Wednesday, June 26, 2013

6/26/13 Tennessee Civil War Notes

26, Correspondence from a "Union Man" to Military Governor Andrew relative to conditions at the Insane Asylum

[Nashville] June 26, 1862

State of things at the insane asylum [sic]

this time last summer I heard doctor and Mrs. Cheatham [Superintendent of the Asylum] and old man ready say that King harries[1] [sic] mist it by letting Andy [sic] Johnson the treat or [sic] go that he should be hung-- now sir them very people have sent some three large chests to town one to cheat hams [sic] warehouse [sic] the other two to Parishes warehouse [sic] I am not certain what is in them but there are a grate many here that the[y] have just packed I am told that two contain ladies [sic] bolts of dry goods bedding [sic] carpeting and so he has keep about, 3000 Pads of rebel bacon that was stored here the time rebels run a way likewise 12 steers a large quantity of lard you can find out if he has charged them to the state of not he keeps 12 hors [sic] here the most of them is blood stock he raids [sic] the most of them here he did get 2 carriage horses from is brother in the rebel army he did keep until lately a seamstress with 4 children to sew for his lady and the ready family [sic] bill cheat ham the gambler is out here he was the first in Nashville [sic] to raise a company the[y] caulk [sic] the cheat he [sic] rifles he stays out of the way here boarding at the doctors No. 1 Table the family the[y] think the[y] are above all others there is knotting is cared for here but the one table and the patients [sic] can have knothing [sic] only the one thing all the time and I am told he dus [sic] not goe [sic] in to som [sic] of the wards in months there is three cooking departments here one for the ladys [sic] the other for the gents the other for the superior negroes [sic] that cooks the[y] can just do as the[y please] in tow of them I have not seen in four years the steward the docter [sic] or Mrs. Chetham eather [sic] to order or see what the pachents [sic] got The thrustees [sic] dus [sic] not know any thing about this it is time that it was known to them and the public at largae [sic] so as to make a change for the benefit of the poor inmates the steward keeps the books he is the man to keep until he lets the cat out of the bag the docter [sic] has been one of the fourth or fifth on the rebels list in the gazette and ever since he has devoted all his time to help it

from a Union Man

Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 5, pp. 507-508.






We give elsewhere the returns of the municipal election yesterday, as far as received up to a late hour last night. It will be seen that the returns in the First and Seventh wards are yet to be made.

There never was a greater farce of an election in Memphis. Notwithstanding the publication of the regulations by the sheriff there never was such a shameless disregard of all law and precedent. Men who had landed at our wharf within a few days past, were brought up by the ignorant and unprincipled faction who wish to perpetuate their ruinous sway, and made to vote in favor of their persecuted friend! Nor were they satisfied with one [sic] vote. Some of them, we learn, offered to vote as many as six times. There were great irregularities in the voting in all the wards, but the First and Seventh overtopped all in contempt for everything like a pure elective franchise. We shall not trust ourselves to speak, at the present time, of the corruption, bribery and illegal trafficking in votes, which formed so prominent and shameless a part of yesterday's transactions. We have reason to know the election will be contested and that hones and patriotic citizens, who are trying to promote the best interests of the city and the cause, by the election of sober and competent officials, will never submit to be overcome at the polls by a gang of unprincipled adventurers, who have nothing to lose in any event, and whose highest aim seems to be to pull down everything and everybody to their own mean level. If anything like a scanning of the polls should be had – and we presume there will be, if only to punish the guilty parties – it will be found that perhaps one-half of the vote polled in some of the wards was illegal, and that our city has thus again been most seriously compromised.

We regret to learn that but few of the portion of our citizens who had recently become enfranchised by taking the oath, either failed or refused to participate in the election, while those that did thought it was a good way to cast odium upon the election by throwing their votes in favor of [the incumbent mayor John] Park, who they utterly reprobated, except as a means of perpetrating what they regard as a joke. It seems to us that those who thus voted could have had no proper conception of the gravity of the occasion, and are deserving of the severest censure.

But, in the midst of many adverse circumstances, it is pleasant to reflect that the real honest, intelligent, reflecting Union men of Memphis have to a man rallied to the support of good men for office and while their voice has been drowned in the "sweet Irish brogue" which for the time being rules and ruins our fair city, we have already the assurance of a "better time coming," when the laws shall be enforced and obeyed – when those who now seek to govern us by corrupting the ballot-box – will be as impotent for evil as they are now powerless for good; and when men shall be elected as our Mayor worthy of the respect and confidence, not of Tennessee only, but of the nations at large. For a consummation so devoutly to be wished, let all true Union men learn to labor and to wait.

Memphis Bulletin, June 26, 1863.[2]

[1] Confederate Governor Isham G. Harris.

[2] It seems the political machine of Memphis was impervious to the Civil War raging all about it. The corrupt means employed to reelect John Park mayor of the city, aside from similarities it may have had with the Tammany Hall machine in New York City, might likewise be seen as an act of local secessionist resistance to the Federal forces occupying Memphis.

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-532-1550  x115

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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