Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Notes from Civil War Tennessee, March 16, 1861-1864.

Notes from Civil War Tennessee,

March 16, 1861-1864.





16, Memphis' Italian-American population

Our Italian Population.—We learn from an intelligent Italian correspondent that not less than five hundred of his countrymen reside in this city. They are of all classes of society, but everywhere industrious and law-abiding. They have no societies or clubs for Italians only, or any especial place of congregating, but mix themselves with society in general and become good American citizens.

Memphis Daily Appeal, March 16, 1861.





16, Skirmishes near Pittsburg Landing

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from the Report of Brigadier-General William T. Sherman relative to skirmish at Pittsburg Landing, March 16, 1862.

HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, Pittsburg Landing, March 17, 1862.

SIR: Last night I dispatched a party of cavalry at 6 p. m., under the command of Lieut.-Col. Heath, Fifth Ohio Cavalry, for a strong reconnaissance, if possible, to be converted into an attack upon the Memphis road. The command got off punctually, followed at 12 at night by the First Brigade of my division, commanded by Col. McDowell, the other brigade to follow in order.

About 1 at night the cavalry returned, reporting the road occupied in force by the enemy, with whose advance guard they skirmished, driving them back about a mile, taking 2 prisoners, and having their chief guide, Esquire Thomas Maxwell, wounded, and 3 men of the Fourth Illinois.

* * * *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt, I, pp. 24-25.

16, Report of Lieutenant Gwin, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Tyler, regarding a reconnoissance in the Tennessee River

U. S. GUNBOAT TYLER, Pittsburg, March 16, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your orders, I reported to General Grant at Fort Foote on the 7th instant and remained at Danville Bridge, 25 miles above, awaiting the fleet of transports until Monday morning, by direction of General Grant, when, General Smith arriving with a large portion of his command, forty transports, I convoyed them to Savannah, arriving there without molestation on the 11th.

The same evening, with General Smith and staff on board, made a reconnoissance of the river as high as Pittsburg. The rebels had not renewed their attempts to fortify at that point, owing to the vigilant watch that had been kept on them in my absence by Lieutenant Commanding Shirk.

The same evening, 11:45, stood up the river with the Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, for the purpose of reaching Eastport by daylight....

* * * *

The river is, again, very high and rising. The people here have given substantial evidence of the strength of the Union sentiment so often expressed to me before in this vicinity, as very many have enlisted in the different regiments.

The Tyler is lying at Pittsburg for the protection of General Sherman's division, which has occupied that point. The Lexington is lying at Crump's Landing, protecting the division of General Wallace, which occupies that point. Everything is working favorably for the cause of the Union.

Enclosed you will find Lieutenant Commanding Shirk's report.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. GWIN, Lieut., Comdg. Division of Gunboats, Tennessee River.

Flag-Officer A. H. FOOTE, U. S. Navy, Commanding Naval Forces on Western Waters, Cairo, Ill.


U S. GUNBOAT LEXINGTON, Pittsburg, Tenn., March 15, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of my proceedings since my last arrival in this river:

We reached Savannah on the 5th instant. The next morning received on board this vessel twenty armed men, refugees from Wayne County, Tenn., who asked my protection from the rebel marauding cavalry. Six of these men were from a rebel regiment which has been stationed at Clarksville, and had been told, upon the fall of Fort Donelson, to make the best of their way home. Their arms were those that had been issued at Clarksville. Some of these twenty men have shipped on board of this vessel, and the remainder have enlisted in regiments in General Smith's command.

I then proceeded up the river to take a look at this place, and discovered several flags of truce on the hill. I sent a boat to communicate with a rebel officer at the landing, and received a letter for Lieutenant Commanding Gwin, in relation to exchange of prisoners. No work has been done since the bombardment of the place on the 1st instant by the Tyler and this vessel.

The nights of the 7th and 8th I laid at Craven's Landing, protecting many Union men from [William H.] Robinson's rebel cavalry.

During the 8th and 9th I conveyed about 120 refugees from Craven's and Chalk Bluff to Savannah for safety. On the 9th I paid another visit to Pittsburg, having on board Colonel Worthington, of General Smith's advance. On the 10th I took on board some more arms at Chalk Bluff.

That night I laid opposite Savannah, the transport with the Forty-sixth Ohio Volunteers lying at the town.

On the 11th the U. S. Gunboat Tyler arrived, followed by General Smith with his command in sixty-three transport steamers. At midnight this vessel followed the Tyler up the river to make a reconnoissance....

* * * *

The small arms which I have taken from Craven's and Chalk Bluff belong to Union men, and I have promised that they should eventually be returned to their owners.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,

JAMES W. SHIRK, Lieutenant, Commanding.

Flag-Officer A. H. FOOTE, Comdg. U. S. Naval Forces, Western Waters, Cairo, Ill.

Navy OR, Ser. I, Vol. 22, pp. 666-668.

16, Night time skirmish at Black Jack Forest


Report of Major W. D. Sunger[1]

Camp Shiloh, Headquarters First Division, U. S. A.

West Tennessee, March 28, 1862


The expedition set on foot for the purpose of intercepting communication on the Memphis and Charleston, started about six o'clock, on the evening of the sixteenth, and proceeded from Pittsburgh Landing, on the road toward Corinth.

Major S. M. Bowman[2] having the right in command of a detachment of the Fourth Illinois cavalry, eighty-six men, company M, Captain George Dodge,[3] at the head of the column, followed by company I, Lieut. Hopeman commanding, and a part of Company L, Lieut. Merriman commanding; and all followed by a detachment of the Fifth Ohio cavalry, three hundred and fifty men, in regimental order, commanded by Lieut.-Col. Thomas T. Heath; Lieut. Charles Chapin, with a platoon of company L, of the Fourth Illinois, preceded the column as advance guards.

Col. Johnson of the twenty-eighth Illinois, and the undersigned, accompanied the expedition, Lieut. Colonel Heath having the chief command.

The march was conducted with the utmost caution, to guard against surprise, and had proceeded without interruption a distance of about five miles, when at a place known as Black Jack Forest, about nine o'clock, the presence of the enemy was discovered by Lieut. Chapin, across and near the road, with their pieces ready to fire on the advance-guard. Lieut. Chapin, with great presence of mind, instantly discharged his pistol, and was immediately seconded by the discharge of a carbine by one of the men, which had the effect to frighten the horses of the enemy and disconcert his fire, and thereby save the advance-guard from the raking fire of buckshot and balls prepared for them.

Major Bowman, with the utmost promptitude, deployed his entire command into line, and advanced rapidly on the enemy, driving him as far as he could be seen.

After retreating a short distance into the forest the enemy made a stand, partly in front and partly on our right flank. Thus far the only force engaged was company M, commanded by Capt. Dodge, and it is but just to say that this officer, aided by Lieut. Allshouse, conducted this advance upon the enemy amidst all the difficulties of the night-time, and through the forest in a most fearless and gallant style, and that his men behaved with all the coolness and bravery of veterans.

By this time company I, and the remainder of company L, came up in perfect order, ranging in front of that part of the enemy's force which had formed on our right, and within thirty yards of his line. But it was impossible to tell, even at that distance, whether we might not be looking at our friends instead of the enemy, and our fire was reserved for that reason.

We were not, however, long kept in doubt on that subject, for very soon the enemy poured his fire into our ranks and over our heads, making the woods luminous along the whole line, to which a response was made by our carbines, such as caused him to break and run in every direction, leaving us in possession of the field.

Company I received the heaviest part of this fire, and in reply delivered their charge, which first broke the enemy's line.

It is difficult to conduct an action by night, on horseback, and in a forest it is much more hazardous to pursue, under like difficulties, an unrelenting foe in his own country and on his own ground. It was therefore deemed prudent not to pursue. We took two prisoners on the spot. Four of our men were wounded-none severely-and none killed. Two of our horses were killed and several wounded. Our guide, upon whose knowledge of the country we were wholly dependent, was wounded at the first fire, and rendered incapable of going on. The Fifth Ohio cavalry, being in the rear, had no good opportunity of engaging in the action, and were not employed.

We had no means of knowing the amount of the enemy's force, or the full result of the action, until the next day, when it was ascertained, from the concurrently testimony of the inhabitants on the road over which the enemy had passed, and from the prisoners taken, that his force was five hundred strong. It was also ascertained that he imagined himself met by a large force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery; that he fled with the utmost precipitation, without any regard to roads, leaving the evidences of his flight scattered for miles around.

It was further ascertained that he contemplated a night attack on our encampment at Pittsburgh Landing, which design was thus completely frustrated.

We recovered several horses at least four miles from the battle-ground, which had been mire down in a swamp, and abandoned by their riders, in their extraordinary flight.

We could not ascertain the number of the enemy killed and wounded. Nor is it important. The great moral fact is palpable, that a small force of eighty-six cavalry met, on his own ground, five hundred of the enemy's cavalry, and put him to rout.

* * * *

W. D. Sunger, Major Fifty-fifth Illinois

Aid-de-camp to Gen. W. T. Sherman

To Brig. Gen. S. A. Hurlbut, Commanding, etc.

Rebellion Record, Vol. 4, pp. 347-348.


A correspondent writing from Pittsburgh Landing, Tenn., March twenty-first, gives the following account of the affair:

On Sunday last [16th] Major Bowman, with about seventy of his battalion, reconnoitered westward, on the road to Purdy, and when about six miles out overhauled and chased a force of the enemy's cavalry, about one hundred strong, killing an officer by the name of W. R. Roper, and wounding several others. Roper is believed to have been a native of South Carolina, and was in the rebel service at Pensacola, as shown by papers found upon his person. He was shot through the head and died instantly. In this little encounter the rebels fled without firing a shot; consequently nobody was hurt on our side.

The following night [17th] an expedition was started for the purpose of destroying a portion of the Charleston and Memphis Railroad, in the vicinity of Juca [sic] distant from this point some twenty three miles, and thus cut off communication between Memphis and the East. Our force consisted of three hundred and fifty cavalry and a part of Major Bowman's battalion, eighty-six men, the whole under the command of Lieut.-Col. Heath. The expedition was started at seven o'clock in the evening, and intended making the whole journey before daylight the next morning. It appeared that the enemy was at the same time organizing a night attack against our encampment and the transports, which were then disembarking troops at this place, and, as the sequel shows, but for the most unexpected meeting of forces which ensued, there is no telling the injury we might have sustained; for our forces at the boats were in a disorganized state at the time, and were scattered about in a manner quite inviting to the enemy; and had the enemy, with his large force of cavalry, rushed in upon us in the night, the consequence might have been a disastrous stampede of our troops.

The rebel forces, as learned from some prisoners taken, consisted of five hundred cavalry. They rendezvoused at Pea Ridge[4], and advanced on us over the Corinth road, the same road taken by our expedition, and when out about six miles from here the heads of the columns met. It is evident, however, that the enemy had the first notice of the approach of the crisis; for they had halted, were prepared to receive us, and delivered the first fire. The collision occurred at Black Jack Forest, five miles this side of the Mississippi line.[5] The first intimation our forces had that the enemy were upon us, was from a fierce fire into our advance-guard, which wounded the guide and several horses. The advance guard, however, stood firm and returned the fire immediately. Major Bowman instantly threw his command into line of battle, and advanced rapidly, the enemy falling back, firing as he went, while our forces returned the fire with the greatest promptitude. They fell back farther and farther into the forest, and finally seemed to make a stand and when they discharged their double-barreled shot-guns, loaded with buckshot and balls, they revealed, by the glare of their fire, a long line immediately in front and not exceeding sixty yards from us. Their fire was on every occasion returned with the carbines of our cavalry-that is, Bowman's portion of it-which threw their lines into confusion, and they retreated apparently in great disorder, making the wood fairly ring from the clatter of their sabres and trappings as they plunged thorough the thickets, followed by a continuous fire from the carbines of our men. Major Bowman maintained his ground, thinking the enemy might return; but he gave no signs of it, as they clatter of sabres and pattering of their horses grew fainter and fainter until they died entirely away.

The damage on our side was one guide and four soldiers wounded-none seriously-two horses killed and several wounded. Of course we could not tell what loss the enemy had sustained; but it must have been considerable. We took two prisoners, who stated that they saw quite a number of their side fall; but whether they were killed or only dismounted they did not know.

It was finally agreed upon by our force to return with the wounded, as we were then without a guide, and, our plan of advancing upon the railroad being discovered, it might result in our loss, if our men were to advance.

The following day [17th] a small body of cavalry and a force of infantry marched over the same road close to Pea Ridge, where the enemy had kept a considerable force. Upon examining the battle ground in the afternoon, it was discovered that the rebels had left the field in extraordinary haste, leaving their hats, guns, pistols, sabres, saddles, and horses scattered in every direction for six miles beyond; that is some cases the brave cavaliers had dashed their steeds down steep precipices, against the roots of upturned trees, and into swamps, where they remained until extricated by order of the General. In short, it appeared, but the evidence palpable by daylight, and by the concurrent testimony of all the inhabitants in the vicinity of Pea Ridge, that the rout was the most extraordinary ever heard of. The brave, chivalrous, daring rebel cavalry, who never asked anything better than to be pitted against the cowardly Northerners in the proportion of one to five, (being, in fact, more than five to one,) were driven back and frightened out of their wits, and actually destroyed themselves, like the herd of swine who ran down into the sea, "being possessed of the devil."

There is something in the battle of Black Jack Forest, calculated to attract the attention of the reader. In the first place, the meeting of the two forces was wholly accidental; in the second place, it was night-and who eager heard of a night action between two bodies of cavalry? In the third place, the enemy was on his own ground, having selected is own position to begin the fight. Again, the action was a spirited one, carried on for half an hour in the woods, by the light of the moon: and finally, the enemy, five hundred strong, as confessed by themselves, were whipped and put to rout by less than one hundred of our troopers-the balance of our force being out of sight and taking no part in the action.

Major Bowman, the hero of Black Jack Forest, is a New Yorker, a lawyer by profession, and recently practiced in New York City.

Rebellion Record, Vol. 4, pp. 348-349.[6]

16, D. C. Donnohue to Secretary of the Interior C. B. Smith on progress in acquiring cotton seed

Savana,[sic] Tenn.

March 16, 1862

Hon. C. B. Smith

Secretary of the Interior

Washington City, D. C.

I can procure cotton seed – in great abundance – So soon as the country is occupied by our troops – cotton plenty and cheap. Dispatch to me care of Genl. Smith

D .C. Donnohue

Letters of D. C. Donnohue.

16, "Commanders of all grades will be held responsible for the suppression of this great crime." Braxton Bragg tightens discipline in the Army of Tennessee

Down on the Plunderers.—Gen. Bragg is an officer not to be misunderstood. Here is a general order issued by his command from Bethel:

Bethel, Tenn., March 16, 1862.

With a degree of mortification and humiliation he has never before felt, the Major General has to denounce acts of pillage, plunder and destruction of private property of our own citizens by a portion of the troops of this command, which brings disgrace upon our cause. Men capable of such acts may swell our numbers, but will never add strength to our armies. They would do us less harm by serving in the ranks of the enemy, and if not prepared to abandon the vicious habits they have unfortunately contracted, had better lay down their arms and retire. Gallant men, not thus demoralized, stand ready to use them, and will do so with that firm reliance on an overruling Providence which a consciousness of right can alone give. The first step towards achieving success is to deserve it.

Commanders of all grades will be held responsible for the suppression of this great crime. Full compensation will, in all instances, be made from the pay of the offenders, and where this fails in its effect, summary punishment will be inflicted. The General will not hesitate to order the death penalty where it may be necessary, and will approve its execution by subordinates where milder measures fail. By order of Major General Bragg.

American Citizen [CANTON, MS], April 5, 1862.[7]

16, Occupation of Pittsburg Landing by US forces

CORINTH, March 16, 1862--6 a.m.

The report that the enemy has landed in force at Pittsburg has been confirmed.

Hold yourself, Clanton's cavalry (one company excepted), and Chalmers' Mississippi regiment ready to move when ordered.


Brig.-Gen., C. S. Army.

CORINTH, March 16, 1862--4 p. m.

There is no doubt that the enemy has landed in force at Pittsburg. The doubt that was stated in connection with this matter no longer exists. Gen. Bragg desired me to communicate with you freely.


Brig.-Gen., C. S. Army.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. I, pp. 29-30.





16, Confederate stratagem to raid Murfreesborough and kidnap Major-General Rosecrans[8]

HDQRS. POLK'S CORPS, ARMY OF TENNESSEE, Shelbyville, March 16, 1863.

Lieut. Col. JAMES C. MALONE, Jr., Cmdg. Cavalry:

COL.: You have consulted me as to the lawfulness or expediency (supposing it to be practicable) of capturing and bringing out the general commanding the forces of the enemy, whose headquarters are now at Murfreesborough. It is a very grave enterprise, but if it could be accomplished, it would be attended with important results, especially if you could add to the capture the papers of his adjutant-general's office. As to its lawfulness there can be no doubt, for it is as lawful to capture one man in arms against us as another, nor can there be say doubt as to its expediency, for obvious reasons.

There is but a single point you have to guard against, and that is, that you do not allow his life to be taken, nor, as far as possible, any violence to be done to his person; for, while neither he nor those with whom he is associated in the campaign of extermination in which they are now engaged have a right to claim any forbearance at our hands, still, we owe it to ourselves to be true to our own civilization and to deprive the most critical of all occasions of censuring our mode of maintaining resistance. From the work of assassination we would recoil with just abhorrence. Bold and daring enterprises are in our line, and become those who are struggling against the bitterest persecution and the most merciless warfare. Take him, therefore, and his adjutant-general's papers with him, if you can, and I believe you can.

This will be handed you by my aide-de-camp, Lieut. W. B. Richmond, who volunteers to accompany you on the expedition.

Very respectfully, &c.,

L. POLK, Lieut.-Gen., Cmdg.


Lieut.-Gen. POLK, Cmdg., &c.:

GEN.: I have the honor to acknowledge your letter of March 16, relative to the matter of which I had the honor to speak to you in person on the 14th instant, and I beg leave to say that I approve, most heartily, the sentiments you have expressed therein. As to the point of which you speak, relative to taking the life or doing other violence to the person of Gen. Rosecrans, I approve most fully your views. Far be it from my mind, general, to give this undertaking any appearance of a murderous character. My whole nature recoils from anything in this matter that looks toward assassination or murder. You may rest assured that, should the alternative of taking his life or abandoning the entire project be at any time presented me, I shall most assuredly choose the latter. Nothing short of an active effort upon his part to put my own life, or that of my command, in jeopardy would or could, in my opinion, authorize the taking of his life or injury to his person. This, I take it, we have no reasonable ground to apprehend.

I have the honor to be, general, with great respect, your obedient servant,

JAMES C. MALONE, JR., Lieut.-Col., Cmdg. Fourteenth Alabama Cavalry.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. II, pp. 701-702.

16, Skirmish at Holt's Corners

No circumstantial reports filed.


Chapel Hill, April 16, 1863 Lieut.-Gen. POLK:

GEN.: I wrote you a dispatch this morning, which, through some oversight, was not sent. The enemy came up to Holt's Corners this morning. The picket relief, about 80 strong, attacked them and drove them 3 or 4 miles. Capt. [P. H.] Rice, who was in command, states that their number was about 300. They captured our advance guard, 5 men. This was done by a decoy, which led them into an ambuscade. The officers and men engaged acted very gallantly. The enemy left no dead upon the ground, but the fatality among their horses was severe. Nobody hurt on our side. The enemy are still side of College Grove. When my scouts return I will be able to give you the particulars as to their whereabouts.


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. II, p. 775.

16, A Confederate soldier's observations about the home guard at his home place in the Cleveland environs

* * * *

There is a camp of Federal troops within a mile and a half of our home, and they sometimes visit our house and the houses of other southern people in the neighborhood and carry off such articles as they like, but the worst enemies by all odds, and the ones for whom our people have the greatest dred [sic] are those who call themselves "homeguards," but who are simply organized bands of bushwhackers and robbers.

Diary of William A. Sloan, March 15, 1863.

16, Sol Street's guerrilla attack on a Federal forage train foiled by U. S. Cavalry between LaGrange and Saulsbury [see March 15, 1863, "Sol Street's guerrilla band's activities near Grand Junction" above]

Memphis Bulletin, March 22, 1863.

16, Grand Review of the Army of the Cumberland in Murfreesboro; excerpts from the letter of Albert Potter, Fourth Michigan cavalry, to his sister

Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Wednesday Mar 17th

Dear Sis

*  *  *  *

We had a grand review and inspection of all the Cavalry Force in the Department or nearly all by Maj Gen Rosecrans yesterday at 12 M it was a grand sight. The Review was on a large common 2 miles from town. There was one large flag with the Gen'l and then the "star" flags of each Brigadier or Commander of Brigade numbered to show which each commanded and then most of the different Companies had their Guidions. All together made a handsome show with the officers with their full uniforms and white gauntlets and red sashes. Gen Stanley wore a Yellow Sash. The maj gen wore none at all. Rosecrans is a large well proportioned man, looks about forty five. Is quite bald as I could see when he saluted the Brigadiers. He looks good-natured and benevolent. Has a large Roman nose slightly hooked as he passed us on a gallop with his staff. He said "good morning, gentlemen! I am glad to see you all out this morning." And a little further on "you are the hope of the army. Do you mind that?" and on he went talking along the line and encouraging the men. Mrs. Rosecrans was at the Review also. I was not close to her. She was dressed in black and rode a splendid horse. I believe Gen Rosecrans is the most popular Gen'l in the army of the Union. He has never been whipped and permit me to say he never will be. The army in this department has the prestige of success and victory and we intend to keep our name good. The rumor prevails here at the present that Vicksburg is evacuated and the army moving up to crush us out. How much truth there is in the report I can't tell. We will be ready for them at any rate…..

Potter Correspondence.

16, Punishment for disobedience of orders, 34th Illinois Infantry, Murfreesboro

Monday, March 16 – Joseph H. S_____ a private of Company G having been tried by Court Martial convicted of disobedience of orders and sentenced to forfeit one months [sic] pay and publicly reprimanded by the Colonel in the presence of the Regiment was compelled to undergo the latter part of the sentence during Dress Parade this evening – when his name was called S____ stepped from his place in the ranks in front and center of the line and stood there with uncovered head while the Colonel reprimanded him.

Diary of Lyman S. Widney

16, Excerpts from a newspaper report relative preparation of hospitals for Union casualties to trade with the enemy from occupied Memphis



From present indications Memphis promises to become a vast hospital the coming summer. Even now there is not a little preparation for such a consummation. All the large houses, whether hotels, stores or whatnot, have been seized and the occupants forced to leave, and immediately thereafter the work of converting them to hospitals commences. Accommodations are to be made for ten thousand sick and wounded; but it is probable the accommodations will far exceed anything previously calculated upon. Some of these buildings have been fixed up in the most successful manner and the prospect is that all our hospitals will pass as worthy of the name.

The trade of Memphis has been materially affected by recent military regulations. Heretofore, any one from the South who wished supplies could come to the city and get them. But this ruinous policy no longer prevails. Persons can, indeed, get supplies necessary for their comfort; but they must prove their loyalty by taking the oath, and, in addition, swear that the supplies needed are not to be used by parties in the interest of the confederacy. The result is that the wholesale smuggling is stopped, and but little now passes to the enemy beyond our lines. The wonder is that such restrictions were not placed on such articles having a Southern destination. The question naturally arises, "Where has the greater bulk of them gone to?" and there is but one response and that is, to the enemy. This being a fact it is more than ever necessary that, if "trade follows the flag," it should be regulated by wholesome restraints that preclude the possibility of injury to the cause of which the flag is but the symbol. It is said there are hundreds of reputed good Union men making fortunes by running the blockade and conducting a contraband trade; but if it depended upon such to restore peace we should not have it for ages to come. They would never favor peace while they were making fortunes out of war.


The New York Herald, March 16, 1863.





16, Confederate raid on N&C Railroad, near Tullahoma

MARCH 16, 1864.-Raid on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, near Tullahoma, Tenn.


No. 1.-Maj. Adolphus H. Tanner, One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry.

No. 2.-Capt. George R. Hall, One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry.

No. 1.

Report of Maj. Adolphus H. Tanner, One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry.

HDQRS. 123d NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS, Elk River Railroad Bridge, Tenn., March 17, 1864--5 p. m.

GEN.: I have the honor to make the following report:

The patrol sent out by me on the railroad toward Tullahoma, as reported yesterday, came upon a band of rebels about 3 miles from this post, just as they had thrown a train of cars from the track, had taken the passengers prisoners, and were engaged in robbing them and destroying the train. My men drove the enemy, rescued the prisoners, and saved most of the train. I have this day received information that this rebel force, numbering 110 men, well mounted on horses marked "C. S.," came from the direction of the mountains back of Hillsborough, and retreated in that direction. They murdered several non-combatants (negroes [sic]) and robbed all their prisoners of their money, jewels, and clothing.

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

A. H. TANNER, Maj. 123d New York Vols., Cmdg. Post.

No. 2.

Report of Capt. George R. Hall, One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry.

ESTILL SPRINGS, TENN., March 17, 1864.

GEN.: I have the honor to report that yesterday (16th) at 1 p. m. I received intelligence of a citizen by the name of Martin Hays, sent by citizen named John P. Hefner, who tends a grist-mill about 2 miles from this post, that a band of rebel cavalry from 70 to 100 and Chattanooga Railroad, and said they were going to throw off the first train of cars from Tullahoma and then blow up the bridge across Elk River.

On receiving this intelligence, I immediately reported it to Maj. Tanner, commanding One hundred and twenty-third Regt. [sic] New York Volunteers, and re-enforced my pickets accordingly, and awaited orders from the major; but receiving no definite orders and awaiting sufficient time for my patrols to return, not having sufficient force here to leave the stockade safe and meet the enemy, I took the engine of the construction train, which was here, and went to the regiment and reported the facts to the major, who immediately sent Company C to take the place of my company (E) and sent my company in pursuit of the enemy.

At 4.45 p. m. I left camp, marching with the main part of my company on the railroad, having a line of skirmishers on each side of the road a reasonable distance in advance. After proceeding nearly 1½ miles I saw a train coming from Tullahoma, and watched in until it ran off the track, and heard the firing on the train. It was about one-half mile in advance of my skirmishers. I then filed to the right into the woods and took the double-quick step in order to flank them, but they had got notice of my approach and commenced a retreat. I came up on their flank, opening upon them, which was returned by them, but made no stand of any account; formed line of battle twice, but as soon as we fired upon them they turned and ran. I pursued them about 1½ miles, when my men became so much exhausted that farther pursuit would have been useless and I returned to the wreck, where I found the cars on fire, but succeeded in extinguishing the fire so that but three cars were burned. The engine was but little injured.

During the fighting, men captured from the cars were recaptured, and in about one hour the remainder of the prisoners came in-7 of the Twenty-seventh Indiana and 2 men of Company E, One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers; also Capt. Beardsley, of the Twentieth Connecticut, and Lieut. Williams. All were robbed of everything valuable, not excepting their clothing. Two men of the First Michigan Engineers were wounded; also a citizen by the name of Stockwell-the latter seriously, the ball having passed through the left lung. One negro [sic] was killed and 1 wounded. The prisoners report that the rebels were commanded by Lieut.-Col. Hughs, formerly of the Twenty-fifth Tennessee. The names of the other officers I could not learn. One of my company that is reliable told me that he counted 97 men, while a prisoner, and at the time 15 or 20 were out after the other patrols. The man spoken of above of my company was one of the patrols who were captured. They were armed with carbines and rifles. The last I heard of them they passed the mill about 2 miles from here at dark, apparently in great haste. Two of their men were killed, and 1 seriously wounded. I captured three saddles and one carbine. Had I been a few minutes earlier I could have saved the train, and think killed or captured most of them.

GEORGE R. HALL, [Capt. One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers.]

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 499-501.


Colonel John M. Hughs, 25th Tennessee Infantry (CS), in his report covering his activities in Middle Tennessee from January 1 to April 18, 1864 was a bit more terse about this fight in his report on his operations in Middle Tennessee from January to April 1864.

Report of Col. John M. Hughs, Twenty-fifth Tennessee Infantry.

DALTON, Ga., April 28, 1864.

SIR: I have honor to submit herewith the following report of my operations in Middle Tennessee:

* * * *

On the 16th March we tore up the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad near Tullahoma and captured a train of freight cars heavily laden with supplies for the Federal army at Chattanooga. About 60 Yankee soldiers were captured and about 20 Yankee negroes [sic] killed. The train and supplies were burned and the engine destroyed.

* * * *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, p. 57.


"Railroad Raid"

Some Confederate cavalry made a raid on the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad, on Wednesday evening, in the neighborhood of Estelle Springs [sic]. There are numerous stories floating about town on the subject, of which this is one: That on Wednesday a body of Confederate cavalry, under Col. Roddy, arrived in the neighborhood above indicated, and throwing out his pickets, tore up a portion of the track; his men then concealed themselves, and the up-train came thundering along, with three other trains close up. The first soon became a wreck, the second ran into the first, and the third into the second, before they could be stopped; the 'confederates in the meantime coming out, firing into the train guard, and capturing a few of them. The engineer of the fourth train "smelt a mice," and put back, while the Confed's [sic] burned the three trains, destroyed the Elk river bridge, and put as if the devil had been after them. A correspondent of the Louisville Journal tells the story thus, in a telegram from Decherd, dated the 16th:

"A band of guerrillas under Colonel (unknown,) attacked the freight train from Nashville, near Estelle Springs [sic] to-night. By displacing a rail the train was thrown off the track and burned. Capt. Beardsley of the 123d New York and seven men have just arrived here on a hand car, having been paroled after being stripped of their clothing and money, watches and jewelry. The Rebels killed three negroes [sic] who were on the train. Two of the band were killed. No losses on our side. They belonged to Roddy's command."

Nashville Dispatch, March 18, 1864.


The account of First Lieutenant Robert Cruikshank, 123rd New York Infantry Regiment, letter home to his wife Mary

Camp 123rd Regt. [sic], N. Y. S. V.

Elk River, Tenn.,

March 24, 1864.

Dear Wife,-

I wish I had something new and interesting to write about, but I have nothing. I do not care for a battle or a long and weary march to furnish items of interest, but sometimes when I take my pen it is difficult to know what to say, for when we are in Camp we know but little outside. We hear little and what we do hear has been told so many times, or told by one to another that when we get it we question its truth. You know by the papers what is going on in both armies before we do, so I cannot interest you in that. What I write must come under my observation and now my resources are small,- only the camp of a regiment doing guard duty on a railroad.

Captain George R. Hall had an exciting time with a band of guerrillas numbering one hundred and twenty on the 16th inst. The patrol not returning on time to Estell [sic] Springs where the Captain and his Company (E) are stationed, he took forty of his men and started out to see what had become of them. When about three miles up the track he saw that a band of guerrillas had wrecked a train and was burning it and robbing the passengers. The Captain charged his company on them at once, retaking the patrol and other soldiers who were on the train whom the guerrillas had taken as prisoners. He then flagged two other trains that were following the one that was wrecked. On this road that is the way they run the trains,- three, one after the other.

The guerrillas charged on Company E, but they beat them off, killing two. The Captain and his forty men saved several men from being taken prisoners, three engines, sixty cars DO [sic] loaded with supplies, and perhaps General Grant as he was in the second train. Geo. H. Edie of our Company was on the first train when wrecked and he lost five dollars in money, a watch, and would have lost his overcoat had not Company E come up when they did. They left him taking it off.

You can see what sort of men the 123rd Regt. [sic] are made of, to attack three of the enemy to one of their number and put them to flight. We have a brave lot of fellows that I believe enjoy such a skirmish. It breaks the monotony of camp life and gives them something to talk about and something to write about.

With love,

R. Cruikshank.

Robert Cruikshank Letters.

16, A Confederate soldier's observations about his home place in the Cleveland environs

* * * *

There is a camp of Federal troops within a mile and a half of our home, and they sometimes visit our house and the houses of other southern people in the neighborhood and carry off such articles as they like, but the worst enemies by all odds, and the ones for whom our people have the greatest dred [sic] are those who call themselves "homeguards," but who are simply organized bands of bushwhackers and robbers.

Diary of William A. Sloan.

16, "…I suffered horribly in anticipation of trouble." Smuggling goods to the Confederate army through Federal lines in Shelby County; a page from the diary of Belle Edmondson

March, Wednesday 16, 1864

Went up Street directly after Breakfast to finish a little job I forgot on yesterday. At one o'clock Mrs. Facklen, Mrs. Kirk and I began to fix my articles for smugling [sic], we made a balmoral of the Grey cloth for uniform, pin'd [sic] the Hats to the inside of my hoops-tied the boots with a strong list, letting them fall directly in front, the cloth having monopolized the back & the Hats the side-All my letters, brass buttons, money, &c in my bosom-left at 2 o'clock to meet Anna at Mr. Barbie's-started to walk, impossible that-hailed a hack-rather suspicious of it, afraid of small-pox, weight of contrabands ruled-jumped in, with orders for a hurried drive to Cor[ner of] Main & Vance-arrived, found Anna not ready, had to wait for her until 5 o'clock, very impatient-started at last-arrived at Pickets, no trouble at all, although I suffered horribly in anticipation of trouble. Arrived at home at dusk, found Mr. Wilson & Harbut, gave them late papers and all news. Mrs. Harbut here to meet her Bro. bro't [sic] Mr. Wilson a letter from Home in Ky. Worn out. 8 yds. Long cloth, 2 Hats, 1 pr Boots, 1 doz. Buttons, letters, &c. 2 Cords, 8 tassels.

Laura, Beulah & Tippie Dora, all in.

Diary of Belle Edmondson

16, Report on Cherokee Indians Taking Advantage of Federal Amnesty Program

Knoxville, Tenn., March 15.

~ ~ ~

Peace has been ratified with the North Carolina Cherokees. Those recently captures say the were induced to take up arms und the belief the were fighting for the United Stated government.

Two were permitted to go in search of the band and represent to facts to their Chief (Too-kannic.) Thirty of the tribe have since come in and accepted the amnesty.

~ ~ ~

Boston Herald, March 16, 1864. [9]







[1] Not found. Also listed in Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee but not identified in the OR. Sunger is not identified in the OR. There is neither a listing for Black Jack Forest in the OR, nor is there a reference in CAR. Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee, p. 846, leaves no clue as to where he found this information. There is no reference whatever to a place known as Black Jack Forest in Tennessee. The entry may be referring to black jack oak (Quercus nigra), which grows abundantly in the Southeast. There is, however, a Black Jack Community, Tennessee, located either just south of or abutting the Kentucky border and apparently in both Sumner and Robertson counties. See United States Geological Survey Map 309-SE. This knowledge does nothing, however, to verify the report of this event. There is likewise another community in Tennessee with the name Black Jack, just southwest of Manchester in Coffee County (USGS Manchester Quad).

[2] Not identified in the OR.

[3] Not identified in the OR.

[4] Other reports in the OR identify Pea Ridge as being in Tennessee, but there is no reference that provides information about any combat.

[5] Since this account was written from Pittsburgh Landing it must be concluded that Black Jack Forrest was in Tennessee, although there is no reference to it in the OR. Likewise there is no reference to Black Jack Forest as being in either Hardin or McNairy counties, in Ralph O. Fullerton, ed. Place Names of Tennessee, (Nashville: Department of Conservation, Division of Geology, 1974). The location of the forest seems to have been lost since the war's conclusion. Perhaps it was either burned in a forest fire or completely cut down by loGALEGROUP - TSLA 19TH CN  ers in the later nineteenth century.

[6] The source for this account is not given although it appears to be from a newspaper in New York City.

[7] As cited in:

[8] There is nothing in the OR to indicate that an attempt to kidnap Major-General Rosecrans ever took place.

[9] As cited in PQCW.


James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Editor, The Courier

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214


(615)-532-1549  FAX


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