Saturday, February 22, 2014

2/22/2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

22, 1862 - Opinion of one Warren County Confederate woman on Fort Donelson, an except from the War Journal of Lucy Virginia French

I cannot remember that I have ever experienced a more gloomy week than that which is just past. On Sunday evening last [16th] when we were all confident of victory at Fort Donelson, the news came that at last we were completely overpowered-that hundreds were killed and thousands made prisoners-that Nashville had surrendered unconditionally-the Federals have taken possession and that our Bowling Green army had fallen back to Murfreesboro! A deeper shock I never felt,-I gave up the Confederacy as lost. All this week we have been in a state of the utmost anxiety and suspense-not a mail has reached us from any point, and we are dependent altogether on rumors,-of which there are a thousand and all conflicting. Today it seems that we met with disastrous defeat in the end at Donelson by the enemy's overpowering numbers surrounding our men, who fought bravely and well. Gens. Floyd and Pillow escaped with some of the troops,- but Buckner is a prisoner. It is now contradicted that Nashville surrendered, and sent a boat of truce with a flag on it down the Cumberland to meet the enemy and give up the city (!) [sic] as it was at first reported-but it is certain that our troops from Bowling Green have fallen back to Murfreesboro, and they have burnt the bridges, steamboats, etc. at Nashville and not a Yankee near them! Oh! it is disgraceful! Gov. Harris who rode around town alarming the city by saying "Every man must take care of himself; I am going to take care of myself"-Flee-but seeing his mistake has now it is said returned,- saying he is going '"to fight to the death" and that he only ran off to carry away the archives of the State. Well, any excuse I suppose is better than none-but, the fact is that he and Gen. A. L. Johnson [sic] have disgraced themselves and Tennessee by their inefficiency and cowardice. A rumor has been heard that our army would fall back to Chattanooga! I think they had better if Johnson [sic] is to command them, fall down into Mexico at once, and be done with it.-To add to our gloomy feelings the weather has been raw and rain is pouring continually. I never have seen our little river so high and turbid. Today has been a continuous pour of sheets of rain, with high boisterous winds-not a gleam of sunshine except as the sun sank for a few minutes he left a parting light upon the hills. This is the anniversary of the birth of our Great Washington and set apart for the inauguration of Jefferson Davis whom some style the "second Washington." Will he prove himself such? That remains to be seen. If this day is to be ominous of our political future, it will be gloomy indeed. I have been sick all day with one of my dreadful headaches which added to other dark clouds around me to make me desponding; Still, I confess I have much to be thankful for, my children are well-my husband is still with us-may God preserve us thus in peace at home.

War Journal of Lucy Virginia French[1]



22, Press warning regarding conscription officer in the Chattanooga environs

The Conscript officer is abroad in the land seeking whom he may devour. Unfortunate delinquents tremble at his approach and try to modify his fierceness by sundry drinks and other polite offers. His heart is however, hard as adamant, and on all the roads and byways you meet slick youths in new homespun clothes going to the army. How many of these poor fellows will never return! how many of them have received the last mother's kiss and blessing? When will the great Yankee Moloch be pacified. How any more victims does he want? But through the dark, dreary night we believe to see a dim brightness ahead, as if the day was breaking. If the old men still shake their heads and still talk about a long war, the youth, the men of hope, begin to see into a brighter future. We begin to think of peace and talk of peace, sometimes, as if really it would seem, that it is to come at last.

Chattanooga Daily Rebel, February 22, 1863



22, Skirmish on the Calfkiller River

Excerpt from the Report of John M. Hughs, on activities from January 1-April 18, 1864, relative to skirmish on Calfkiller River, February 22, 1864.

* * * *

On the 22d of February we met a party of "picked men" from the Fifth Tennessee (Yankee) Cavalry, under Capt. Exum. This party had refused to treat us as prisoners of war, and had murdered several of our men whom they had caught straggling from their command. The enemy numbered 110 men; my own force was about 60. The fighting on our part was severe in the extreme; men never fought with more desperation or gallantry. Forty-seven of the enemy were killed, 13 wounded, and 4 captured; our loss was 2 wounded.

* * * *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, p. 56.


The following report indicates a ruse de guerre on the part of Confederate guerrillas.

FEBRUARY 22, 1864--Skirmish on Calfkiller Creek, Tenn.

Report of Col. William B. Stokes, Fifth Tennessee Cavalry [Union].[2]

HDQRS. U. S. FORCES, Sparta, Tenn., February 24, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to report that I arrived at this place on the 18th instant with Companies A, B, G, I, K, and L, of the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry. I have occupied all of the deserted houses in the town with my men, barricaded the streets strongly, and fortified around my artillery. Since my arrival I have been engaged in scouring the country and foraging, the forage being very scarce and at some distance from the town. I have ascertained that the country is infested with a great number of rebel soldiers under Col.'s Hughs, Hamilton, Ferguson, Carter, and Bledsoe, the whole force being under Col. Hughs, a brave, vigilant, and energetic officer. There is little or no robbing being done by the guerrillas, their attention being directed toward my men. Col. Hughs' command is well armed, having secured the best of arms when on their raids into Kentucky. They number at least 600 fighting men.

On the 22d instant, two companies of my command of Hughs, Ferguson, Carter, and Bledsoe. After fighting some time they were surrounded and overwhelmed. The officers [6 in number] with 45 men have come in through the hills.

Yesterday Carter made a dash on one of my picket-posts. He had 6 of his men dressed in Federal uniform. The remainder were dressed in gray, and as those dressed in our uniform approached the vedettes they told them not to shoot, that the rebels were after them; and as those in gray appeared a few yards in the rear of those in blue hallowing to them to surrender the story appeared very plausible, and the ones in blue immediately rushed upon the reserve pickets. Four of my pickets were killed-3 after they had surrendered and the other after he had been captured. A great many of the rebels were dressed in our uniform at the time the two companies were attacked, and several of my men were killed after they were captured. Hughs himself does not allow this barbarity, but his subordinate officers practice it.

I have to fight for every ear of corn and blade of fodder I get.

Deserters from the rebel army are constantly joining Hughs. The people are thoroughly and decidedly disloyal, but a great many are taking the oath. The oath of allegiance has been found on the persons of several soldiers we have killed. The country is rocky and mountainous, and very had for cavalry to operate in. I have to fight rebel soldiers and citizens, the former carrying the arms and doing the open fighting; the latter, carrying news and ambushing.

Portions of Companies C, F, and H arrived to-day. The greater part of these companies remained at Nashville, being without horses. I earnestly urge that they be mounted as soon as possible, and ordered to report to me. Their services are needed very much here, and not at the city of Nashville. Horses are required to mount my men. There are no serviceable ones in the country, the rebels having taken all of them. The rebels are mounted on the fastest horses in the country, and they use them very much to our disadvantage. If all of my regiment were here and mounted, I would soon disperse the rebels. I again urge the necessity of mounting my entire regiment and ordering it to the field.

I respectfully ask that this communication be forwarded to department headquarters for the information of the general commanding.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

W. B. STOKES, Col. Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, Cmdg.

Capt. B. H. POLK, Assistant Adjutant-Gen., District of Nashville.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 416-417.




[1] TSL&A, Diaries, Memoirs, etc., French, L. Virginia (Smith), War Journals, AC nos. 89-200 and 73-25. [Hereinafter cited as War Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

[2] See also Col. Hughs' report of operations in Middle Tennessee, January 1-April 18, 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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