Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

27, Brigadier-General G. M. Dodge explains the rationale for army foraging and anti-guerrilla activities in Middle Tennessee

HDQRS. LEFT WING, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Pulaski, Tennessee, November 27, 1863.

Col. HENRY R. MIZNER, Cmdg., Columbia:

I regret that any of my soldiers should have been guilty of acts in violation of the laws of war. When officers and men are not designated, it is almost impossible to fasten it upon the guilty parties. I will endeavor to do so in this case. My orders are that my troops shall live upon this country (my trains are supplied by stock from it), but that it must be done in an orderly and legitimate manner. I propose to eat up all the surplus, and perhaps the entire crops in the country, take all serviceable stock, mules, horses, &c., so that when we leave here no rebel army, if it should ever get here, can live a day. These people are proud, arrogant rebels, who beg our protection, but wish to be allowed at the same time to oppose our armies and our Government. The hands of all Federal officers should fall justly but heavily upon them, so that they should respect us-not from love, for they never will do that, but from fear of the power of our Government. Now I propose, so far as I can, to let these people know that we are at war; that we are in a country of rebels, and that they must support my command, respect and obey my orders, and that all they possess belongs legitimately to the U. S. Government. If they bring it to me freely I propose to pay for it, not that it is their right, but that it is cheaper for us and for the Government. If I go after it I never pay. I never ask them to take the oath, but treat them as they act. Every rebel takes the oath to save his property. I know no Union man in this country unless he openly declares and shows by his acts that he is willing and ready to shoulder a musket in our cause. My soldiers know the penalty of any violation of orders; they also know what is proper and right, and if detected in wrong-doing will be punished to the extent of the law.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. M. DODGE, Brig.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. III, pp. 261-262




        27, "Condition of the Contrabands at Nashville."

The correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial, writing from this city on the 20th instant, says:

There is another dark subject upon which light is wanted-the contrabands. Thousands of negroes came into our lines when Nashville was first included in them. Each movement of our army increased the number of contrabands, until their name is legion. The army is full of them, and they are to be found in every possible position where labor for an army is required. These blacks enlist in the colored regiments, and fill them up a soon as recruiting is opened. The mulattoes keep aloof, and in but rare instances are to be found in uniform and cross belts. The cause of this I cannot affirm; the fact is remarkable. Meanwhile, what becomes of the families of these colored soldiers? They are scattered about everywhere, homeless, shelterless, and left to ship for themselves. Many of the women and grown girls are used as laundresses, cooks, scullions, etc., in hospitals, but they do not receive a cent of wages. Surgeons possessing humanity and a sense of justice have tried in vain, for months, to procure payment for these wretched by necessary people, for the drudgery of camps and hospitals can not be done without them. It is a fact that may of the women now laboring in the hospitals have hardly sufficient clothes to cover their nakedness, and they would absolutely starve but for the food they procure while at work. I have been requested again, and again, by the best surgeons here, to give publicity to these facts, which press themselves upon the most careless and indifferent observer. Is it any wonder that these poor creatures "forget Christ"-like the old deacon when he kissed the pretty young girl-and steal? And who shall blame them? The shirts, drawers and hose of the patients, and the sheets and other bedding of the hospitals are heavily taxed by these people, purely out of self-protection, and it is high time the matter was taken up and justly disposed of. While seeing as the Medical Directory of the post, Dr. Wm. Clendenin had the papers of the different hospitals so arranged as to include payment for the colored laborers, and yet not conflict with any existing regulation: but when he was relieved no one took sufficient interest in the matter, and it fell to the ground, where it still lies, a crying evil among a great many others. Some of the surgeons contemplate making a public appeal in behalf of the poor colored people, since their efforts to have them paid by the Government have failed.

Nashville Dispatch, November 27, 1863.


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