Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

4, o­n the road from Murfreesboro to Shelbyville; an Ohio officer's impressions of Middle Tennessee

Resumed the march at seven o'clock in the morning, the Third [Regiment] in advance. At o­ne place o­n the road a young negro, perhaps eighteen years old, broke from his hiding in the woods, and with hat in hand and a broad grin o­n his face, came running to me. "Massa," said he, "I wants to go wid you." "I am sorry, my boy, that I can not take you. I am not permitted to do it." The light went out in the poor fellow's eyes in a moment, and, putting o­n his slouch hat, he went away sorrowful enough. It seems cruel to turn our backs o­n these, our o­nly friends. If a dog came up wagging his tail at sight of us, we could not help liking him better than the master, who not o­nly looks sullen and cross at our approach, but in his heart desires our destruction.

As we approach the Alabama line we find fewer, but handsomer houses; larger plantations, and negroes more numerous. We saw droves of women working in the fields. When their ears caught the first notes of the music, they would drop the hoe and come running to the road, their faces all aglow with pleasure. May we not hope that their darkened minds caught glimpses of the sun and a better life, now rising for them?

* * * *
We entered Shelbyville at noon. There were more Union people here than at Murfreesboro, and we saw many glad faces as we marched through the streets. The band made the sky ring with music, and the regiment deported splendidly. o­ne old woman clapped her hands and thanked heaven that we had come at last. Apparently almost wild with joy, she shouted after us, "God be with you!"

We went into camp o­n [the] Duck river, o­ne mile from town.

Beatty, Citizen Soldier, pp. 124-125



4, Capture of Federal soldiers at Starnes' Mill

No circumstantial reports filed.

CHAPEL HILL, April 5, 1863--8 p. m.

Lieut.-Gen. POLK, Shelbyville, Tenn.:

GEN.: My scouts have just returned from College Grove. They report that Col. [J. W.] Starnes captured a party of the enemy at Starnes' Mill yesterday evening. The enemy were in line of battle at College Grove nearly all day. Col. Starnes, who camped there last night, retired this morning. Scouts entered the town about half an hour after the enemy left, and reported their number between 300 and 500.

No infantry crossed the river.

JOSIAH PATTERSON, Col. Cavalry Regt.

MRS. GLASCOCK'S, Woodbury Road, April 5, 1863--8.45 p. m.

Maj. D. G. REED, Assistant Adjutant-Gen., and
Maj.-Gen. WHEELER, Cmdg. Cavalry Corps, McMinnville, Tenn.:

I drove in the rear, about 5 p. m., of the force that came out from Woodbury this morning. It proved to be a regiment of infantry, with a small cavalry force, to draw me out into the ambuscade they had prepared.

At that hour (5 p. m.) they had no force on this side of Woodbury. I have information of only one regiment of infantry being at Woodbury. The cavalry force there has gone up the Short Mountain road, probably as high as Smithville. With that information, I moved to this point, with a view to prevent a force coming in my rear from Short Mountain.

I received a dispatch late this morning from Lieut.-Col. [J. M.] Bounds, commanding the Eleventh Texas, stating that that regiment and the Third Confederate, under Lieut.-Col. [W. N.] Estes, were at Jacksborough, and would encamp 3 miles nearer McMinnville than that point, and, if I needed their assistance, they would come here before proceeding to McMinnville.

I would respectfully ask of the major-general to grant me the privilege of taking my own and those two regiments, and go to-morrow morning, by way either of Smithville or by Woodbury, on the Short Mountain road, and see what can be done with the cavalry force that has gone there. I would like to have an immediate answer. I would respectfully ask the major-general to permit me to order Capt. [J. W.] Nichol, Company G, of my command, to my regiment. It is at Bradyville. I would like to have the latest information that you have in reference to Gen. Morgan's position at present. I have a scout out toward the Short Mountain road, and as soon as it comes in I will send you another dispatch. I also have one on the other flank.

I am, major, very respectfully, &c.,

BAXTER SMITH, Col., Cmdg. Fourth Tennessee Cavalry.
P. S.--It is impossible for me to give information to the command at Smithville or Liberty of any movements of the enemy under present circumstances, unless they are sent by McMinnville.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23. pt. II, pp. 739-740.



4, Report to President Jefferson Davis' office regarding subsistence difficulties of Army of Tennessee; bank-notes vs. CSA Treasury notes


Atlanta, Ga., April 4, 1863.

Col. WM. PRESTON JOHNSTON, Aide-de-Camp to His Excellency President Davis:


* * * * 

As you are aware, I have recently visited the Army of Tennessee, and upon my return to this place I made a full report of my observations to the Department at Richmond, and for particulars of said report I refer you to the original, which is now on file in the office of the Commissary-Gen. The substance of this report was that I found the commissaries of that army working with a great deal of energy, and I am encouraged to believe that their success will be such (since the transportation and roads are improving) that the necessity for drawing on the reserves will not be so great as it has been heretofore (during the winter months). I do not hesitate to state that I think the commissaries of the Army of Tennessee are now doing all that it is possible to do in the way of collecting supplies. The most of the subsistence that they are now collecting is being obtained from near and within the enemy's lines; indeed, some of my agents are operating in the rear of the Federal lines, and with much success. Their success, however, is to a great extent attributable to my having furnished them with bank-notes, which were drawing supplies that could not be reached with Confederate Treasury notes, for the reason that the people near and within the enemy's lines cannot use Confederate Treasury notes to any advantage. 

Although the people of Middle Tennessee are as loyal and devotedly attached to the South as any people within the Confederacy (indeed, their sacrifices for our cause have been great and heavy, as much as any other section, and in fact much more than many other sections) at the same time those people feel that they have other obligations upon them- those of providing for their families. They are willing to give all their subsistence provided they are paid in currency that will procure subsistence for their wives and children if our Armies should meet with a reverse, and we again be compelled to leave that devoted and loyal people to the mercies of the foul invader. Under these circumstances I did think, and still think, this policy would largely increase our stock of subsistence, which is more valuable to us than even gold or precious jewels. I felt it was a duty we owed that people (having given up as they have the principal part of their subsistence at comparatively low prices) to leave with them a circulation that would obtain for them the necessaries of life if we should be compelled to vacate the country. Unfortunately, as it appears to me, the Secretary of War has a different view of the case and has given an order that bank-notes shall not be used in Tennessee, but may be used in Kentucky. I cannot see why the discrimination should be made against the people of Tennessee, who are nominally in the Federal lines. At any rate, I am satisfied that the refusal of the use of bank-notes in that section of Middle Tennessee that is near or within the enemy's lines will seriously interfere with the collection of supplies. My opinion on this question is, that if bank-notes will procure more subsistence than Treasury notes (in this time of great want), we should use the bank-notes, and if bank-notes will not obtain the supplies and gold will, then we should use the gold. 

It is evident to all in authority (those who have investigated the question of subsistence) that our battle against want and starvation is greater than against our enemies; hence I think no stone should be left upturned in this great struggle for subsistence, for, without subsistence, all must admit our Government to be a failure. I think that (although mortifying and humiliating) we are justified in resorting to any and all conceivable modes of obtaining supplies, even, if needs, be to exchange cotton with the enemy for bacon. "Cotton will not answer for subsistence," and I think if we can conceive any plan by which we can exchange cotton for supplies, we should be all means do so. As much as I regret to say it, the necessity is upon us, and requires prompt and energetic action; therefore I respectfully submit for the consideration of the President and others in authority, the necessity and importance of entering at once into negotiations for procuring supplies from the enemy or the friends of the enemy, by exchanging cotton with them. I am assured this can be successfully done; indeed I have, within the last few days, had propositions made by enterprising, responsible, energetic, and loyal parties to undertake, it and have the best of reasons for believing the enterprise will at least partially succeed. In addition to this mode of procuring supplies, much may, and I hope will, be done in bringing supplies from foreign ports. This matter has been presented to and I suppose considered by the Commissary Department. If it meets the sanction and approval of the Administration, I will do what I can in organizing and negotiating for these enterprises. I feel much interest; indeed, I feel that everything depends on the question of subsistence, and I feel the importance of straining every nerve at once and without delay, to increase our present limited and fast decreasing stock of subsistence.

* * * * 

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

[J. F. CUMMINGS, Maj. and Commissary of Subsistence.]

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. II, pp. 770-772.

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