Thursday, May 19, 2016

Notes from Civil War Tennessee, May 19, 1861-1865.


Notes from Civil War Tennessee,

May 19, 1861-1865.



          19, "We have no spoons, knives, nor forks, but use our fingers, pocket knives & sharp sticks." Letter from G. W. Wharton of Cannon County, to his Uncle Daniel Weedon describing life at a Confederate camp of instruction in Middle Tennessee

May 19, 1861

Sunday Evening

Camp Cheatham Robertson Co.

Uncle Daniel,

I seat myself upon a pile of straw, blankets, knapsacks, etc., to write you the first lines since leaving home. We arrived at this camp on the railroad leading to Clarksville Friday evening -- pitched our tents among two or three thousand volunteers and are now spending a real soldiers [sic] life. We see nothing scarcely but volunteers and hear nothing but the sounds of drums and fifes and the usual noises of camp life.

Our camps are pitched about two or three hundred yards from the main encampment where we are to form another regiment. Our Company [sic] being the first one in the regiment which is Co. A 4th Regiment.

I will now tell you something about our fare. We are divided into messes of 8 men and our provisions are issued out to us. We have bacon, meal or flour, a little rice, potatoes, sugar, coffee & salt and then we can cook to suit ourselves.

You would have laughed to see me cooking supper this evening with my sleeves rolled up to my elbow and then washing our dishes after supper, such as tin pans, tin cups, etc. We have no spoons, knives, nor forks, but use our fingers, pocket knives & sharp sticks.

As to privileges we have scarcely any. We are bound up fast. We have a guard placed around our camp, which we cannot leave unless we go to the spring after water. The boys think it hard, but we cannot help it.

We cannot tell how long we will stay at this camp. It may be weeks, or even months. Time alone will tell, but as soon as our services are needed we will be off.

I could write you a longer letter, but [I have] no convenient place to write. I am writing this on my knee with a dim light and noise all around me and Mr. McCabe is to start to Woodbury early in the morning and will take this letter for me.

Please write to me and send it by McCabe, who will be coming back in a few days. Tell Cousin Joe to be sure to write me and give my love to her & Sally and Aunt Maria and accept a share yourself and also my friends at town (Woodbury). Bro. Sam has written to town and therefore I shall not say anything in this to them. If you can read this show it to mother or Jane or some of them and tell them I'll promise to do better next time. So goodbye [sic] at present.

G. W. Wharton

W. P. A. Civil War Records, Vol. 3, p. 9.

          19, The problem of young girl panhandlers in Memphis

Juvenile Beggars. – The presence of a number of little girls upon our streets for some time past, who are not only importunate for alms but annoyingly impudent, has been a source of much vexation to numbers of our citizens. We have frequently seen them follow persons for a square at a time, day after day, protesting their poverty and detailing their misfortunes, yet when offered employment in some gentleman's home, it has been invariably refused, upon some pretext or another. To give in such cases is not charity, however much we may be inclined to relieve want. Rose Conner, one of these juvenile lazaroni,[1] was yesterday before the recorder, and fined five dollars and costs, which was readily settled from a purse well filled with the gleanings of importunate impudence.

Memphis Daily Appeal, May 19, 1861




          19, Mrs. Andrew Johnson delays her exile from East Tennessee

OFFICE DEPUTY PROVOST-MARSHAL, Elizabethton, Tenn., May 19, 1862.

Col. W. M. CHURCHWELL, Provost-Marshal.

DEAR SIR: A few days since I communicated with Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Carter in reference to their departure for the Federal lines. Col. Dan. Stover called on me yesterday and stated that Mrs. Johnson's health was still very poor with no prospect of improvement shortly if ever. I have consulted with several physicians who state that Mrs. Johnson is consumptive and to remove her will probably cause her death. She is very anxious to remain here with her children and is not at all desirous to go the bosom of "Andy." I called on Mrs. Carter a few moments since. Two of her children are a little sick now but will be well in a few days. She is anxious to go to her husband and if allowed to take a nurse she will go much more cheerfully. She says she won't go a step till her children get well enough to travel and till she is allowed to carry a nurse to assist her with the children. She prefers going by Cumberland Gap. I think Mrs. Johnson's health is not likely to improve; so if she has to go now is as good a time as any. These people are very quiet now. A great many gladly circulate false rumors in relation to Federal victories but I can't find out the originators of such stories.

* * * * *

Very respectfully,

W. M. STRINGFIELD, Deputy Provost-Marshal.

OR, Ser. II, Vol. 1, pp. 888-889.

          19, "Well, there is not much sickness in the Regiment and all that is just diarrhea. That is about all the sickness that the soldiers have had down this way yet." A. A. Harrison's letter home from Wartrace

Wartrace Tenn [sic]

May 19, 1862

Dear Wife,

I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am tolerable well at present and hope these few lines may find you and the children and all the rest well. I have not heard from you since I wrote my last letter although I have been anxiously watching the mail. It appears to be a month between times that I hear from you. I try to write once a week but sometimes I do not get time to write when I am in the notion. We are still at this place yet and doing nothing except scouting once every day or two. Everything appears to be at a standstill waiting for the fight at Corinth which will take place in a few days I think. And everybody thinks that will be the winding up of the war and I hope it may for I would feel proud to be at home once more with you and the children. I don't know whether I will get home any more until it is over without it lasts until next winter. Our boys that were wounded in that are doing very well except Wm. Smith, he is right sick yet. One of them, Henry Rose, has come back to the regiment today. He was shot in the arm as he was carry[ing] the colors and another shot struck the staff of the flag just above his head. Wm. Atcher and two others that were wounded have got a discharge and will go home in a few days. There has been some of the hottest weather that ever I saw in May. I don't know whether it has been so everywhere or not but it has been scorching down here until yesterday it turned a little cooler. I don't know when we will leave this place. Some say we will leave in a few days and others think we will stay until the war is over or until fall. I want you to write as often as possible and manage the best you can. Take good care of them sweet little children & especially the baby and if I never get back there is One who is able to protect you and I pray to Him to do it. Tell Mother and Father and the children that I would be glad to see them and that they must write to me and tell John & Kitty they might drop a few lines to Jo & me. Jo has been complaining for two or three days but he is getting better with all the rest of the Hardin boys. Well, there is not much sickness in the Regiment and all that is just diarrhea. That is about all the sickness that the soldiers have had down this way yet. We hear that Col. Boyles takes command of this reg. again and it causes a great confusion in the regiment. All the captains & lieutenants talk of resigning. The officers & men all thought there was nobody like Col. Smith. He is a nephew of old Henry Clay. I expect father has met him. He is from Bourbon County, Ky. I must bring my letter to close. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate husband until death.

A. A. Harrison

Absolom A. Harrison Correspondence

          19, Newspaper Report on Mrs. Major Belle Reynolds "a lady on the bloody battle-field of Pittsburg Landing."

Mrs. Major Belle Reynolds…is the wife of Lieutenant Reynolds, of Company A, Seventeenth Regiment Illinois Volunteers….The Seventeenth, to which her husband belongs, is one of the most popular regiments in our western army, being one of the earliest in the field, and during the whole war has been in active service. They met the enemy in a terrible encounter, and vanquished him, at Frederickstown, Missouri. They early took possession of Cape Girardeau; they also bore a prominent part, and were terribly cut up at the battle of Fort Donelson, and were in the thickest of the fight at the battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing. In these last two battles Lieutenant Reynolds was Acting Adjutant. During the greater part of the campaign Mrs. Reynolds has shared with her husband a soldier's fare in camp; many a night, while on long marches, sleeping upon the ground in the open air, with no covering other than her blanket, and frequently drenched with rain; and oftimes, to the order "Fall in," she has hurriedly mounted her horse in the darkness of the night, and made long marches without rest or food except such as she might have had with her. She has at all times exhibited a degree of heroism that has endeared her to the brave soldiers of the Seventeenth and other regiments that have been associated with them and to the officers of the army with whom she is acquainted.

Gov. Yates, of Illinois, and his staff were at Pittsburg Landing to look after the Illinois troops, who suffered so severely in that fearful struggle, and learning of Mrs. Reynolds' heroic conduct on the field, and untiring efforts in behalf of the wounded soldiers, he commissioned her Daughter of the Regiment, to take rank as a Major, "for meritorious conduct on the bloody battle-field of Pittsburg Landing." Mrs. R. left Pittsburg Landing a few days after the battle to attend some wounded soldiers to their homes by the rivers, leaving the last one at Peoria--Capt. Swain, of Illinois, who died as the boat touched the wharf at Peoria. She remained at Peoria a few days to recover from her fatigue, and has left again to rejoin the army.

The following letter has been addressed to Gov. Yates by citizens of Peoria:

"Peoria, April 27, 1862.

To his Excellency Richard Yates, Governor, etc. Springfield, Illinois.

Dear Sir--Permit us to thank you for the honor conferred upon Peoria by your voluntary act in commissioning Mrs. Belle Reynolds, of this city, to take rank as Major of Illinois State Militia, showing your appreciation of valuable services so nobly rendered by a lady on the bloody battle-field of Pittsburg Landing.

And we take pleasure in bearing testimony to the high moral and Christian character of the Major, believing that in whatever circumstances she may be placed she will ever honor her commission and the worthy Executive who gave it. [2]

*  *  *  *

Chicago Times, May 19, 1862

          19, Confederate proposal to release of political prisoners upon taking loyalty oath

KNOXVILLE, May 19, 1862.

Col. W. M. CHURCHWELL, Provost-Marshal.

SIR: As per your order of the 13th instant I proceeded to Madison, Ga., and released the prisoners whose signatures are appended to the oath I herein hand you. My instructions were to "release no man who had before taken the oath;" and to discriminate between those that had or had not taken the oath, I had this oath administered to them:

That you shall make true answers to the questions I shall ask your having taken an oath to support the constitution of the Confederate States of America. So help you God.

I then asked them if they had taken said oath and in every case was answered in the negative. As soon as they had all taken and signed the oath as per orders I turned them all over to Mr. T. J. Jarnagin. In looking over my list I found that several were never there, several are dead, and some have volunteered; and I would advise that a statement be made by Capt. Calhoun of all the prisoners that are or have been there-when released and by whose order. I find also their sanitary condition to be extremely bad. There are a great many sick and no physician to attend them that is at all skilled. My expenditures on the road amounted to $8. I consulted with the prisoners before their release but could find out nothing important enough to include in this report.

The above report, colonel, is respectfully submitted.

H. M. BEARDEN, Lieut., Company D, Thirty-ninth North Carolina Troops.

OR, Ser. II, Vol. 2, pp. 1426-1427.

          19, George Kryder's letter to his wife on the cost of food, his sickness and cure

To Elisabeth S. Kryder

Direct 3rd O.V.C. Co.I.

Woods Division

Pittsburg Landing,Tenn.

Pittsburgh Landing

May 19th 1862

….You was writing that if we only could be where you could cook for us. I wish it might be so but if we only had the articles to cook and the dishes to cook in we would get along very well, but things are so dear. I will give you a few prices of different articles: eggs 30 cts, butter 40 cts, dried peaches 25, cheese 25, butter-crackers 25 cts, and l0 cts for a loaf of bread not larger than my two fists and these prices we have paid when our appetites failed us that we could not eat pork and beans and hard crackers, sugar our sutler sells for only 30 cts pr pound, lemons 2 for 25 cts. Sometimes we can buy them for ten cents apiece. Now I think them are very high prices but they are correct. Yet when men are not rugged they will have them as long as they have money.

You thought that I was real sick and would not let you know, but it is not the case. I have just wrote to you how I was every time and will now tell you how I am. I am very weak. A week ago last Wednesday, our Company went out on picket-guard, and during the night it was very cold so that I got chilled through and took cold and did [not?] feel able to perform duty. So the orderly reported me on the sick list and I had to go to the doctors to be excused from duty, and the doctor gave me a dose of calomel which physicked me[3] awful bad. And it run me into the diarrhea and I took medicine for nearly a week and it run me down so weak that I could scarcely walk. And I quit taking their drugs[4] and I now feel pretty well only very weak, so I went and got me a quart bottle of bitters which cost two dollars but it gives me an appetite and I think in a week I will quite rugged again. Now this is the truth. You said if I could not come home to stay I should come on furlough but that will be impossible at present. But if I do not get home sometime this summer it is not as I expect for the war cannot last much longer in my opinion for they are losing every battle and this battle here at Corinth where Beaureguard has his whole force will tell the story if they are whipped here they will be likely to give it up.

….You say that I must write often. I write as often as you do and have not half as good a chance to write. To sit on a blanket beside of a trunk is not a very good writing table but still I will scribble…..

Direct Co. I. O.V.C. Buel's Army

Pittsburgh Landing Tenn.

George Kryder Papers




          19, Special Orders, No. 131, relative to easing shortage of laborers and mechanics in Nashville

Headquarters, Department of the Cumberland

Nashville, Tenn. May 19, 1863

Extract * * * *

II. Owing to the impossibility of having a sufficient number of laborers and mechanics, within the Department, authority is hereby granted Lieut. C. H. Irwin, A .A. Q. M. to send one agent to Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Ohio, to hire such a number of men as may be necessary.

The Quartermaster Department will furnish the necessary transportation to said agent, also transportation for the men hired by him from the place from which they may be hired to Nashville.

* * * *

By Order of Maj. Gen. Rosecrans

Simon Perkins, Jr. Papers

          19, A facetious Chattanoogan announces his candidacy for the Confederate Congress.

Editors Rebel-Gents: You will please adorn your columns with my patronymic. I am a candidate to represent Arizona Territory in the next Confederate Congress. By recent act of Congress, I discover that I can be voted for by my grateful fellow-citizens at any point between Chattanooga and the port of Nassau. It is true, I am not a resident of Arizona, but I have frequently declared my intention to become a citizen of that loyal section. It is true, I have no claims upon that ground of having been thrown into a Yankee prison, but I have been in the county jails of the country several times previous to the war. Being a refugee, and with no other "visible means of support," I think there ought to be room enough in the Congressional halls for another "heavy member," and will serve at as low as "any other man."

Hon. Kwort Keg

Nashville Dispatch, May 29, 1863.





          19, "Relief for East Tennessee."

This noble work is still progressing. There has been received in this city about 400 tons of supplies, consisting principally of flour, corn, and bacon. Another cargo of 150 tons is expected this week. They are being forwarded at the rate of one car load per day. It is to be regretted that the agencies of the army for the past two months have prevented their more speedy shipment, but even at this rate, all has been forwarded except about 70 tons. Accounts from all parts of East Tennessee represent the people in great destitution, and agents sent from particular localities for provisions bring with them most undoubted evidence that unless relief can be procured within ten days, the people of those localities will be compelled to leave the country to save themselves from starvation. Every effort will be made to supply these districts first.

If supplies can be sent forward at present rates for two months, it will sustain the people until something can be raised from the soil, and thereby save them from the only alternative that would be left to the greater portion [sic], of forsaking their native land and all that is included in the word home, and undergoing a perilous journey to the North, in which many lose their lives. If they can remain at home upon their farms, they will soon be able to support themselves; if they are compelled to leave, they must sacrifice all their property and thro [sic] themselves, for a time, entirely upon the charities of the world. In the meantime, they are grappling manfully with the foe. Women and girls are to be seen with their hands to the plow, driving old poor horses, and in some instances poor oxen, the only dependence for teams. The people of the North may rest assured that they will ever receive the due return of gratitude at the hands of such a people, for the magnanimous assistance they are now rendering in the hour of need. We publish these facts for the information of all concerned, by order of the Nashville Refugee Aid Society.

David T. Patterson, Pres.

John M. Gaut, Sec.

Nashville Dispatch, May 19, 1864.

          19, "Opening [sic] of the Northwestern Railroad."

By invitation, a large number of influential gentlemen assembled at the depot of the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad at 6 o'clock on Thursday morning for the purpose of celebrating the opening of that important route to the west and northwest by a trip to the Tennessee river, a distance of seventy-eight miles.

Forty minutes having been consumed in storing away a car load of creature comforts for the inner man during the day, and making other necessary preparations, the word was given, and the train whirled away over the trestle work toward the beautiful Tennessee. Company C, tenth [sic] Tennessee infantry, Captain Philips, accompanied the party as a guard, and the brass band of the same regiment honored the occasion by discoursing airs patriotic, pathetic, and enlivening, at every station or stopping place throughout the trip.

Having got well under way, we took a survey of those composing the party, and recognized his recognized his Excellency Gov. Johnson, Comptroller Jos. S. Fowler, Col. Browning, His Honor the Mayor of Nashville, Recorder Shane, Hon. M. M. Brien, Attorney, Gen. Stubblefield, Gen. R. S. Granger and his Adjutant General Capt. Nevin, Col. Scully, 10th Tennessee Infantry, Cole Thompson, John Clark, and Fladd [sic], Capt. Maurice P. Clarke, W. S. Cheatham, Esq., E. B. Garrett, Esq., and many others.

As may be imagined, there was not much to attract attention on either side of the road, it being cut, for the most part, through a wild uncultivated country; yet the scenery was pretty and the air pure-a pleasure and a blessing always grateful to the denizen of a city. Newsom's place[5] is very near, and his substantial rock dwelling corresponds with the goodness of his heart, as well as his taste in industry. The road is an excellent one, and is well laid, the wheels gliding smoothly over it. There are numerous bridges of various dimensions, the trestle work of some being from fifty to eight seven feet high; the Harpeth river is crossed five times in a very few miles, some of the bridges being very long, and all of them well guarded by troops, some white, other black, infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and strong stockades and fortifications; one of the stockades, built by the tenth [sic] Tennessee Infantry, under the direction of Col. Scully, is the strongest, neatest, and best, we have ever seen.

For twenty five or thirty miles, much of the country is under cultivation, the soil being tolerably productive; but beyond that, until you reach Waverly, sixty seven miles distant from Nashville, there are only a few "clearings," and these chiefly in the neighborhood of the Irish settlement.[6] On reaching Waverley, a salute was fired by the first Kansas battery, under direction of Captain Terry, and everywhere on the road, when troops were stationed, the men were drawn up in review, with arms presented as the train passed.

At one o'clock we reached the Tennessee river, and all walked to the bluff for the purpose of feasting their eyes upon the beauties of nature with which that river abounds. On the opposite side is a dense forest, extending as far as they eye can reach; the water is smooth as glass, and all nature is hushed. At this point the river is 903 feet wide at low water mark, and there is at least four feet [of] water at all seasons of the year.

Nashville Dispatch, May 21, 1864.



          19, Account of Negro revenge for the Fort Pillow massacre in Memphis

Memphis, Tenn., Friday, May 19.

The influx of paroled rebel troops into Memphis has caused a great excitement among the negro troops.

They got up a plot to assassinate every rebel soldier in Memphis in revenge for the Fort Pillow massacre.

The plot was discovered last night, and the white troops were put on guard to watch the movements of the negroes.

At a given hour the negroes attempted to come out of the fort to carry out their purpose, when they were ordered back again by the white troops.

The negroes refused to obey the order and a fight forthwith ensued.

After a sharp conflict, twenty of the negroes were killed and wounded and driven back in confusion into the fort. A strong guard is not kept over them.

New York Times, May 23, 1865

The Negro Plot to Murder Rebel Prisoners Declared to be a Hoax.

Cairo, Thursday, May 25.

Gen. Washburne states that the report from Memphis, telegraphed a few days since, giving an account of a plot among negro troops there, the contemplated massacre of paroled rebels, and the subsequent shooting of the colored troops, is false in every respect.

New York Times, May 26, 1865.

          19, Champ Ferguson declared an outlaw


Capt. HENRY SHOOK, McMinnville, Tenn.:

SIR: ....Champ Ferguson and his band have been declared outlaws by Maj.-Gen. Rousseau. The major-general commanding therefore directs that you do not accept the surrender of Ferguson or any member of his band, and that you treat them as outlaws. You will immediately make a list or roll of all those how long in service, age, rank, and when and where, surrendered, to whom surrendered, and where they live.

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

JNO. O. CRAVENS, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. II, p. 843.

          19, Observations made by an ex-Confederate soldier from the Army of Tennessee while on his way home to his home in Dyersburgh; the trip from Greeneville to Knoxville

Cloudy and warm-Health improving. We were ordered to be ready to get aboard the [railroad] Cars [sic] by 9 oclk [sic]. [sic] A.M. about [sic] 9 oclk [sic]. [sic] we were ordered aboard the cars and were apportioned 100 men to the box car which crowded us very much both inside and on top-We left a little after 10 oclk [sic]. [sic] A.M. and reached Knoxville about 5½ oclk [sic]. [sic] P.M. where we remained until about 8 oclk [sic]. [sic] when we went on without reshipping. It rained smartly during the evening.

Alfred Tyler Fielder Diaries.













[1] Homeless beggars in Venice, or beggars in general.

[2] The commission led to troubles in the Reynolds marriage as the following indicates:

The Woman Major--A Row in the Family.

We have appropriately chronicled the fact that Gov. Yates has commissioned as Major in one of the Illinois regiments with Gen. Halleck the wife of a Lieutenant, who had shown both courage and devotion to the cause of humanity among the sick and wounded on the field in and after the battle of Pittsburg Landing. …the Cincinnati Times tells us something further of her and the consequence of her appointment:

"I am sorry to inform you that there is at present some apprehension of a domestic difficulty, originating out of the late commission of a female to the rank of Major in the United States army.

"This worthy lady, whose bravery and Samaritan kindness to our wounded soldiers on the battle-field of Shiloh has won her the love and esteem of an appreciating public, and who has been promoted to rank by a grateful government is, I fear, about to fall victim to that most dreaded of delusions--jealousy. This lady is at present holding her headquarters on board one of the hospital steamers now lying at Pittsburg Landing, anxiously awaiting for the expected battle, to again render that comfort and aid known only to exist in the presence of angels and the attentions of lovely woman.

"But what is most unhappy in the case of this lady Major is, that her once adoring and loving husband, who now holds the rank of Lieutenant, insists on being made a Colonel, and gives as a reason that his wife now commands him, from the virtue of her rank--being a Major--and that this is directly contrary to the original understanding existing between them at the day of their nuptials.

From this protest of the Lieutenant I fear that all law abiding wives will hold up their hands and exclaim, "Oh! the brute."

Chicago Times, May 20, 1862.

Aside from marital discord, Major Reynolds was the victim of a home invasion:

Mrs. Major Reynolds.--Mrs. Major Belle Reynolds, who has been on Gov. Yates' staff, seems to be having rather a rough time. The recent reports concerning her and Yates have caused them to part company for the present, and she was last heard of in Missouri. The Hannibal Herald says that on Thursday evening, the 29th, two rowdies, formerly under Price's command, then under the influence of whisky, appeared at the quarters of Mrs. Major Belle Reynolds, at Hannibal, and demanded "an unconditional surrender," which was "declined." After taking another drink they proceeded to make "a regular investment of the Major's entrenchments," and, "having gained favorable positions," commenced an attack with brickbats and paving stones. While thus amusing themselves they were set upon by a detachment of police, captured and placed in limbo. The next morning the Major appeared against the miscreants, and they were fined according to their demerits.--Rock Island Argus.

Chicago Times, June 6, 1862.

As cited in:

[3] Loosened his bowels.

[4] Essentially opium, to tighten his bowels.

[5] Newsom's Mill was constructed in 1862 of hand dressed limestone blocks which were cut from the Newsom quarry near the house. The house was destroyed in the 1960s by the Tennessee Department of Transportation when Interstate 40 was built. The mill's remains are part of a scenic river plan. See: National Register of Historic Places file for Newsom's Mill at the Tennessee Historical Commission, 2941 Lebanon Road, Nashville 37243.

[6] Today the town of McEwen, in Humphreys county. See: James B. Jones, Jr., "Ethnically Identifiable Colonies and Settlements in Tennessee, 1780-1940," Study Unit No. 8, February 22, 1988, pp. 8-9. State Historic Preservation Office, Tennessee Historical Commission, 2941 Lebanon Road, Nashville 37243.


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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