Tuesday, January 13, 2015

1.13.2015 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        13, Affair on Harpeth Shoals

Destruction of fully laden US hospital ships (U. S. S. Trio, Parthenia) and one gunboat (Sidell) by Wheeler's cavalry at Harpeth Shoals on the Cumberland River.

Report of Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Murfreesborough, Tenn., February 15, 1863.

GEN.: Supposing it well to furnish the Department evidence of the inhuman violations of the rules of civilized warfare by the rebel authorities, I inclose of the lists of our medical officers who were robbed of their private and personal property at the late battle, and statement of Chaplin Gaddis, who was on a hospital boat that was fired on and robbed at Harpeth Shoals by Wheeler's cavalry. I can multiply documentary evidence on these outrages and many others, fully revealing the barbarism of these rebel leaders, and will do so, if you think desirable.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. S. ROSECRANS, Maj.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, .Vol. 20, pt. I, pp. 979-980.


Report of Brig. Gen. Robert B. Mitchell, U. S. Army.

HDQRS., Nashville, January 13, 1863.

MAJ.: The steamer Charter was burned last night about 8 o'clock, with her cargo. But two regiments have arrived from Gallatin yet; two locomotives have given out. Stanley went on the Hillsborough pike, as you directed. I think our force should have been sent nearer the train. Damn the railroad, say I!

ROBT. B. MITCHELL, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. I, p. 982.


Report of Gen. Braxton Bragg, C. S. Army,

TULLAHOMA, January 17, 1863.

Gen. [Joseph] Wheeler, with a portion of his cavalry brigade, after burning the railroad bridges in the enemy's rear, pushed for the Cumberland River, where he intercepted and captured four large transports; destroyed three, with all the supplies, and bonded one to carry off the 400 paroled prisoners. He was hotly pursued by a gunboat, which he attacked and captured, and destroyed her with her whole armament. I ask his promotion as a just reward to distinguished merit.


OR, Ser. I, .Vol. 20, pt. I, p. 982.


Excerpt from the report of Reverend Maxwell P. Gaddis, on board one of the ships at the time of the attack:

...I beg to state that I was one of the passengers aboard the steamer Hastings...on the 13th...the day she was fired into by a party of rebel guerrillas of General Wheeler's cavalry brigade, under command of Colonel [William B.] Wade. The Hastings had on board 212 wounded soldiers under charge of Surgeon Waterman, with instructions to report the same at Louisville. The Hastings left Nashville without any convoy. On nearing Harpeth Shoals we saw the burning hull of the steamer Charter, opposite a group of some half dozen of more small houses that had also been burned. A short distance below a fleet of six steamers were engaged in loading and unloading Government stores under the protection of the gun-boat Sidell commanded by Lieutenant [William] Van Dorn. Suspicious of some danger below I hailed Van Dorn and inquired as to who burned the boat and boat and houses. He replied that the guerrillas had burned the steamer and that he had retaliated by burning the houses. "Is there any danger below?" "No;" said he, "you can pass on safely. I have cleaned them out." The steamer Trio also laden with wounded was in advance of us some four or five miles. Believing all safe below we passed on. On reaching the head of Harpeth Shoals we saw the Trio lying to in a cove on the south bank of the Cumberland River, thirty five miles from Nashville, and thirty miles from Clarksville. Having heard the caption of the Trio say that he was nearly out of fuel I presumed that he was taking on wood. On a nearer approach to her I discovered a company of cavalry drawn up in a line on the bank just above the Trio. Two of the company took off their hats, waved them at us and ordered us to come to. I inquired "Why, and what do you want? We are loaded with wounded and have no time to stop." "Come to, or we will fire into you." And at that instant the whole line came to a ready. Being the only commissioned officer of board (not wounded) with the exception of Surgeon [Luther D.] Waterman I immediately assumed command ordered the captain of the Hastings to land. The boat in the meantime had moved past the designated landing point, and the guerrilla commander gave the order to fire and three volleys of musketry were fired all taking effect upon the upper and forward portion of the steamer. The volleys were followed by one discharge of cannon, the ball passing through the clerk's office on the starboard side and out on the opposite side of the cabin. I told them to cease firing as we were landing as rapidly as possible. On landing they boarded the steamer and ordered the men to leave the boat as they must burn her. In connection with Doctor Waterman I urged the claims of humanity upon them, and finally through a personal acquaintance with Captain [Spruel E.] Burford, General Wheeler's assistant adjutant general, we extracted from them a promise to spare the boat on condition of the captain entering into bonds that she should carry no more supplies for the Army of the United States. I pass by a description of the horrible scenes enacted by Wades' men. They plundered the boat, even to the knives, forks, spoons, &c. Rifled passengers' baggage; robbed wounded soldiers of their rations, and money from their pockets; took the officers' side arms, overcoats, hats, &c. I reasoned with their officer to no purpose, save Captain Burford, who was utterly unable to control the men. I then took on board the wounded of the Trio and her crew and asked permission to leave. This was granted and the colonel ordered his men off. On his leaving he noticed several bales of cotton on which our wounded men were lying; he instantly became furious and ordered us to remove the same ashore and burn it, a task almost impossible. Many of the men were badly wounded; night was coming on; no rations nor medicines and thirty miles distant from any military post. Seeing all this I asked for other terms. He then agreed if I would burn the cotton on my arrival at Louisville he would spare the boat and allow us to go on unmolested, and in the event of my failing to comply with the order I must return to the line of the Confederate States as a prisoner of war. These terms were harsh, but in view of the suffering men I instantly complied, brought to, her crew and passengers transferred to us, and preparation was them made to burn the Trio and Parthenia. In order to save the Hastings from coming in contact with the steamers...I again asked to leave. This they would not grant, but through the entreaties of Captain Burford, we were allowed to cross to the other side of the river under range of their cannon. We hardly landed when the gun-boat Sidell hove in sight. On her appearance the enemy mounted their horses and awaited her action. She came on under a full head of steam, carrying her when the engine had ceased within 150 yards of our boat, on the same side of the river. I hailed Van Dorn; told him to take the middle of the stream and not endanger the lives of the wounded during the engagement, for we had no other idea but that he would fight. To our utter astonishment he ignominiously surrendered, without firing a single shot. He then crossed her over to the steamers and ordered us across the river again. I took on what was left of the crew and soldiers and after waiting one hours and a half, according to their orders I started with the Hastings for Clarksville, reaching there at 8 p. m. and reporting to Colonel Bruce. He acted promptly and soon furnished us with supplies. I telegraphed the facts to General Rosecrans at Nashville.

Maxwell P. Gaddis, Chaplain Second Ohio

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. I, pp. 980-981.


Loss of a Federal Gunboat, Corrupt U. S. Quartermaster Corps and an Inventory of gunboat cannon on the Cumberland River and Army Interference with Navy Affairs

Report of Acting Rear-Admiral Porter, U. S. Navy, responding to the Department's enquiry regarding the loss of the U. S. gunboat W. H. Sidell, and Corrupt U. S. Quartermaster Corps and an Inventory of gunboat cannon on the Cumberland River

No. 83.]

U. S. MISSISSIPPI SQUADRON, January 29, 1863.

SIR: In answer to your communication, asking information about a gunboat burned on the Cumberland River, I have the honor to state that the vessel mentioned did not belong to this squadron. She was called the Sidell, and was, I believe, an old ferryboat, with a field-piece on her.

The army undertakes sometimes to get up an impromptu navy, which generally ends by getting them into difficulty. There are five vessels of this squadron in the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, which are detailed for convoy, and under the management of Lieu-tenant-Commander LeRoy Fitch, who has until the late affair, kept the rivers open, and convoyed all vessels safely through.

I shall direct that no army vessels be allowed to ascend these rivers without a convoy, and I have detailed the Lexington and two more light-draft gunboats for the upper fleet. This will make 40 guns on the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. There are enough there now (20 guns) to take care of these rivers, but the recklessness of the army quartermasters is beyond anything I ever saw, and they employ persons who half the time are disloyal, and who throw these vessels purposely into the hands of the rebels. If the history of the army quartermasters' proceedings out here were published, the world would not believe that there could be so much want of intelligence in the country.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

DAVIDD.PORTER, Acting Rear-Admiral, Commanding Mississippi Squadron.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

NOR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, p. 19.


The late raid of Wheeler and Forrest on the Cumberland below Nashville is the talk now--cavalry capturing 5 transports and a gun boat is as good as Forrest's men taking a battery at Murfreesboro last summer with shot guns! Wheeler and Forrest burn the boats and stores and took 300 prisoners. The raids and feats of Stuart's cavalry in Va. are being thrown entirely in the shade by the daring deeds of the mounted men of the West. Forrest, Morgan, Wheeler and Van Dorn are beating the Virginian cavalry to death. Long may they wave!

War Journal of Lucy Virginia French, entry for January 25, 1863.


Report of killing negroes during the affair at Harpeth River, February 13, 1863

After the battle of Stone River, or Murfreesboro, a Federal Hospital boat when conveying the wounded, and bearing the customary flag indicating its object, was fired upon and boarded by the rebels, some fifteen negroes employed as servants on board the boat were killed. Others endeavoring to escape were shot in the water while clinging to the sides of the boat. The inhuman treatment was not the work of guerrillas, for   whose actions the rebel authorities might endeavor to excuse themselves, but was done by soldiers under the command of Colonel Wade. General Wheeler's Adjutant General was among the officers present. This Wheeler was promoted for the raid which the attack on the hospital boat and murder of negroes was the principal feature.

These facts were made known in a private letter from the Headquarters of the Fourteenth Army Corps, near Murfreesboro and published in the New York Evening Post, March 11, 1863.

Colonel Percy Howard, The Barbarities of the Rebels, p. 23.[1]


        13 Federal reconnaissance ordered, Murfreesborough to Salem, to Middleton, to Shelbyville Pike, Wilkinson Pike and Eagleville [see January 13-15, 1863, Reconnaissance, Murfreesborough to Nolensville and Versailles below]

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Murfreesborough, January 13, 1863.

Maj.-Gen. THOMAS, Cmdg. Center:

GEN.: The general commanding directs that you send out two brigades on a reconnaissance, and to halt at Salem, and send a regiment from it to reconnoiter down toward Middleton; the other to proceed to Versailles, and send a regiment to reconnoiter its front by the shortest road as far as the Shelbyville pike. They had better remain over to-morrow night in their position, keeping a good lookout, in hopes that the cavalry may come down in their retreat, returning to-morrow afternoon. It will be necessary to send some of Rousseau's cavalry with them, to keep open communication. Have them report frequently. These brigades will affect the triple purpose of reconnoitering and observing in southerly direction, covering the flank of Wagner's movement, and catching any cavalry that may chance to pass toward them. Order the brigade commanders to note well the roads and the forage, and bring all the intelligence they can of the position of the enemy's cavalry. The men should take three days' rations on their person, and should [march] by 6 in the morning. They should carry with them their axes and hatchets and a few spades. It may prove advantageous for the brigades to unite and move to Eagleville. The brigade commanders will be advised of that, and directed to judge of its advantage and to act accordingly, endeavoring to threaten an advance on Shelbyville and intercept the retreat on that road.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. GODDARD, Adjutant-Gen. and Chief of Staff.

MURFREESBOROUGH, January 13, 1863.


Send two of your regiments from Nolensville across, scouring the thickets, to the Wilkinson pike. March with the other six to Eagleville, thence to Versailles. Join Beatty's command there, and move with it to cut up the rebels.

By order of Maj.-Gen. Rosecrans:

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. II, p. 325.

        13, 1863 "Some were wallowing in the streets dead drunk others were being loaded on drays and into wagons and tied hand and foot and taken to the Calabose…" Private Cyrus F. Boyd's first day in Memphis

We started at daylight this morning and made a march of 9 miles and came to the suburbs of Memphis. Here we were brought into line and notified to sign Pay Rolls We put up our tents and signed Rolls – then I took a ramble thro' Memphis It was 2 miles to the River from camp Saw a camp of Contrabands containing old and young 1500 [sic], and they were packed into a building about 200 X 150 feet[.] They were a mass of filthy and abandoned creatures[.] [emphasis added] Down at the wharf there was a long line of steamers lying along the bank[.] Saw one gun boat [sic] anchored in the stream[.] There is a view up the River of about five miles and ten or twelve miles down the stream Memphis is situated on high bluffs and has a beautiful location[.] The business portion is built of brick Lafayette Square is the center of the city and is a beautiful Park full of Evergreens and tame squirrels are numerous among the trees and follow strangers all around.

Whiskey O Whiskey [sic]! Drunk men staggered on all the streets In every store The saloons were full of drunk men [sic] The men who had fought their way from Donelson to Corinth and who had met no enemy able to whip them now surrendered to Genl Intoxication[.] Some were on the side walks and both hands full of brick bats and swearing that the side walks were made for soldiers and not for any d_____d [sic] niggers[.] Some were wallowing in the streets dead drunk others were being loaded on drays and into wagons and tied hand and foot and taken to the Calabose [sic] or guardhouse or to Camp[.] Several of Co "G" are down this evening with the general complaint[.] The whiskey here seems to be very effective at short range[.]

I found some what bread the first I have seen for months Sergt[.] Gray came near getting shot this evening about dark[.] He was full [sic] and in camp[.] He saw a mounted orderly coming past in hot haste and he halted him and made the orderly give him the countersign. Afterwards the aid discovered that he had been delayed without cause and he drew his revolver and if Gray had not run and hid himself he would have got a bullet Gray gave him the dodge among the tens and finally reached one where he lay down and the boys covered him up and he was snoring away in 2 seconds[.]

Boyd Diary.

        13, Tales of Security and Female Smuggling in the Middle Tennessee; an excerpt from the War Journal of Lucy Virginia French

….As the ladies were coming through the pickets this side of Murfreesboro – there seemed to them to be indications of a skirmish ahead, which they of course did not desire to run into. They spoke to some for the men and asked if there was danger ahead. "My' said one, "what sort of men are you afraid of? You isn't [sic] afraid of blue coats is ye?" "I'm afraid of all sorts of men when they're shooting. One ball is as like to hit as another," shrewdly replied Mrs. Scott. The men were rather checkmated in their endeavor to find out which the ladies preferred, blue or gray (butternut) – Very many amusing things they told us of ladies trying to get out things from the city thru' the lines. One lady came out with two pairs of boots under her hoops, which had unfortunately dropped right before the guard as she descended from her carriage! They ripped open the carriage cushions of one lady to see if they could not find something – but did not. One lady came from Ky. With 5000 [sic] dollars worth of morphine in a false bottom in her trunk. A female detective found it, and took the lady's diamonds, saying "I suppose you're carrying these south for a bridal present for John Morgan. Well they're [sic] contraband." And she appropriated them to her own use! The city is full of bad women, they are at hotels and in private houses living with the officers and passing for their wives. – The place too is full of female spies and detectives – some of whom will go to the citizens and represent themselves as Southerners in exile and persecuted, ask for money as charity. If the citizen grant this they are arrested. They resort to all low means to get men arrested. One draughtman [sic] they took in by desiring him secretly to prepare a draught of their fortifications – then they went to a shoemaker, and employed him to make a pair of boots with the toes double – between the leathers this draught was to be inserted and worn out of the lines. After taking in these men in this way they were arrested and imprisoned them….

War Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

        13, Newspaper report regarding larceny and murder at White's Creek environs

Robbery and Murder in Tennessee.-On the 20th inst. a bold and atrocious murder was committed at White's Creek, near Nashville, by seven men dressed as soldiers. The gang arrived at the house of the Rev. Jefferson Wagner at 11 p. m., and went into the house and demanded his money. He gave them $400. The robbers then left, but on reaching the gate one of them called out to Mr. Wagner and endeavored to get up a quarrel with him charging him with having stolen his horse. In the dispute one of the party shot the reverend gentleman, when they all preceded the residence of Mr. Enoch Cunningham and perpetrated a robbery. The marauders were possessed of the countersign for the day, which enabled them to pass the pickets. They have not yet been arrested.

The Scioto Gazette (Ohio), January 13, 1863.[2]

        13-15, Reconnaissance, Murfreesborough to Nolensville and Versailles

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Murfreesborough, January 12, 1863.

Col. G. D. WAGNER, Cmdg. Expedition:

COL.: The object of your expedition is to defeat the projects of the enemy's cavalry upon our trains upon the Nashville and Murfreesborough road. A portion of Wheeler's cavalry is reported as having staid at Triune last night, having three pieces of artillery. Gen. Mitchell reports that at sundown this evening there was a cavalry force supposed to be from 3,000 to 4,000 some infantry possibly accompanying it, 7 miles north of Franklin, between Franklin and Hillsborough pikes, supposed to be aiming to attack, first, our river transportation. It may be that Wheeler's force has gone to join this. Gen. Mitchell is preparing to march on them with eight or ten regiments of infantry and Gen. Stanley's cavalry brigade. Should you have reason to believe, on your arrival at Triune, that their whole force is concentrated there, then you will move toward Franklin, by the best road, to fall upon their flank and rear. If, on the contrary, you have reason to believe that they have a considerable force toward Nolensville, between the Nolensville and Murfreesborough roads, you will move that way, seek the enemy, endeavor to engage the enemy, and cut him to pieces. In moving it is scarcely necessary to caution you to flank your column with a line of skirmishers parallel with the road, with a good advance guard. Dispose of the cavalry, ordered to report to you, so as to be on the lookout against surprise and keep open communication, keeping the main body in hand to pursue small parties of the enemy. You will take a few empty wagons with you. Your men will carry their axes. Take with you three days' rations, 60 rounds of ammunition, and a few spades. Report as frequently as possible your movements, and any information you deem important to these headquarters. The rest must be left to your discretion. It may be well to remind you that the force you have to deal with makes it necessary for you to attack with great vigor. Take their batteries, if possible, and never leave yours without support. Order the supports to take position to the left and right of our artillery and never behind it.

By command of Maj.-Gen. Rosecrans:

* * * *

P. S.-When debouching before an enemy, deploy a heavy line of skirmishers, at 5 paces intervals, and send them forward at double-quick, deploying into line under cover of their advance. Manage to conceal your force from the enemy, and, if possible, entrap him.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. II, p. 322.

JANUARY 13-15, 1863.-Reconnaissance from Murfreesborough to Nolensville and Versailles, Tenn.

Report of Col. Benjamin F. Scribner, Thirty-eighth Indiana Infantry, commanding brigade.


I have the honor to report that pursuant to orders I proceeded with two brigades of the First Division, center, and the Second Kentucky Cavalry, Maj. Nicholas commanding. The Second Brigade, Col. John Beatty commanding, with two pieces of his artillery, took position at Salem, six miles from Murfreesborough, and the First Brigade, in charge of myself, with four pieces of Col. Beatty's artillery, continued on the road to Versailles. Having disposed my force according to the ground, I ordered at once a reconnaissance of the roads leading to the place. A party of eight men were brought in, who proved to be fugitives from the enemy's conscript law, who, with many others, were thus forced to elude apprehension. From these men I learned much concerning the roads. One of them afterward communicated with a friend at Middleton and reported the enemy's cavalry near Old Fosterville, on the Shelbyville pike, with their outposts near Middleton. I was unable to learn their number. No one was permitted to pass out of their lines. I also sent one company of the Second Kentucky Cavalry down the road. They went in sight of the enemy's pickets, one mile and a half this side of Middelton, and brought back a prisoner. I also learned that a smaller party of their cavalry was encamped two or three miles farther down the road, some eight miles from Shelbyville. This information was given by a young man just from Chattanooga, who was sent to headquarters on my arrival in camp. I am of the opinion that my command would have been adequate to have overcome them by moving Col. Beatty down the old Nashville road to near Middleton, while I would have met him from Versailles, and by the combined movements endeavored to take them in front and rear; but the rain which fell on the afternoon of the 14th and continued all night rendered the roads--at no time good-impassable. Being ordered to act in concert with Col. Wagner on his arrival, and he having now arrived, it was, upon consultation, deemed best to return to Salem and await orders. From there by command we returned to camp. Middelton is about six miles from Versailles. Old Fosterville is three miles east of Middelton, on the pike, and New Fosterville on mile farther on the railroad. Forage became very scarce after leaving Salem. The people say it has been hauled off. Col. Beatty reports that forage abounds near Salem; that 500 wagons may be loaded within two miles. He also reports the capture of 1 man and 12 muskets. He also sent a force to within a short distance of Middelton, the information being about the same as reported.…

I am, your obedient servant,

B. F. SCRIBNER, Col. 38th Indiana Vols., Cmdg. First Brig., First Div., Center.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 58-59.


Report of Capt. Elmer Otis, Fourth U. S. Cavalry, commanding brigade.


SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of this brigade in the late scout, from the morning of the 13th to the evening of the 15th of January, 1863:

We started from camp a little after 12 a. m., for the purpose of joining Col. Wagner, who was in command of the expedition, and started from the railroad depot (in Murfreesborough) about 4 o'clock. My force consisted of about 300 of the Fourth U. S. Cavalry and 350 of the Second East Tennessee Cavalry, making an aggregate of some 650, rank and rifle. The first night we encamped near Nolensville, making this point via Lizzard's and Lane's Store. We saw nothing of the enemy, but gained some information of their whereabouts, which was turned over to Col. Wagner. The second day we marched to Eagleville. Hearing that some of Wheeler's couriers were at this place, I gave orders for two of my companies to charge into town, which they did, capturing some ten or twelve of the enemy. Lieut.-Col. Ray, who led the charge, had his horse shot under him by one of the rebels, who was stationed in a house occupied by Squire Williams. We went from Eagleville to Versailles, where we encamped for the night near Col. Beatty's command. The next morning Col. Wagner gave me instructions to act as rear guard as far as Salem, which I did, and from that point came direct into camp, leaving infantry command in the rear. During this scout I sent a company, by order of Col. Wagner, to destroy a mill owned, I believe, by a Mr. Webb, who I ascertained had a large amount of grain on hand of the use of the Confederate army and had been using his mill supplying the wants of the rebels. My command also captured twenty-four horses, which were principally turned over to me whose horses had given out.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ELMER OTIS, Cmdg. Third Cavalry Brigade.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, p. 59.

        13-19, 1863 - Reconnaissance, Nashville-Harpeth at Cumberland River Shoals

No circumstantial reports filed.

        13, Skirmish at Collierville

JANUARY 13, 1864.-Skirmish near Collierville, Tenn.

Report of Maj. Ira R. Gifford, Ninth Illinois Cavalry.

HDQRS. NINTH ILLINOIS CAVALRY, Collierville, Tenn., January 13, 1864.

COL.: I have the honor to report that in pursuance of orders from your headquarters, I moved out on the road to Pleasant Hill with a battalion of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry, numbering about 60 men; while crossing the Nonconnah we heard firing about 1 mile to our left. I moved over the stream as rapidly as possible, the crossing being very bad, and before the command had crossed the firing seemed to be coming toward us. I ordered the advance company forward about 60 rods to a road crossing at right angle, where I saw a small party of soldiers pass at full speed. I knew them to be our own men by their uniform. I then ordered a halt, dismounted two companies, and moved forward in direction of the firing, sending one company around on our left flank mounted. We had advanced about 100 yards through a thicket of brush when we met the enemy coming toward us, numbering from 50 to 100 men, and within 50 yards of us. I then opened fire on them and emptied many saddles, the enemy falling back in great confusion, leaving 1 man mortally wounded on the field, 5 horses, 5 carbines and revolvers, together with 4 prisoners out of the 5 they had previously taken from the command sent out previous to our being ordered out.

I skirmished on through the woods about three-quarters of a mile, then mounted my men and pursued the enemy about 3 miles, and finding they had too much the start, I returned to camp. Our loss none. From indications on the field the enemy's loss must have been heavy.

I remain your obedient servant,

IRA R. GIFFORD, Maj. Ninth Illinois Cavalry.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, p. 72.

        13, Confederate foraging along Big Pigeon and French Broad Rivers reported

HDQRS. ANDERSON CAVALRY, Jim Evans' Ford, January 13, 1864.

Lieut. SHAW, Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. Cavalry Corps:

LIEUT.: The enemy are foraging extensively on this side of the river with wagons, keeping close to the shore up In the Dutch and Irish Bottoms, and In the fork of Big Pigeon and French Broad Rivers; also, still more extensively with wagons In the fork between French Broad and Chucky. All these rivers are now fordable, and there is no ice running in them. The guards sent along with the wagons are light, but in consequence of the river being fordable at various places between Dandridge and the mouth of Pigeon, and Morgan's and part of Armstrong's cavalry divisions lying within a short distance of the river bank at Denton's Ford and Dr. Boyd's, it is risking rather too much for my small command to go so far up. There are also 150 cavalry at Gorman's, near Newport, on this side of both French Broad and Pigeon. I earnestly recommend that one brigade of cavalry be sent here to-night, crossing at this ford, which is now in good order. If artillery be sent, we have a ferry-boat here to cross it. They should come down the Mutton Hollow road to Shady Grove (from Flat Gap), thence 2 miles across the river to this camp; total distance from Mossy Creek to my camp, 12 miles. They should not leave Flat Gap till about dark, so that information of the movement may not reach the enemy above Dandridge. Two or three roads, including the Maryville road (from Shady Grove to Dandridge), lead off from the Mutton Hollow road toward Dandridge, and small picket posts should be placed on each of these to prevent any citizens from carrying information of the movement. There are also three or four houses on the way that should be guarded. These will be pointed out by the guides, of whom I send you 6 herewith, to be used with the column if it is decided to send it.

These guides also know the ford well, and there will be no danger in night fording. The ford is 30 yards wide and with a smooth bottom. The force can get a good feed here of both corn and hay, and start to-morrow with my command for the wagons and foraging parties. All the fords can be guarded as we go up, although if the Cavalry Corps makes its movement toward the French Broad to-morrow the attention of the rebels will be so much engaged that they will hardly attempt to cross to this side, even if they hear of our going up, which is doubtful. If they should cross a large force to menace us, it will be all the better for your command on the other side of the river; they can never catch us in these woods and mountains, as we have the whole population to guide and picket for us. If the plan is accepted I think we can take many prisoners and wagons and bring them off, thus crippling their facilities for foraging permanently. If they should cross the river at about Denton's Ford to intercept us they will probably send a smaller force than ours, as they will deem it improbable that a brigade has got on the south side of French Broad without their knowledge. We would in that event have the smaller force at our mercy. There would be no risk to your main force in sparing this brigade, as our force of cavalry is certainly that much larger than the enemy's while theirs is scattered from mouth of Chucky to Denton's Ford.

If the general movement to-morrow is prompt, some large foraging parties with wagons can probably be caught in the bend of the river at Swann's Island above Dandridge, by taking the Ellett's Ferry road; they are foraging there to-day with one regiment of cavalry.

You had probably better retain Lieut. Miller and Lieut. McGuire, of Ninth Tennessee, who accompany this, as guides, to come with the main body when it starts; they are acquainted thoroughly with all the country, trails, &c., in the vicinity of Dandridge below and above to the mouth of the Chucky.

I have arranged to have here at daylight to-morrow the latest information from up the French Broad, as far as mouth of Chucky on this side.

Please send me some of the president's proclamations; the rebel pickets at Swann's Island are asking for them.

I am, lieutenant, yours, very respectfully,

WM. J. PALMER, Col., Cmdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. II, pp. 80-82.

        13, Description of Fort Sanders, Knoxville

Excerpt from the Reports of Captain Orlando M. Poe, U. S. Corps of Engineers, Chief Engineer, Department of the Ohio, January 13, 1864, relating to a description of Fort Sanders.

* * * *

A short description of Fort Sanders may be appropriate here. It is a bastioned earth-work, built upon an irregular quadrilateral, the sides of which are, respectively, 125 yards southern front, 95 yards western front, 125 yards northern front, and 85 yards eastern front. The eastern front was entirely open, and is to be closed with a stockade; the southern front was about half done; the western front was finished except cutting the embrasures, and the northern front was nearly finished. Each bastion was intended to have a pan coupe. The bastion attacked was the only one that was completely finished. A light 12-pounder was mounted at the pan coupe, and did good service. The ditch of the fort was 12 feet in width, and in many places as much as 8 feet in depth. The irregularity of the site was such that the bastion angles were very heavy, the relief of the lightest one being 12 feet. The relief of the one attacked was about 13 feet, and together with the depth of the ditch, say 7 feet, made a height of 20 feet from the bottom of the ditch to the interior crest. This, owing to the nature of the soil, the dampness of the morning, and the steepness of the slopes, made the storming of the fort a very serious matter, and when taken in connection with the neglect of the enemy to provide themselves with scaling ladders, the confusion in their ranks, caused by passing through obstacles of stumps, wire entanglement, and brush in front of the fort, and the cool and steady fire to which they were exposed, coming from the very best troops in our service, sufficiently account for the repulse of one of the best divisions in the rebel army, from that point of attack. A short time after the repulse of the enemy a truce was offered him, during which he might bury his dead and take care of his wounded. It was accepted, and extended until 7 p. m.

During the assault on Fort Sanders and for some time after that had been repulsed, sharp fighting took place on the south side of the river, but we were everywhere successful.

* * * *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. I, p. 309.

        13, Presence of U. S. C. T. in Eagleville, excerpt from a letter to Dr. U.G. Owen from his mother Henrietta

....Yankees & Negroes are stealing [from] everyone that is any account. I have to lock our stock up every night....While I am writing this letter there is a company of Negroes passing the road hunting for Abe & Jack. There is a Negro camp[3] at Eagleville....

Your Mother, Henrietta Owen

Letter from Henrietta Owen to her son Dr. U. G. Owen, in Dr. U. G. Owen to Laura, January 13, 1864.

13, Military Governor Andrew Johnson announces the adoption of an amendment to the state constitution abolishing slavery in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, TENN., January 13, 1865.

Hon. A. LINCOLN, President of the United States:

The convention[4] composed of more than 500 delegates from all parts of the State have unanimously adopted an amendment to the constitution forever abolishing slavery in this State and denying the power of the Legislature passing any law creating property in man. Thank God that the tyrant's rod has been broken.

This amendment is to be submitted to the people for ratification on the birthday of the Father of his Country, when, without some reverse of arms, the State will be redeemed and the foul blot of slavery erased from her escutcheon. I hope that Tennessee will not be included in the bill now before Congress and be made an exception if the bill passes.

All is now working well, and if Tennessee is now let alone will soon resume all functions of a State according to the genius and theory of the Government.

ANDREW JOHNSON, Military Governor.

OR, Ser. III, Vol. 4. p. 1050.


[1] As cited in: Colonel Percy Howard, The Barbarities of the Rebels, as shown in their Cruelty to the Federal Wounded and Prisoners; in their Outrages on Union Men; in the Murder of Negroes, and their Unmanly Conduct Throughout the Rebellion, (Providence, R.I.: Printed by the author, 1863.), p. 23

[2] TSL&A, 19th CN.

[3] This may have been a "contraband" camp, or perhaps a U. S. C. T. encampment.

[4] Meeting in Nashville on January 9 unconditional Unionists formed in convention to consider measures to restore Tennessee to the Union. For five days most of the debate focused on procedural disputes and defining the characteristics of the convention as either radical or conservative. On the 13th the convention passed the amendment Johnson speaks of in his letter to President Abraham Lincoln. See: The Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 7, 1864-1865, n.1, pp. 398-399, as cited from Alexander, Reconstruction in Tennesse, 16-17, 28-29.

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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