Friday, December 6, 2013

12/06/13 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        6, A letter from home: Frederick Bradford, in Davidson County, to his sons with the 20th Tennessee Regiment

We hear so many conflicting statements of our difficulties, it is difficult to know how this war will terminate, but as our cause is just, I have an abiding faith, with the help God, we will conquer.

Our country is in a powerful mess at this time on a count of the Governor having called for all of our private arms and one half of the militia Since the call a good many have volunteered and each militia company is credited with volunteers from it. Therefore, there was but seven to go from our company and several of them have volunteered since....All the rifles and double barrel shotguns have been sold or loaned to the government. I loaned the twin sisters[1] until the end of the war but I never expect to see her again.

I had no idea until the militia was called that we had so many afflicted persons in our community. The lame and the blind, the halt and the deaf, and indeed almost every disease the human family is heir to have presented themselves to the surgeons for certificates of exemption. I fear this calling of the militia is rather a bad move. I think three months' volunteers would have been preferable.

There is very little news, except war news and not much of that, that [sic] can be relied on.

The neighborhood is generally healthy. Crops are good and everything high. Corn is selling from 3.50 to 4.00 per bushel. Potatoes are 1.00 per bushel. Pork from 10 to 12 ½ cents per pound. Salt is selling $12.00 to $14.00 per sack, Barrel salt from #.50 to $4.00 per bushel, coffee $1.00 to $1.50 per pound and everything and everything else in proportion.

We are not using much coffee in this neighborhood, a good deal of wheat and rye are used in its stead. We have had a very wet fall. I have not gathered more than half of my corn. I expect to have four hundred barrels to sell. I have killed thirty hogs, which weighed 5470 pounds. I have twenty-seven shoats to kill which will weigh 100 [sic] apiece. If we could have an honorable peace, we could live well. Your uncle Skelt....will start his distillery soon.

Frederick Bradford Papers, TSL&A



6, Report of a draft riot in Nashville

"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.



6, Andrew Slagg's letter home to his brother Thomas describing camp life and the attitude of Confederate soldiers

Camp Near Memphis, December 6th 1862 Thomas Henry Slagg

Dear Brother i [sic] take up my pen to write a few lines to you hoping they will find you well as it leaves me. at present Joe complains of a pain in his right knee but i [sic] think he will get over that Soon i [sic] guess it is a touch of the rheumatism. Ezra is getting better his happetite [sic] is better then it was but his eyes Looks rather yellow yet he has been out on drill to day. Joe and me is on guard to day. it is a nice warm day. their was some white stuff Last night and on the fourth their was a snow about one inch but it melted away about ten o'clock. the [sic] old settlers say that it is about as cold now as it generaly [sic] is through the winter. If thats [sic] so i [sic] think we can stand it pritty [sic] well. Joe and me was Picket and Edward Palmiter from Albion Centre. we [sic] stood between Two [sic] houses and at four road ends we took one days rations with us We [sic] cooked our coffee in our tins and fried our pork on pointed sticks. it [sic] was pritty [sic] a cold night but we built a larger fire Wich [sic] made it pritty coffatable [sic]. [sic] Their was a paroled soldier from the rebel army and I tell you he stood up for the south like the old harry he was. in [sic] the battle of Shiloh he said the south had the most men the first day by nine thousand. he [sic] said That [sic] the northerners was [sic] just eating breakfast when they pitched On [sic] them but he said they fought like the very devil. well [sic] i [sic] Could [sic] tell you a pile but i [sic] have not got time so i [sic] must Turn to other things. Peter Binkert [sic] is in the hospital And [sic] Edward Palmiter is in too and he has been crazy for two nights. it [sic] takes three men to hold him. he [sic] catched [sic] cold the Night [sic] we was [sic] on picket and it settled in his brain. Henry Foot is in too. he [sic] is from Albion Centre. Peter Binkert is worse Today [sic]. Joe Mcmonagal has been very Sick [sic] but he is better now well Dear brother we haven't received any wages since we left Madison. i [sic] think we shall have some before long. i [sic] think them Centre [sic] fellows is a going but us through the small sive [sic] about the bounty but if they dont [sic] pay up to the handle if i [sic] ever come home i [sic] dont [sic] think i [sic] can stand it very well. thomas [sic] if billy [sic] north can pay that note off draw it and use it. Bicknel sends his best respects to you. They have lost two out of their company. i [sic] went to the funeral and i [sic] tell you it was a fine graveyard. Your affectionate brother

Alexander Slagg

Slagg Correspondence.[2]



6, "The Field of Chickamauga-Rebel Brutality and Barbarism."

The splendid victories of Gen. Grant at Chattanooga have given us possession of the battle field of Chicamauga [sic]. [sic] This is fortunate; for it appears that the brave Union soldiers who fell on those bloody days of the 19th and the 20th of September last, have been left unburied by the brutal soldiery of people who claim to belong to a higher species of civilization than the North. Gen. Rosecrans, under a flag of truce, asked the privilege of taking charge of our gallant dead, but the cold blooded despot, Bragg, refused it, and even denied them the rites of sepulture The Indian savage who first roamed at large amid the primeval forests of Georgia and Tennessee, had nobler ideas of humanity, than this leader of "the chivalry," and his hordes of ignorant and debased troops.

But not only were our dead left unburied for upwards of two months; the barbarians amused themselves by cutting heads from the bodies of their unconscious victims, and setting some up on stumps and sticking other up on poles! This is a horrible picture to contemplate, but the exhibition is reported to have been witnessed by Gen. [Charles] Cruft, and it vouched for as true by others. It has been the custom of the blatant stump orators of the South to declaim furiously about the horrors of the St. Domingo massacre, and to relate the story of a child impaled upon a pike and carried about the streets at the head of a mob of infuriated negroes [sic]. How much less brutal and barbarous are Bragg and his men? In what respect does their conduct elevate the above the negroes [sic]? If there be any difference in the degree of their crimes it is in favor of the blacks, who galled by chains and slavery, and maddened by the lash and the bludgeon, turned upon their oppressors. But these Southern barbarians profess to be civilized and enlightened, to be moral and religious to be the especial favorites of Heaven! They have no excuse of slavery or oppression or heat of blood, to palliate their offence against humanity. Their crime was perpetrated deliberately and coolly, in the very wantonness and wickedness. Such depravity is a disgrace in the age and should bring down upon the Southern leaders and their followers the denunciations and contempt of the world.

Brutality of similar character was practiced after the first battle of Bull Run, when drinking cups were made of skulls and trinkets of finger bones. Not less infamous has been the treatment of Union prisoners at Richmond, where hundreds of them have been with malice and forethought starved to death.

These things all go to show the debasing character of the rebellion, which was begun and has been prosecuted without a cause; and, as if conceived in hell has made devils of those engaged in it.

Nashville Daily Union, December 6, 1863. [3]



6, Correcting depredations, advance and withdraw, hunger and cold; an entry from the diary of John Hill Fergusson, 10th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

we had orders to march at early daylight our regt to go in advance but were delayed some half hour by Gen Morgan comeing up through the brigade to exemin [sic] who they were or what  regt it was that had pulled down and carried off a blacksmith shop on examination [sic] he found fragments of it in our regt and even some of it in our company but it mostly had went to the 10th micagan [sic] he reppramanded [sic] the officers in command and the soldiers also particulery [sic] the colonel of the 10th  Michigan

he said he did not know what this army was going to turn to that Officers and all were robbers and as for a punishment to our regt and the 10th Michigan we were ordered to march in the rear of the brigade that day.

So we started out and marched about 5 miles further when we halted in a peice [sic] of woods and stacked arms we were told to make fiar [sic] as we would probably stay there an houre [sic] or two some little while after rails were gathered and fiar [sic] maid [sic] they boys were running and gathering corn and parching to eat as it was all our dependence [sic] But all at once the boys seemed to be electrified by the appearance of our bieutiful [sic] flag, born along by an escort of young ladys [sic] the flag was a new and bieutiful [sic] one

Bearing the inscription 27th Tennessee Malata [sic] Loud and herty [sic] were the cheers that rent the air, as it floated to the breeze

Soon we had orders to fall in and understood by this time that Longstret had gon [sic]  into N. Carolina but had left his waggons [sic] and artilery [sic] so as to his escape more sertin [sic]. Sour our orders were to about face and [we] marched back [to] the road we came towards Morgantown [sic] as each regt molved out from where we had stacked arms, we were marched along by where the young lady still held the flag the one who held the flag stove [sic] was a young and very hansom lady about 19 years of age and as we passed along under its fold she waved it jently [sic] in the breeze and brought it gently sweeping are [sic] our heads it is our wish and our prayr [sic] that Loyal east Tennessee may never again be paluted [sic] even by a shadow of hir [sic] enemys [sic] hir [sic] enemys [sic] are now for the first time swept cleen [sic] from hir [sic] border and the people seem greatly to rejoyce [sic] and welcome us gladly as there [sic] deliverers

We marched back crossed the bridge at Morgantown [sic] and camped near the same place we camped on Friday night. arms stacked all were tiared [sic] and fituged [sic] by the long and continued marching and suffering with hunger and haressed [sic] with cold, as none of the boys has there [sic] over coats [sic] along and there [sic] light blouses and pants are nearly torn to peices [sic]  since they left camp and only one woolen blanket to cover them from the falling storms and the cold farezing [sic] winds of these frosty nights. Tiared [sic] as we are necesseity [sic] compels us to go about one mile after rails to burn as all that were with reach and burned while here before there is plenty of timber but with or load of rails some little while after dark we soon lerned [sic] that our company was to report for picket right away this is trying on our rations, yet we have to eat and still we must go and set up all night After reporting to brigade head quarters [sic] we went out about one mile from camp on the Chattanooga road we had not been out over an houre, when a little corn meal was sent out to us. Although it was but a little it maid [sic] every heart regoice [sic]  and every long and sullen faces [sic] look up in a cheering manner after the meal was issued out to ech [sic] mess I devided [sic] mess It was put in two parts so as to have a little for brackfast [sic] and had one part of it made into mush each one had one pint for supper, which there [sic] hunger

John Hill Fergusson Diary, Book 3.


[1] His double barreled shot gun.

[2] As cited in: Ed. by Jon S. Berndt.

[3] Certainly this newspaper editorial is, at best, more Federal propaganda than truth, although there may have been some fact to the matter. Take for example the following excerpts from the OR.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Chattanooga, November 30, 1863--9 a.m.


GEN.:..It is reported, on what seems good authority, that some of our dead lie unburied on the battle-field of Chickamauga. Order a detail from the command of Gen. [Charles] Cruft, or the whole command if necessary, to return via Chickamauga and bury them.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. J. REYNOLDS, Maj.-Gen., and Chief of Staff.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. II, pp. 124-125.

HDQRS. ELEVENTH AND TWELFTH CORPS, Lookout Valley, Tennessee, December 1, 1863--3 p. m.

Maj.-Gen. REYNOLDS, Chief of Staff, Chattanooga:

* * * *

One brigade of Cruft's division was ordered to the field of Chickamauga to bury the dead, and are now engaged on that duty....Before leaving Ringgold Gen. Geary buried 51 of the rebel dead, which the enemy had left behind him in this retreat.

Very respectfully,

JOSEPH HOOKER, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. III, pp. 294-295.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Chattanooga, January 15, 1864.

GEN.: I have the honor to report the operations of my command from December 1 to 31, 1863, as follows:

December 1, Gen. Hooker returned to Chattanooga from Ringgold with Geary's division, of the Twelfth Corps, and Osterhaus' division, of the Fifteenth Corps. Cruft's two brigades, of the First Division, Fourth Corps, were ordered to proceed to Chickamauga battle-field and bury such of our dead as still remained unburied by the rebels. This duty finished, they were to return to their former positions on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, between Whiteside's and Bridgeport...

* * * *

GEO. H. THOMAS, Maj.-Gen., U. S. Volunteers, Cmdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. II, pp. 124-127.

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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