Tuesday, July 8, 2014

7.8.14 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        8, Memphis Military Protection


There are three fortified posts in Memphis, Tenn., the positions for which are indicated by the following.-

A. Breastwork, two hundred yards long, on a high bank commanding the river, composed of cotton bales, two bales in height. It is simply a row of bales running parallel with the river, with no side or rear defenses.

B. A three gun battery, open in the rear.

C. Four gun battery, made of sand, open in the rear, and very roughly made.

Besides these the principal streets leading to the levee are barricades with cotton bales and sand bags, which has created considerable dissatisfaction and petitions have been presented to the Common Council to have a carriage way made through them.

There are not more than two thousand soldiers at present stationed at Memphis, a large body of the troops having gone to Virginia.

They have also there two pieces of Bragg's battery and a thirty-two pounder.

There are no men in camp opposite Memphis on the Arkansas side, as some of the prints have represented. Until you reach Randolph, fifty miles above, there are no more bodies of troops. Fort Harris, about half way between these towns, is deserted. Randolph is fortified.

New York Herald, July 8, 1861. [2]



        8, "I hope it will make the last one of them sick." Kate Carney on the Oath of Allegiance

This morning Ma & sister Amanda went down to see Bro. Jno. carrying his provisions &clothes. Jose Turner came in William's barouche and is staying with Rosa. Mr. Watterson, a Confederate prisoner who had taken the oath came up on the cars, said he thought Bro. Jno. would be paroled &come up tomorrow. He ate dinner with us, seems very polite, & quite intelligent & if he hadn't taken the oath, I would think him quite nice. I must confess to be crowded into the filthy jail, filled with vermine [sic], with little air, scarcely food to sustain life, & then threatened if they did not take it they would be forced in their cells, or else lose their life. It is awful to think of those low born Yankees (Andy Johnson at the head of them) acting towards our men so cruelly. The Yankees did not succeed in taking a single one of our men prisoners last night; but bringing 19 citizens, old & young, making no exceptions, & when the ladies sent the poor men their dinners, the Yankees ate it up & sent word it was very nice, that they enjoyed it. I hope it will make the last one of them sick. Mr. Joe Ewing is among the number of prisoners. Our little army outside of town[3] numbers 75, but the Yankees did not get to see them. Prisy seems intensely gratified whenever she hears any bad news for our army & quite angry when we rejoice over bad news over the Yankees. I understand the Union men are getting considerably frightened.

Kate Carney Diary, July 8, 1862.

        8, Objections to the Oath of Allegiance in the Bluff City

The Oath of Allegiance at Memphis.

The Memphis Avalanche finds serious fault with the form of the oath of allegiance prescribed by Gen. Grant. It says it has been taken by but comparatively few of the old merchants, citizens, and property-holders. The objections are thus stated:

"The uncertainty of the results of war, with the changes and vicissitudes of fortune, in such contests, constitute, with many, grave objections to taking the oath as prescribed; and, with many other peculiar circumstances connected with their affairs and business, it presents to them almost insuperable objections. One objection offered to our people is, that the oath compels persons to swear to certain political views as to the nature of the relations of the States to the Federal government which the great mass of our people do not believe to be correct. To them, under the circumstances, the oath seems to contain false tenets. Now, a person may not believe in the right of a State to seceded, yet, at the same time, he does not believe that the Federal authority is paramount. He may believe that the Federal authority is only paramount to the extent of its delegated powers. This has been from the foundation of the government up to the present revolution and war, the construction placed by a large majority of the people of the United States on the Federal constitution. Not only this, the adjudication of State and Federal have given the same construction to the powers of the Federal government; yet the oath as prescribed requires the citizen to swear irrespective of this distinction. It does seem to press the conscience a little too much where such political convictions be honestly entertained.

"If it were not for the required oath, we are satisfied that a considerable trade would spring up with the back country. Many little lots of cotton would come in, if the planters were permitted to ship it without having the oath put to them. They would cheerfully give their parole of honor, and observe it with punctilious fidelity not to carry information to the hostile forces, if they were permitted to escape the oath. We learn that Gen. Grant, to accommodate the objection stated, has determined to modify or change the oath. We will lay it before our readers as soon as we may procure a copy of it."

Chicago Times, July 8, 1862.[4]



        8, Nashville prostitutes loaded on Idahoe [sic]

The steamboat Idahoe [sic] was at Branch Lick Wharf, yesterday afternoon, receiving as passengers a number of cyprians, who were bound for some northern port, under the late orders of the military authorities. At five o'clock there were upwards of a hundred on board and they still continued to come. Amongst them were the most degraded of their class. The boat was to have left last night, and we suppose she got off.

Nashville Daily Union, July 9, 1863

        8, "Departed."

The commotion amongst the ladies [who] dwell in suspicious places was inconceivably great yesterday. Squads of soldiers were engaged in the laudable business of heaping furniture out of various dens, and then tumbling their disconsolate owners after. Many very affecting scenes of abdication from long occupied domiciles took place. But they were not allowed to enact them all on terra firma; a boat was chartered by the Government for the especial service of deporting the "sinful fair" to a point where they can exert less mischief, and about forty of them took passage. Where they will be sent, is not stated in the order enforcing the exodus. A variety of ruses were adopted to avoid being exiled; among them, the marriage of one of the most notorious of the cyprians to some iniquitous scamp. The Provost Marshal didn't regard the separation as wicked or unchristianlike [sic], so he compelled the artful daughter of sin to take a berth with her suffering companions, and she is on her way to banishment. This course toward bad women will have a salutary effect upon the morale of the soldiers in this Department – at least we hope so.

Nashville Daily Press, July 9, 1863.



        8, "Execution"

Robert T. Gossett and Oliver [Obed] C. Crossland were executed on Friday [8th] under sentence for killing Depew and others in October last.

Nashville Dispatch, July 10, 1864.



We published, on Monday, a description of Robert T. Gossett and Obed C. Crossland, condemned by a military commission here on the 8th of July, for murder. The sentence was carried out yesterday morning. We append a description of them, and a few incidents:

Robert T. Gossett, a citizen of Springfield, a small village on the Edgefield road, about thirty miles north of this city [Nashville], formerly belonged to the 24d Tennessee Rebel Infantry, was a strong built man, dark complexion, dark hair, dark hair and eyses, and a heavy black moustache. He was sent here in the early part of February, charged with the murder of Mr. Depew, James Mattux and B. F. Binkley, in October last. He was found guilty. He protested his entire innocence, and to last hoped for a pardon from the President.

He was in good spirits and did not seem to fear his fate. On Tuesday last [5th], he stood at his cell door, apparently taking to himself. He said: "To-day is Tuesday, to-morrow is Wednesday, the next day is Thursday, and the next is Friday." "Yes," said the guard outside, "and the next day is Saturday."  "I can't see it," answered Gossett.

Obed C. Crossland was a citizen of Jackson county, Tenn. He was 40 years of age, though he had the appearance of a man of 60. His height was about five-feet six inches, his hair, once black, now sprinkled with gray; gray eyes and of slender build. He was received here in January last, since which time he has been in close confinement. He was charged with the murder of two brother, James and William Ridges, sometime during the summer of 1863, and found guilty of the crime. He also protested his entire innocence. He seemed much distressed, and dreaded his fate. He had no the self-possession and confidence that Gossett exhibited, perhaps in consequence of leaving a family. His manner was cowed and sullen, saying but little. On Wednesday night he told an officer that he believed that if there was a hell that he was going to it. On Friday morning, however, he said that he was ready to die and believed he would go to heaven.

The gallows was erected in the yard and but few witnesses were admitted. At a quarter past 10 the guard came in and took a position around the scaffold. A few minutes after, the condemned men were marched in, their arms bound and bareheaded. They walked with a firm step and mounted the fatal platform with composure. After the ropes were passed over their heads and their legs and their legs pinioned, their sentence was read to them, and Gossett was first asked if he had anything to say. He spoke in a low town and said in the substance that he was an innocent man; that he never murdered those men, and knew noting about it. He was ready to die, but he died as innocent as the babe unborn.

Crossland was then asked if he had anything to say. He also asserted his entire innocence, and that he was not in the vicinity when the murder was committed, and knew nothing of it till it was done. He said that he had witnesses that could have proved him innocent, but he could not get them. A brief prayer was then made by the Rev. Mr. Woodward, Chaplain of the 31st Wisconsin V. I. During the prayer a communication was hanged to the officer in charge of the execution, and it was painful to witness the keen attention that Gossett gave to the document. Perhaps the unfortunate man fancied it was his reprieve. After the prayer was concluded, the Chaplain bade them both good bye. They both expressed the belief that they would meet in Heaven. The fatal cap was drawn over their heads, and at half past ten the drop fell. Crossland died almost instantly-his neck being broken by the fall. The fatal noose around Gossett's neck did not slip up close, his neck was not broken and the unfortunate wretch died of strangulation. He was a powerful man, and after hanging eight minutes the convulsive heaving of his broad chest showed that he clung to life very tenaciously. After hanging fifteen minutes the attending surgeon pronounced life extinct, they remain suspended for twenty minutes, and were then cut down, and placed in the plain coffins prepared for them.

Of their guilt, there was no doubt, as a number of witnesses swore positively that they were guilty of the alleged murder. It was also proved that Gossett, after shooting one of his victims, told a comrade that he "always stuck a pin in a dead fly to see if he was dead," and then ran his bowie-knife through his victim's foot, who lived long enough to tell of the occurrence. Mercy, to such men, is worse than useless, as the world is bad enough without their presence.-Nash. Press.

Chattanooga Daily Gazette, July 17, 1864.[5]






[1] While this article seems to indicate a map accompanied it, no map has been found.

[2] PQCW.

[3] Most likely a reference to a local Confederate guerrilla unit.

[4] As cited in: http://www.uttyl.edu/vbetts.

[5] TSL&A, 19th CN.

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-770-1090 ext. 123456

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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