Gen. McCook, commanding on my immediate left, until 11 a. m. that day, when I advanced to Hoover's Mill and encamped for the night.
During the 24th and 25th it rained incessantly, rendering the dirt roads over which I was frequently obliged to travel exceedingly difficult for the passage of artillery and wagons. I, however, succeeded in bringing my train through with comparatively little damage.
On Friday, June 26, I reported, according to orders, to Maj.-Gen. Rousseau, and, in conjunction with his division, effected the passage of Hoover's Gap (an Official report of the action attending which I have already forwarded), and encamped that night on the south side of Scott's Branch of Garrison Creek.
On Saturday, June 27, I advanced to Manchester, via Fairfield, striking the Manchester pike at Powell's farm, and encamped there, under the direction of the major-general commanding the corps.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. BRANNAN, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg. Division.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. I, p. 420.
24, Skirmish at Manchester
Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee.
24, Skirmish at Big Spring Branch
No circumstantial reports filed.
Excerpt from the Report of Col. John T. Wilder, Seventeenth Indiana Infantry, commanding First Brigade, during the Middle Tennessee Campaign, June 23-July 7, 1863, relative to the skirmish at Big Spring Branch, June 24, 1863.
HDQRS. 1ST BRIGADE, 4TH DIVISION, 14TH ARMY CORPS, Camp near Duck River Bridge, July 11, 1863.
MAJ.: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my command in the late movements, resulting in driving the rebel forces under Gen. Bragg south across the Tennessee River:
On the morning of June 24, 1863, at 3 o'clock, my command moved from camp, 6 miles north from Murfreesborough, and taking the advance of the Fourteenth Army Corps, on the Manchester pike moved forward to Big Spring Branch, 7 miles from Murfreesborough. Here my scouts gave notice of the proximity of rebel pickets. The command was halted until the infantry closed up, when we immediately moved forward, the Seventy-second Indiana, Col. Miller, being in advance, with five companies, under Lieut.-Col. Kirkpatrick, thrown out as an advance guard, and a party of 25 scouts, of the Seventeenth and Seventy-second, as an extreme advance guard. One mile from the creek we came upon the rebel pickets, who opened fire on the advance, which was returned by our men, driving the rebels to a hill thickly covered with cedars, where the rebel reserves were drawn up under cover of the hill, and opened a rapid fire upon our men, who advanced rapidly to the foot of the hill, when Col. Kirkpatrick deployed one company on each side of the road, and, without halting, drove the rebels from their position, capturing 2 prisoners, without loss on our part. I directed the advance to push speedily forward and take possession of Hoover's Gap, and, if possible, to prevent the enemy from occupying their fortifications, which I learned were situated at a narrow point of the gap, 16 miles from Murfreesborough.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. I, p. 457.
24, The case of George A. Williams, concerning the administration of the military prison in Memphis
JUDGE-ADVOCATE-GEN.'S OFFICE, June 24, 1864.
His Excellency the PRESIDENT:
In the case of George A. Williams, late captain, First U. S. Infantry, referred to this office, the following report is respectfully submitted:
This is an application made by him for the rescission of the order by which he was summarily dismissed.
From the papers examined it appears that Capt. Williams was on duty as provost-marshal at Memphis, and as such in charge of the military prison and hospital in that city.
According to a report of inspection made to Col. Hardie by Lieut. Col. John F. Marsh, Twenty-fourth Regt. [sic] Veteran Reserve Corps, under date of April 28, 1864, the prison which is used for the detention of citizens, prisoners of war on their way to the North, and U. S. soldiers awaiting trial, and which is located in a large block of stores, is represented as the filthiest place the inspector ever saw occupied by human beings. The report proceeds thus:
The whole management and government of the prisoners could not be worse. Discipline and order are unknown. Food sufficient, but badly served. In a dark, wet cellar I found twenty-eight prisoners chained to a wet floor, where they had been constantly confined, many of them for several months, one since November 16, 1863, and are not for a moment released, even to relieve the calls of nature. With a single exception these men have had no trial.
The hospital is described as having a shiftless appearance and the guard dirty and inefficient. It is also that there was no book or memorandum showing the disposition of the prison fund.
It would seem, though the fact is not directly stated, that upon this report the Secretary of War ordered the dismissal of Capt. Williams. A telegraphic order was sent May 7 to Maj.-Gen. Washburn, commanding District of West Tennessee, dismissing Williams for, as he says, excessive cruelty to prisoners and gross neglect for duty. Upon received thereof he applied for a board to examine into the charges. A commission was accordingly appointed by Maj.-Gen. Washburn, composed of three officers, who were directed to inspect the prison thoroughly and report at length. They found it to consist of three stories, the ground floors having gratings and being used respectively for Federal, Confederate, and citizen prisoners. The front room on the second floor of the middle tier is used for the office, and immediately in its rear is the room used for female prisoners, which is without ventilation or light, badly policed, bed and clothing directly, and everything in confusion. Visitors are permitted to hold conversation with prisoners freely. The quarters of the prison guard are in disorder and badly policed; rations cooked and eaten in the same room, and the place absolutely filthy. The officer's prison, second story, south tier, has no ventilation; the utensils in the cooking department dirty, though the officers' cook-room, in good condition; laundry and colored female prison, and colored hospital, said to contain a wagon load of dirt; a patient sick and bed with pneumonia, with a ball and chain on; chain-gang room in basement dark, cold, damp, and filled with disgusting odors.
The report proceeds with much minuteness to detail the cases of prisoners. This portion not being susceptible of condensation, a reference to the copy thereof herewith is respectfully invited. The general tenor of the report is decidedly against the administration of affairs, and shows that, through inadvertence, neglect, or want of time, many cases of hardship and injustice appear to have existed, while the sanitary police of the establishment seems to have been wretchedly inefficient.
The report concludes as follows:
The building is unfit for the purpose for which it is used. Great improvements have been made in it during the administration of Capt. Williams, all of which will more fully and at large appear in the report of Capt. Williams, which is hereunto annexed and made part of this record.
Capt. Williams laid before the commission a statement setting forth a history of his connection with the prison and endeavoring to show that his management thereof had been an improvement upon that of his predecessor; that the defective ventilation was solely the fault of the construction of the building; that the guards were changed so often that he could not make them efficient; that the delays attending the administration of justice were attributable to the insufficient number of officers assigned to the duty of examining the cases, and that he had made every exertion to discharge the duties devolved upon his position. He submitted also the certificate of the superintendent of general hospitals, who considered the hospital in good order and the prison as well conducted as circumstances admitted.
In submitting his case to the President this officer says that he graduated at West Point in 1852 and has never before been under charges, and that he can refer to Lieut.-Gen. Grant and Maj.-Gen. Sherman as to his character. He files the following:
First. A testimonial from Maj.-Gen. Hurlbut, who says:
Capt. George A. Williams, First U. S. Infantry, assumed the duty of provost-marshal at Memphis at my request. For a long time and until my removal he reported daily to me and confidentially. I know, therefore, his duties and the manner in which he has performed them, and I affirm from such knowledge that his place in that department cannot be filled so far as I know by any other officer. I know him to be of the highest courage, physical and moral, no respecter of persons or positions in the line of his duty, of incorruptible integrity and of zealous honor. Inaccessible to bribes, he is equally so to those blandishments which sometimes succeed. Neither man nor woman can turn him from his duty. He believes rebellion a crime, and traitors criminals, in which I concur. His administration at Memphis has satisfied all loyal men, and has given umbrage only to the host of plunderers and thieves and their allies.
He is charged, I am told, with cruelty to prisoners and with neglect of the Irving Prison.
The first is untrue, I am well assured, or complaint would have reached me. As to the second, that building is and has been in as good order as such a building can be. It is not a permanent prison; it is a temporary landing house for criminals, and it is almost an impossibility to enforce upon them personal cleanliness.
There has been but little sickness and few deaths in the prison.
No greater detriment can, in my judgment, occur to the administration of affairs in Memphis than the removal of Capt. Williams.
Second. A letter from Maj.-Gen. Washburn, who says that in his opinion the War Department has acted hastily and harshly; that the duties of Capt. Williams have been most arduous; that with the exception of this matter he is free from the slightest imputation, and that the abuses which have grown up were due to subordinates, it being impossible for him personally to attend to all details.
Third. A letter from Lieut.-Col. Harris, assistant adjutant-general, Sixteenth Corps, who pronounces Capt. Williams' record, both as commissary of musters and provost-marshal, clear and unimpeachable.
Fourth. A testimonial signed by a large number of persons purporting to be loyal citizens and business men of Memphis, who express the opinion that the justice, firmness, and courtesy of Capt. Williams have won for him the confidence of the community.
Fifth. A letter from S. Gilbert, formerly captain, Second Iowa Cavalry, and now lieutenant-colonel First Mississippi Mounted Rifles, who from a personal acquaintance of three years warmly indorses Capt. Williams as one of the most gallant and efficient officers in the service.
Sixth. A note from Brig. Gen. R. P. Buckland, commanding District of Memphis, bearing testimony to the able and faithful manner in which Capt. Williams has discharged his official duties.
Seventh. A letter from Capt. M. L. Perkins, judge-advocate, District of West Tennessee, and who was a member of the investigating commission before referred to, expressing his conviction that he had been prejudiced against Capt. Williams, and that, in fact, Capt. Williams has acted promptly, honestly, and for the best interests of the service.
Eighth. The transcript of the account of savings and expenditures of the prison fund exhibiting total receipts from December 8, 1863, to June 1, 1864, $697.71; expenditures same time, $270.94; balance remaining on hand $406.77.
The foregoing brief synoptical collation of the opposite views which seem to be entertained respecting the merits of this case will show that they are wholly irreconcilable, and at the same time that the entire rejection of either will not leave the whole truth apparent. In drawing a conclusion from them it is proper to apply the test of inquiring whether the accusing or exculpatory proofs are the most self-sustaining. Upon this question it is conceived to be manifest that notwithstanding the distinguished rank of his chief defenders, their expressions of opinion are not upheld by the same demonstrative production of facts which characterizes the report of Lieut.-Col. Marsh and the evidence taken by the investigating board. The emphatic panegyric of Gen. Hurlbut, for example, while doubtless a truthful tribute to an officer whose merits and capacity are undeniable, does not meet the specific proofs of malfeasance and negligence which are spread upon the papers in the case. At the same time it seems incontrovertible that the offense brought home to Capt. Williams are broadly at variance with the tenor of the general military character that he has earned by twelve years' service in the Regular Army.
Upon the whole, however, it seems clear that gross mal-administration has been practiced at the Memphis prison; that Capt. Williams is principally and directly responsible therefor, and that, in view of all the testimony, it must be left with the President to determine whether army good and sufficient reason is disclosed for reversing the action taken by the War Department.
It is proper to note that Capt. Williams in a communication to this office, herewith submitted, avers his ability to prove that his character has been that of a faithful soldier; that the prison when he assumed control of it was a perfect wreck, and that he instituted great improvements and made many repairs; that when he took charge there was no hospital and no prison fund, both of which he has established; that it was impossible for him to pay personal attention to the management, and that all the abuses complained of were practiced by his subordinates, contrary to his instructions, and that the hardship in cases of alleged neglect and delay was caused by the want of courts to try the offenders. Should he maintain in these averments by satisfactory evidence at a trial, such proof would obviously go far toward exculpating him from the blame under which he now rests. It is not impossible that wrong has been done him by a dismissal founded upon an ex parte report, and that Gen. Washburn's emphatic expression of his conviction that the Department has acted hastily may turn out to be correct. Again inviting attention to the testimonials of Maj.-Gen. Hurlbut and Brig.-Gen. Buckland, the case is submitted for the President's determination.
J. HOLT, Judge-Advocate-Gen.
Since the foregoing report was prepared the accused has filed a letter from Lieut.-Gen. Grant asking a revocation of the order of dismissal, expressing a very high opinion of his ability and services, mentioning that he (Gen. Grant) recommended him for a brigadier-generally, and stating that he is qualified to command a division at least.
In view of this strong testimonial it is conceived that the conclusion may be safely adopted that the accused was not personally responsible for the abuses complained of and that his character as an officer is amply established.
J. HOLT, Judge-Advocate-Gen.
WAR DEPARTMENT, July 6, 1864.
Respectfully referred to the Adjutant-Gen.
Capt. George A. Williams, of the First U. S. Infantry, will be restored to the service.
By order of the Secretary of War:
JAS. A. HARDIE, Col. and Inspector-Gen.
WASHINGTON, D. C., June 24, 1864.
JUDGE-ADVOCATE-GEN. OF THE UNITED STATES, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: I have the honor to forward a statement of what I can prove to combat the charges against me.
My character as a faithful officer, and one who has not neglected his duty.
That when I took charge of the provost-marshal's department and consequently of the Irving Prison, at Memphis, Tenn., it was a perfect wreck. Windows, ashes, frames, and partitions torn out; no hospital. When a prisoner was very sick he was sent to the hospitals in the city, but if not sick enough he had to remain in the common prison room. That prisoners were in irons in the cellar of the building. That not a cent of prison fund had been made, although it had been a prison for sixteen months.
That I established comfortable quarters for the sick.
That I moved those prisoners who were in irons out of the cellars to upper rooms.
That I repaired the building to make it habitable.
That it was impossible for me to pay personal attention to the prison, and that I had an officer detailed for the purpose; that any suggestion he made to me for its improvement as far as the general would authorize I made.
That I complained of the inefficiency of the guard and applied for better.
That I reported the unsuitable of the building for a prison.
That the water for cleaning the prison was scarce and at times unable to be obtained, except in very limited quantities, but that I had ordered each prison room to be washed out every third day, to be swept out twice each day, and roll-call of prisoners three times each day.
That I have given orders to accept no prisoners except those who were accompanied by written charges or testimony or when sent from higher authority with orders to hold.
That I have authorized no man to be put irons except on the most serious charges, such as murder, rape, highway robbery, &c.
That I have treated the prisoners with no undue severity.
That the prison never was in as good order as it was when I had it.
That I have endeavored to make it more comfortable, but it would not be authorized.
That the fact of men remaining in the prison an undue length of time was due mainly to the fact that there were not sufficient courts to try them, and that I had done all that I could to remedy it.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. A. WILLIAMS, Capt., First U. S. Infantry.
OR, Ser. II, Vol. 7, pp. 404-408.
24, Notice of the death of William Calvin Tripp, Co. B., 44th Tennessee Infantry (C. S. A.)
WASHINGTON, D.C. June 24, 1865
Mrs. Martha A. Tripp
It is my painful duty to inform you of the death of your husband late a member of Co B, 44 Regt Tenn (Confederate Army) which took place at this hospital last night.
Mr. Tripp was brought here yesterday on his way home from Point Look Out having been released from that prison.
He was quite low from Congestive Fever and lived but a short time after his arrival.
I sympathize deeply with you in your bereavement.
J. B. Clark, Supt.
24, New businesses in the Memphis environs
The Memphis Bulletin says hundreds of persons are making arrangements to go into business in towns along the railroads radiating from Memphis.
Macon Daily Telegraph, June 24, 1865.
 See Nashville Daily Union, June 22, 1862.
 Oftentimes the existence of a skirmish is chronicled not in a separate report, but one encompassedactivities by a period of several days, such as the Tullahoma Campaign. The skirmish at Christiana (Rutherford County) is an example. It was mentioned as part of five days of fighting during the campaign and aside from the fact that it is documented, was a small fight, but a fight nonetheless.
James B. Jones, Jr.
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214
(615)-770-1090 ext. 123456