Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

 19, "Old political animosities and private grudges have been revived, and bad men among our friends are availing themselves of the opportunity afforded them by bringing Southern men to hunt down with the ferocity of bloodhounds all those against whom they entertain any feeling of dislike." Dissatisfaction with Confederate administration in East Tennessee

HDQRS. CARROLL'S BRIGADE, Knoxville, Tenn., December 19, 1861.

Hon. D. M. CURRIN, Richmond, Va.:

DEAR SIR: I regret to trouble you with this communication, but feel myself called upon to do so by a sense of duty both to the Confederate Government and to the people of East Tennessee. It might, perhaps, have been more properly done by some o­ne higher in authority than myself. At the instance, however, of a number of leading citizens, together with many officers of the Army, I have concluded to undertake the task of laying truthfully before some o­ne connected with the administration of the Government a fair and truthful statement of the present unhappy condition of affairs in this portion of the State, believing as I do that when laid properly before the heads of the Government it will induce a thorough and most salutary change in the policy now being pursued in reference to that deluded portion of our people who have heretofore been unfriendly to the present revolution.

There are some very important facts connected with the recent political history of East Tennessee which apparently have not yet come to the knowledge of the Government or have been entirely overlooked, while others of less importance have been greatly exaggerated. To these I beg to call your attention. In the beginning of the present contest between the North and South the attitude assumed by East Tennessee was a very doubtful o­ne, and it was deemed best by those fully acquainted with the temper and sentiment of the people to pursue a conciliatory policy towards them. Mr. Davis himself, I believe, adopted this view of the case, and for a time pursued the mild course thus indicated. The result was a very great change in the public mind touching questions at issue between the Northern and Southern Governments.

In September Maj.-Gen. Polk sent Gen. W. H. Carroll here for the purpose of endeavoring to bring the people over to the support of the Confederate Government and to enlist o­ne or more regiments for the Army. Gen. Carroll succeeded beyond his expectations, raising and organizing in a very short time a full regiment-coming, too, mostly from those counties where in June the heaviest vote had been polled against the separation of Tennessee from the Federal Government. Subsequently about thirty companies more have reported and joined his command from the same section, and composed principally of the same class of people; so that now we have in all nearly 10,000 [?] [sic] effective soldiers in the field that in June were almost unanimous in opposition to us. This gratifying result I am satisfied is attributable almost entirely to the liberal and conciliatory policy of which I have spoken; but notwithstanding this large accession to our Army, and the still greater number who had been converted from enemies into friends and allies, there were still left a few leading miscreants and a handful of ignorant and deluded followers, who were wicked enough for the commission of any crime, however detestable. By these, and these alone, were the bridges burned and other depredations committed, while the mass of the people were entirely ignorant of their designs and utterly opposed to any such wickedness and folly. The numbers engaged in these outrages have, I know, been greatly overestimated, as facts have been developed in the investigations that have been made by the court-martial now in session at this place, which satisfy me beyond doubt that there were not, at the time the bridges were burned, 500 men in all East Tennessee who knew anything of it, or who contemplated any organized opposition to the Government.

The excitement arising from this circumstance created more alarm among the Union men than among those who were loyal to the South, for they very justly supposed that it would be a signal for the advance of a large Southern army in their midst, and in the first paroxysm of fear which these apprehensions induced hundreds fled hastily from their homes, some taking refuge in the mountains and others going into Kentucky. Col.'s Leadbetter and Vance moved their commands into that portion of the State bordering o­n the Virginia and Kentucky line, while Gen. Carroll and Col. Wood moved from the west in the direction of Chattanooga and Knoxville. Scouting parties were sent out in every direction, who arrested hundreds suspected of disloyalty, and incarcerated them in prison, until almost every jail in the eastern end of the State was filled with poor, ignorant, and for the most part harmless men, who have been guilty of no crime save that of lending a too credulous ear to the corrupt demagogues whose counsels have led them astray. Among those thus captured were a number of bridge-burners. These latter were tried and promptly executed.

The rigorous measures adopted by the military commanders here struck still greater terror into those who had before been Union men, and to avoid arrest and, as they thought, subsequent punishment, concealed themselves, thus giving the semblance of guilt to actions innocent in fact, and entirely natural under the circumstances which surrounded them. About 400 of the poor victims of designing leaders have been sent to Tuscaloosa as prisoners of war, leaving in many instances their families in a helpless and destitute condition. The greatest distress prevails throughout the entire country in consequence of the various arrests that have been made, together with the facts that the horses and the other property of the parties that have been arrested have been seized by the soldiers, and in many cases appropriated to personal uses or wantonly destroyed.

Old political animosities and private grudges have been revived, and bad men among our friends are availing themselves of the opportunity afforded them by bringing Southern men to hunt down with the ferocity of bloodhounds all those against whom they entertain any feeling of dislike. The officers in command here have used every effort to restrain the soldiery from all acts of lawless violence. The scattered and distracted nature of the service in a great measure neutralizes their efforts. My position in the Army enables me to speak advisedly of these things, and I venture to say that if assurances of safety were given to those persons who have fled from their homes under apprehensions of danger they would return and be good and loyal citizens. The wretched condition of these unfortunate people appeals to the sympathy and commiseration of every humane man. When in Richmond a short time since I was present at an interview with the President, and feel assured that he has no disposition to exercise any unnecessary severity towards these deluded dupes. Those best acquainted with affairs here are fully impressed with the belief that if the proper course were pursued all East Tennessee could be united in support of the Confederate Government. Strong appeals have been made from all sections to Gen. Carroll to release those now in prison here and the return of those sent to Tuscaloosa; but, under the instructions from the Secretary of War, by which he is governed, he does not feel at liberty to do so. My first intention was to have addressed this letter to the Secretary of War, but o­n reflection concluded that a representation from you would have far more influence; besides, as I am an officer in the Army, it would perhaps not be proper for me to make any suggestions to Mr. Benjamin unless they should be called for.

Col. H. R. Austin visits Richmond for the purpose of impressing these views upon the President. Col. Landon C. Haynes will follow in a few days for the same purpose. These gentlemen can inform you more fully touching the subject of which I have written. I beg you to give them every assistance you can in bringing this important matter before the President and Secretary of War.

Respectfully, your friend,


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 7, pp. 777-779.



19, 1862 The 34th Illinois and a "Sham Battle" in camp near Nashville

Our Brigade was drilled from 8 to 11 a. m. We executed the movements of a sham Battle in connection with our Battery of Artillery and Ambulance Corps. We had everything but bullets and blood and certainly made a very imposing display which attracted many spectators from adjoining camps….

Diary of Lyman S. Widney 




19, Skirmish at Rutherford's Creek

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from the Report of Col. Datus E. Coon, Second Iowa Cavalry, commanding Second Brigade, of operations September 30, 1864--January 15, 1865, relative to the skirmish at Rutherford's Creek,, December 20, 1864.


* * * * 

....December 20, at daylight were again in motion down Rutherford's Creek. Marched nearly two miles, when I was ordered to dismount my command and construct a crossing from the fragment of a railroad bridge which the rebels had destroyed the day previous. This works was completed, and my command got across at 12 m., and the pursuit again resumed. The Seventh and Ninth Illinois were dismounted and deployed on foot, while the remainder of the brigade followed mounted to Duck River, opposite Columbia. On arriving here found the enemy had crossed his rear guard in comparative safety at 4 a. m., leaving a small party, with a piece of artillery, as rear guard in the town upon the opposite side. A light skirmish between the above-named regiments and the enemy, accompanied by light cannonading from both sides, closed the operations of the day, when the command encamped to await the arrival of the pontoons. During the skirmish the Seventh Illinois discovered where the enemy had abandoned four pieces of artillery by tumbling it into Duck River over the abutment of the old bridge. It was afterward taken out by the infantry.

* * * * 

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 45, pt. I, p. 593.



19, Engagement near Jackson

Report of Col. Adolph Engelmann, Forty-third Illinois Infantry, of engagement near Jackson, December 19, 1862.


SIR: I beg leave to report that on December 18, at 9 p. m., under orders of General Sullivan, I proceeded with the Forty-third and Sixty-first Regiments Illinois Volunteers from Jackson out on the Lexington road, with instructions to join and take command of all the United States Cavalry that I might find, and to feel the enemy. Only 3 1/2 miles out I came upon our cavalry, consisting of parts of the Eleventh Illinois, Fifth Ohio, and one company of the Second West Tennessee Regiment. One and a half miles farther out the camp-fires of the enemy could be seen burning cheerfully, while I deemed it prudent to prohibit the kindling of any fire by my command. The night was extremely cold, and I felt mortified at my men having to suffer from its inclemencies, while the enemy were resting by large and comfortable fires. I consulted with Lieutenant-Col. Dengler on the advisability of attacking the enemy by his camp-fires. But that officer suggested that night attacks, always hazardous, could only be attempted where the attacking parties are perfectly acquainted with the country. These suggestions being only too true, and myself and all of my officers and men being ignorant of the country, I had to abandon the project. On mature deliberation with Lieutenant-Colonel Meek, of the Eleventh Illinois; Major Ohr, of the Sixty-first, and Lieutenant-Colonel Dengler, of the Forty-third, it was considered most advisable to take position with the infantry half a mile back toward Jackson, in the outskirts of the timber, at Salem Cemetery. The Sixty-first was assigned to the left and the Forty-third to the right of the road. The Fifth Ohio Cavalry was posted on the extreme left, with instructions to send patrols to the Spring Creek road. One battalion of the Eleventh Illinois and the Second West Tennessee Cavalry were assigned to the right flank, with orders to send patrols to the old Lexington road, while the balance of the Eleventh was to show itself in the front and center, and, without exposing its men to any loss, should attempt to provoke the enemy to an attack, by means of which it might be got under the fire of the infantry. At daybreak the enemy advanced, with heavy columns of cavalry on either flank, in advance of the main body in the road. Our cavalry retired slowly before the enemy, and took position...on the western bluff of the branch passing through the Brooks farm. It was the intention of Major Funke, commanding this portion of the Eleventh Illinois, to await the enemy in this position, give it an effective volley from the carbines of his men, and then fall back to...where he could again rally his men, under the cover of the ridge, near the center of the open fields, between the Brooks farm and Salem Cemetery, where he proposed giving them a second fire. The enemy, however, very leisurely reconnoitered the position of our cavalry, rarely exposing itself to a long-range shot from our carbines and only firing occasional rifle-shots at us, with the evident intention of provoking our fire, the better to be able to ascertain our position. Having succeeded to his satisfaction, the enemy brought batteries into position, from one-fourth to one-third of a mile, to both sides of the road, on the high ground opposite our cavalry, and opened a well-directed cross-fire upon it. The position...became untenable and Major Funke fell back....It was, however, not long before the enemy's artillery also got range of this position, and his cavalry showing itself at the same time...our own again fell back, partly to the left of our lines and partly to the center, where it exhibited itself to the enemy, while the infantry was well concealed. The enemy's artillery now changed position, some occupying the road in front of Brook's house; another piece was planted on the high ground to the north and on this side of the branch, while on piece still occupied the rise beyond and to the south. The latter piece continued its fire with but little intermission, while the other pieces, as soon as they attained their new position, opened a well-directed fire toward our center and flanks, where portions of our cavalry were in view. At this time information was received that a large body of the enemy's cavalry was passing at the distance of a mile to the south around my right flank. A messenger was dispatched to General Sullivan, requesting that some troops might be sent to oppose the enemy on my right flank and that others be sent to oppose the enemy on my right flank and that others be sent to my rear as a reserve. At this time the cavalry, both on my right and left flanks, weary from the hardships to which they had been exposed during the two preceding days, and now under fire from the enemy's batteries, fell back about 1 mile toward Jackson without having first obtained any orders from me to that effect. Soon a heavy column of the enemy advanced slowly down the road, over the high point...first at a trot walk, then at a trot, and then at full speed. With loud cheers they charged upon my center. As they approached they were received by a well-directed fire, some of the foremost horses falling and obstructing the road, those immediately behind came to a halt, while half a dozen riderless horses rushed madly through our lines. The enemy's cavalry farther to the rear still road forward and got jammed up with those in front. This solid body of the enemy afforded a splendid opportunity to the infantry. It was, however, but a moment, when the fence to the right and left was broken through, and empty horses and reeling riders could be seen rushing in headlong flight across the fields.
The enemy having now ascertained the position of the infantry immediately brought his artillery to bear, while demonstrations were made by his cavalry on both flanks, however keeping out of range of the rifles of the infantry. I now received repeated messages from Lieutenant-Colonel Meek that the enemy were passing flanks and about to surround me and urging me to fall back. I, however, considered the infantry quite able to maintain itself against the enemy's cavalry in its choice position at Salem Cemetery, hoping that the latter would again attempt our overthrow, and thus give us again an opportunity of punishing them for their daring. I, however, sent skirmishers our on the flanks and ordered two companies of the right wing of the Forty-third to take position several hundred yards to the rear, where they could overlook and command the bottom and bluffs of the small creek running between the cemetery and Jackson. After waiting in this manner for about half an hour, an the enemy making no attempt to come within range of our rifles, while its artillery commenced to tell among my men, I determined to fall back out of range of its shells. The Sixty-first was first called in and sent to the rear with instructions to take position in the timber, where General Brayman subsequently found them; the Forty-third following slowly, retiring in close column, doubled on the center, while falling back over the open fields so as to be able to meet, by forming columns against cavalry, any sudden attack the enemy might be tempted to make. That regiment was then also placed in the position where the general assumed command.

* * * *

The loss in the Sixty-first was 1 man killed and 3 wounded; in the Forty-third but 1 man was wounded so as to disqualify him for duty, and in the Eleventh Illinois 1 man and 2 horses were killed as they were falling back in the road toward Jackson beyond the creek, west of the cemetery, by shells that were fired from the cannon in the road at Brooks' and passed high over the heads of the infantry. The loss of the enemy must have been severe. According to the best information I can receive his loss was 60 killed and wounded and 3 taken prisoners, including 1 lieutenant. The latter were immediately sent to General Sullivan's headquarters.

For the better elucidation of the foregoing I beg leave to submit the annexed plat, kindly furnished me by Lieutenant-Colonel Dengler. I also beg leave to submit herewith the report made to me by Lieutenant-Colonel Dengler.

I have the honor to be, with high regard, your most obedient servant,

ADOLPH ENGELMANN, Colonel Forty-third Illinois.

Report of Lieut. Col. Adolph Dengler, Forty-third Illinois

Infantry of operations December 18-27, 1862, including engagement near Jackson, December 19, 1862.


COLONEL: I have the honor to lay before you a report of the operations of the Forty-third Regiment Illinois Volunteers while under my command, from December 18 to the 27th:

On the morning of December 18 I received orders from Brigadier-General Brayman to move the regiment immediately to the depot supplied with on day's rations. We left Bolivar at 11 a. m., arriving at Jackson at 3 p. m.

The same evening I received orders from you to advance on the Lexington road for about 5 miles, or to such a distance as should bring me in close communication with the Eleventh Illinois and Fifth Ohio Cavalry. I met them about 31/2 miles from Jackson and stationed along the road, a strong picket line about three-quarters of a mile in advance. That part of the Lexington road near which the engagement of December 19 took place runs through a plateau, bounded on either side by a ravine running parallel to each other. The road runs through the grave-yard called Salem Cemetery, from whence it takes a due easterly course. You ordered me to occupy a position near this bend of the road. I placed my second battalion on a gentle slope, the left wing of this battalion almost touching the road, facing east, while the first battalion occupied a more forward position on the right of the second, leaving about 100 yards between them. Skirmishers were detached from the first battalion and stationed to the right, in front of the same, along the edge of the wood, covered somewhat by a fence. Just in front of the line of skirmishers were a cotton-press and several small outhouses, beyond which the rebel line of skirmishers extended. The right wing of the Sixth-first Illinois held Salem Cemetery, somewhat in the rear of our second battalion, but from which position the road is completely controlled.

Early on the morning of December 19 you advanced with the cavalry, who were soon engaged in a lively skirmish with the enemy lasting about half and hour. The enemy had in the mean time brought their cannon in position and commenced on our cavalry, who immediately retreated within our lines. Now commenced a brisk firing between our skirmishers and those of the enemy, while the main body of the rebel cavalry was being massed just beyond the highest ridge over which the road runs. Slowly at last they came in view, advancing cautiously for the first 100 yards, then putting their horses in a brisk trot till within 150 yards of us, when amid deafening cheers they charged headlong down the road upon us. My men, however, had been cautioned to reserve their fire. I let the enemy advance till within 30 yards of us, when at my command the men poured in a deadly volley, causing great havoc among them. The enemy, terrified at such a destructive fire from an unknown quarter (for they had not suspected our presence, as we were well concealed), came to a momentary halt, which proved to be the cause of their destruction, for at this critical moment a well-directed fire from the Sixty-first and second battalions completed their confusion. In wild disorder they turned from the road to the right and left in the open fields, hurrying their shattered and broken ranks without the range of our guns. After a lapse of some fifteen minutes they commenced shelling the wood where we were stationed. The range of their guns was very exact, shells bursting all around us. I was then ordered by you to fall back 50 yards, in which position we were not better protected than in the former one. You had in the mean time received intelligence that large re-enforcements were being sent from Jackson and ordered me to fall back 1 mile and there await them. Your orders were executed in the promptest manner and best order, and after their re-enforcements arrived I again advanced with my regiment and that night encamped on the ground where the flight of the morning had taken place.

* * * *

The regiment sustained in this fight its old reputation for bravery so gallantly and nobly won on the bloody battle-fields of Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing.

* * * *

In conclusion, colonel, allow me to assure you of the high regard and confidence myself, officers, and men of this regiment feel toward you, and which have only been strengthened by the skill and valor you displayed in the engagement of December 19.
I am, colonel, with much respect,


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt. I, pp. 555-560.


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