Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Notes from Civil War Tennessee,June 1, 1861-1865.

Notes from Civil War Tennessee,

June 1, 1861-1865.




1, Decaying vegetables for the poor

Vegetables for the Poor.—Those who attend market with vegetable frequently have some left over, which are spoiled and thrown away before next morning; the city almoner desires us to state that if market people will leave such vegetables at his office, on Second street, east side, four doors north of Madison, he will each day distribute them to the widowed and other poor.

Memphis Daily Appeal, June 1, 1861




June 1, 1862, Dragging the flag in Murfreesboro, and excerpt from the diary of John C. Spence

....It appears on the return of Col. P.[arkhurst], he captured a confederate flag on the road that some playful boys had placed on their mammas hen house [sic] for their own amusement. This was a rare Trophy [sic], but cost little to make the capture. The boys of course made objections. It availed nothing; had to submit to the loss. It was brought to Murfreesboro. A novel scene takes place on the arrival of the union men, a display that rivals anything in the annals of history.

The men are formed on horseback. The Col. places himself at the head of the column. The Confederate Flag [sic] has a long string attached to it, the other end of string is fastened to his horse's take so it will drag along on the ground. All things being ready to make the start from the R. Depot. The word March! is given. The whole column move off. The Col. in the lead with the flag wallowing in the dust fastened to his horse tail. [sic] They make their way to the public square, and pass round in this dignified manner [sic], cheering as they go, assisted by the little boys and negros [sic]. Genl. Jackson would say "Glory enough for one day."

Spence Diary.




1, Notes on Nashville  - excerpts from a letter about a "Trip through Dixie."


This city impressed at first sight very favorably. We got in about 6:30 P. M. Many business houses were closed. The crowd on the streets was made up mostly of soldiers and contrabands. I had not an acquaintance in the city that I know of. The hotel at which I stay I find infernally poor in point of accommodations, as might be expected, and I understand charges are exorbitantly high- as also might be expected; yet still I have not felt so thoroughly at home as last night for months past. I think I understand and can explain it. The reason I take to be, the beauty and mildness of the evening, for I am sick of wet and chilly weather; and the luxury of…trees covered with leaves, flowers in full bloom, and expanses of verdure stretching from woods to woods.

After supper I went to the theatre where Harry Jordon was playing Rob Roy. The building was a mean one, but it was packed with humanity, principally dressed in blue; some dressed; some civilians were also present, and a few ladies. Singularly enough their heads all leaned towards some ornamented shoulder. I think that in the long run Cupid can beat secesh. I imagine that some of the fire-eating feminines of this city when looking at a Union uniform sing musingly, "A man's a man for all that."


One block below the St. Cloud hotel, at the corner of Cherry and Church streets, is an immense five-story building intended for a hotel. But never opened.[1] This is now barracks No. 1. The words of a Methodist hymn floated down from above. I inquired and was told that a prayer meeting was held every; night in the fifth story. My informant next inquired, "Are you a Northern man?"….

Secessionists are groaning this week in Nashville. I could not have come at a better time to see the screws put to them. General orders came thick and fast. One , a day or two ago, requires every citizen of Nashville having a stranger come to his house to report the same to the military authorities within one hour, giving the name, residence, destination, mode of arrival and business of his guest. Another order, date the 21st [of July] informs the community that hence forth no one can be allowed to reside within the Federal lines who has not taken the oath of allegiance, or given bonds to live as a parched alien enemy.. Ten days days are allowed to attend to these little duties; or omitting them, parties must effect to be taken beyond our lines into Dixie. Is this all? Not yet. Gen Rosencrantz feels the necessity of having his cavalry well mounted to be effective. Hence another order: "No horse can be taken out of the city without special permit." Nashville did abound in good horses: to-day many mules are working in buggies, etc., and the hacks are drawn by about the most the wretched set of scarecrows ever seen. Cause-three days since most of the good stock were "pressed:" Was the owner a loyal man? Had he taken the oath? "Yes" – all right; a receipt was duly given him, good for the value of the horse. "No" – in deed, that altered the case. The officer regretted the necessity, etc. Etc., but the horse went -  and their was no receipt.


Why, New Orleans under Butler was a garden of tranquil delights to the secesh, compared to what Nashville is to-day. Every day he [Rosecrans] sends some of the most bitter of the rebel sympathizers to the penitentiary. At breakfast this morning I heard, casually, that the owner of this hotel had just been sent to that asylum for distressed patriots. About 700 took the oath yesterday, and from the crowds around the offices I should think more to-day. Not much is said, at least, in the presence of strangers, but there is weeping and gnashing of teeth in secret.

I heard some funny things to-day. At 9 A. M. I called at Lieut. Osgood's, as directed, for a pass. As usual sentinels were at the door and a crowd was waiting on the outside. "Brass," said I…as I pushed up to the offices. "I wish," said I, "to report immediately to Lieut. Osgood."

"Report" took him: he looked once or twice sharply and "pass in" he said.

In the ante-room there was a crowd again, and three or four clerks were attending to them. In the rear was the sanctum sanctorum of the Marshal. I entered. A lady elegantly dressed was receiving form him a paper, and he was saying: "The Colonel is peculiar, Madam. I give you these lines to him, but he may refuse for reasons of his own."

Lady-You officers are all peculiar.

Osgood-Good morning.

A second lady comes on the scene She is evidently got up for the occasion, with an engaging smile fastened across her face.

Osgood – "What can I do for you madam?"

Lady-My mother is very sick in Elkton, Kentucky, and I wish to see her very much.

O. – Can you go bay railroad?

2d lady – No, with horse and buggy. Will they let my horse pass? He is an old one, of no use."

O – I will tell you how to do, Madam. Send your horse to Col____. He will, if, as you say, the horse is valueless, give you a certificate to the effect that he is useless for the public service. Bring it to me, I will endorse it, and you can pass the pickets.

The lady looks at her companion-hesitates-lingers; but finally goes out. It is plainly a ca=se of good horse, with the story of the sick mother invented for the occasion. I step up, present pass and say: "I am____; I arrived last night, am stopping at the St. Cloud, and report myself to you as ordered."

O:  - "What is your business in Nashville?"

Self – To get to Murfreesboro.

O: -  What are you going there for?"

Self: – To see my brother….

O: -  I really have no right to pass you to the front, but will give him a pass anyhow. Take this to the office, and he rapidly wrote his name on a slip of paper. Good morning.

A pass to the front is hard to get and I feel better now. So it ran on all day, the tide of life. Flowing in and ebbing out in the little happy or disappointed waves. The levee is reported with steamers, unloading stores, and the streets are full of wagons, but they are all marked "U.S." To-day I was through some of the hospitals. They are clean as a pin, with better beds than I had last night. I heard the hospital Commissary going over his requisitions from the medical purveyor. Can peaches, can tomatoes, oysters, orange and lemons were all on the list. The sick are doing well. One surgeon told me that in his hospital, out of 48 patients, he only had to prescribe for one this morning. I have only commenced this letter but must quit, for I have talked, talked, drank whisky and written until I am tired.


Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco, June 1, 1863.




            4, "…the evils of slavery are apparent and more horrible to me than ever; but believe me, to-day the white man is the greatest sufferer." A Northerner's Observations on the Effects of Emancipation in Tennessee


We commend the following extract from a letter from East Tennessee, published in the N. Y. Evening Post, to our correspondent who argues that the Constitution is all right as it now stands, so far as it's prohibition of slavery is concerned. The writer of the letter is doubtless is concerned. The writer of the letter is doubtless right in saying that the only chance for the slave is in the despair which an amendment of and Constitution would produce. Slaveholders, at least, the great mass of them, will never favor emancipation if they can avoid it.-And when forced upon them the present generation, as has been the case in the British West India Islands, will thwart  the operations of freedom forced upon them in all the ways they can. But with the Constitution unamended, as slavery has existed under it for three-fourths of a century and all the decisions of the courts for that period; and the administration of the Government having proceeded upon its lawfulness, how can emancipation ever be carried into full operation.

Murfreesboro', May 3, 1864.

"It is not always true, coelum non animum. I doubt if any one can cross the Ohio river for the first time without being very much changed in all his views. For myself, I find so many things different, and much worse than I had supposed, that the evils of Southern society no longer hold the same relative position in my mind or interest.

"The condition of the blacks is worse than I had imagined; but I never began to understand the condition of the whites. The generally low standard of knowledge' the intellectual stagnation among even the most advanced; the narrow sphere of thought and conservatism in which my own associates move; the ignorance in the middle classes of the ordinary democratic ideas of progress; the absence of any thought of any thought of right to opportunity on the part of those who need it most; the deplorable darkness of the lower whites, are to me evils so new and appalling that I no longer burn with indignation at the wrongs of the negro, without being calmed and sickened by the universal degradation. My Northern blood boils oftener at the contemptuous tone of the privileged classed towards the underprivileged than at the unquestioned domination of color; and when I see a white man without property, education or hope, I feel that if I could but inspire him with a conviction of his rights, I should be kindling a fire which would burn in him, perhaps, longer than in me. No one who has not seen it can understand the depths of debasement in which the underprivileged whites are steeped. Do not suppose that I am less anti-slavery: the evils of slavery are apparent and more horrible to me than ever; but believe me, to-day the white man is the greatest sufferer.

"If you have any influence at Washington use it to promote an amendment of the Constitution-nothing less can save this State. There is but little loyalty here. Regret for the war became unsuccessful, and a wish to return to former avocations in peace, are the most favorable feelings. An earnest desire to retain their slaves, t keep them together until peace returns, and an abiding faith that the State will never consent to the abolition of slavery, are the strongest incentives of the masters.- They will not hire their slaves themselves; they prefer to sit in solitary destitution. They will not consent to others hiring them they prefer to see a general embarrassment of all parties, and predict with pleasure the hoped-for failure of the new experiment. They will do nothing recognizing that the negro is entitled to anything.

"The only chance for the State is in the despair which an amendment to the Constitution would produce. Once let them see that Slavery is impossible, that no power within or without can re-establish it-be their negroes ever so willing, or the system ever so beneficial-and the masters will give up the contest in despair. Their children and grand-children may then become industrious men, and their posterity will raise the State to the proper place to which its natural resources entitle it-but from this generation nothing is to be expected.

"Therefore, if you can do anything to promote the amendment of the Constitution, do so; and your success will, in my opinion, accomplish more for mankind, without regard to color, than any effort in any other direction."

Evening Post.

Vermont Chronicle, June 4, 1864. [2]





1, Fixing the blame; Major-General R. H. Milroy speaks in McMinnville

* * * *

The South is ruined and the Administration is bearing down very hard upon her. Milroy was here last week and made a speech – said among other smart things that rebels wanted their rights and they could have them – their rights were 8 ft. [sic] of rope. He gave Ben Hill[3] leave to speak under a great many restrictions, defining what he should and should not say. Mill made a short speech – people say a good deal more to the point than Milroy's. Said he didn't fire the first gun – but fought 'em in earnest, and with a good hearty will: he under the same circumstances would do it again. If the Federal Gov. wanted what little property he had, the said. Gov. could have it and welcome – he had been a laboring man once and he could become so again. He wished everybody to distinctly understand that he didn't "gather blackberries on both sides of the creek" in this struggle, etc. Milroy went to Prof. Clark's school [and] made a speech to the pupils – uninvited. When Mr. C. had finished his recitations he told the Gen. he could have the floor. He told the school that in the late difficulty Mr. C. was wrong and Miss Clift was right – that rebels had no right – were not to be accorded any! They young people must learn all they could –and they must also teach the niggers [sic]. The rebels must not say they were overwhelmed – they must say they were whipped. etc. etc. He stuttered so that one of the little Stanley's whispered to Jennie Scott – "Miss Jennie, do you reckon he is drunk." Clark told the Col. next day he feared Milroy had utterly ruined his school. Clark had been down upon extremists – he aid both sides were wrong – Milroy told him this must not be said, nobody was wrong but the rebels! Of such are our rulers. Two General Orders have just come from Tulahoma [sic] – in one everything rebellious is ordered obliterated – gray uniforms are to [be] among the buried; and the ladies are advised not to manufacture any more gray good for wearing apparel! Yet the Yankee blue flaunts before our eyes as hatefully as ever. Burling[,] one of the Yankee soldiers[,] said a good thing – said "Milroy had given Cark a devil of row to hoe – to make that school loyal – he had put on poor Clark what he couldn't do himself!" Billings was here with Milroy….

War Journal of Lucy Virginia French.




[1] The Maxwell House.

[2] TSL&A, 19th CN.

[3] Benjamin Jefferson Hill, Tennessee assemblyman 32nd General Assembly, 1857-1859; representing Warren, Cannon Coffee, Grundy and Van Buren counties. An attorney and president of the Manchester to McMinnville Railroad. He served in the Confederate army, rising to the rank of Brigadier General. Claimed his was the "last command on the east side of the Misissippi that surrendered." He died in McMinnville January 5, 1880. Robert McBride, Dan M. Robison, eds., Biographical Directory of the Tennessee General Assembly, Vol. I, 1796-1861, (Nashville: Tennessee Historical Commission, 1975, pp. 365-366.


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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