Friday, December 20, 2013

12/20/2013 Tennessee Civil War Notes

ca. 20, 1861 - Afflicted Confederate soldiers arrive in Murfreesboro, excerpt from the diary of John C. Spence

About the twentieth of the month, a large number of sick soldiers was [sic] sent forward from Nashville and other places to this hospital. This being the first introduction of hospital services at this place. All ever on the go and anxious to see who could render the most aid to the sick, having quite a store room of clothing. [sic] As fast as the soldiers would come they were washed and a suit of clean clothes were put on them. A comfortable bunk assigned them, and upon the whole, a hospital did not appear so bad after all.

The meal times were regular and of the best that was to be had. A long table was spread with a clean cloth, plates, knives, and forks, and other necessary things to set off, and a plenty [sic] to attend the wants of the soldiers. In fact, it was not far behind a second rate Hotel, and all felt a patriotic feeling for the comforts of the soldiers. If there was a chance for a man to get well, he had it there.

Spence Diary.



20, "I send the two Mrs. Smiths to Nashville, who will give you all the information." Local women provide military intelligence

GALLATIN, December 20, 1862.

Col. J. P. GARESCHE, Chief of Staff:

One of my scouts reports meeting Mrs. B. F. Smith, wife of scout now in Nashville. She came through Hartsville yesterday evening; no enemy there. Passed through Rome the day before; no enemy there or in the neighborhood. About 200 at Alexandria. Left the neighborhood of McMinnville last Wednesday; none there but conscripts. Two weeks since was within 5 miles of Murfreesborough; large body there, waiting an attack. Soldiers and citizens say they will not advance this way in large force. All along the route people were preparing for the Yankees, praying for them to come quickly and save them from the conscript law. I send the two Mrs. Smiths to Nashville, who will give you all the information. Col. Hall reports this morning that he saw signal lights on the hill beyond Hartsville at 3 o'clock this morning. Gen. Reynolds sent out a cavalry reconnaissance this morning. They have not returned. Lieut.-Col. Riley sent out cavalry pickets yesterday afternoon toward Lebanon. They went within 3 or 4 miles of Lebanon. Encountered no rebel pickets or scouts. Saw a white man and negro, both of whom told the same story, that there was some infantry in Lebanon, and they supposed about 400 or 500 cavalry there the day before. The infantry fell back the same evening. They did not know what became of the cavalry.

GEO. H. THOMAS, Maj.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. II, p. 212



20, 1863 - "A Yankee Soldiers [sic] Profession," a Northern factory worker lectures an audience of Negroes, an excerpt from the diary of John C. Spence

At one of the negro [sic] revivals of religion, a soldier makes a profession. After the first feelings of the excitement was [sic] over, he undertook to lecture his comrades and negros [sic] that was present at the meeting. To his comrades he addressed himself a short time, told them he feared they were disposed to make a sham of all the important matter, warned them of their course, gave this his advice, then turned his attention to the negros [sic]

He says-["]true, I am a white man, but I have been raised a servant in the North, as you are here. You think your times are hard, but you see nothing what [sic] I have seen. [I] Have been a subject of all kinds of drudgery. Have worked in a factory. Went as many times as I have fingers and toes barefoot, when there was sheets of frost on the ground, to work. Had to work the ten hour system at winter time. It would be after night before I got home, had but little to eat when I got there. Go to a cold bed, and have to be up by day, get ready to work before it was light, before any of you are up.

This is the way we poor people live in the north. There is [sic] hundreds of children living in the same way, young as eight years old, all have to labour hard, and scarcely get pay enough to clothe and keep us from hunger and cold.

My poor mother, who is in her grave, died with almost starvation. [sic] If we get sick, could hardly get a doctor to attend us. I joined the army because I thought I could make more that way. You may think your lot hard, but it is nothing to what we poor people have at the north. He went on in this stream for some time.["]

Spence Diary.



20, "Our Reg[iment]. never looked better than it did today…." Frank M. Guernsey's letter to Fannie

Memphis, Tennessee

Nov 20th, 1863

Dear Fannie

You see that I have commenced this letter on a very large sheet, so if my ideas should happen to give out before I fill it, you must exercise some degree of allowance. I have commenced it with a determination to fill it, so that my will is good if my pen fails.

I was very agreably [sic] supprised [sic] day-before yesterday morning by a letter from you, not that you write so seldom, your letters are a surprise, but that Uncle Sams [sic] mail has once more remembered me in its daily visits to our camp. I had made up my mind that I was to have no more letters as it had been nearly three weeks since I had received one from any quarter. I was much pleased reading your letter to see in what light you looked at the trip I proposed for you. It was very evident that you wanted to come very much, but still you hardly dared to do it, for fears some one might make some remarks about it, even if it was none of their business. Now I tell you Fannie dear how I generally manage in such cases, as long as my intentions are good, if I want to do any thing that would give chance for remarks I just do it, and then let them talk if they want to. I never pay any attention to what they have to say, but I suppose it is different with you, as far as I am concerned I should not care one bit, what they had to say. From what Glen said a few days ago I think it is doubtful about Nellie's coming down. He said he had written her not to come as we were here much under marching orders and in all probability we should not be here much longer, so that I suppose we shall see neither of you here this winter. Our Reg[iment] has been relieved from all duty in and around Memphis and we were under marching orders for nearly four days expecting to leave every hour but that has passed over and we may remain here two or three weeks yet, and perhaps even longer than that time.

Fannie I commenced this letter a day or two ago but have had so much to do that it is not finished yet. To day is Sunday and I hope I have not got anything else to do but to write you. This Sunday has been the same so far as all our sundays [sic] in the Army and what more we may have to do the Lord only knows. This morning we received orders for a Brigade Review. We fell in about eight oclock [sic] and marched out about one mile from Camp to the City fair grounds. A very pretty place smooth and clear from all objects that would hinder our evolutions. It was a grand sight I tell you. Our Reg[iment]. never looked better than it did today, every man in the ranks had his best gown on, his boots well polished and white gloves on. We marched and counter-marched before the Reviewing officer with Colors Flying and Bands playing and performed all sorts of evolutions laid down in the Tactics. There was quite a number of spectators present and all appeared to be well pleased with our performance; the Col is just putting us through on drill, we have from two hours to five hours, generally five hours drill each day.

I had a little scout in Arkansas a few days ago there was five commissioned officers and about one hundred men in the party. I had about twenty-five men in my command. We crossed the river to the opposite side of Memphis and then struck off in different directions. We went out some nine or ten miles into the country and scouted it over thoroughly but could not find the enemy. We returned to our starting point on the river about nine o'clock at night, tired and hungry having had nothing to eat or drink since early morning. I got down on my knees and took a glorious good drink of Mississippi water and was as good as new. It appears to be a settled thing that we are to be mounted before we go into the field again. It is now nearly two weeks since we were relieved from duty and I can't imagine what we are waiting for unless it is for the horses. I hope they will come soon for I do not fancy the idea of footing it again for three or four hundred miles.

Fannie I suppose you are having some very cold weather in Wis [sic] by this time, are you not? I wish you could be here a few weeks and enjoy this pleasant weather that we are having. It is just as pleasant as can be, we have warm sunny days and cool evenings, so that our fireplace is a great institution. It looks really home-like with a good fire sparkling on the hearth. I enjoy it very much.

I sent you some music a few days ago Fannie have you received it? I could not find the sheet I told you I would send, so I sent others in the place of it. I suppose you will agree to sing them for me when I come home again, wont you, Fannie. You will have a good long time to learn them in, longer than I wish you did, but this cruel war will be over some time or other. Glen just looked in my tent and saw me writing and said send his best respects to all the folks, but my sheet is nearly filled and I must close, please give my regards to all and to Fannie in particular

Affectionately yours


Guernsey Collection.



20, Differences between Brigadier General Mitchell and Major General Stanley and command assignments

CHATTANOOGA, November 20, 1863--2.30 p.m.

Brig.-Gen. Mitchell, just relieved from command of cavalry, Department of the Cumberland, is incapacitated by ill health, resulting from severe wounds, for field service. He will not ask for leave of absence, and desires duty as commander of some post. Thomas has no such command to give him, and would be glad if you could employ him on some board or court. He is a shrewd, energetic man, might be used advantageously on Crittenden and McCook court. Thomas has been much embarrassed by Stanley, who gets drunk and is lazy and careless. Still, he is a major-general assigned to this department by the Administration, and Thomas has not felt himself at liberty to order him away. Accordingly, he has very reluctantly appointed him to command a division. Can I tell Thomas that he must follow his own judgment in such cases?

[C. A. DANA.]

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. II, pp. 62-63.



20, "Provost Orders, No. 260."

Headquarters Post of Nashville,

Office of Provost Marshal

Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 20, 1864


* * * *

Provost Orders No. 250, dated Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 4, 1864, closing all Liquor Saloons, is hereby revoked, and all persons having military licenses are hereby permitted to resume business from this date.

May who have failed to pay the tax on said licenses are hereby reminded that a settlement of the same must be made immediately.

By command of Brig. Gen. Jno. F. Miller

Hunter Brooke, Captain and Provost Marshal

Nashville Dispatch, December 20, 1864.


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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