Documents demonstrating resistance to the Tennessee Draft in December 1861.
1, "It was Unnecessary;" editorial disapproval of Governor Harris' military draft
We all feel … the vital importance of meeting the emergency in the spirit and strength of freemen, preferring death … to life in serfdom to our enemies. But, while admitting this truth, we cannot believe that these extraordinary reqirementsattendant upon the existing war justify…draft upon the people as a means of increasing the strength of our armies. ….the purpose desired could no doubt sooner have been accomplished, without …. the lasting shame of a military draft….
Nashville Daily Gazette, December 1, 1861.
1, "Must the Odium Endure."
To a people so free, so high toned, so intelligent, so liberal and so patriotic as the citizens of Tennessee,-to a people so thoroughly and entirely devoted to the promised escape from the Lincoln despotism, and so freely yielding their blood and treasure to the great cause of resistance to the black Republican tyranny sought to be imposed upon the states of the South,-to a people so sensible of their rights as freemen, and so confident of their ability to sustain their late action in revolutionising [sic] against the old Federal government, and entering upon a new state of political existence,-nothing could be more mortifying, nothing more humiliating than an attempt upon the part of their authorities to fix upon them the eternal odium of drafting their citizens into the military service. No wonder, then, that our people are next to dumb with astonishment at the high handed outrage upon their constitutional rights, at the broad innovation upon a former usage, and at the direct question of their courage and patriotism, perpetrated and implied in late orders of the Governor of Tennessee. No wonder that in all quarters and among all classes of people, irrespective of politics and conditions, there is but one opinion-and that deeply and severely condemnatory-of this threatened compulsion and disgrace of those who, once had occasion to pride themselves upon being citizens of the "Volunteer State." Let this threat be executed and Tennessee falls forever from her high estate, and her citizens and soldiers are doomed to the eternal and damning disgrace of having a forced soldiery in the field. Let it be carried out as threatened, and the name of Tennessean will no longer be desirable, but rather a thing to be avoided and desecrated. Draft the people of Tennessee, and the name of the present Executive of the State, Isham G. Harris, [sic] becomes forever infamous, and justly a by-word and a reproach. Draft the people of and henceforth no citizen or soldier of hers can with pride lift up his head in the proud consciousness that the hails from the "Volunteer State." Draft the people of Tennessee, and all her patriotism and liberality have been expended in vain to give her respectability of position in the new sisterhood of States Draft the people of Tennessee, and her soldiers become forever the subjects of ridicule and derision. Is there no escape from this high handed attempt to engulph [sic] a free and brave people of the State in a sea of unfathomable ruin?
Nashville Daily Gazette, December 1, 1861.
3, "Volunteering;" complaints about Governor Harris' draft in Giles County
The last call of the Governor for volunteers has been nobly responded to in this county-more than half the militia stepped forward as volunteers, and are now organizing themselves into companies, ready for marching orders.
This county was entitled to a credit for four companies, viz.,: Capt. Winstead's, Capt. Hanna's, Capt. Hundicutt's, and Capt. Worley's which recently went into camp from this county: but it seems the Militia officers were ignorant of this fact, and have therefore required half the remaining militia to go into the field. This does gross injustice to the liberal and patriotic people of Giles, and leaves her women and children almost defenseless. We call upon the proper authorities to have this matter investigated and corrected immediately.
Pulaski Citizen, as cited in the Nashville Daily Gazette, December 3, 1861.
3, Militia companies in Palmyra and the fight at Cousin Sally Dillard's.
Last Tuesday [3rd], we made a flying trip to Palmyra….Some people are disposed to doubt the courage of the militia, but that doubt would have been removed could they have seen the fight we saw-a real fisty-cuff-between a small militiaman and one nearly double his size. Big militiamen cried-Hold! enough! " and little militiaman was pulled off, and so ended the fight "at Cousin Sally Dillard's."
Clarksville Chronicle, December 6, 1861.
4, "A Weak Invention;" one editor's support for resisting Governor Harris' draft
Some of those who set themselves up as the apologists of the drafting party, use the argument that Gov. Harris, in making this extreme demand upon the people of his State, was governed by the advice and counsel of those higher in authority than himself. We may justly denominate this a week invention of the Governor's friends to shield him from the storm of public indignation now breaking above his head. Even were the dangers of the times an hundred fold greater than they really are, the fact would not afford sufficient excuse of the suicidal policy adopted by Gov. Harris in regard to the militia of Tennessee.-Had all the Governors of the Confederate States united with President Davis and General Johnston in asking that Tennessee should be the first State in the Confederacy to submit to the disgrace of military conscription, the demand should have been sternly resisted. This is to-day the sentiment of an immense majority of the people of Tennessee. Regarding this draft as a disgraceful blot upon the fair reputation of the State-a stab wantonly and unnecessarily inflicted-her citizens are hardly in the mood, we take it, for granting pardon to the principal author of the evil, upon any such trifling plea of innocence. The Governor was the guardian, How can they, then, think he acted in good faith, if he had not the manliness to answer to the demand, no matter from what quarter it came, to make conscripts of those who had, time after time, honored him with their suffrages, their confidence, and their trusts?
Nashville Daily Gazette, December 4, 1861.
4, The Nashville Daily Gazette objects to Governor Harris' plan to draft the militia into the Confederate army
The Nashville Daily Press.
Ours, it seems, is the only daily Nashville paper which does not approve the course adopted by Gov. Harris for the purpose of getting additional Tennessee troops into the field. The Union and American, the Patriot, and the Banner – "Tray, Blanch and Sweetheart" - yelp out high sounding praises of the course his Excellency has seen proper to pursue in order to remind Tennesseans that he desired a given number of them to turn their attention immediately to military matters. At this parade of our city contemporaries against the position we have assumed in regard to the force measures of our Chief Executive, we are neither astonished nor mortified. The Gazette is not unused to advocating alone measures subsequently endorsed by the people. For some time, alone, so far as the Nashville press was concerned, it advocated resistance to Black Republican rule. For a longer time, it can, alone, if necessary, contend for the modification of abuses, whether internal or external.
Towards its contemporaries who disagree with its assumptions against abuses of official prerogatives or other public wrongs, it can afford to be charitable. Before this irresistible tide of popular opinion they have followed us on former occasions. By virtue of the same force, they may imitate our examples again.
Nashville Daily Gazette, December 4, 1861
5, "A Mistaken Haste;" anti-draft editorial from the Memphis Argus.
It must be admitted that, as far as this city is concerned, the late militia call by the Governor, made as it was and when it was, has by no means increased confidence in his wisdom nor respect for the cause, and this simply because the first order in connection with the matter, were misunderstood by our people, and for this misunderstanding Governor Harris must of necessity stand responsible. A mere order, unaccompanied by explanations, is right in a military leader; but it will never be willingly obeyed when it affects a man's private business, denies him the right of exercising his own will, and requires of him the risking of life, liberty and property, intones so autocratic that the Czar of Russia might envy them. For whatever ill effect, morally, the cause has sustained through his excellency's haste, as well as for the diminution of public confidence in his wisdom, he can blame but himself, and those who, after the surprise at Belmont, spread, of sought to spread, a wholly unfounded alarm through this community.
We are sorry the affair was so miserably managed, and the more sorry that his excellency's real desires, and the wise ideas which he wished to realize by the call might have been gratified and realized without having caused a single murmur from any honest Southern man. Our men, women and children, our servants, will peril, will sacrifice their all in this quarrel, and think it but their duty. The Governor knows this, and is himself, probably, as true and brave a ruler as ever sat in our gubernatorial chair. Misunderstandings will occur between the best intentioned friends. Let us forget this one, forgive, and see how many of us are needed and can be used to effect, and just so many can and will be ready and proud to march for good old Tennessee.
Nashville Daily Gazette, December 4, 1861.
6, Report of a draft riot in Nashville [see December 12, 1861. "Report of negative reactions to the Confederate draft in Nashville ca. December 6, 1861" below]
"A riot occurred at Nashville, Tenn., Occasioned by the authorities resorting to drafting soldiers to supply the rebel army. The boxes used for this purpose [i.e., "draft lottery"] were broken up, and during the excitement two persons were killed and several wounded. Governor Harris was forced to keep his room, and was protected by a strong guard."
New York Times, December 8, 1861.
6, "What is Needed."
The militia of Tennessee need drilling. They never did and never will need drafting. Soldiers and the sons of soldiers may be long continued devotion to the pursuits of peace grow rusty in the science of war. The same cause cannot however, impair their patriotism. The idea that they need the threat of compulsion to make them volunteers is new and novel, and he who entertains it is a slanderer. The Governor of the State makes the threat, thus degrading his position and seeking to disgrace the people who elevated him to it.
Nashville Daily Gazette, December 6, 1861.
7, Observation by an L&N railroad agent on difficulties with raising troops in the Volunteer State
Mr. A. B. Barker, the well known railroad agent, arrived from Nashville, Tenn., last evening having left that place on Saturday, the 23d inst. He made his way to this city with much difficulty, as he was a well known Union man, and was unable to obtain a pass from the rebel authorities. Mr. Barker has resided in Nashville during the past two years, and as he was immediately connected with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad up to the time of his departure, enjoyed fine opportunity for observing the movements of the army in that quarter.
It will be remembered that Gov. Harris, of Tennessee, made a requisition a few month's ago for thirty thousand men and additional arms. The call met with no response whatever, and the authorities were compelled to resort to a draft in order to fill the requisition. The work of drafting commenced in Nashville the day of his departure.
He estimates the number of rebel troops between Nashville and Bowling Green at twenty eight thousand. He assures us that they are miserably fed and badly clothed, and that there is a great deficiency in the matter of arms. Many of them, too, are ill, and he thinks there are fully three thousand five hundred sick soldiers in Nashville alone.
No attention is given to the payment of the troops, and the soldiers have so accustomed to that sort of neglect, that they do not expect to receive remuneration for their services, being but to glad if they can obtain sufficient subsistence to keep their souls and bodies together. Alluding to the case of Harry Duvall, of this city, in this arms connection he says, he says that Harry arrived from Richmond a few days ago with sixteen dollars in his pocket, the remainder of seven hundred dollars which he carried with him from this city to the Confederacy. Harry has no command now and no employment.
Mr. Barker was familiar with many of the boys who left this city and joined the rebel army, and relates some amusing episodes in their histories down there. He says that Blanton Duncan has fallen into disgrace there, having given up the pursuit after military fame and adopted gambling as a profession.
Louisville Daily Journal, December 7, 1861.
12, Report of negative reactions to the Confederate draft in Nashville ca. December 6, 1861. [see ca. December 6, 1861, "Report of a draft riot in Nashville above]
The Louisville Correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette writes, under date of the twelfth of December, 1861, the following facts relative to the attempt of the Tennessee authorities to draft soldiers:
"I have news from Nashville to the sixth [Dec. 6th]. Indignation of Gov. Harris' orders to raise troops by draft from the militia was intense, even among the secessionists. The Daily Gazette denounced it in unmeasured terms, declaring that it was worse than Lincoln's call for men to 'subdue the South.' In the fourth ward of Nashville, Capt. Patterson refused to obey orders for conscription, but was afterward forced to obedience by a threat of court-martial. In South-Nashville, on the second inst., a mob of more than one hundred men rushed upon the Governor's officers, and broke up the boxes used in drafting. A fight ensued between the Confederate officers and the people, in which two persons were killed and ten or twelve wounded.
"Gov. Harris was compelled to keep his room at the St. Cloud up to the time my informant left, under strong guard, for fear of assassination by the incensed people. He had received many anonymous letters threatening his life. Col. Henry Calibourne, of the militia, was also afraid to show his head on the streets.
"The writer further states that J. O. Griffith, financial proprietor of the Nashville Union and American, original secessionist, and Hugh McCrea, an Irish original secessionist, were among those drawn for militi[a] service. There wholesale dry goods merchants, Alfred Adams, Tom Fife, and W. S. Akin, had also been selected to shoulder the musket. Some wealthy persons offered as high as two thousand dollars for substitutes."
Cincinnati Gazette, December 12, 1861.
21, The character of war in East Tennessee and resistance to the Confederate draft in Nashville
Intestinewar, with savage ferocity on the part of the rebels, now rages in Tennessee. The statements are confused and doubtless exaggerated, but too much is true.
The city of Nashville was in high state of excitement on the 6th, and on the following day an attempt was made to draft the citizens into the army. The indignation of the people was intense. A riot broke out in the Fourth ward. Four policemen were shot dead. The mob rushed to the Capitol to attack Governor Harris, who fled to Memphis. on the same day, 2,500 men from Louisiana passed the city for Kentucky, carrying a black flags embellished with a skull and cross bones. They were mostly armed with shot guns.
On the 1st of this month a band of Union men from Williamsburg, Kentucky marched.
Atlanta Democrat, December 21, 1861.