Wednesday, January 8, 2014

1/8/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        8, Tennessee Adjutant General implores Confederate government for more arms


Nashville, Tenn., January 8, 1862


Secretary of War, Richmond, VA.

I confess to some surprise in reading the favor of [Acting Assistant Adjutant-General] Captain [Virginius D.] Groner, acting assistant adjutant-general, addressed to myself of date 3d instant, in which it is stated that orders had been issued through Brigadier General Carroll to disband Colonel [James W.] Gillespie's regiment, if not armed, accompanied with instructions not to commission officers of any twelve-months' organization unless it is armed at the time of muster. It would seem that the Department is not acquainted with the state of affairs in Tennessee. I premise that the Governor of the State thoroughly understands that he is required to arm such troops and that he is endeavoring to do so, with promise of success, I take pleasure in adding. But the condition of affairs in Tennessee is as follows: Since September last General Johnston, in the discharge of his duties, has made repeated and urgent calls upon the Governor for troops, but since the order of the Department (made, as I learn, in October last), accompanied with the request that they should be armed by the Governor, and in November last, to wit, the 19th, such was the urgency and importance of the defense of his line that the general called for every man in the State that could be armed. In answer to which, and to discharge his duty, the Governor made his call and took instant and withal hazardous steps to possess the State of the arms of the private citizens-inferior weapons, to be sure-but yet such was the only resource of the State, which fact General Johnston well understood. Volunteer companies were ordered to rendezvous, and the arms of the State were ordered to different arsenals in order to be placed in shooting order preparatory to their delivery to the different regiments that might be organized. The account of guns received corresponds pretty well with the number of volunteers reported, but necessarily there must be some little delay in fixing off regiments; and to disband them because at the instant of muster they may not happen to be armed is to place obstacles in the way of speedy organization and will prove more disastrous. A concise statement is that the Governor intends, out of the means alluded to, to arm the twelve months' volunteers of the State now called for by General Johnston. He believe that it can be done speedily, and is himself unwilling to incur the expense as well as attendant confusion and dissatisfaction that would follow the disbanding of troops. My information is that the ordinary rifle and shotgun in sufficient numbers are not at Knoxville, simply awaiting repair, not only to arm Colonel [James W.] Gillespie's regiment but one or two others, and I was in the act of arranging measures for the more speedy repair of them when I was handed Captain Groner's letter. I do not suppose, because I have not sufficient facts to warrant the reflection, the General Carroll's brigade requires the arms intended for Colonel [James W.] Gillespie's regiment, since I believe it was reported as an unarmed brigade to you, but if General Carroll's brigade need any I undertake to say that the Governor will endeavor to supply his wants.

I beg to add further that in view of the invasion threatened and imminent to the State of Tennessee it would be well, not only well but highly important to the citizens of the State as also the Confederacy now and in the future, if the Secretary would receive the assurances given that the troops called for will be armed by the State, either at the time of muster or within a short time thereafter, the time being only that necessary to put guns in shooting order.

Conceiving the publication of the order of Captain Groner would work injuriously, I will withhold it until further communication from you. It is proper to state that the Governor is absent from the city at this writing, but knowing the plans adopted and being in part charged with their execution I have take the liberty of writing as I have done


J.C. Whitthorne, Adjutant-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. II, pp. 253-254.



        8, An excursion and flag presentation at Fort Donelson

 "The Excursion."

On Wednesday, the 8th, a flag presentation came off at Fort Donelson, in accordance with previous notice. The beautiful steamer, Gen. Anderson, came down from Nashville with a crowd of ladies and gentlemen; and Jordan's string band; and taking on a large accession at this place -- ourself among the number-steamed down the river to the point of destination. The day was wet and gloomy and, of course, the pleasure of the excursion did not come up to expectation. The presentation took place on board the boat. The flag was presented by Miss Winchester, of Sumner, whose speech was beautiful and appropriate, and most gracefully delivered, and Lieut. Nichols, who received the flag replied in terms befitting the occasion. There were several other impromptu speeches made but time and space will not admit of our notice of them.

Clarksville Chronicle, January 10, 1862.



        8, Tow-boat Wild Cat set afire at by guerrillas above Memphis[1]

Important from Above.

A Steamboat Captured and Burned.

Movements of Guerrillas.

The city was much excited last evening over a report that a steamboat had been captured and burned only a short distance above the city. Various conjectures were indulged as to the name of the boat captured and the circumstances under which it transpired. As near as we can get the facts they are as follows:

About noon yesterday, the tow-boat Wild Cat, with empty barges, started for Cairo. On reaching a point above the island, about sixteen miles above town, where the channel runs close to shore, and near Bradley's landing, it was discovered that a steamboat had been run into a bend or mouth of a creek, and burned to the water's edge. On the Arkansas bank, in the immediate vicinity, about forty or fifty Confederate cavalry were observed, already mounted, and the circumstance were of such a dubious character, that the captain of the Wild Cat concluded to stoop and prospect the land. While thus occupied, the Confederate cavalry started down the river bank toward the boat at full speed, and as the object was clearly to be divined, the captain concluded to take the back-track, and accordingly made his way to Memphis, where the report spread like wild-fire! Nothing was known as to the boat burned, except that it was a small stern-wheeler, and that it had the appearance of having been run ashore and then set on fire. Whether it was a cotton-grading boat captured by the guerrillas which prowl between Hopefield and White river, or whether it was some of our regular passenger packets is entirely a matter of conjecture, as the Wild Cat did not get nearer than six hundred yards of her.

We learn that at a late hour last night, an order was issued from the proper authorities, detaining all the steamers then in port till this morning. When further orders would be given. Whether this unusual order was issued in consequence of the above detailed affair, or to meet some other contingency, remains to be seen.

Memphis Bulletin, January 9, 1863.



        8, 1864, Texas Ranger executed in Union occupied Knoxville for spying

The Hanging of E.S. Dodd

Rome, Georgia

March 4th, 1864

It is proud reflection for an old Ranger to look around and see so many of his comrades promoted to positions of honor, trust and usefulness. But with all our success, there is now and then a painful circumstance which throws a melancholy sadness over all our spirits and clouds our joy. The death of E. S. Dodd, Co. D, who was hung in Knoxville on the 8th day of January, under the charge of being a spy, brings to the heart more bitterness than any calamity which has overtaken us.

He was captured about the 17th of December in Sevier county, some eighteen miles from Knoxville. He was brought to that city and confined in the county jail in which Confederate prisoners are kept. It seems that he lost his horse in the Middle Tennessee raid, and, unwilling to remain in the wagon camp, he had followed us into East Tennessee, and, getting a horse, he was making his way through the lines of the enemy; for we had fallen back, leaving him in his lines.

It appears that during his confinement, it occurred to the authorities that charges might be preferred against him, and a court martial could convict him. It seems there was a gallows on which one or more bridge-burners, during our possession of East Tennessee, had been hung by the civil law, and it was the expressed desire of Brownlow and others of his kind, that some rebel should die upon the same spot.

Here was a Texas Ranger in their power, and it would be double gratification of fiendish delight to execute him, but they must have the semblance of martial law to cover up the infamous deed.

In the first place Mr. Dodd wore the blue pants and overcoat which Gens. Rosecrans and Burnside had declared an offense punishable by death. Then on his person was found a private diary, in which were noted two points 1st, he mentioned having passed himself for a Yankee; and 2nd, that he had gained all necessary information with reference to enemy's pickets. In regard to the clothing, he plead that he had worn them from necessity, and not from choice, which is true, not only in the case of Mr. Dodd, but with many others in our army; for the Yankee quartermasters furnish us with most of our clothing. In reference to the items in his diary, he plead that, as to the first, he was accidentally inside of their lines and among a Union population, and he passed himself off for a Union soldier in order to get lodging and provisions and to avoid detection; then, as to the second, he was working his way through their lines, and his inquiries were in reference to the pickets in order that he might avoid them and escape capture. But no explanations, denials or protestations were of any avail: he was the selected victim, and judgment was to go against him.

Accordingly, he declared to those with whom he conversed, without anything like a fair trial, he was convicted of being a spy, and sentenced to be hung on Friday, the 8th day of January. As an evidence of his innocence of the charge, he wore when captured and to the hour of his death, his Mexican blanket, his sombrero and Texas star (I believe he always wore on his hat the printed star, with "Terry's Texas Rangers" around it, together with a small silver star, which is recognized through both armies as the badge of a Texas Ranger) which are singular marks for a rebel spy to wear within the enemy's lines.

In the letters which he left directed to his father in Kentucky, to his grandfather in Mississippi, to Mr. Maxwell, near Austin, Texas, and others he gave an account of his trial and condemnation, the visits of ministers to him in his cell, and sent messages of love to the parties addressed, and, in view of his execution, declared that "he was as innocent of the charge of being a spy as an angel of light." The three Federal chaplains, and Rev. Joseph H. Martin, pastor of a Presbyterian church in Knoxville, since sent through our lines, all believed him innocent. The guards who were with him were of the same opinion.

Mr. Dodd was a "bright Mason," a worthy and efficient member of the "Terry Lodge" connected with our regiment, and, as was his privilege, he sent word to the Masonic fraternity in the city, and was visited by several of them. As Masons they believed him innocent, and some of the Federal officers who belonged to the order, were so thoroughly convinced of his innocence, that they applied to the commanding general for clemency in behalf of the prisoner; but he replied, in substance, that he had been tried and found guilty by a court martial, and therefore the sentence must be executed.

Accordingly, on the appointed day, shortly after ten o'clock, Ephraim Smith Dodd was taken from the prison, and led away to the place which was to be the scene of his slow and fiendish murder. He met his fate like a hero: there was not a muscle moved, nor an indication of fear. At 11 o'clock, the drop fell, but the rope, which was slender, broke, and his body fell upon the ground. The shock was very severe, but not sufficiently to render him unconscious, for after falling to the ground he was heard to say. "release me if you please." At once the crowd of unfeeling soldiery gathered around him, and after rolling and rubbing him for fifteen minutes, he had sufficiently revived to again walk up upon the scaffold, his head meanwhile rolling in agony, and with some assistance to stand up until the rope was adjusted to his neck, and the second time, the drop fell and at half past 11 o'clock, the gallant Ranger was pronounced dead!

His body was taken down and removed to a burying ground immediately north of Gray Cemetery and there it was deposited with its mother earth. A friend followed his remains to the grave and directed that his name be put on the headboard for future identity.

Thus a cultivated, honorable gentleman, a true friend, a sincere Christian, a "bright Mason," a faithful and brave soldier, has been murdered publicly murdered in cold blood. His record is preserved and in due time it will be produced. The letters were handed over to the Federal Chaplain, but will doubtless be suppressed by the military, for they were the plain utterances of an honest man and an honest soldier of the Confederacy.

Robert F. Bunting

Houston Daily Telegraph, April 13, 1864.[2]



        8, Changing social atmosphere in Memphis

Our city is becoming a model city, almost like a settlement of Quakers, so serene is everything and so passive [is] everybody....There were two or three drunken fights, but they are everyday occurrences, and it would seem strange if they were not....

Memphis Bulletin, January 8, 1865.


[1] Not referenced in the OR.

[2] As cited in: "The Online Archive of Terry's Texas Rangers." See also New Orleans: Daily Picayune, February 7, 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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